August in American History: Part II

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August 16, 1780
The Battle of Camden is fought. This battle is often regarded as one of the largest of the Southern Theater during the American Revolution. Under the command of General Horatio Gates, Continental forces marched toward Camden in an effort to liberate the city, as well as that part of South Carolina, from the control of Charles Cornwallis. The end result was a British victory, temporarily strengthening the British grip further on the Carolinas. Approximately two months later, the Battle of Kings Mountain was fought near present-day Blacksburg, South Carolina. This was an even more defining battle, resulting in a Continental victory, and is considered to have been the official turning point for the Revolution in the Southern Theater.

August 17, 1585
English colonists under the leadership of Sir Walter Raleigh land in the New World to establish the Roanoke Colony. Stepping ashore in the location of present-day Dare County, North Carolina, Raleigh’s colonists attempted a founding of what would have been the first permanent English colony in North America. Five years later, almost to the day, Roanoke Governor John White returned to the colony, only to find the establishment completely abandoned. The first English person born in the Roanoke Colony, and therefore the Americas, was Virginia Dare.

August 18, 1590
John White returns from England to find the Roanoke Colony abandoned. Following its establishment just five years prior, the Roanoke colonists were expected to build upon their settlement. Upon returning from a supply trip to England, John White – the Governor of Roanoke – found the colony completely uninhabited. No bodies were found and the only clue as to what may have occurred was the capitalized word “CROATOAN” carved into a tree. Many have developed theories about what may have befallen the colonists. Some suggest they may have been attacked and killed by the Croatoan tribe. Recently, however, new light has been shed on the subject, which may reveal the truth. One long-standing theory is that the Roanoke inhabitants relocated further inland and integrated with the Croatoans. For the past few years, English pottery and other artifacts have been discovered about 50 miles west of Roanoke Island, lending support to this theory. The mystery of the lost Roanoke Colony, however, will most likely continue to be a subject of debate.

August 19, 1944
The liberation of Paris begins. With the start of World War II in September 1939, Hitler invaded France in May of the following year. Roughly a month and a half later, France fell to German forces, resulting in the establishment of a Fascist puppet state. Vichy France, as it was often called, spanned its influence and control into northern Africa. In June 1944, Allied forces broke through the heavily-fortified German defenses on the coast of Normandy, then made their way through the countryside. Free French soldiers began the Liberation of Paris on August 19, 1944 with an uprising, and by August 25, the Germans surrendered. French President Charles de Gaulle then established a new provisional government in France.

August 19, 1946
Bill Clinton is born in Hope, Arkansas. Born William J. Blythe, he later adopted his stepfather’s last name, after the death of his father in an automobile accident. During his young years, Clinton was raised in his hometown by his grandparents, as his mother relocated to New Orleans to study nursing. While attending Georgetown University, he was granted a scholarship to study at the Universities of Oxford and Yale. A member of the Democratic Party, Clinton served two non-consecutive terms as Governor of Arkansas. The first was from 1979-1981 and the second was from 1983-1992. He served as President from 1993-2001, during which time he oversaw a period of economic peace after the Cold War and signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as well as the Crime Bill of 1994. While in office, Clinton became one of three presidents to be impeached by the House of Representatives, the other two being Andrew Johnson and Donald Trump. Following his presidency, Clinton has remained active in politics. His wife, Hillary Clinton, served as US Secretary of State from 2009-2013, and ran for President in 2008 and 2016.

August 20, 1833
Benjamin Harrison is born in North Bend, Ohio. After graduating from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, he relocated to Indianapolis, Indiana, where he became an attorney and a leader within a Presbyterian Church. During the Civil War, Harrison served the Union Army as a colonel, and in 1865, was promoted to brigadier general. Upon running for political office, he served as a US Senator representing Indiana from 1881-1887. Originally a member of the Whig Party, Harrison joined the Republican Party in 1856. He served as President from 1889-1893, and during this time, he signed the Sherman Antitrust Act, established national forests, and sought voting rights enforcement for African-Americans. Following his presidency, Harrison represented Venezuela in a boundary dispute with Britain over British Guiana. He passed away on March 13, 1901. His grandfather, William H. Harrison, served the shortest term of any president in US history, lasting from March 4 – April 4, 1841.

August 23, 1823
Frontiersman and fur trapper Hugh Glass is severely mauled by a grizzly bear in present-day South Dakota. A guide for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, Glass was scouting for game when he stumbled upon a mother grizzly bear with cubs on the prairie. Glass was mauled to the point of near-death, and when found by his fellow men, was not expected to survive. Though two of them originally agreed to stay with him and give him a proper burial, they instead left him for dead. Glass slowly recovered from his wounds, however, as he crawled and stumbled 200 miles to Fort Kiowa. He later found one of the young men who abandoned him, thought by many to have been famed mountaineer Jim Bridger, and forgave him. Glass was later killed during an Arikara attack on the Yellowstone River in 1833. Grizzly bears once thrived across the American West, from Alaska to Mexico. Today, they are mostly restricted to wilderness areas and national parks in Alaska and western Canada, with isolated populations in Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

August 24, 1814
British soldiers burn Washington DC. Following the harassment of US sailors at the hands of the British on the high seas, which led to several armed confrontations and the deaths of sailors on both sides, the United States declared war on the British Empire. Britain had already been at war with Napoleon in Europe, and the War of 1812 marked the entrance of the US into the Napoleonic Wars. At the Battle of Bladensburg on the Chesapeake Bay, British forces secured a victory, then marched to DC. From there, they set ablaze the Capitol Building, Library of Congress, and the White House, among other buildings. President James Madison was safely evacuated and took shelter in a Maryland house owned by Caleb Bentley. Before leaving the White House, First Lady Dolley Madison and her slave Paul Jennings saved one of George Washington’s famous portraits. Nearly four days later, a violent storm put an end to the burning of the city. This marks the only time in US history since the American Revolution that a foreign enemy has occupied Washington DC. The War of 1812 officially ended on February 16, 1815.

August 24, 1932
Amelia Earhart becomes the first person to fly nonstop across the United States. An expert pilot, Earhart was inspired by World War I flying aces, and she served during the Great War as a Red Cross aide in Toronto, Ontario. On December 28, 1920, she took her first ride in an airplane at Long Beach, California, and after, decided to become an aviator. On August 24, 1932, Earhart started in Los Angeles, and in roughly 19 hours, landed in Newark, New Jersey. During her flying career, she set numerous other records, including the first solo transatlantic flight in 1932 and the first circumnavigation of Earth in 1937. Following this, Earhart disappeared while flying across the Pacific Ocean. She was never found and was eventually declared deceased. Various expeditions have since been organized in an effort to discover possible traces of her plane wreckage.

August 25, 1916
The US National Park Service is established. National parks are found in every state and offer numerous services to the public, including hiking, camping, fishing, and many others. The first to be established was Yellowstone, signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872. Later, under President Theodore Roosevelt, their number greatly increased. Each park is unique and offers its own unforgettable experiences. Denali (AK), Glacier (MT), Yellowstone (WY/MT/ID), Yosemite (CA), Grand Canyon (AZ), Isle Royale (MI), Acadia (ME), Great Smoky Mountains (TN/NC), and Everglades (FL) are just a few of these scenic wonders.

August 26, 1920
The 19th Amendment to the US Constitution takes effect. With the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, the movement for Women’s Suffrage officially began. Prominent female activists, including Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth C. Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, led the push for a constitutional amendment that acknowledged the right of women to participate in political elections. Though Stanton and Anthony eventually split and created factions within the Women’s Suffrage movement, the call for an amendment to secure voting rights for all citizens, regardless of gender, was mutual. The amendment was originally passed by Congress in 1919, then adopted the following year.

August 27, 1776
The Battle of Long Island is fought. During the first year of the American Revolution, British troops laid siege to Boston, Massachusetts. After 11 months, they were forced to retreat to Nova Scotia while waiting for reinforcements. George Washington arrived in New York in April 1776, where he established his headquarters in New York City on Broadway. On June 29, a large number of British ships arrived in the harbor. What followed was an invasion of Staten Island and Long Island by thousands of British soldiers and Hessian mercenaries. The result proved disastrous for the Continental Army, with Britain capturing New York City and Long Island. This was the largest battle of the American Revolution. British forces held control of New York City until 1781, when Washington and the Continental Army recaptured the city.

August 27, 1908
Lyndon B. Johnson is born in Stonewall, Texas. Upon graduating from college, he worked as a high school teacher, before entering politics at a fairly young age. In 1931, Johnson was appointed Legislative Secretary for US Representative Richard M. Kleberg, and in 1935, he was appointed head of the Texas National Youth Administration. From 1937-1949, he represented Texas in the US House of Representatives, and then continued serving his home state in the US Senate until 1961, in which he became Vice President. A member of the Democratic Party, Johnson served as President from 1963-1969, assuming the office following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. While in office, he increased US involvement in Vietnam and expanded numerous domestic programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, and his platform became known as the “Great Society.” Using this series of programs, he also spearheaded a War on Poverty. Though originally opposed to civil rights, Johnson’s administration saw the passing of more civil rights bills than any other. Following his presidency, Johnson retired to his Texas ranch; he passed away on January 22, 1973.

August 28, 1963
Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech. This was spoken during the March on Washington DC, which called for economic equality and fair job opportunity. Standing at the Lincoln Memorial, thousands of civil rights supporters gathered to hear King’s words. Drawing inspiration from the American founding, King reminded his followers that the founding fathers had left them a promissory note, written in the form of the Declaration of Independence, which declared that all men are created equal. Calling for a colorblind society, King stated, “I have a dream that one day, this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…I have a dream that one day, on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

August 29, 1786
Shays’ Rebellion begins. Daniel Shays was a veteran of the American Revolution, having participated in several of the war’s early battles, including Lexington and Concord. After being outraged by what he saw as aggressive tax collection and oppressive economic policies, Shays organized a rebellion that aimed to overthrow and reform the state government of Massachusetts. The rebellion persisted into February of the following year, during which the rebels attempted to capture the Springfield Armory, which proved unsuccessful. With the confederal government unable to finance an army to suppress the insurrection, it was eventually put down by the Massachusetts state militia. Shays’ Rebellion contributed greatly to the call for a new constitutional government, as it displayed the flaws and weaknesses associated with the Articles of Confederation.

August 30, 1967
Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African-American US Supreme Court justice. Born on June 2, 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland, Marshall was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. He originally served as a member of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Solicitor General of the US. Later, he was known for arguing Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas before the Supreme Court. A member of the Democratic Party, Marshall retired in 1991. Republican Justice Clarence Thomas filled his seat on the court. Marshall passed away on January 24, 1993.

August 31, 1864
The Battle of Jonesboro begins. This engagement was part of General William T. Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign. Beginning on May 7, 1864, Union forces commanded by General Sherman invaded northwestern Georgia. From there, they pushed towards Atlanta, sieging the city and securing a victory on July 22. Following this, the Union struck Jonesboro on August 31. The result was a Union victory, forcing Confederate troops under General John B. Hood to retreat. The capture of Atlanta, as well as Jonesboro, helped ensure Abraham Lincoln’s victory during the 1864 presidential election and opened the way for Sherman’s March to the Sea.

Garrett Smith
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