Today in History: August 20 | HistoryNet MENU

Today in History: August 20

What Happened This Day In History.

A chronological timetable of historical events that occurred on this day in history. Historical facts of the day in the areas of military, politics, science, music, sports, arts, entertainment and more. Discover what happened today in history.


Today in History
August 20

917 A Byzantine counter-offensive is routed by Simeon at Anchialus, Bulgaria.
1619 The first group of twenty Africans is brought to Jamestown, Virginia.
1667 John Milton publishes Paradise Lost, an epic poem about the fall of Adam and Eve.
1741 Danish navigator Vitus Jonas Bering, commissioned by Peter the Great of Russia to find land connecting Asia and North America, discovers America.
1794 American General “Mad Anthony” Wayne defeats the Ohio Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in the Northwest territory, ending Indian resistance in the area.
1847 General Winfield Scott wins the Battle of Churubusco on his drive to Mexico City.
1904 Dublin’s Abbey Theatre is founded, an outgrowth of the Irish Literary Theatre founded in 1899 by William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory.
1908 The American Great White Fleet arrives in Sydney, Australia, to a warm welcome.
1913 700 feet above Buc, France, parachutist Adolphe Pegoud becomes the first person to jump from an airplane and land safely.
1914 Russia wins an early victory over Germany at Gumbinnen.
1940 After a previous machine gun attack failed, exiled Russian Leon Trotsky is assassinated in Mexico City, with an alpine ax to the back of the head.
1940 Radar is used for the first time, by the British during the Battle of Britain. Also on this day, in a radio broadcast, Winston Churchill makes his famous homage to the Royal Air Force: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
1941 Adolf Hitler authorizes the development of the V-2 missile.
1944 United States and British forces close the pincers on German units in the Falaise-Argentan pocket in France.
1953 The USSR publicly acknowledges it tested a hydrogen bomb eight days earlier.
1955 Hundreds are killed in anti-French rioting in Morocco and Algeria.
1960 The USSR recovers 2 dogs, Belka and Strelka, the first animals to be launched into orbit and returned alive (Sputnik 5).
1961 East Germany begins erecting a wall along its western border to replace barbed wire put up Aug 13; US 1st Battle Group, 18th Infantry Division arrives in West Berlin.
1964 US President Lyndon Baines Johnson signs the Economic Opportunity Act, an anti-poverty measure totaling nearly $1 billion, as part of his War on Poverty.
1968 Some 650,000 Warsaw Pact troops invade Czechoslovakia to quell reformers there.
1971 The Cambodian military launches a series of operations against the Khmer Rouge.
1974 US Vice President Gerald Ford, who had replaced Spiro Agnew, assumes the Office of the President after Richard Nixon resigns; Ford names Nelson Rockefeller as VP.
1978 NASA launches Viking 1; with Viking 2, launched a few days later, it provided high-resolution mapping of Mars, revolutionizing existing views of the planets.
1979 The Penmanshiel Diversion on the  the East Coast Main Line rail route between England and Scotland opens, replacing the 134-year-old Penmanshiel Tunnel that had collapsed in March.
1980 UN Security Council condemns Israel’s declaration that all of Jerusalem is its capital; vote is 14-0, with US abstaining.
1982 A multinational force including 800 US Marines lands in Beirut, Lebanon, to oversee Palestinian withdrawal during the Lebanese Civil War.
1986 Part-time mail carrier Patrick Sherrill shoots 20 fellow workers killing 14 at Edmond Okla., the first mass shooting by an individual in an office environment in the US. His actions give rise to the phrase “going postal,” for sudden violent outbursts.
1990 Iraq moves Western hostages to military installations to use them as human shields against air attacks by a US-led multinational coalition.
1991 After an attempted coup in the Soviet Union, Estonia declares independence from the USSR.
1993 Secret negotiations in Norway lead to agreement on the Oslo Peace Accords, an attempt to resolve the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
1994 Miracle, the Sacred White Buffalo, is born on the Heider Farm near Janesville, Wisc. The first white (not albino) buffalo born since 1933, she was a important religious symbol for many US and Canadian Indian tribes.
1998 The Supreme Court of Canada rules Quebec cannot legally secede from Canada without the federal government’s approval.
1998 The US launches cruise missile attacks against alleged al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan and a suspected chemical plant in Sudan in retaliation for the Aug. 7 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
2002 A group of Iraqis opposed to the regime of Saddam Hussein seizes the Iraqi Embassy in Berlin; after five hours they release their hostages and surrender.
Born on August 20
1833 Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States and grandson of President William Henry Harrison.
1886 Paul Tillich, theologian and philosopher who wrote Systematic Theology.
1890 H.P. Lovecraft, author of horror tales; created the Cthulhu mythos.
1905 Jack Teagarden, jazz trombonist.
1941 Slobodan Milosevic, President of Serbia (1989–1997) and of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1997–2000); tried by the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for war crimes but died before trial concluded.
1942 Isaac Hayes, composer, musician, actor, voice-over actor; co-wrote “Soul Man,” won Academy Award for his composition  “Theme from Shaft.”
1944 Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minster of India.
1952 John Hiatt, singer/songwriter (“Have a Little Faith in Me”).
1954 Al Roker, weatherman (Today on NBC; Weather Channel).
1958 Patricia Rozema, film director, screenwriter (Mansfield Park).
1974 Amy Adams, actress; multiple nominations for Academy Awards, Golden Globe and BAFTA awards (Enchanted, The Fighter).