On August 17:
986 A Byzantine army was destryed in the Battle of Gates of Trajan by the Bulgarians under the Comitopuli Samuel and Aron.
1786 – Davy Crockett, American frontiersman and soldier, was born (d. 1836).
1807 Robert Fulton‘s first American steamboat left New York City for Albany, New York on the Hudson River, inaugurating the first commercial steamboat service in the world.
1839 The NZ Company’s sailing ship Tory dropped anchor in Queen Charlotte Sound to pick up fresh water, food and wood before proceeding to Port Nicholson (Wellington Harbour).
1862 Indian Wars: The Lakota (Sioux) Dakota War of 1862 began as Lakota warriors attacked white settlements along the Minnesota River.
1864 American Civil War: Battle of Gainesville – Confederate forces defeated Union troops.
1883 The first public performance of the Dominican Republic’s national anthem, Himno Nacional.
1893 Mae West, American actress, was born (d. 1980).
1904 Mary Cain, American newspaper editor and politician, was born (d. 1984).
1907 Pike Place Market, the longest continuously-running public farmers market in the US, opened in Seattle.
1908 Fantasmagorie, the first animated cartoon, realized by Émile Cohl, was shown in Paris.
1914 Battle of Stalluponen – The German army of General Hermann von François defeated the Russian force commanded by Pavel Rennenkampf near modern-day Nesterov, Russia.
1918 Bolshevik revolutionary leader Moisei Uritsky was assassinated.
1920 Maureen O’Hara, Irish actress, was born.
1943 Robert De Niro, American actor, was born.
1943 The U.S. Eighth Air Force suffered the loss of 60 bombers on the Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission.
1943 : The U.S. Seventh Army under General George S. Patton arrived in Messina, Italy, followed several hours later by the British 8th Army under Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery, completing the Allied conquest of Sicily.
1943 First Québec Conference of Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and William Lyon Mackenzie King began.
1944 Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corporation, billionaire, was born.
1945 Indonesian Declaration of Independence.
1946 Martha Coolidge, American film director, was born.
1947 The Radcliffe Line, the border between Union of India and Dominion of Pakistan was revealed.
1953 First meeting of Narcotics Anonymous in Southern California.
1959 Kind of Blue by Miles Davis the much acclaimed and highly influential best selling jazz recording of all time, was released.
1960 Gabon gained independence from France.
1960 Sean Penn, American actor and director, was born.
1962 Gilby Clarke, American musician (Guns N’ Roses), was born.
1962 East German border guards killed 18-year-old Peter Fechter as he attempted to cross the Berlin Wall into West Berlin becoming one of the first victims of the wall.
1969 Category 5 Hurricane Camille hit the Mississippi coast, killing 248 people and causing $1.5 billion in damage.
1970 Venera 7 launched.
1978 Double Eagle II became first balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean when it landed in Miserey near Paris, 137 hours after leaving Presque Isle, Maine.
1979 Two Soviet Aeroflot jetliners collide in mid-air over Ukraine, killing 156
1980 Azaria Chamberlain disappearsed, probably taken by a dingo.
1982 The first Compact Discs (CDs) were released to the public in Germany.
1988 Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq and U.S. Ambassador Arnold Raphel are killed in a plane crash.
1998 Monica Lewinsky scandal: US President Bill Clinton admitted in taped testimony that he had an “improper physical relationship” with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. On the same day he admitted before the nation that he “misled people” about his relationship.
1999 A 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck İzmit, Turkey, killing more than 17,000 and injuring 44,000.
2004 The National Assembly of Serbia unanimously adopted new state symbols: Boze Pravde becomes the new anthem and the coat of arms was adopted for the whole country.
2005 The first forced evacuation of settlers, as part of the Israel unilateral disengagement plan, starts.
2005 Over 500 bombs were set off by terrorists at 300 locations in 63 out of the 64 districts of Bangladesh.
2008 By winning the Men’s 4x100m medley relay, Michael Phelps became the first Olympian to win eight gold medals in the same Olympics.
Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia