On Aug. 12:
In 1859, poet and English professor Katharine Lee Bates, who wrote the words to "America the Beautiful," was born in Falmouth, Mass.
In 1898, fighting in the Spanish-American War came to an end.
In 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home to the Indianapolis 500, first opened.
In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated Hugo Black to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 1944, during World War II, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., eldest son of Joseph and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, was killed with his co-pilot when their explosives-laden Navy plane blew up over England.
In 1953, the Soviet Union conducted a secret test of its first hydrogen bomb.
In 1962, one day after launching Andrian Nikolayev into orbit, the Soviet Union also sent up cosmonaut Pavel Popovich; both men landed safely Aug. 15.
In 1977, the space shuttle Enterprise passed its first solo flight test by taking off atop a Boeing 747, separating, then touching down in California's Mojave Desert.
In 1985, the world's worst single-aircraft disaster occurred as a crippled Japan Airlines Boeing 747 on a domestic flight crashed into a mountain, killing 520 people. (Four people survived.)
In 1992, after 14 months of negotiations, the United States, Mexico and Canada announced in Washington that they had concluded the North American Free Trade Agreement. Avant-garde composer John Cage died in New York at age 79.
In 2000, the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk and its 118-man crew were lost during naval exercises in the Barents Sea.
In 2004, New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey announced his resignation and acknowledged that he'd had an extramarital affair with another man.
In 2008, Declaring "the aggressor has been punished," the Kremlin ordered a halt to Russia's devastating assault on Georgia — five days of air and ground attacks that left homes in smoldering ruins and uprooted 100,000 people. Michael Phelps won the 200-meter freestyle for his third gold medal at the Beijing Games.
In 2013, James "Whitey" Bulger, the feared Boston mob boss who became one of the nation's most-wanted fugitives, was convicted in a string of 11 killings and dozens of other gangland crimes, many of them committed while he was said to be an FBI informant. (Bulger is now serving a life sentence in federal prison.)
In 2017, a car plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting a white nationalist rally in the Virginia college town of Charlottesville, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and hurting more than a dozen others. (The 21-year-old Ohio man accused in the attack, James Alex Fields, would face a state murder charge and federal hate-crimes charges.) President Donald Trump condemned what he called "this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides;" Democrats and some Republicans called on Trump to specifically denounce white supremacy. Two Virginia state policemen were killed in a helicopter crash while monitoring the Charlottesville protests.
Thought for Today:
"If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things."
— Rene Descartes, French philosopher (1596-1650)