August 27th in History


August 27 is the 239th day of the year (240th in leap years). There are 126 days remaining until the end of the year. (Illustration: Eruption of Krakatoa, courtesy Houghton Library at Harvard University.)

Today in History

  • The Sack of Rome by the Visigoths ends (410)
  • Petroleum is discovered in Titusville, Pennsylvania, leading to the world’s first commercially successful oil well (1859)
  • The volcano Krakatoa erupts with the force of 1,300 atomic bombs, killing 36,000 and affecting weather worldwide for years (1883)
  • The Anglo-Zanzibar War, the shortest war in world history, takes place between 9:00 am and 9:40 am, resulting in approximately 500 casualties, one royal yacht sunk, and a decisive British victory (1896)
  • The Battle of Ambos Nogales (La batalla del 27 de agosto), the only battle of World War I fought on American soil, pits Mexican forces and their German advisors against elements of the US 35th Infantry and the 10th Cavalry’s Buffalo Soldiers (1918)
  • The world’s first jet aircraft, the Heinkel He 178, flies for the first time (1939)
  • Mariner 2 is launched toward Venus (1962)
  • Good Sex! With Dr. Ruth Westheimer, premiers on television (1984)
  • Mars makes its closest approach to Earth in nearly 60,000 years, passing a mere 34,646,418 miles (55,758,005 km) away (2003)


  • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, philosopher (1770)
  • Hannibal Hamlin, 15th US Vice President (1809)
  • Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, novelist who often used the pseudonym “The Duchess,” originator of the phrase “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” (1850)
  • Charles Dawes, 30th US Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1865)
  • Theodore Dreiser, journalist and author (1871)
  • Charles Rolls, Rolls-Royce co-founder (1877)
  • Man Ray, photographer (1890)
  • Léon Theremin, musical instrument inventor (1896)
  • C.S. Forester, author (1899)
  • Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th US President (1908)
  • Lester Young, saxophonist (1909)
  • Martha Raye, actress and singer (1916)
  • Peanuts Lowrey, baseball player and “Our Gang” child actor (1917)
  • Ira Levin, author (1929)
  • Tommy Sands, teen idol (1937)
  • Wiliam Least Heat-Moon, author (1939)
  • Daryl Dragon, keyboard player and songwriter for Captain & Tennille (1942)
  • Tuesday Weld, actress (1943)
  • Barbara Bach, actress, wife of Ringo Starr (1947)
  • Harry Reems, porn star (1947)
  • Sgt. Slaughter, wrestler (1948)
  • Paul Reubens, comedian, also known as “Pee-wee Herman” (1952)
  • Jeff Grubb, game designer (1957)
  • Downtown Julie Brown, TV host (1959)


  • Titian, painter (1577)
  • Frank Harris, journalist and author (1931)
  • Charles Evans Hughes, 11th US Chief Justice (1948)
  • W. E. B. Du Bois, historian and activist (1963)
  • Gracie Allen, actress and comedienne (1964)
  • Le Corbusier, architect (1965)
  • Brian Epstein, manager of The Beatles (1967)
  • Bennett Cerf, publisher, co-founder of Random House, and game show panelist (1971)
  • Margaret Bourke-White, photojournalist (1971)
  • ቀዳማዊ ኃይለ ሥላሴ (Haile Selassie I), Ethiopian emperor and Rastafari messiah (1975)
  • Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, last British Governor-General of India (1979)
  • Douglas Kenney, writer and actor, co-founder and editor of National Lampoon (1980)
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan, singer-songwriter and guitarist (1990)
  • Greg Morris, actor best known for Mission: Impossible (1996)

Holidays and Celebrations

  • Independence Day (Moldova)
  • Volturnalia (ancient Rome)

Informal and made-up holidays include Banana Lovers Day, Just Because Day, National Post de Creme Day, and “The Duchess” Who Wasn’t Day (you are supposed to repeat “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” from Margaret Wolfe Hungerford’s novel Molly Bawn sometime on this day).

(*O.S., or Old Style, when used, refers to the fact that Russia did not convert from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar until 1918.)