#TodayInHistory – August 194 min read
August 19 – Some important events on this day.
43 BC 👉🏼 Octavian, later known as Augustus, compels the Roman Senate to elect him Consul
1274 👉🏼 Edward I is crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey after returning from the Ninth Crusade
1692 👉🏼 Five more people hanged for witchcraft (20 in all) in Salem, Massachusetts.
Perhaps the most notorious case of mass hysteria in colonial America, the Salem witch trials saw around 200 people accused of witchcraft, with 19 found guilty and executed. Another man was crushed to death for refusing to plead, while five others died in jail.
The incident began in February 1692 when a group of young girls claimed to have been possessed by the devil and accused other women of being witches. Hysteria spread through colonial Massachusetts and a special court was convened to hear trials of those accused.
By September public opinion turned against the trials and they eventually closed early in 1693. The cases became notorious and were interpreted by later generations as a warning sign against the dangers of religious fanaticism, isolation and lapses in due process. In 1711 the convictions of twenty-two people were reversed by the courts and their families were given monetary compensation.
1839 👉🏼 Details of Louis Daguerre’s 1st practical photographic process are released in Paris
1895 👉🏼 American frontier murderer and outlaw, John Wesley Hardin, is killed by an off-duty policeman in a saloon in El Paso, Texas.
1900 👉🏼 Start of the one and only Olympic cricket match, in Paris
1914 👉🏼 In a message to the Senate, US President Woodrow Wilson urges the American people to be ‘neutral in fact as well as name’
1919 👉🏼 Afghanistan declares independence from UK
1934 👉🏼 Adolf Hitler, already chancellor, is also elected president of Germany in an unprecedented consolidation of power in the short history of the republic.
1941 👉🏼 Romania annexes the Transnistria territory from the Soviet Union after Operation Barbarossa.
On 22 June 1941 Nazi Germany and its allies launched the largest invasion in military history when they attacked the Soviet Union across a 2,900km (1,800 mi) front line with more than 3 million troops. Operation Barbarossa was a decisive moment in World War II, as up until the attack on Russia, Germany had dominated the European continent with a series of successful military occupations and alliances.
After an initial series of successful gains, the Axis advance halted after the failed attempt to capture Moscow at the end of 1941, by which time the infamous Russian winter had begun to set in. This allowed the Russians to launch counteroffensives, and the Germans were never again able to seize the offensive and were instead forced into a war of attrition. The failure of the invasion sealed Germany’s fate and awoke the sleeping Russian beast which swept westward and into Berlin by 1945.
The war in the Soviet Union was the most disastrous theater of war in human history. It carried with it gigantic human costs – 26 million civilian deaths in Russia alone – as well as the beginning of the mass extermination of Jews in the Holocaust. More people died fighting in the East than in any other theater of World War II.
1942 👉🏼 World War II: Over 4,000 Canadian and British soldiers killed, wounded or captured raiding Dieppe, France
1970 👉🏼 The Chinese Community in South Africa is granted ‘White’ status
1988 👉🏼 Iran-Iraq begin a cease-fire in their 8-year-old war (11 PM EDT)
1991 👉🏼 Conservative members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union attempt to depose Mikhail Gorbachev in a coup d’état
2001 👉🏼 German Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher wins the Hungarian Grand prix at the Hungaroring to clinch his 4th F1 World Drivers Championship and equal Alain Prost’s record of 51 Grand Prix victories
2010 👉🏼 Operation Iraqi Freedom ends, with the last of the United States brigade combat teams crossing the border to Kuwait
2014 👉🏼 NASA satellites take photos showing that the eastern basin of the Aral Sea had for the first time completely dried up.
One of the worst environmental disasters on Earth (and one of the least known), the drying of the Aral Sea has economically devastated the once-prosperous fishing region around it in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The area where its eastern basin dried up is now called the Aralkum Desert.
Several initiatives have been underway for a number of years to refill the sea, but in August 2014 satellite photos confirmed that its eastern basin had for the first time completely dried up.