On this date, August 19, in history:
In 1099, the armies of the First Crusade defeated the Saracens at the “Battle of Ascalon”, a historic Palestinian city on the Mediterranean coast, a month after capturing Jerusalem.
In 1561, Mary Queen of Scots returned from France to her homeland and became the Roman Catholic monarch of a country that was rapidly becoming Presbyterian.
In 1631, John Dryden, an English poet, translator, and playwright, was born.
In 1692, five women were hanged for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts. Their trials had begun after a book by Cotton Mather, a congressional minister in Boston, stirred clergy and parishioners after its publication in 1689. The hysteria in Salem was the basis for “The Crucible” by American playwright Arthur Miller. In 1693, the governor of Massachusetts ordered the release of all those arrested on charges of witchcraft.
In 1809, the first steamboat built in Canada, The Accommodation, was launched on the Saint Lawrence River in Montreal. Owned by brewer and banker John Molson, she carried 10 passengers to Quebec City from Montreal on her maiden voyage in late October.
In 1812, the USS Constitution, also known as the Old Ironsides, defeated the British frigate Guerriere in battle east of Nova Scotia during the War of 1812.
In 1839, the development of daguerreotype photography was announced in France.
In 1871, inventor Orville Wright was born in Dayton, Ohio.
In 1880, French acrobat Blondin walked a tightrope through Niagara Gorge with his manager on his back.
In 1909, the first automobile races were held at the newly opened Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The winner of the first event was automotive engineer Louis Schwitzer, who drove a Stoddard-Dayton touring car twice around the 4 km track at an average speed of 92.3 km/h.
In 1914, the British Navy torpedoed the German battleship Westfalen during World War I.
In 1914, Canada declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary at the start of World War I.
In 1918, Morley Thomas, one of Canada’s leading climatologists, was born near St. Thomas, Ontario.
In 1921, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was born.
In 1928 the Inuk sculptor Qaqaq Ashoona was born.
In 1942, 5,000 Canadian soldiers, supported by the British, carried out the disastrous attack on the French port of Dieppe. It was called a dress rehearsal for the eventual invasion of Nazi-occupied France. For Canada, it was the costliest day of World War II. More than 3,300 soldiers were killed, wounded or captured. Despite the losses, many military strategists viewed the raid as a valuable lesson for later seaborne landings. Two Canadians and one British soldier won Victoria Crosses that day.
In 1953, Israel’s parliament conferred posthumous Israeli citizenship on all Jews killed by the Nazis during the years of the Holocaust (1933-45) in Europe.
In 1954, the United States Congress passed a bill that banned the Communist Party.
In 1960, two dogs, Belka and Strelka, survived Earth orbit aboard a Soviet Sputnik spacecraft, becoming the first living beings to circle the Earth and return alive.
In 1966, more than 2,500 people died during an earthquake in eastern Turkey.
In 1974, the Rev. Wilbur Kenneth Howard was elected the first black moderator of the United Church of Canada.
In 1977, comedian Groucho Marx died in Los Angeles. He was 86 years old.
In 1978, the first transatlantic balloon crossing was completed. A balloon carrying three Americans ended its 138-hour flight in a field west of Paris.
In 1979, two Soviet cosmonauts returned from a then-record 175 days in space aboard the Salyut Six space station.
In 1979, Pope John Paul I called for the resumption of ties between the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church in China.
In 1980, a Saudi Arabian airliner made an emergency landing at Riyadh airport; 301 people died.
In 1982, Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the second woman to be launched into space.
In 1994, physicist and peace activist Linus Pauling, the only person to win two unshared Nobel Prizes, died at the age of 93.
In 1998, the McDonald’s restaurant in Squamish, BC became the fast food giant’s first establishment in North America to be unionized when it became CAW certified. Just a year later, the employees voted to expel the union.
In 2003, a suicide bombing on a bus in Jerusalem killed 21 people and injured about 100, including many children.
In 2003, 23 people, including two Canadian aid workers and the UN special envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, were killed in a truck bomb outside UN headquarters in Baghdad. About 100 people were injured. It was the worst assault ever perpetrated against a United Nations facility.
In 2004, Google began trading on the Nasdaq stock market, ending the day up from $15.34 to $100.34. It offered 19 million shares and raised $1.6 billion.
In 2005, in the first of thousands of lawsuits against pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. in the United States and Canada, a US jury awarded $253 million to the family of a man who died after taking the painkiller Vioxx. (Texas caps on punitive damages lowered that figure to about $26 million; a Texas court overturned the verdict in May 2008.)
In 2007, Pte. Simon Longtin became the first member of the 22nd Royal Quebec Regiment to die in Afghanistan. He was killed when the light armored vehicle he was traveling in hit a roadside bomb.
In 2009, a series of bomb attacks on government and commercial buildings in Baghdad left at least 95 dead and more than 400 injured.
In 2010, the last of the US combat brigades left Iraq, seven years and five months after the US-led invasion. Some 50,000 would remain for another year in what was designated a non-combat role.
In 2011, a First Air 737-200 plane crashed into a small hill near the High Arctic community of Resolute, killing 12 and injuring three.
In 2012, Tony Scott, director of such Hollywood hits as Top Gun, Days of Thunder and Beverly Hills Cop II, died after jumping from a towering suspension bridge over the Los Angeles Harbor. He was 68 years old.
In 2015, former Subway promoter Jared Fogle agreed to plead guilty to allegations that he paid for sex with minors and received child pornography produced by the former head of his charitable foundation. On November 19, he was sentenced to almost 16 years in prison.
In 2015, hackers leaked millions of customer email addresses from adultery website AshleyMadison.com after it refused to give in to their demands to shut down the site. Hundreds of accounts were connected to federal, provincial and municipal workers across Canada, as well as the RCMP and the military. A second data dump occurred the next day.
In 2016, Canada claimed a bronze medal in the men’s 4 × 100 meter relay at the Rio Olympics, ascending to the podium after the US team was disqualified for an illegal exchange of poles. Andre De Grasse ran a breakneck anchor leg and became the first Canadian to win three sprint medals at a single Games.
In 2016, the Canadian women’s soccer team won bronze for the second consecutive time at the Olympics, defeating host Brazil 2-1.
In 2017, Dick Gregory, the comedian and activist who broke racial barriers in the 1960s and used his humor to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health, died of a serious bacterial infection. He was 84 years old.
In 2018, Guelph, Ontario IndyCar driver Robert Wickens was involved in a violent first-lap crash at Pocono Raceway and was flown off the track by helicopter for medical treatment. He sustained injuries to his lower limbs, right arm and spine.
In 2020, the swearing-in ceremony for the new Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador was held outdoors at Government House in St. John’s in accordance with COVID-19 protocols. Andrew Furey said he is optimistic about the province’s potential, even though some have told him his new job is like “being named captain of the Titanic after hitting an iceberg.”
In 2021, the Canadian military returned to Kabul, Afghanistan, to help with evacuation efforts, and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said more troops would arrive later that day to help. Two C-17 transport planes would make regular flights from Kabul.