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This Day in History: June 20


1631 – The sack of Baltimore: The Irish village of Baltimore is attacked by Algerian pirates.

1819 – The U.S. vessel SS Savannah arrives at Liverpool, United Kingdom. It is the first steam-propelled vessel to cross the Atlantic, although most of the journey is made under sail.

1840 – Samuel Morse receives the patent for the telegraph.

1862 – Barbu Catargiu, the Prime Minister of Romania, is assassinated.

1863 – American Civil War: West Virginia is admitted as the 35th U.S. state.

1877 – Alexander Graham Bell installs the world's first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

1893 – Lizzie Borden is acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother.

1900 – Boxer Rebellion: The Imperial Chinese Army begins a 55-day siege of the Legation Quarter in Beijing, China.

1941 – The United States Army Air Corps is deprecated to being the American training and logistics section of what is known until 1947 as the United States Army Air Forces, just two days before Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union.

1942 – The Holocaust: Kazimierz Piechowski and three others, dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, steal an SS staff car and escape from the Auschwitz concentration camp.

1943 – The Detroit race riot breaks out and continues for three more days.

1944 – World War II: The Battle of the Philippine Sea concludes with a decisive U.S. naval victory. The lopsided naval air battle is also known as the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot".

1945 – The United States Secretary of State approves the transfer of Wernher von Braun and his team of Nazi rocket scientists to America.

1948 – Toast of the Town, later The Ed Sullivan Show, makes its television debut.

1963 – The so-called "red telephone" link is established between the Soviet Union and the United States following the Cuban Missile Crisis.

1972 – Watergate scandal: An 18½-minute gap appears in the tape recording of the conversations between U.S. President Richard Nixon and his advisers regarding the recent arrests of his operatives while breaking into the Watergate complex.

1975 – The film Jaws is released in the United States, becoming the highest-grossing film of that time and starting the trend of films known as "summer blockbusters".

1979 – ABC News correspondent Bill Stewart is shot dead by a Nicaraguan soldier under the regime of Anastasio Somoza Debayle. The murder is caught on tape and sparks an international outcry against the regime.

2001 – Andrea Yates, in an attempt to save her young children from Satan, drowns all five of them in a bathtub in Houston, Texas.

2003 – The Wikimedia Foundation is founded in St. Petersburg, Florida.


1770 – Moses Waddel, American minister and academic (d. 1840)

1884 – Mary R. Calvert, American astronomer and author (d. 1974)

1905 – Lillian Hellman, American playwright and screenwriter (d. 1984)

1909 – Errol Flynn, Australian-American actor, singer, and producer (d. 1959)

1921 – Byron Farwell, American historian and author (d. 1999)

1923 – Peter Gay, German-American historian, author, and academic (d. 2015)

1925 – Audie Murphy, American lieutenant and actor Medal of Honor recipient (d. 1971)

1931 – Olympia Dukakis, American actress

1942 – Brian Wilson, American singer-songwriter and producer (The Beach Boys and California Music)

1946 – Bob Vila, American television host

1949 – Lionel Richie, American singer-songwriter, pianist, producer, and actor (Commodores)

1967 – Nicole Kidman, American-Australian actress


1947 – Bugsy Siegel, American mobster (b. 1906)

2012 – LeRoy Neiman, American painter (b. 1921)

2017 - Prodigy, American rapper (b. 1974)