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This Day in History: August 19


1692 – Salem witch trials: In Salem, Province of Massachusetts Bay, five people, one woman and four men, including a clergyman, are executed after being convicted of witchcraft.

1782 – American Revolutionary War: Battle of Blue Licks: The last major engagement of the war, almost ten months after the surrender of the British commander Charles Cornwallis following the Siege of Yorktown.

1812 – War of 1812: American frigate USS Constitution defeats the British frigate HMS Guerriere off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada earning the nickname "Old Ironsides".

1848 – California Gold Rush: The New York Herald breaks the news to the East Coast of the United States of the gold rush in California (although the rush started in January).

1854 – The First Sioux War begins when United States Army soldiers kill Lakota chief Conquering Bear and in return are massacred.

1862 – American Indian Wars: During an uprising in Minnesota, Lakota warriors decide not to attack heavily-defended Fort Ridgely and instead turn to the settlement of New Ulm, killing white settlers along the way.

1895 – American frontier murderer and outlaw John Wesley Hardin is killed by an off-duty policeman in a saloon in El Paso, Texas.

1909 – The first automobile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

1934 – The first All-American Soap Box Derby is held in Dayton, Ohio.

1934 – The creation of the position Führer is approved by the German electorate with 89.9% of the popular vote.

1940 – First flight of the B-25 Mitchell medium bomber.

1942 – World War II: Operation Jubilee: The 2nd Canadian Infantry Division leads an amphibious assault by allied forces on Dieppe, France and fails, many Canadians are killed or captured. The operation was intended to develop and try new amphibious landing tactics for the coming full invasion in Normandy.

1944 – World War II: Liberation of Paris: Paris, France rises against German occupation with the help of Allied troops.

1955 – In the Northeast United States, severe flooding caused by Hurricane Diane, claims 200 lives.

1981 – Gulf of Sidra Incident: United States fighters intercept and shoot down two Libyan Sukhoi Su-22 fighter jets over the Gulf of Sidra.

1989 – Several hundred East Germans cross the frontier between Hungary and Austria during the Pan-European Picnic, part of the events that began the process of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

1991 – Dissolution of the Soviet Union, August Coup: Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is placed under house arrest while on holiday in the town of Foros, Ukraine.

1991 – Crown Heights riot: Black groups target Hasidic Jews on the streets of Crown Heights in New York City for three days, after two black children were hit by a car driven by a Hasidic man.


1870 – Bernard Baruch, American businessman and philanthropist (d. 1965)

1871 – Orville Wright, American engineer and pilot, co-founded the Wright Company (d. 1948)

1902 – Ogden Nash, American poet and author (d. 1971)

1915 – Ring Lardner, Jr., American journalist and screenwriter (d. 2000)

1919 – Malcolm Forbes, American publisher and politician (d. 1990)

1921 – Gene Roddenberry, American screenwriter and producer (d. 1991)

1930 – Frank McCourt, American author and educator (d. 2009)

1931 – Bill Shoemaker, American jockey and author (d. 2003)

1934 – David Durenberger, American soldier, lawyer, and politician

1942 – Fred Thompson, American actor, lawyer, and politician (d. 2015)

1944 – Charles Wang, Chinese-American businessman and philanthropist, co-founded Computer Associates International

1946 – Charles Bolden, American general and astronaut

1946 – Bill Clinton, American lawyer and politician, 42nd President of the United States

1948 – Tipper Gore, American author and photographer, co-founded the Parents Music Resource Center

1952 – Jonathan Frakes, American actor and director

1953 – Mary Matalin, American political consultant

1963 – John Stamos, American actor, singer, and producer

1965 – Kyra Sedgwick, American actress and producer


1692 – John Proctor, English-American farmer (b. 1632)

1895 – John Wesley Hardin, American criminal (b. 1853)

1977 – Groucho Marx, American comedian, actor, and singer (b. 1890)

1994 – Linus Pauling, American chemist and biologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1901)

2009 – Don Hewitt, American television producer, created 60 Minutes (b. 1922)

2017 - Dick Gregory, American comedian and activist (b. 1932)