Zager and Evans end a six-week run at #1 with their smash-hit “In The Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)"

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/zager-and-evans-end-a-six-week-run-at-1-with-their-smash-hit-in-the-year-2525-exordium-terminus

The American pop-rock duo Zager and Evans end a six-week run at the top of the charts with their ponderously titled single “In The Year 2525.” It would be their one and only hit. 

Zager and Evans never returned to the pop charts after their triumphant debut in the summer of ’69. The disbanded just two years later, in 1971. In their very brief career, however, they spent longer atop the pop charts (six weeks) than many more enduring acts. Like so many stars whose hits have not stood the test of time, however, they have been nearly expunged from cultural memory.

Michael Collins assassinated

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Irish revolutionary and Sinn Fein politician Michael Collins is killed in an ambush in west County Cork, Ireland.

In the early part of the century, Collins joined Sinn Fein, an Irish political party dedicated to achieving independence for all Ireland. From its inception, the party became the unofficial political wing of militant Irish groups in their struggle to throw off British rule. In 1911, the British Liberal government approved negotiations for Irish Home Rule, but the Conservative Party opposition in Parliament, combined with Ireland’s anti-Home Rule factions, defeated the plans. With the outbreak of World War I, the British government delayed further discussion of Irish self-determination, and Collins and other Irish nationalists responded by staging the Easter Rising of 1916.

In 1918, with the threat of conscription being imposed on the island, the Irish people gave Sinn Fein a majority in national elections, and the party established an independent Irish parliament, Dail Eireann, which declared Ireland a sovereign republic. In 1919, Collins led the Irish Volunteers, a prototype of the Irish Republican Army, in a widespread and effective guerrilla campaign against British forces. Two years later, a cease-fire was declared, and Collins was one of the architects of the historic 1921 peace treaty with Great Britain, which granted autonomy to southern Ireland.

In January 1922, Sinn Fein founder Arthur Griffith was elected president of the newly established Irish Free State, and Collins was appointed as his finance minister. He held the post until he was assassinated by Republican extremists in August 1922.

Nat Turner launches massive slave revolt in Virginia

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Believing himself chosen by God to lead his people out of slavery, Nat Turner launches a bloody slave insurrection in Southampton County, Virginia. Turner, an enslaved man and educated minister, planned to capture the county armory at Jerusalem, Virginia, and then march 30 miles to Dismal Swamp, where his rebels would be able to elude their pursuers. With seven followers, he slaughtered Joseph Travis, his owner, and Travis’ family, and then set off across the countryside, hoping to rally hundreds of enslaved people to his insurrection en route to Jerusalem.

During the next two days and nights, Turner and 75 followers rampaged through Southampton County, killing about 60 whites. Local whites resisted the rebels, and then the state militia–consisting of some 3,000 men–crushed the rebellion. Only a few miles from Jerusalem, Turner and all his followers were dispersed, captured, or killed. In the aftermath of the rebellion, scores of African Americans were lynched, though many of them were non-participants in the revolt. Turner himself was not captured until the end of October, and after confessing without regret to his role in the bloodshed, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. On November 11, he was hanged in Jerusalem.

Turner’s rebellion was the largest slave revolt in U.S. history and led to a new wave of oppressive legislation prohibiting the movement, assembly, and education of enslaved people.

READ MORE: 10 Things You May Not Know About Nat Turner’s Rebellion

Jomo Kenyatta, Kenyan independence leader, is freed from prison

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Jomo Kenyatta, leader of the Kenyan independence movement, is released by British colonial authorities after nearly nine years of imprisonment and detention. Two years later, Kenya achieved independence and Kenyatta became prime minister. Once portrayed as a menacing symbol of African nationalism, he brought stability to the country and defended Western interests during his 15 years as Kenyan leader.

Kenyatta was born in the East African highlands southwest of Mount Kenya sometime in the late 1890s. He was a member of the Kikuyu ethnic group–Kenya’s largest–and was educated by Presbyterian missionaries. In 1920, Kenya formally became a British colony, and by 1921 Kenyatta was living in the colonial capital of Nairobi. There he became involved in African nationalist movements and by 1928 had risen to the post of general secretary of the Kikuyu Central Association, an organization opposed to the seizure of tribal land by European settlers. In 1929, he first went to London to protest colonial policy, but authorities refused to meet with him.

Kenyatta returned to London several times over the next few years to petition for African rights and then remained in Europe in the 1930s to receive a formal education at various institutions, including Moscow University. In 1938, he published his seminal work, Facing Mount Kenya, which praised traditional Kikuyu society and discussed its plight under colonial rule. During World War II, he lived in England, lecturing and writing.

In 1946, he returned to Kenya and in 1947 became president of the newly formed Kenya African Union (KAU). He pushed for majority rule, recruiting both Kikuyus and non-Kikuyus into the nonviolent movement, but the white settler minority was unyielding in refusing a significant role for blacks in the colonial government.

In 1952, an extremist Kikuyu group called Mau Mau began a guerrilla war against the settlers and colonial government, leading to bloodshed, political turmoil, and the forced internment of tens of thousands of Kikuyus in detainment camps. Kenyatta played little role in the rebellion, but he was vilified by the British and put on trial in 1952 with five other KUA leaders for “managing the Mau Mau terrorist organization.” An advocate of nonviolence and conservatism, he pleaded innocent in the highly politicized trial but was found guilty and sentenced to seven years in prison.

He spent six years in jail and then was sent to an internal exile at Lodwar, where he lived under house arrest. Meanwhile, the British government slowly began steering Kenya to black majority rule. In 1960, the Kenya African National Union (KANU) was organized by black nationalists, and Kenyatta was elected president in absentia. The party announced it would not take part in any government until Kenyatta was freed. Kenyatta pledged the protection of settlers’ rights in an independent Kenya, and on August 14, 1961, he was finally allowed to return to Kikuyuland. After a week of house arrest in the company of his family and supporters, he was formally released on August 21.

In 1962, he went to London to negotiate Kenyan independence, and in May 1963 he led the KANU to victory in pre-independence elections. On December 12, 1963, Kenya celebrated its independence, and Kenyatta formally became prime minister. The next year, a new constitution established Kenya as a republic, and Kenyatta was elected president.

As Kenya’s leader until his death in 1978, Kenyatta encouraged racial cooperation, promoted capitalist economic policies, and adopted a pro-Western foreign policy. He used his authority to suppress political opposition, particularly from radical groups. Under his rule, Kenya became a one-party state, and the stability that resulted attracted foreign investment in Kenya. After he died on August 22, 1978, he was succeeded by Daniel arap Moi, who continued most of his policies. Affectionately known in his later years as mzee, or “old man” in Swahili, Kenyatta is celebrated as the founding father of Kenya. He was also influential throughout Africa.

Bloody Ban Tarleton born in Britain

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On August 21, 1754, Banastre Tarleton is born as the fourth child of John Tarleton, the former lord mayor of Liverpool, and a money lender, merchant and slave trader.

After completing his education at Oxford, Tarleton became the most feared officer in the British army during the War for American Independence, memorialized in portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough, as well as on film in The Patriot (2000), starring Mel Gibson, as the basis for the character Colonel William Tavington. The treatment of Patriot prisoners by Tarleton and his Loyalist troops in the Southern Campaign led to the coining of a phrase that came to define British brutality during of the last years of the War for Independence: “Tarleton’s Quarter.”

After the surrender of Charleston, South Carolina, on May 12, 1780, the 3rd Virginia, commanded by Colonel Abraham Buford, was virtually the only organized Patriot formation remaining in South Carolina; Colonel Tarleton had been given the mission to destroy any colonial resistance in the state. At Waxhaws on the North Carolina border, a cavalry charge by Tarleton’s men broke the 350 remaining Patriots under Buford. Tarleton and his Tories proceeded to shoot at the Patriots after their surrender, a move that spawned the term “Tarleton’s Quarter,” which in the eyes of the Patriots meant a brutal death at the hands of a cowardly foe. The Continentals lost 113 killed and 203 captured in the Battle of Waxhaws; British losses totaled 19 men and 31 horses killed or wounded. Although they were routed, the loss became a propaganda victory for the Continentals, as wavering Carolina civilians terrified of Tarleton and their Loyalist neighbors were now prepared to rally to the Patriot cause.

After the British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, Tarleton returned to Britain where he served in Parliament as a representative from Liverpool and argued for the preservation of the slave trade. He became Sir Banastre Tarleton, 1st Baronet, in 1815. He died in 1833.

Soviets invade Czechoslovakia

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On the night of August 20, 1968, approximately 200,000 Warsaw Pact troops and 5,000 tanks invade Czechoslovakia to crush the “Prague Spring”—a brief period of liberalization in the communist country. Czechoslovakians protested the invasion with public demonstrations and other non-violent tactics, but they were no match for the Soviet tanks. The liberal reforms of First Secretary Alexander Dubcek were repealed and “normalization” began under his successor Gustav Husak.

Pro-Soviet communists seized control of Czechoslovakia’s democratic government in 1948. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin imposed his will on Czechoslovakia’s communist leaders, and the country was run as a Stalinist state until 1964, when a gradual trend toward liberalization began. However, modest economic reform was not enough for many Czechoslovakians, and beginning in 1966 students and intellectuals began to agitate for changes to education and an end to censorship. First Secretary Antonin Novotny’s problems were made worse by opposition from Slovakian leaders, among them Alexander Dubcek and Gustav Husak, who accused the central government of being dominated by Czechs.

In January 1968, Novotny was replaced as first secretary by Alexander Dubcek, who was unanimously elected by the Czechoslovakian Central Committee. To secure his power base, Dubcek appealed to the public to voice support for his proposed reforms. The response was overwhelming, and Czech and Slovak reformers took over the communist leadership.

In April, the new leadership unveiled its “Action Program,” promising democratic elections, greater autonomy for Slovakia, freedom of speech and religion, the abolition of censorship, an end to restrictions on travel, and major industrial and agricultural reforms. Dubcek declared that he was offering “socialism with a human face.” The Czechoslovakian public greeted the reforms joyously, and Czechoslovakia’s long stagnant national culture began to bloom during what became known as the Prague Spring. In late June, a popular petition called the “Two Thousand Words” was published calling for even more rapid progress to full democracy. The Soviet Union and its satellites Poland and East Germany were alarmed by what appeared to be the imminent collapse of communism in Czechoslovakia.

Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev warned Dubcek to halt his reforms, but the Czechoslovakian leader was buoyed by his popularity and dismissed the veiled threats. Dubcek declined to attend a special meeting of the Warsaw Pact powers in July, but on August 2 he agreed to meet with Brezhnev in the Slovakian town of Cierny. The next day, representatives of European Europe’s communist parties met in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava, and a communiquÉ was issued suggesting that pressure would be eased on Czechoslovakia in exchange for tighter control over the press.

However, on the night of August 20, nearly 200,000 Soviet, East German, Polish, Hungarian, and Bulgarian troops invaded Czechoslovakia in the largest deployment of military force in Europe since the end of World War II. Armed resistance to the invasion was negligible, but protesters immediately took to the streets, tearing down streets signs in an effort to confuse the invaders. In Prague, Warsaw Pact troops moved to seize control of television and radio stations. At Radio Prague, journalists refused to give up the station and some 20 people were killed before it was captured. Other stations went underground and succeeded in broadcasting for several days before their locations were discovered.

Dubcek and other government leaders were detained and taken to Moscow. Meanwhile, widespread demonstrations continued on the street, and more than 100 protesters were shot to death by Warsaw Pact troops. Many foreign nations, including China, Yugoslavia, and Romania, condemned the invasion, but no major international action was taken. Much of Czechoslovakia’s intellectual and business elite fled en masse to the West.

On August 27, Dubcek returned to Prague and announced in an emotional address that he had agreed to curtail his reforms. Hard-line communists assumed positions in his government, and Dubcek was forced gradually to dismiss his progressive aides. He became increasingly isolated from both the public and his government. After anti-Soviet rioting broke out in April 1969, he was removed as first secretary and replaced by Gustav Husak, a “realist” who was willing to work with the Soviets. Dubcek was later expelled from the Communist Party and made a forest inspector based in Bratislava.

In 1989, as communist governments collapsed across Eastern Europe, Prague again became the scene of demonstrations for democratic reform. In December 1989, Gustav Husak’s government conceded to demands for a multiparty parliament. Husak resigned, and for the first time in nearly two decades Dubcek returned to politics as chairman of the new parliament, which subsequently elected playwright and former dissident Vaclav Havel as president of Czechoslovakia. Havel had come to fame during the Prague Spring, and after the Soviet crackdown his plays were banned and his passport confiscated.

U.S. Marines deployed to Lebanon

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During the Lebanese Civil War, a multinational force including 800 U.S. Marines lands in Beirut to oversee the Palestinian withdrawal from Lebanon. It was the beginning of a problem-plagued mission that would stretch into 17 months and leave 262 U.S. servicemen dead.

In 1975, a bloody civil war erupted in Lebanon, with Palestinian and leftist Muslim guerrillas battling militias of the Christian Phalange Party, the Maronite Christian community, and other groups. During the next few years, Syrian, Israeli, and United Nations interventions failed to resolve the factional fighting, and in August 1982 a multinational force arrived to oversee the Palestinian withdrawal from Lebanon.

The Marines left Lebanese territory on September 10 but returned on September 29 following the massacre of Palestinian refugees by a Christian militia. The next day, the first U.S. Marine to die during the mission was killed while defusing a bomb. On April 18, 1983, the U.S. embassy in Beirut was devastated by a car bomb, killing 63 people, including 17 Americans. Then, on October 23, Lebanese terrorists evaded security measures and drove a truck packed with explosives into the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. military personnel. Fifty-eight French soldiers were killed almost simultaneously in a separate suicide terrorist attack. On February 7, 1984, President Ronald Reagan announced the end of U.S. participation in the peacekeeping force.

Viking 1 launched to Mars

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Viking 1, an unmanned U.S. planetary probe, is launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a mission to Mars.

On June 19, 1976, the spacecraft entered into orbit around Mars and devoted the next month to imaging the Martian surface with the purpose of finding an appropriate landing site for its lander. On July 20–the seventh anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing–the Viking 1 lander separated from the orbiter and touched down on the Chryse Planitia region, becoming the first spacecraft to successfully land on the surface of Mars. The same day, the craft sent back the first close-up photographs of the rust-colored Martian surface.

In September 1976, Viking 2–launched only three weeks after Viking 1–entered into orbit around Mars, where it assisted Viking 1 in imaging the surface and also sent down a lander. During the dual Viking missions, the two orbiters imaged the entire surface of Mars at a resolution of 150 to 300 meters, and the two landers sent back more than 1,400 images of the planet’s surface.

Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky assassinated in Mexico

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Exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky is fatally wounded by an ice-ax-wielding assassin at his compound outside Mexico City. The killer—Ramón Mercader—was a Spanish communist and probable agent of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Trotsky died from his wounds the next day.

Born in the Ukraine of Russian-Jewish parents in 1879, Trotsky embraced Marxism as a teenager and later dropped out of the University of Odessa to help organize the underground South Russian Workers’ Union. In 1898, he was arrested for his revolutionary activities and sent to prison. In 1900, he was exiled to Siberia.

In 1902, he escaped to England using a forged passport under the name of Leon Trotsky (his original name was Lev Davidovich Bronshtein). In London, he collaborated with Bolshevik revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Lenin but later sided with the Menshevik factions that advocated a democratic approach to socialism. With the outbreak of the Russian Revolution of 1905, Trotsky returned to Russia and was again exiled to Siberia when the revolution collapsed. In 1907, he again escaped.

During the next decade, he was expelled from a series of countries because of his radicalism, living in Switzerland, Paris, Spain, and New York City before returning to Russia at the outbreak of the revolution in 1917. Trotsky played a leading role in the Bolsheviks’ seizure of power, conquering most of Petrograd before Lenin’s triumphant return in November. Appointed Lenin’s secretary of foreign affairs, he negotiated with the Germans for an end to Russian involvement in World War I. In 1918, he became war commissioner and set about building up the Red Army, which succeeded in defeating anti-communist opposition in the Russian Civil War. In the early 1920s, Trotsky seemed the heir apparent of Lenin, but he lost out in the struggle of succession after Lenin fell ill in 1922.

In 1924, Lenin died, and Joseph Stalin emerged as leader of the USSR. Against Stalin’s stated policies, Trotsky called for a continuing world revolution that would inevitably result in the dismantling of the increasingly bureaucratic Soviet state. He also criticized the new regime for suppressing democracy in the Communist Party and for failing to develop adequate economic planning. In response, Stalin and his supporters launched a propaganda counterattack against Trotsky. In 1925, he was removed from his post in the war commissariat. One year later, he was expelled from the Politburo and in 1927 from the Communist Party. In January 1928, Trotsky was deported by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to Alma-Ata in remote Soviet Central Asia. He lived there in internal exile for a year before being banished from the USSR forever by Stalin.

He was received by the government of Turkey and settled on the island of Prinkipo, where he worked on finishing his autobiography and history of the Russian Revolution. After four years in Turkey, Trotsky lived in France and then Norway and in 1936 was granted asylum in Mexico. Settling with his family in a suburb of Mexico City, he was found guilty of treason in absentia during Stalin’s purges of his political foes. He survived a machine gun attack carried out by Stalinist agents, but on August 20, 1940, fell prey to Ramón Mercader, a Spanish communist who had won the confidence of the Trotsky household. The Soviet government denied responsibility, and Mercader was sentenced to 20 years in prison by Mexican authorities.