First Posted: 8/7/2014
The History Channel
* On Aug. 31, 1888, Mary Ann Nichols, the first victim of London serial killer “Jack the Ripper,” is found murdered. The police were at a complete loss for suspects. However, two letters alluded to facts known only to the police and the killer. These letters, signed “Jack the Ripper,” gave rise to the serial killer’s nickname.
* On Aug. 27, 1937, George E.T. Eyston breaks his own automobile land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, raising the mark to 345.49 mph. Eyston described his built-for-speed Thunderbolt as having two 2,000-horsepower Rolls Royce motors geared together.
* On Aug. 26, 1944, French Gen. Charles de Gaulle enters Paris, which had been formally liberated from the Germans the day before. As he entered the Place de l’Hotel, French collaborationists took a few sniper shots at him.
* On Aug. 28, 1955, while visiting family in Money, Mississippi, 14-year-old Emmett Till, a black from Chicago, is murdered for flirting with a white woman. His assailants — the woman’s husband and her brother — were found “not guilty” by an all-white jury that deliberated for less than an hour.
* On Aug. 29, 1962, Robert Frost leaves for the Soviet Union on a goodwill tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department in an effort to thaw Cold War relations. Frost’s poetry has established his international reputation as American’s unofficial poet laureate.
* On Aug. 30, 1974, a train entering a Zagreb, Yugoslavia, station derails, killing 153 people. The train should have slowed to 30 mph as it approached the station; however, the engineers not only failed to slow the train, but went through a red signal at about 60 mph.
* On Aug. 25, 1985, Samantha Smith, the 13-year-old “ambassador” to the Soviet Union, dies in a plane crash. Smith was best known for writing to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov, who invited her to visit the Soviet Union. The Russian government responded to her death by issuing a stamp in her honor and naming a mountain after her.