August 17th in History

The Roanoke Colony, later known as the “Lost Colony” is founded in what later becomes North Carolina (1585)

Today in History

  • Protestantism becomes the national religion of Scotland, overthrowing the Roman Catholic Church (1560)
  • Colonists land on Roanoke Island to form the Roanoke Colony, which later disappears and becomes known as the “Lost Colony” (1585)
  • The first commercial steamboat service is established (1807)
  • The first animated cartoon, Émile Cohl’s Fantasmagorie, premiers in Paris (1908)
  • World War II: General George Patton’s 7th Army arrives in Messina just ahead of British forces led by Field Marshal Montgomery, completing the Allied conquest of Sicily (1943)
  • George Orwell’s Animal Farm is published (1945)
  • Venera 7, the first spacecraft to transmit data from the surface of another planet, is launched (1970)
  • US President Bill Clinton admits to an “improper relationship” with intern Monica Lewinsky (1998)
  • Swimmer Michael Phelps becomes the first person to win eight gold medals at the same Olympic Games (008)


  • Davy Crockett, frontiersman and politician (1786)
  • Gene Stratton-Porter, author (1863)
  • Marcus Garvey, Jamaican activist (1887)
  • Monty Wooley, actor (1888)
  • Mae West, actress (1893)
  • Leslie Groves, US engineer and general, led the Manhattan Project (1896)
  • Mark Felt, FBI deputy director and Watergate’s “Deep Throat” (1913)
  • Maureen O’Hara, actress (1920)
  • Francis Gary Powers, U-2 pilot (1929)
  • Harve Bennett, filmmaker (1930)
  • Ted Hughes, poet (1930)
  • V. S. Naipaul, author (1932)
  • Robert De Niro, actor (1943)
  • Larry Ellison, businessman, co-founded Oracle Corporation (1944)
  • Belinda Carlisle, singer-songwriter, member of the Go-Gos (1958)
  • Sean Penn, actor and filmmaker (1960)
  • Donnie Wahlberg, singer-songwriter and actor (1969)


  • Frederick the Great, Prussian monarch (1786)
  • Conrad Aiken, writer (1973)
  • Vivian Vance, actress (1979)
  • Ira Gershwin, songwriter (1983)
  • Rudolf Hess, deputy führer (1987)
  • Pearl Bailey, singer and actress (1990)
  • Yvonne Craig, actress who played Batgirl (2015)
  • Arthur Hiller, filmmaker (2016)

Holidays and Celebrations

  • Birthday of Marcus Garvey (Rastafari)
  • Engineer’s Day (Colombia)
  • Flag Day (Bolivia)
  • Independence Day (Indonesia, Gabon)
  • Prekmurje Union Day (Slovenia)
  • San Martin Day (Argentina)

August 17 is the 229th day of the year (230th in leap years). There are 136 days remaining until the end of the year.