Today in History


By The Associated Press

Today is Wednesday, Aug. 17, the 230th day of 2016. There are 136 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Aug. 17, 1807, Robert Fulton’s North River Steamboat began heading up the Hudson River on its successful round trip between New York and Albany.

On this date:

In 1863, Federal batteries and ships began bombarding Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor during the Civil War, but the Confederates managed to hold on despite several days of pounding.

In 1915, a mob in Cobb County, Georgia, lynched Jewish businessman Leo Frank, 31, whose death sentence for the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan had been commuted to life imprisonment. (Frank, who’d maintained his innocence, was pardoned by the state of Georgia in 1986.)

In 1943, the Allied conquest of Sicily during World War II was completed as U.S. and British forces entered Messina.

In 1945, Indonesian nationalists declared their independence from the Netherlands. The George Orwell novel “Animal Farm,” an allegorical satire of Soviet Communism, was first published in London by Martin Secker & Warburg.

In 1962, East German border guards shot and killed 18-year-old Peter Fechter, who had attempted to cross the Berlin Wall into the western sector.

In 1969, Hurricane Camille slammed into the Mississippi coast as a Category 5 storm that was blamed for 256 U.S. deaths, three in Cuba.

In 1978, the first successful trans-Atlantic balloon flight ended as Maxie Anderson, Ben Abruzzo and Larry Newman landed their Double Eagle II outside Paris.

In 1982, the first commercially produced compact discs, a recording of ABBA’s “The Visitors,” were pressed at a Philips factory near Hanover, West Germany.

In 1985, more than 1,400 meatpackers walked off the job at the Geo. A. Hormel and Co.’s main plant in Austin, Minnesota, in a bitter strike that lasted just over a year.

In 1987, Rudolf Hess, the last member of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle, died at Spandau Prison at age 93, an apparent suicide.

In 1996, the Reform Party announced Ross Perot had been selected to be its first-ever presidential nominee, opting for the third-party’s founder over challenger Richard Lamm.

In 1999, more than 17,000 people were killed when a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck Turkey.

Ten years ago: In a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, a federal judge in Detroit ruled that President George W. Bush’s warrantless surveillance program was unconstitutional. (A divided federal appeals court threw out the lawsuit in July 2007, and the U.S. Supreme Court later let the appeals court decision stand.) President Bush signed new rules to prod companies into shoring up their pension plans. Jordan became the first Arab state to send a fully accredited ambassador to Iraq.

Five years ago: Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Beijing to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

One year ago: A bomb exploded within a central Bangkok shrine that was among the city’s most popular tourist spots, killing at least 20 people and injuring more than 100. (Two men are facing trial for the bombing, but one has maintained he was tortured to obtain a confession.) The National Labor Relations Board dismissed a historic ruling that Northwestern University football players were school employees entitled to form the nation’s first union of college athletes. Actress-dancer Yvonne Craig, 78, who played the sexy, crime-fighting Batgirl in the 1960s TV hit “Batman,” died in Los Angeles.

Today’s Birthdays: Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (jahng zuh-MEEN’) is 90. Author V.S. Naipaul is 84. Former MLB All-Star Boog Powell is 75. Actor Robert DeNiro is 73. Movie director Martha Coolidge is 70. Rock musician Gary Talley (The Box Tops) is 69. Actor/screenwriter/producer Julian Fellowes is 67. Rock musician Sib Hashian is 67. Actor Robert Joy is 65. International Tennis Hall of Famer Guillermo Vilas is 64. Rock singer Kevin Rowland (Dexy’s Midnight Runners) is 63. Rock musician Colin Moulding (XTC) is 61. Country singer-songwriter Kevin Welch is 61. Olympic gold medal figure skater Robin Cousins is 59. Singer Belinda Carlisle is 58. Author Jonathan Franzen is 57. Actor Sean Penn is 56. Jazz musician Everette Harp is 55. Rock musician Gilby Clarke is 54. Singer Maria McKee is 52. Rock musician Steve Gorman (The Black Crowes) is 51. Rock musician Jill Cunniff (kuh-NIHF’) is 50. Actor David Conrad is 49. Singer Donnie Wahlberg is 47. College Basketball Hall of Famer and retired NBA All-Star Christian Laettner is 47. Rapper Posdnuos (PAHS’-deh-noos) is 47. International Tennis Hall of Famer Jim Courier is 46. Retired MLB All-Star Jorge Posada is 45. TV personality Giuliana Rancic is 42. Actor Mark Salling is 34. Actor Bryton James is 30. Actor Brady Corbet (kohr-BAY’) is 28. Actress Taissa Farmiga is 22. Olympic bronze medal figure skater Gracie Gold is 21.

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