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This Day in History: August 20


1707 – The first Siege of Pensacola comes to end with the failure of the British to capture Pensacola, Florida.

1775 – The Spanish establish the Presidio San Augustin del Tucson in the town that became Tucson, Arizona.

1794 – Battle of Fallen Timbers: American troops force a confederacy of Shawnee, Mingo, Delaware, Wyandot, Miami, Ottawa, Chippewa, and Potawatomi warriors into a disorganized retreat.

1866 – President Andrew Johnson formally declares the American Civil War over.

1910 – The Great Fire of 1910 (also commonly referred to as the "Big Blowup" or the "Big Burn") occurs in northeast Washington, northern Idaho (the panhandle), and western Montana, burning approximately 3 million acres (12,000 km2).

1920 – The first commercial radio station, 8MK (now WWJ), begins operations in Detroit.

1938 – Lou Gehrig hits his 23rd career grand slam, a record that stood for 75 years until it was broken by Alex Rodriguez.

1940 – World War II: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill makes the fourth of his famous wartime speeches, containing the line "Never was so much owed by so many to so few".

1944 – World War II: 168 captured allied airmen, including Phil Lamason, accused by the Gestapo of being "terror fliers", arrive at Buchenwald concentration camp.

1950 – Korean War: United Nations repel an offensive by North Korean divisions attempting to cross the Nakdong River and assault the city of Taegu.

1975 – Viking program: NASA launches the Viking 1 planetary probe toward Mars.

1977 – Voyager program: NASA launches the Voyager 2 spacecraft.

1986 – In Edmond, Oklahoma, U.S. Postal employee Patrick Sherrill guns down 14 of his co-workers and then commits suicide.

1998 – U.S. embassy bombings: The United States launches cruise missile attacks against alleged al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and a suspected chemical weapons plant in Sudan in retaliation for the August 7 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.


1833 – Benjamin Harrison, American general, lawyer, and politician, 23rd President of the United States (d. 1901)

1881 – Edgar Guest, English-American poet and author (d. 1959)

1890 – H. P. Lovecraft, American author and poet (d. 1937)

1907 – Alan Reed, American actor (d. 1977)

1931 – Don King, American boxing promoter

1933 – George J. Mitchell, American lieutenant, lawyer, and politician

1946 – Connie Chung, American journalist

1954 – Al Roker, American journalist, actor, and author


1961 – Percy Williams Bridgman, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1882)

2006 – Joe Rosenthal, American photographer and journalist (b. 1911)

2007 – Leona Helmsley, American businesswoman (b. 1920)

2012 – Phyllis Diller, American actress, singer, and dancer (b. 1917)

2017 - Jerry Lewis, American actor and comedian (b. 1926)