This Day in History

August 16


1296      devastating fire destroys almost the entire city of Ragusa, now Dubrovnik, Croatia   722
1419      Wenceslaus, King of the Romans (Germany and Bohemia) dies, age 58 after a reign of 41 years   599
1705      Swiss mathematician Jacob Bernouli dies in Basel, age 50   313
1777      Battle of Bennington—revolutionary forces decisively defeat a British detachment in New York near the Vermont border   241
1812      American commander William Hull surrenders Fort Detroit without a fight to what he believes is a superior British army   206
1836      French mathematician Marc-Antoine Parseval dies, age 81   182
1858      first transatlantic telegram is sent by Queen Victoria to President James Buchanan on newly completed cable   160
1870      Battle of Mars-la-Tour in northeast France during the Franco-Prussian War results in a Prussian victory over the French   148
1891      The Basilica of San Sebastian in Manila, the only all-steel church in Asia, is completed and officially inaugurated   127
1896      gold discovered in Canada on Bonanza Creek sets off the Klondike gold rush   122
1898      Phobe, a moon of Saturn, is first to be discovered photographically–William Henry Pickering   120
1899      German chemist Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen dies in Heidelberg, age 88   119
1906      estimated 8.2 earthquake destroys much of Valparaiso, Chile—3886 die   112
1914      Battle of Cer in Serbia commences—ends 3 days later with first Allied victory of the Great War   104
1920      English scientist and astronomer Joseph Norman Lockyer dies in Devon, England, age 84   98
1920      Roy Chapman is hit in the head by a dirty pitched ball, dies the next day, age 29—second fatality in Major League Baseball   98
1930      first animated sound cartoon in color, "Fiddlesticks" is released by Iwerks Studio and illustrator Ub Iwerks   88
1930      first Commonwealth Games opens in Hamilton, Ontario as British Empire Games   88
1944      British engineer John Logie Baird gives the world's first demonstration of a fully electronic color television display   74
1946      Direct Action Day in Calcutta is the beginning of three-days of riots that leave over 4000 dead and 100,000 homeless   72
1948      Major League Baseball player George Herman "Babe" Ruth, Jr. dies at age 53   70
1952      American portraitist artist Lydia Field Emmet dies, age 86   66
1954      first issue of Sports Illustrated   64
1957      American chemist and physicist and Nobel laureate (1932) Irving Langmuir dies in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, age 76   61
1960      Joseph Kittinger parachutes from a balloon at 102,800 ft—record high-altitude jump until 2012   58
1973      Ukrainian-born, Jewish-American inventor, biochemist, microbiologist, and Nobel laureate (1952) Selman Abraham Waksman dies, age 85   45
1977      rock singer Elvis Presley, is found dead in Graceland, age 42   41
1996      first MLB regular season series played outside U.S. and Canada—Padres beat Mets in Monterrey, Mexico   22
1998      Harlem Renaissance novelist and short story writer Dorothy West dies in Boston, age 91   20
2005      English author William Corlett dies in France, age 66   13
2008      Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago is topped off at 1,389 ft (423 m)—is the world's highest residence above ground-level   10
2010      China surpasses Japan to become the world's second largest economy   8
2012      Belgian documentary and portrait photographer Martine Franck dies in Paris, age 74   6
2012      South African police fatally shoot 34 miners and wound 78 more during an industrial dispute at Marikana near Rustenburg   6
2013      English mathematician David Rees dies, age 95   5
2013      Philippine passenger ferry MV St. Thomas Aquinas sinks in the Cebu Strait after colliding with a cargo ship—108 die of 831 aboard   5
2015      Mexico-born Israeli-American theoretical physicist Jacob David Bekenstein dies in Helsinki, age 68   3
2015      Jason Day wins 97th PGA Championship with a record score for a major championship of 20 under par   3
2015      NASA Sounding Rocket launches from Wallops Island with a record total of 44 rocket engines—37 generate plasma clouds for study   3
2016      China launches Quantum Science Satellite (Micius)—first mission to test ultra-secure quantum communications in orbit   2
2017      international treaty Minamata Convention on Mercury goes into effect   1
2018      American singer and songwriter, "The Queen of Soul," Aretha Louise Franklin dies in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, age 76   0

Dates are always somewhat ambiguous, the exact date depends on whether local time is used (and local time where) or Universal Time—for events on the surface of the Earth, local time is probably best but for an event that spans across the planet, it is not clear which local time to use!. For events in space it is more ambiguous. Further for dates after the original adoption of the Gregorian calendar but before it became accepted in different countries, the date given may be a Julian date or a Gregorian date depending upon where the event occurred. And, even the year may be different since the first of the year has not always been January 1 in all countries! The attempt is to use a date that is the one that is typically given.

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