ON THIS DAY: August 17, 2020

August 17th is

Black Cat Appreciation Day *

I Love My Feet Day *

National Non-Profit Day *

National Thrift Shop Day

Vanilla Custard Day


MORE! Pauline Young, Miles Davis and Ivonne Higuero, click



Argentina – San Martín Day
(Liberator José de San Martín)

Bolivia – Flag Day

Columbia – Engineer’s Day

Gabon – Jour de l’Indépendance 
(National day)

Indonesia – Independence Day

Jamaica – Marcus Garvey Day


On This Day in HISTORY

986 – Byzantine-Bulgarian Wars, Battle of the Gates of Trajan: The Bulgarians under the Comitopuli Samuil and Aron defeat Byzantine forces at the Gates of Trajan (now in modern Bulgaria’s Sredna Gora mountains) which Byzantine Emperor Basil II, who was leading his army, barely escaped

1386 – Karl Topia, feudal prince of Albania, forges an alliance with the Republic of Venice, receiving coastal protection against the Ottomans in return for committing to participate in all wars of the Republic

1498 – Cesare Borgia, illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI and Vannozza dei Cattanei, becomes the first person in history to resign the cardinalate; later that same day, King Louis XII of France names him Duke of Valentinois

1560 – The Scottish ‘Reformation’ Parliament adopts a ‘confession of faith’ based on the theology of John Calvin, effectively making the Reformed faith led by John Knox the state religion. Mary Queen of Scots, a Catholic, refuses to sign it

1585 – Colonists sent by Sir Walter Raleigh to Roanoke Island, land in the ‘New World’

1601 – Pierre de Fermat born, French mathematician, lawyer and politician; known for Fermat’s principle for light propagation and Fermat’s Last Theorem in number theory

1686 – Nicola Antonio Porpora born, Italian composer

1755 – Thomas Stothard born, English painter, designer and illustrator

Canterbury Pilgrims, by Thomas Stothard

1784 – Composer Luigi Boccherini gets a 12000 real pay raise from his employer Infante Luis Antonio, younger brother of Spanish King Charles III

1786 – Davy Crockett born, frontiersman, politician and hero of the Alamo

1790 – The U.S. capital moves from Philadelphia to New York City

1798 – Thomas Hodgkin born, British physician and pathologist, pioneer in preventive medicine; a Quaker, abolitionist, advocate for reduction of the impact of western colonization on indigenous peoples, co-founding the Aborigines Protection Society

1801 – Fredrika Bremer born, Swedish writer and feminist reformer. In the 1840s and 1850s, her Sketches of Everyday Life were extremely popular in Britain and the U.S., where she was hailed as the “Swedish Jane Austen” and greatly increased the popularity of the realist novel in Sweden. Her work as a reformer began because she found the role of a debutante in Stockholm’s upper-class society intolerably stultifying, and started doing charity work, including volunteering at a hospital. She sought a publisher for her writing as a means to earn funds for her charity projects. Her four-volume Sketches of Everyday Life, originally published as an anonymous serial from 1828 to 1831, became an immediate success. Under the terms of Sweden’s 1734 civil code, all unmarried women were minors under the guardianship of their closest male relative until they married and became wards of their husbands; only widowed and divorced women were of legal majority. Under this law, her elder brother had complete control over her finances, even though he had squandered the family fortune during the ten years after their father’s death. The sole recourse of unmarried women was an appeal to the King to become emancipated.  In her late 30s, she successfully petitioned King Charles XIV for emancipation from her brother’s wardship. In her 50s, she wrote the novel Hertha, a story which was an example out the injustice of this system, and included an appendix recounting recent court cases related to the legal status of adult Swedish women. It launched a social movement which ultimately won all Swedish women automatic legal majority at age 25.  It also inspired Sophie Adlersparre to begin publishing the Home Review, Sweden’s first women’s magazine. In 1842, Bremer published Morning Watches, the first work she published under her own name. She founded the Stockholm Women’s Society for Children’s Care to help the orphans left by a cholera outbreak in 1853. She also founded the Women’s Society for the Betterment of Prisoners, to provide female inmates with moral guidance and rehabilitation. She died in 1865 at the age of 64. In 1884, the Fredrika Bremer Association was founded, the first women’s rights organization in Sweden

1807 – Robert Fulton’s North River Steamboat leaves New York City for Albany NY on the Hudson River, launching the first commercial steamboat service in the world

1815 – Napoleon arrives on St Helena to begin in his exile

1834 – Peter Benoit born, Belgian composer

1837 – Charlotte Forten Grimké born, African American abolitionist, and poet, taught South Carolina freedmen; her diaries were published as The Journal of Charlotte Forten

1838 – Laura de Force Gordon born, American lawyer, editor and women’s rights activist, editor and manager of the Stockton Daily Leader in 1873, instrumental in obtaining the right for women to practice law in California

1858 – Caroline Bartlett Crane born, American suffragist, educator, journalist, reformer, and Unitarian minister. In 1889 Bartlett became pastor of the First Unitarian Church of Kalamazoo, and led the church in starting the first free public kindergarten, a school of manual training and domestic science, a gymnasium for women, a day nursery, a cafeteria and the Frederick Douglass Club for the “young colored people of the city.” The church continued to expand until it outgrew its building. In 1894, the church moved into a new building, renamed “People’s Church.” She was also known for public health and sanitation reforms, inspected and wrote sanitary surveys for over 60 cities, campaigned for meat inspection ordinances, and succeeded: before 1900, Michigan had the highest standards in the nation

1859 – John Wise leaves Lafayette, Indiana in a hot air balloon, attempting to deliver a mail bag of 100 letters to New York City – He had to land after only 27 miles

1863 – Geneva Stratton-Porter born, American author as ‘Gene’ Stratton-Porter, columnist, naturalist, wildlife photographer and best-selling author during her lifetime, known for her novel A Girl of the Limberlost

1887 – Marcus Garvey born in Jamaica, journalist and orator, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association; advocate for a ‘return to Africa’ by African-Americans

1890 – Harry Hopkins born, American social worker, close adviser and a speechwriter for Franklin Roosevelt; involved in developing the Works Progress Administration; Secretary of Commerce (1938-1940); WWII policy maker and troubleshooter on America’s Lend-Lease program that aided the European Allies

1893 – Mae West born, American performer, star of stage and screen, playwright, screenwriter, and witty sex symbol; noted for amusing and bawdy double entendres, she was often in trouble with the censors. Her 1927 play Sex, which she wrote, then played the starring role, ran for 10 months on Broadway before a grand jury found it to be such an “obscene, indecent, immoral, and impure drama” that it might corrupt “the morals of youth,” West was sentenced to 10 days in jail for obscenity, and travelled there in style – garlanded in roses, wearing silk underwear and riding in a limousine. Sex made her both notorious and a star.  Her films include She Done Him Wrong, I’m No Angel and My Little Chickadee

1900 – Vivienne de Watteville born, British travel writer and adventurer. Her mother died when she was 9, and afterwards her father referred to her as “Murray, my son.” In 1923, Vivienne, age 24, took charge, after her father was killed by a lion, of a hunting and fauna-specimen-collecting (she handled all the taxidermy) expedition to the Congo and Uganda. Her first book, Out in the Blue, is a description of her experiences on safari. She spent months (1928-1929) in Kenya photographing and filming elephants, camping for 5 months in the Massai Game Preserve with porters from the 1923-1924 expedition and her Irish Setter, then 2 months on Mount Kenya collecting seeds and sketching flora; when she got a bad toothache, she pulled out the tooth herself with pliers; her second book, Speak to the Earth: Wanderings among Elephants and Mountains, was published in 1935; her last book, Seeds that the Wind may bring, is a soul-searching account of a her impulsive decision to rent a house on Port-Cros off the Côte d’Azur, after a visit with her Swiss grandmother, thinking of using it as a “rest-home for world-weary friends.” This idyll turned into a tension-fraught winter of high winds and her young Italian servant becoming passionately obsessed with her, then driven to frenzies of jealousy when her friend “Bunt” (Captain George Gerard Goschen) came to visit. Bunt shared her love of solitude, natural beauty, music and games. In spite of her fears about losing her freedom, and saddling herself with the wrong companion for the rest of her life, she finally allowed herself to fall in love with Bunt, and they became engaged. They married in July 1930, move to Shropshire, and had two children, David and Tana (named for the River Tana in Kenya). Seeds that the Wind may bring wasn’t published until 1965, eight years after her death from cancer. Ernest Hemingway was influenced by her two books on Africa, and originally included a quote from Speak to the Earth as an epigraph to his story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”

1900 – Pauline A. Young born, African-American historian, teacher, librarian, and community activist. Her father died when she was a child, and her family moved from Massachusetts to Wilmington, Delaware, to live with her mother’s family. She and her siblings were raised by her mother, grandmother and her aunt, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, a writer and activist who greatly influenced Pauline. Pauline joined the NAACP at the age of 12, and remained a participating member for the rest of her life. Civil Rights activists and writers such as W.E.B. DuBois and James Weldon Johnson would stop overnight at their house while traveling because there was no hotel in the area which would allow Negro guests. She went to Howard High School, the only school for black children in the state of Delaware, where her mother and aunt both taught. Young became the only black student in her class at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, earning a B.A. in history and English, then did some graduate work on educational tests and measurements. After two brief jobs in unrelated fields, she taught social studies and Latin at a segregated high school in Newport News, Virginia. There, she was thrown off a bus for refusing to give up her seat to a white man. She returned to Wilmington in 1928, and became a librarian, then a history and Latin Teacher, at her old high school. After receiving her graduate degree in 1935 from the Columbia University School of Library Service, she taught at the University of Southern California, then became a member of the press staff at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. In 1942, she completed 114 hours of ground school work and 12 hours of dual flight at the black-owned Coffey School of Aeronautics in Chicago. In 1943, she went through 50 hours of pre-flight instruction for teachers at Temple University, then taught pre-fight at Howard High’s night school. Young was chair of the Delaware NAACP education committee, and a coordinator of membership drives in Delaware, and during her time in Chicago. She also served on the Wilmington Council on Youth as the representative for the Wilmington Federation of Teachers. She wrote book reviews for The Baltimore Afro-American, The Wilson Bulletin for Librarians, and The Journal of Negro History, and countless letters to the editors of newspapers, and to publishing companies advocating for better Black representation and opportunities. She was a founder of the Delaware Fellowship Commission, which fought against segregated facilities and discriminatory hiring practices, and campaigned for equal opportunity for nurses’ training. Young wrote the chapter “The Negro in Delaware: Past and Present” in the three volume Delaware: a History of the First State, which was the first published comprehensive history of Black Americans in Delaware

1903 – Joseph Pulitzer donates $1 million to Columbia University, the beginning of the Pulitzer Prizes

Pulitzer Medal – Benjamin Franklin is shown in profile, a tribute
to this Founding Father’s years as a printer and publisher

1904 – John Hay Whitney born, known as ‘Jock’ Whitney; publisher of the New York Herald Tribune; U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James; president of the NY Museum of Modern Art

1906 – Hazel Bishop born, organic chemist, creator of “kiss-proof” lipstick in her home kitchen in 1949 ; during WWII, she was senior organic chemist at Standard Oil, and discovered the cause of deposits which were affecting superchargers of aircraft engines

1908 –Émile Cohl’s Fantasmagorie, the first animated cartoon, is shown in Paris

1920 – Lida Moser born, American ‘New York school’ photographer and author; noted for photojournalisn and street photography; she started as an assistant in photographer Berenice Abbott’s studio in 1947; she got her first independent assignment  from Vogue in 1949, travelling across Canada, then did work for Harper’s Bazaar, Look and Esquire. Moser wrote “Camera View” articles (1974-1981) for The New York Times and articles for many photography magazines. Also published both how-to books on photography and a number of collections of her photographs. Her work fetches prices in the thousands, and is displayed at over 40 museums worldwide

Olive and William Alwyn, by Lida Moser

1925 – John Hawkes born, American avant-garde novelist; Blood Oranges

1926 – Jean Poiret born, French director, actor and screenwriter-playwright; noted for the play, La Cage Aux Folles

Jean Poiret and Michel Serrault in La Cage Aux Folles

1928 – T.J. Anderson born, American composer, conductor and orchestrator

1932 – V.S. Naipaul born in Trinidad of East Indian parents, British novelist and travel book writer; 2001 Nobel Prize in Literature

1936 – Margaret Heafield Hamilton born, American computer scientist and systems engineer, noted for her paradigm of Development Before the Fact (DBFT) for systems and software design, and for coining the term, “software engineer.” Hamilton is the founder and CEO of Hamilton Technologies (since 1986). She was Director of the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, and lead developer of on-board flight software for NASA’s Apollo space program (1964-1973). Recipient of numerous awards, including the 1986 August Ada Lovelace Award, the 2003 NASA Exceptional Space Act Award, and a 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom

1945 – Indonesian nationalists declare their independence from the Netherlands

1945 – Rachel Pollack born, American science fiction, ‘magical realism’ fantasy novelist and comic book author; Unquenchable Fire won the 1989 Arthur C. Clarke Award;  Godmother Night won the 1997 World Fantasy Award; has also written non-fiction books on the Kabbalah, the Tarot and the history of the Goddess; she is a transsexual who writes frequently on transgender issues

1945 – George Orwell publishes Animal Farm in the UK

1946 – Martha Coolidge born, American filmmaker, producer, editor, and screenwriter; president of the Directors Guild of America (2002-2003); began her career making award-winning documentaries; noted for Not a Pretty Picture, Valley Girl, Rambling Rose, Real Genius and the television miniseries Introducing Dorothy Dandridge

1947 – Mohamed Abdelaziz born in Morocco, a secular Sahrawi nationalist, founding member of the Polisario Front, an independence movement in Western Sahara against Spanish colonialism. When Spain relinquished control of the area to Mauritania and Morocco in the 1975 Madrid accords, the Polisario declared the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) which led to the Western Sahara War (1975-1991); Abdelaziz was Secretary-General of the Polisario Front (1976-2016). The Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) seated Western Sahara for the first time, over Morocco’s vehement objections, in 1982. Abdelaziz became president of the SADR (1982-2016) the same year. In 1984, Morocco withdrew from the OAU

1953 – Herta Müller born in Romania of Banat Swabian heritage, German-language novelist, poet-lyricist and essayist; Müller won the 2009 Nobel Prize in literature; noted for depicting “the landscape of the dispossessed.” After publication in 1984 of her second book, Drückender Tango (Oppressive Tango), a collection of short stories, her work was banned in Romania, and she moved to Germany

1958 – Pioneer 0, America’s first attempt at lunar orbit, is launched and fails, one of the first attempted launches beyond Earth orbit

1959 – Miles Davis album Kind of Blue debuts, the best-selling Jazz album of all time

1960 – Gabon becomes independent from France

1961 – Construction of the Berlin Wall is completed by East Germany

1970 – NASA’s Venera 7 launches, which becomes the first spacecraft to successfully transmit data from the surface of another planet, Venus

1977 – Soviet icebreaker Arktika becomes the first surface ship to reach the North Pole

1978 – Double Eagle II is the first balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean, landing in Miserey, near Paris, 137 hours after leaving Presque Isle, Maine

1982 – U.S. Senate approves an immigration bill granting permanent resident status to illegal aliens who came to the U.S. before 1977

1998 – US President Bill Clinton admits in taped testimony that he had an “improper physical relationship” with White House intern Monica Lewinsky; later that day he admits before the nation that he “misled people” about the relationship.

1998 – Russia devalues the ruble

2002 – The Charles M. Schulz Museum opens in Santa Rosa, CA

2005 – Israeli Gaza Disengagement Plan: Israeli security forces execute the first forced evacuation of Israeli settlers who had refused to accept government compensation packages and voluntarily vacate their homes prior to the August 15 2005 deadline

2008 – U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps becomes first athlete to win 8 gold medals in a single Olympic Games

2011 – Wayne Morris starts Black Cat Appreciation Day * to honor his sister and her special bond with her black cat. She died on this day at the age of 33, just two months after her beloved 20-year-old cat Sinbad had passed away. Their father hadn’t wanted a “bad luck” black cat in house, but Sinbad eventually won him over

2015 – Carolyn D. Jenkins starts National I Love My Feet Day * to raise awareness of how to prevent long-term foot problems

2017 – National Non-Profit Day * is launched by Sherita J. Herring on the anniversary of the Tariff Act of 1894, which imposes federal income taxes on corporations, but exempts nonprofit organizations and charitable institutions

2017 – A 22-year-old Islamic jihadist drove a van into a crowd on La Rambla, a pedestrian street in Barcelona, Spain, killing 14 people and injuring over 130 others, then fled on foot, and killed another person to steal a car to make his escape. He was later found in a near-by village and shot to death by police. A second terrorist rammed a police barricade two hours after the first attack, injuring a police officer before fleeing, then abandoning the vehicle. They were part of a planned series of bombing attacks, but the plans miscarried the night before when explosives stockpiled by the terrorists destroyed the house they were using in Alcanar, killing two of the other terrorists

2019 – The triennial summit of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) began in Geneva, Switzerland.  The destruction of nature has reduced wildlife populations by 60% since 1970 and plant extinctions are running at a “frightening” rate, according to scientists. In May, 2019, the world’s leading researchers warned that humanity  was in jeopardy from the accelerating decline of the planet’s natural life-support systems, which provide the food, clean air and water on which society ultimately depends. Ivonne Higuero, the secretary general of Cites said, “We do depend on biodiversity. It is not just an environmental issue. There are so many species that, if they went extinct, would be sorely missed and we just don’t realise it.”


About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
This entry was posted in History, Holidays, On This Day and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to ON THIS DAY: August 17, 2020

Comments are closed.