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This Month In History: August

August 22, 2020

Here is a roundup of historic events that occurred in the month of August!

August 3rd, 1492: Columbus Expedition

Replica of Columbus’ ship Santa Maria Public Domain

Ninety men and three ships accompanied Christopher Columbus as he set sail from Spain in 1492. Columbus had an interesting theory—since the world is round, he could set sail toward the West and arrive at the eastern end of the map, near India. The only challenge with the theory? The world is much bigger than he’d assumed. That meant Columbus and his crew actually landed in The Bahamas, but incorrectly declared it to be India.

August 6, 1945: Hiroshima Atomic Bomb

By George R. Caron – Nagasakibomb.jpgAtomic_cloud_over_Hiroshima.jpg, Public Domain,

Did you know that the United States is the only country to have ever used an atomic bomb in war? In the 1940s, Japan wasn’t ready to surrender after World War II, and the United States chose to bomb instead of invading the country. President Harry Truman approved the decision in July 1945.

The bomb dropped on August 6th, 1945, and another atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki three days later. More than 150,000 people died between the two bombings, and to this day, a debate rages on whether the United States should have chosen to drop the bombs.

August 13th, 1899: Alfred Hitchcock Was Born

By Studio publicity still – Dr. Macro, Public Domain

Do you like scary, suspenseful movies? Then, meet Alfred Hitchcock, a British director and filmmaker considered one of the most famous moviemakers of his time and even today. Nicknamed the “Master of Suspense,” Hitchcock created more than fifty movies focused on drama, suspense, and danger. Fun fact: Hitchcock made a clever little appearance in each of his movies, a trick that kept his fans guessing when he would appear. When referring to the suspense in his movies, he once famously said, “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.”

August 18th, 1920: Can Women Finally Vote Now?

By Benjamin Moran Dale for the National American Women Suffrage Association; restored by Adam Cuerden Via Library of Congress

After decades of protests, women finally secured the right to vote with the ratification (or update) of the Nineteenth Amendment on August 18th, 1920. How long did it take from the first step of being introduced in Congress? Forty-two years! Even after the amendment passed the Senate and House of Representatives, it still needed a state majority to pass—and on August 18th, the state of Tennessee helped by being the thirty-sixth state to approve the ratification.

While on the topic of voting, did you know that it wasn’t until August 1965 that the Voting Rights Act was signed into place to ensure that African Americans were allowed to vote? But wait, doesn’t the law prohibit states from denying the right to vote based on race? Indeed it does. But until 1965, many local authorities insisted that African Americans pass a literacy test, or recite the US Constitution to be eligible to vote, even though white voters were not required to do the same!

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