News, Events, Birthdays, History - August 20 - August 26
August 20, 1833 - Benjamin Harrison
23rd president of the U.S. (Republican). from 1889 to 1893. A number of milestones were reached during Harrison's one-term presidency. Six additional states were admitted into the Union (North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho and Wyoming), and annual federal spending reached one billion dollars for the first time ever. In Harrison's bid for re-election, the Democrats attacked the "Billion Dollar Congress", and used the issue to defeat the Republicans. How times have changed...some 70 years later Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen was credited with this remark - "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking real money".
August 22, 1834 - Samuel Pierpont Langley
Langley was an American astronomer, physicist and aviation pioneer for whom Langley Air Force Base in Virginia was named.
August 23, 1785 - Oliver Hazard Perry
Perry was an American naval hero, and is perhaps best remembered for his announcement of victory at the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813. Perry said: "We have met the enemy, and they are ours".
August 21, 1965 - Gemini 5 - Space Milestone
Launched on this date, this craft - carrying astronauts Lieutenant Colonel Coopoer and Lieutenant Commander Conrad orbited Earth 128 times and set a new international record of eight days in space.
August 21, 1959 - Hawaii Admission Day - 50th Anniversary
On this day in 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a proclamation making Hawaii the 50th state in the Union. Hawaii is the only state made up entirely of islands, and has a current population of roughly 1.3 million residents. How many of you didn't realize that Hawaii wasn't a state back on December 7th, 1941 when the Japanese bombed America's Pacific fleet stationed in Hawaii's Pearl Harbor? At that time, Hawaii was a "territory" of the United States.
August 21, 1858 - Lincoln / Douglas Debates
A series of seven debates that took place between August 21st and October 15, 1858, these verbal contests were covered extensively by the local and national press, and were instrumental in Lincoln's eventual nomination for President of the United States in 1860. The format of the debates was vastly different than those of recent years. One candidate spoke for 60 minutes, then the other candidate spoke for 90 minutes, and then the first candidate was allowed a 30-minute "rejoinder".
August 24, 2006 - Pluto Demoted
Pluto was initially discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, an astronomer from Kansas working at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. The discovery made front page news around the world, and a contest to name the new planet was soon underway. "Pluto" was proposed by an eleven-year-old schoolgirl in Oxford, England, and in a vote cast by Lowell astronomers, it bested two other finalists - "Minerva", and "Cronus". Alas, in 2006 Pluto's classification as a planet was unceremoniously removed and Pluto was demoted to "dwarf planet" status. In January 2007, the American Dialect Society chose "plutoed" as its 2006 Word of the Year, defining "to pluto" as "to demote or devalue someone or something". Used in a sentence, it might come in handy when telling your spouse that you've just been given a demotion at work - "Honey, I've been plutoed".
August 26, 1883 - Krakatoa Eruption
With all of the focus on the extreme weather of recent years - hurricanes, climate change and so on - consider this...in the past 126 years there has been no explosion - man-made or natural, that has come close to the magnitude of the volcanic eruption on the Indonesian island of Krakatoa in 1883. The eruption was equivalent to a 200 megaton explosion - about 13,000 times that of the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima during World War II. The explosion destroyed 165 villages and towns, heavily damaged another 132, resulted in at least 36,417 fatalities, and was heard as far as 3,000 miles away,