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Today in History for August

Aug 02

What was the U.S. population in the first census of 1790?

August 2, 1790 — The first U.S. census was conducted, indicating there were about 3.9 million people living in the country. While great measures were taken to find credible results, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson expressed skepticism over the final count. Nonetheless, Congress realized...

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Aug 04

What is the oldest newspaper in the US?

August 4, 1821 — The first issue of The Saturday Evening Post was published today, making it the oldest newspaper in the United States. The weekly publication was four pages long and included articles on current events, editorials, human interest pieces, humor, illustrations, a letter column, poetry, and...

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Aug 05

Which president imposed the first federal income tax?

August 5, 1861 — To help finance the Civil War, President Lincoln signed the Revenue Act of 1861 today, which imposed a flat tax of 3% on individuals earning between $800 and $10,000. The comparable minimum taxable income in 2009, after adjustments for...

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Aug 06

What is the impact of the Confiscation Act of 1861?

August 6, 1861 — Enacted by Congress and signed by President Lincoln today, the Confiscation Act of 1861 stipulated that all property (including slaves) "used or employed, in aiding, abetting, or promoting . . . insurrection or resistance to the laws" of...

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Aug 07

What is the origin of the Purple Heart award?

August 7, 1782 — Although Continental Congress forbid General George Washington from granting commissions and promotions in rank to recognize merit, Washington wanted to honor merit, particularly among the enlisted soldiers. So today he established the official Badge of Military Merit. Washington...

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Aug 08

Which elected official freed his slaves today?

August 8, 1863 — On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in rebellious states. However, it wasn't until today that then military governor of Tennessee Andrew Johnson freed his personal slaves. Johnson (born December 29, 1808 – July...

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Aug 11

Why burnt Ursuline Convent to the ground — and why ?

August 11, 1834 — The Ursuline Convent in Charlestown, Mass. lay in ruins today. Late last night, a mob of angry Protestants sacked it and burned it to the ground. The rioters were reportedly poor Yankee laborers who feared and hated Irish Catholic...

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Aug 12

Who performed the first antiseptic surgery?

August 12, 1865 — British surgeon Joseph Lister applied Louis Pasteur's advances in microbiology when he performed the first antiseptic surgery today using carbolic acid. It had been used to get rid of a cattle parasites in fields. Lister surmised that the same microorganisms in the air that...

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Aug 13

Who was Thomas Hutchinson?

August 13, 1765—Thomas Hutchinson was a prominent loyalist politician in the pre-Revolutionary War era. Hutchinson became lieutenant governor of the Massachusetts Bay Province in the year 1758. Hutchinson's conservative ideology turned many colonists against him, including figures such as John...

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Aug 13

Which French queen was imprisoned today?

August 13, 1792 — During the French Revolution, the French government placed the royal family under house arrest in the Tuileries Palace in October 1789. Several events linked to French Queen Marie Antoinette, including the June 1791 attempt to flee, and her...

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Aug 14

Where is the Liberty Tree?

August 14, 1765 — Today, American patriots protested against the British rule in response to the Stamp Act, which forced colonists to pay taxes on paper products in order for Britain to pay off its huge debt from the French and Indian War. Outraged...

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Aug 17

Who invented the first commercially successful steamboat?

August 17, 1807 — The Clermont began its trip up the Hudson River today, traveling 150 miles in 30 hours. The first commercial steamboat, it was designed by American engineer and inventor Robert Fulton. He adapted the steam engine to fit his boat, which was also built to...

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Aug 18

Who discovered that the element helium existed in the solar spectrum?

August 18, 1868 — French astronomer Pierre Janssen discovered helium in the solar spectrum during a eclipse today. It occurred while Janssen was observing a solar eclipse at Guntur, Madras State (now in Andhra Pradesh), British India. He noticed bright lines in the spectrum of the chromosphere, showing that the...

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Aug 21

Who was Nat Turner?

August 21, 1831 — Today began the most violent slave revolt to date in the American south. Led by Nat Turner, 70 enslaved and free African-Americans followed him from house to house in in Southampton, Virginia and for two days killed nearly 65 white men, women...

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Aug 22

Who was granted the patent for liquid soap?

August 22, 1865 — William Sheppard of New York was granted patent number 49,561 for his "Improved Liquid Soap" today. He made the product by dissolving one pound of solid soap in water, and then adding 100 pounds of ammonia until the...

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Aug 23

What was Britain’s response to the Battle at Bunker Hill?

August 23, 1775 — King George III of Great Britain issued the Proclamation of Rebellion today in response to the Battle at Bunker Hill, which occurred on June 17. The proclamation ordered British officials to "use their utmost endeavors to withstand and suppress...

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Aug 26

What happened at the Battle of Rocky Gap?

August 26, 1863 — On August 5, 1863, a 2,000-man force of Union cavalry commanded by Gen. William W. Averell left Winchester, VA and began a raid through the Allegheny Mountains with the mission of destroying Confederate saltpeter works and gunpowder mills. The Yankees...

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Aug 27

Who created the first airborne hydrogen balloon?

August 27, 1783 — Today, the hydrogen balloon took off from the Champ-de-Mars in Paris. Benjamin Franklin and other dignitaries attended the event, which today is the site of the Eiffel Tower. It was airborne for 45 minutes and traveled a total of 21...

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Aug 28

Who founded Scientific American magazine today in 1845?

August 28, 1845 — The first issue of Scientific American magazine hit newsstands today. The oldest continuously published magazine in the US was founded by painter and inventor Rufus M. Porter, who began it as a four-page weekly newspaper. In its pages, we have...

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Aug 29

What was the goal and impact of Shays’ Rebellion?

August 29, 1786 — Today marks the first day of a 10-month uprising called Shays' Rebellion, the name given to a series of protests in 1786 and 1787 by American farmers against state and local enforcement of tax collections and judgments for debt....

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Aug 30

Who founded the City of Houston?

August 30, 1836 — Augustus Chapman Allen (July 4, 1806 – January 11, 1864), along with his younger brother, John Kirby Allen, founded the City of Houston in Texas today. Born on July 4, 1806, in Canaseraga Village, New York, the brothers chose not...

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Aug 31

Which opera by Rossini was produced today in 1829?

August 31, 1829 — Today, the Opera "Guillaume Tell" is produced in Paris. The four-act performance, by Gioachino Rossini, is based on Friedrich Schiller's play William Tell. Drawing on the William Tell legend, the opera was Rossini's last, although he lived for nearly 40 more years. The overture, in four...

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