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This Day in History: August 15


1519 – Panama City, Panama, is founded.

1537 – Asunción, Paraguay, is founded.

1540 – Arequipa, Peru, is founded.

1812 – War of 1812: The Battle of Fort Dearborn is fought between United States troops and Potawatomi at what is now Chicago.

1824 – The Marquis de Lafayette, the last surviving French general of the American Revolutionary War, arrives in New York and begins a tour of 24 states.

1843 – The Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu, Hawaii is dedicated. Now the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, it is the oldest Roman Catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States.

1907 – Ordination in Constantinople of Fr. Raphael Morgan, the first African-American Orthodox priest, "Priest-Apostolic" to America and the West Indies.

1914 – A male servant of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright sets fire to the living quarters of the latter's Wisconsin home, Taliesin, murders seven people and burns the living quarters to the ground.

1914 – The Panama Canal opens to traffic with the transit of the cargo ship SS Ancon.

1915 – A story in New York World newspaper reveals that the Imperial German government had purchased excess phenol from Thomas Edison that could be used to make explosives for the war effort and diverted it to Bayer for aspirin production.

1935 – Will Rogers and Wiley Post are killed after their aircraft develops engine problems during takeoff in Barrow, Alaska.

1939 – The Wizard of Oz premieres at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, California.

1942 – World War II: Operation Pedestal: The SS Ohio reaches the island of Malta barely afloat carrying vital fuel supplies for the island's defenses.

1944 – World War II: Operation Dragoon: Allied forces land in southern France.

1945 – Effective surrender of Japan in World War II, Korea gains Independence from Japan.

1965 – The Beatles play to nearly 60,000 fans at Shea Stadium in New York City, an event later regarded as the birth of stadium rock.

1969 – The Woodstock Music & Art Fair opens in upstate New York, featuring some of the top rock musicians of the era.

1970 – Patricia Palinkas becomes the first woman to play professionally in an American football game.

1971 – President Richard Nixon completes the break from the gold standard by ending convertibility of the United States dollar into gold by foreign investors.

1973 – Vietnam War: The United States bombing of Cambodia ends.

1977 – The Big Ear, a radio telescope operated by Ohio State University as part of the SETI project, receives a radio signal from deep space; the event is named the "Wow! signal" from the notation made by a volunteer on the project.

1995 – In South Carolina, Shannon Faulkner becomes the first female cadet matriculated at The Citadel (she drops out less than a week later).

2013 – The Smithsonian announces the discovery of the olinguito, the first new carnivoran species found in the Americas in 35 years.


1859 – Charles Comiskey, American baseball player and manager (d. 1931)

1860 – Florence Harding, American publisher, 31st First Lady of the United States (d. 1924)

1879 – Ethel Barrymore, American actress (d. 1959)

1885 – Edna Ferber, American author and playwright (d. 1968)

1909 – Hugo Winterhalter, American composer and bandleader (d. 1973)

1912 – Julia Child, American chef and author (d. 2004)

1914 – Paul Rand, American graphic designer and art director (d. 1996)

1922 – Leonard Baskin, American sculptor and illustrator (d. 2000)

1923 – Rose Marie, American actress and singer

1924 – Phyllis Schlafly, American lawyer and activist

1925 – Bill Pinkney, American singer (The Drifters) (d. 2007)

1932 – Jim Lange, American game show host (d. 2014)

1944 – Linda Ellerbee, American journalist and author

1950 – Tom Kelly, American baseball player and manager

1964 – Melinda Gates, American businesswoman and philanthropist, co-founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

1972 – Ben Affleck, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter

1978 – Kerri Walsh Jennings, American volleyball player

1990 – Jennifer Lawrence, American actress


1917 – Thomas J. Higgins, American sergeant, Medal of Honor recipient (b. 1831)

1935 – Wiley Post, American pilot (b. 1898)

1935 – Will Rogers, American actor, singer, and screenwriter (b. 1879)

1995 – John Cameron Swayze, American journalist and actor (b. 1906)

2015 – Julian Bond, American academic and politician (b. 1940)