August 15th in History

This day in historyAugust 15 is the 227th day of the year (228th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 138 days remaining until the end of the year.



General events on August 15th

In 1517 – Seven Portuguese armed vessels led by Fernão Pires de Andrade meet Chinese officials at the Pearl River estuary.

In 1519Panama City, Panama, is founded.

In 1537Asunción, Paraguay, is founded.

In 1540Arequipa, Peru, is founded.

In 1549Jesuit priest Saint Francis Xavier comes ashore at Kagoshima (Traditional Japanese date: July 22, 1549).

In 1843Tivoli Gardens, one of the oldest still intact amusement parks in the world, opens in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In 1915 – A story in New York World reveals that the Weimar German government had purchased excess phenol from Thomas Edison that could be used to make explosives for the war effort and diverted it to Bayer for aspirin production.

Will Rogers 1922.jpgIn 1935,  Will Rogers, American actor, singer, and screenwriter (b. 1879) dies with aviator Wiley Post, when their small airplane crashed in northern Alaska. He was an American cowboy, vaudeville performer, humorist, newspaper columnist, social commentator, and stage and motion picture actor.

Known as “Oklahoma’s Favorite Son”, Rogers was born to a prominent Cherokee Nation family in Indian Territory (now part of Oklahoma). He traveled around the world three times, made 71 movies (50 silent films and 21 “talkies”), and wrote more than 4,000 nationally syndicated newspaper columns. By the mid-1930s, the American people adored Rogers. He was the leading political wit of his time, and was the highest paid Hollywood movie star.  Rogers’s vaudeville rope act led to success in the Ziegfeld Follies, which in turn led to the first of his many movie contracts. His 1920s syndicated newspaper column and his radio appearances increased his visibility and popularity. Rogers crusaded for aviation expansion, and provided Americans with first-hand accounts of his world travels. His earthy anecdotes and folksy style allowed him to poke fun at gangsters, prohibition, politicians, government programs, and a host of other controversial topics in a way that was appreciated by a national audience, with no one offended. His aphorisms, couched in humorous terms, were widely quoted: “I am not a member of an organized political party. I am a Democrat.” Another widely quoted Will Rogers comment was “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”

Rogers even provided an epigram on his most famous epigram:

When I die, my epitaph, or whatever you call those signs on gravestones, is going to read: “I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I dident [sic] like.” I am so proud of that, I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved.

In 1961Conrad Schumann flees from East Germany while on duty guarding the construction of the Berlin Wall.

In 1962James Joseph Dresnok defects to North Korea after running across the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Dresnok still resides in the capital, Pyongyang.

In 1970 Patricia Palinkas became the first woman to play professionally in an American football game.


Government and Politics on August 15th

Macbeth of Scotland.jpgIn 1057,  Macbeth, King of Scotland dies of his wounds. His real name was Mac Bethad mac Findlaích (Modern Gaelic: MacBheatha mac Fhionnlaigh, anglicised as Macbeth, and nicknamed Deircc, “the Red King”; and he was King of the Scots (also known as the King of Alba, and earlier as King of Moray and King of Fortriu) from 1040 until his death. He is best known as the subject of William Shakespeare‘s tragedy Macbeth and the many works it has inspired, although the play presents a highly inaccurate picture of his reign and personality.

In 1869 – The Meiji government in Japan establishes six new ministries, including one for Shinto.

In 1893Ibadan area became a British Protectorate after a treaty signed by Fijabi, the Baale of Ibadan with the British acting Governor of Lagos, George C. Denton.

In 1947India gains Independence from the British Indian Empire and joins the Commonwealth of Nations.

In 1947 – Founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah is sworn in as first Governor-General of Pakistan in Karachi.

In 1948 – The Republic of Korea is established south of the 38th parallel north.

In 1954Alfredo Stroessner begins his dictatorship in Paraguay.

In 1960Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville) becomes independent from France.

In 1963 – President Fulbert Youlou is overthrown in the Republic of the Congo, after a three-day uprising in the capital.

In 1971 President Richard Nixon completes the break from the gold standard by ending convertibility of the United States dollar into gold by foreign investors.

In 1971Bahrain gains independence from the United Kingdom.

In 1975Takeo Miki makes the first official pilgrimage to Yasukuni Shrine by an incumbent prime minister on the anniversary of the end of World War II.

In 1995 – In South Carolina, Shannon Faulkner becomes the first female cadet matriculated at The Citadel (she drops out less than a week later).

In 1996 President of Turkey Süleyman Demirel approved to “Law of ban For Casino in Turkey

In 2005 Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan to evict all Israelis from the Gaza Strip and from four settlements in the northern West Bank begins.

In 2015,  North Korea moves its clock back half an hour to introduce Pyongyang Time, 8½ hours ahead of UTC.


War, Crime and Disaster events on August 15th

In 636 – The Battle of Yarmouk between Byzantine and Rashidun Caliphate begins.

In 718 – Raising of the Second Arab Siege of Constantinople.

In 778 – The Battle of Roncevaux Pass, at which Roland is killed.

In 927 – The Saracens conquer and destroy Taranto.

In 982Holy Roman Emperor Otto II is defeated by the Saracens in the battle of Capo Colonna, in Calabria

In 1018 – Byzantine general Eustathios Daphnomeles blinds and captures Ibatzes of Bulgaria by a ruse, thereby ending Bulgarian resistance against Emperor Basil II‘s conquest of Bulgaria.

In 1040 – King Duncan I is killed in battle against his first cousin and rival Macbeth. The latter succeeds him as King of Scotland.

In 1057 – King Macbeth is killed at the Battle of Lumphanan by the forces of Máel Coluim mac Donnchada.

In 1237 – The Battle of the Puig takes place in the context of the Spanish Reconquista pitting the forces of the Taifa of Valencia against the Kingdom of Aragon. The battle resulted in an Aragonese victory.

In 1281Mongol invasion of Japan: The Mongolian fleet of Kublai Khan is destroyed by a “divine wind” for the second time in the Battle of Kōan.

In 1309The city of Rhodes surrenders to the forces of the Knights of St. John, completing their conquest of Rhodes. The knights establish their headquarters on the island and rename themselves the Knights of Rhodes.

In 1430Francesco Sforza, lord of Milan, conquers Lucca.

In 1461 – The Empire of Trebizond surrenders to the forces of Sultan Mehmed II. This is regarded by some historians as the real end of the Byzantine Empire. Emperor David is exiled and later murdered.

In 1511Afonso de Albuquerque of Portugal conquers Malacca, the capital of the Malacca Sultanate.

In 1599Nine Years’ War: Battle of Curlew Pass – Irish forces led by Hugh Roe O’Donnell successfully ambush English forces, led by Sir Conyers Clifford, sent to relieve Collooney Castle.

In 1695French forces end the Bombardment of Brussels, leaving a third of the buildings in the city in ruins.

In 1760Seven Years’ War: Battle of LiegnitzFrederick the Great‘s victory over the Austrians under Ernst Gideon von Laudon.

In 1812War of 1812: The Battle of Fort Dearborn is fought between United States troops and Potawatomi at what is now Chicago, Illinois.

In 1863 – The Anglo-Satsuma War begins between the Satsuma Domain of Japan and the United Kingdom (Traditional Japanese date: July 2, 1863).

In 1914 – A male servant of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright sets fire to the living quarters of the architect’s Wisconsin home, Taliesin, murders seven people and burns the living quarters to the ground.

In 1914 – The First Russian Army, led by Paul von Rennenkampf, enters East Prussia.

In 1914 – The beginning of the Battle of Cer.

In 1920Battle of Warsaw so called Miracle at the Vistula.

In 1935Will Rogers and Wiley Post are killed after their aircraft develops engine problems during takeoff in Barrow, Alaska.

In 1939 – 13 Stukas dive into the ground during a disastrous air-practice at Neuhammer. There are no survivors.

In 1940 – An Italian submarine torpedoes and sinks the Greek cruiser Elli at Tinos harbor during peacetime, marking the most serious Italian provocation prior to the outbreak of the Greco-Italian War in October.

In 1941 – Corporal Josef Jakobs is executed by firing squad at the Tower of London at 7:12 am, making him the last person to be executed at the Tower for treason.

In 1942World War II: Operation Pedestal – The SS Ohio reaches the island of Malta barely afloat carrying vital fuel supplies for the island’s defenses.

In 1944 – World War II: Operation Dragoon – Allied forces land in southern France.

In 1945 – World War II: Japan surrenders to end the war.

In 1952A flash flood drenches the town of Lynmouth, England, United Kingdom, killing 34 people.

In 1963 – Execution of Henry John Burnett, the last man to be hanged in Scotland, UK.

In 1973 Vietnam War: The United States bombing of Cambodia ends.

In 1974 Yuk Young-soo, First Lady of South Korea, is killed during an apparent assassination attempt upon President of South Korea, Park Chung-hee.

In 1975 Bangladesh‘s founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is killed along with most members of his family during a military coup.

In 1984 – The PKK in Turkey starts a campaign of armed attacks upon the Turkish military with an attack on police and gendarmerie bases in Şemdinli and Eruh

In 1998 Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland, the worst terrorist incident of The Troubles

In 1999 Beni Ounif massacre in Algeria; some 29 people are killed at a false roadblock near the Moroccan border, leading to temporary tensions with Morocco.

In 2013,  At least 27 people are killed and 226 injured in an explosion in southern Beirut near a complex used by Lebanon’s militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon. A previously unknown Syrian Sunni group claims responsibility in an online video.


Royalty and Religious events on August 15th

In 1185 – The cave city of Vardzia is consecrated by Queen Tamar of Georgia.

In 1248 – The foundation stone of Cologne Cathedral, built to house the relics of the Three Wise Men, is laid. (Construction is eventually completed in 1880.)

In 1261Michael VIII Palaiologos is crowned Byzantine emperor in Constantinople.

In 1483Pope Sixtus IV consecrates the Sistine Chapel.

In 1534 – Saint Ignatius of Loyola and six classmates take initial vows, leading to the creation of the Society of Jesus in September 1540.

In 1843 – The Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu, Hawaii is dedicated. Now the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, it is the oldest Roman Catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States.

In 1907 – Ordination in Constantinople of Fr. Raphael Morgan, first African-American Orthodox priest, “Priest-Apostolic” to America and the West Indies.

In 2007 – An 8.0-magnitude earthquake off the Pacific coast devastates Ica and various regions of Peru killing 514 and injuring 1,090.


Human Achievement and Science events on August 15th

In 1914 – The Panama Canal opens to traffic with the transit of the cargo ship SS Ancon.

In 1977 The Big Ear, a radio telescope operated by Ohio State University as part of the SETI project, receives a radio signal from deep space; the event is named the “Wow! signal” from the notation made by a volunteer on the project.

In 2013,  The Smithsonian announces the discovery of the olinguito, the first new carnivoran species found in the Americas in 35 years.


Arts and Prose events on August 15th

In 1939The Wizard of Oz premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, California.

In 1965 The Beatles play to nearly 60,000 fans at Shea Stadium in New York, New York, an event later regarded as the birth of stadium rock.

In 1969 Woodstock opens.

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