Today in History


Today is Wednesday, Aug. 9, the 221st day of 2023. There are 144 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Aug. 9, 1974, Vice President Gerald R. Ford became the nation’s 38th chief executive as President Richard Nixon’s resignation took effect.

On this date:

In 1854, Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden,” which described Thoreau’s experiences while living near Walden Pond in Massachusetts, was first published.

In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order nationalizing silver.

In 1936, Jesse Owens won his fourth gold medal at the Berlin Olympics as the United States took first place in the 400-meter relay.

In 1944, 258 African-American sailors based at Port Chicago, California, refused to load a munitions ship following a cargo vessel explosion that killed 320 men, many of them Black.

In 1945, three days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, a U.S. B-29 Superfortress code-named Bockscar dropped a nuclear device over Nagasaki, killing an estimated 74,000 people.

In 1969, actor Sharon Tate and four other people were found brutally slain at Tate’s Los Angeles home; cult leader Charles Manson and a group of his followers were later convicted of the crime.

In 1982, a federal judge in Washington ordered John W. Hinckley Jr., who’d been acquitted of shooting President Ronald Reagan and three others by reason of insanity, committed to a mental hospital.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan nominated Lauro Cavazos to be secretary of education; Cavazos became the first Hispanic to serve in the Cabinet.

In 1995, Jerry Garcia, lead singer of the Grateful Dead, died in Forest Knolls, California, of a heart attack at age 53.

In 2004, Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, addressing a court for the first time, asked victims of the blast for forgiveness as a judge sentenced him to 161 consecutive life sentences.

In 2014, Michael Brown Jr., a Black 18-year-old, was shot to death by a police officer following an altercation in Ferguson, Missouri; Brown’s death led to sometimes-violent protests in Ferguson and other U.S. cities, spawning a national “Black Lives Matter” movement.

In 2016, at the Rio Games, Michael Phelps earned the 20th and 21st Olympic gold medals of his career as he won the 200-meter butterfly and anchored the United States to victory in the 4×200 freestyle relay. Katie Ledecky earned her second gold in Rio by winning the 200-meter freestyle. The U.S. women’s gymnastics team won gold for a second consecutive Olympics.

Ten years ago: President Barack Obama promised to work with Congress on “appropriate reforms” for the domestic surveillance programs that stirred criticism at home and abroad. President Obama signed into law a measure restoring lower interest rates for student loans. Infamous drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero walked free after 28 years in prison when a Mexican court overturned his 40-year sentence for the 1985 kidnap and killing of U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent Enrique Camarena.

Five years ago: Vice President Mike Pence announced plans for a new, separate U.S. Space Force as a sixth military service by 2020. The parents of first lady Melania Trump were sworn in as U.S. citizens; they had been living in the country as permanent residents. Player demonstrations again took place at several early NFL preseason games, with two Philadelphia Eagles players raising their fists during the national anthem. Evacuation orders expanded to 20,000 as a wildfire that had been intentionally set moved perilously close to homes in Southern California.

One year ago: Powerful explosions rocked a Russian air base in Crimea and sent towering clouds of smoke over the landscape in an escalation of the war in Ukraine. Authorities said at least one person was killed and several others were wounded. Police detained what they called a primary suspect in the killings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico, whose deaths sparked fear in Muslim communities nationwide. Mario Fiorentini, Italy’s most decorated resistance fighter during World War II, died at age 103.

Today’s Birthdays: Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Cousy is 95. Tennis Hall of Famer Rod Laver is 85. Jazz musician Jack DeJohnette is 81. Comedian-director David Steinberg is 81. Actor Sam Elliott is 79. Singer Barbara Mason is 76. College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL player John Cappelletti is 71. College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL player Doug Williams is 68. Actor Melanie Griffith is 66. Actor Amanda Bearse is 65. Rapper Kurtis Blow is 64. Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., is 63. Hockey Hall of Famer Brett Hull is 59. TV host Hoda Kotb (KAHT’-bee) is 59. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders is 56. Actor Gillian Anderson is 55. Actor Eric Bana is 55. Producer-director McG (aka Joseph McGinty Nichol) is 55. NHL player-turned-coach Rod Brind’Amour is 53. TV journalist Chris Cuomo is 53. Actor Thomas Lennon is 53. Rapper Mack 10 is 52. Actor Nikki Schieler Ziering is 52. Latin rock singer Juanes is 51. Actor Liz Vassey is 51. Actor Kevin McKidd is 50. Actor Rhona Mitra (ROH’-nuh MEE’-truh) is 48. Actor Texas Battle is 47. Actor Jessica Capshaw is 47. Actor Ashley Johnson is 40. Actor Anna Kendrick is 38.

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