Today in History: August 14

U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister and their staffs met for a secret conference on board the USS Augusta in Placentia Bay in Newfoundland the first week of August 1941. The result of the meeting was a policy statement signed by the two leaders called the “Joint Declaration by the President and the Prime Minister,” but by the end of August it was being referred to in the press as the “Atlantic Charter.” It was published seventy-five years ago today.

The nations that eventually signed it—the Allied nations of World War II—used it as a basis for creating the United Nations.

Its eight points of the Charter read:

1. No territorial gains were to be sought by the United States or the United Kingdom.
2. Territorial adjustments must be in accord with the wishes of the peoples concerned.
3. All people had a right to self-determination.
4. Trade barriers were to be lowered.
5. There was to be global economic cooperation and advancement of social welfare.
6. The participants would work for a world free of want and fear.
7. The participants would work for freedom of the seas.
8. There was to be disarmament of aggressor nations, and a post-war common disarmament.

Churchill hoped the conference would end with an American commitment to join the war, but he was disappointed.

* * * *
Rainey Bethea, a 25-year-old, was hanged 80 years ago today in Owensboro, Kentucky. It was the last public execution in American history. Bethea raped and murdered a 70-year-old woman, Lischia Edwards, but a conviction for robbery or murder would result in execution by electrocution in the state penitentiary. A conviction under the charge of rape, however, offered a judge in Kentucky at that time the option of sentencing the rapist to a hanging in a public square. The prosecutor chose to only charge Bethea with rape in order to pursue that public hanging. Bethea was black, and Edwards was white.

It was not known that this would be the last public hanging in America, but times were changing. An estimated 20,000 people turned out to see Bethea hanged. The media circus that preceded the event and the grim sight of 20,000 people watching a hanging led to Kentucky and other locales to change their laws regarding execution from allowing public executions to executions witnessed by specific individuals.

* * * *
Bahrain declared its independence from Great Britain 45 years ago today.

* * * *
William Randolph Hearst died 65 years ago today. Bertolt Brecht died 60 years ago today. Oscar Levant died on this date in 1972. From 1945, Levant plays Rhapsody in Blue:

Czesław Miłosz died on this date in 2004. Bruno Kirby died 10 years ago today. He was a great comic character actor:

* * * *
Wellington Mara was born 100 years ago today.

* * * *
Russell Baker is 91 today. Buddy Greco is 90 today. David Crosby is 75 today. Steve Martin is 71 today. Wim Wenders is 71 today. Susan Saint James is 70. Danielle Steel is 69. Gary Larson is 66. Carl Lumbly is 65. Rusty Wallace is 60. Magic Johnson is 57. Halle Berry is 50 today. Mila Kunis is 33.

Follow The Gad About Town on Facebook! Subscribe today for daily facts (well, trivia) about literature and history, plus links to other writers on Facebook.

Follow The Gad About Town on Instagram!

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


  1. loisajay · August 14, 2016

    Bruno Kirby….he was wonderful, wasn’t he?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rogershipp · August 15, 2016

    Loved the music. I hope to be back in a writer’s mode now. I have been working of a scholastic-type monthly magazine for my students this summer. The project turned out to be far greater than anticipated! (Close to 900 entries!) It is close to be complete? I hope! I have missed reading your things. I apologize. I am not going to try to go back and catch up. I am sure I missed some great things!


Please comment here. Thank you, Mark.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.