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On this day in history - August 24

What Happened On This Day – August 24

  • 2006 Pluto is Declassified as a Planet

    The International Astronomical Union (IAU) declassified Pluto as a planet and classified it as a dwarf planet. According to the IAU definition, a dwarf planet is neither a planet or a natural satellite. It is ‘a celestial object orbiting a star that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity but has not cleared its orbit of space debris’. Discovered in 1930 by American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, Pluto is the largest but second-most massive dwarf planet in our solar system. The most massive dwarf planet orbiting our sun is Eris.

  • 1991 Ukraine gains its independence

    The Eastern European country gained independence from the Soviet Union after a failed coup to remove Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev. The country’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, passed the Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine and put the decision out to the public as a referendum. August 24 is celebrated each year as Independence Day in Ukraine.

  • 1949 NATO is Established

    The North Atlantic Treaty, which established the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an intergovernmental military alliance, came into effect on this day. The Treaty, which was signed on April 4, 1949 in Washington DC, created a collective defense system, where an attack on one member is considered an attack on all the other signatories. Initially, the treaty was signed by 12 countries - Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom, and United States. Today, membership has increased from the original 12 to 28.

  • 1869 The Waffle Iron is Patented in the United States

    Cornelius Swartwout, a Troy, New York resident invented and received the patent for the waffle iron, a device used to cook waffles. His design for the waffle iron included two plates of iron connected together with hinges. Users could pour waffle batter on one plate and place the other plate on top and cook the batter over an open fire or on a wood-burning oven. This day is often celebrated as National Waffle Day in the United States.

  • 1814 The British Burn Down Washington

    British troops under the leadership of Major General Robert Ross occupied Washington D.C. and burnt down the city, including the Presidential Mansion and the Capitol building. President Madison and members of his government fled the city and took refuge in Brookeville, Maryland. The British had occupied the city for only 24 hours when a massive storm forced the troops to retreat, following which the Americans regained control of the capital.

Illustration of stork, signifying birth

Births On This Day,
August 24

  • 1957 Stephen Fry

    English comedian, actor, journalist, author

  • 1945 Vince McMahon

    American wrestler, promoter, producer, actor

  • 1929 Yasser Arafat

    Palestinian engineer, politician

  • 1899 Jorge Luis Borges

    Argentine writer

  • 1759 William Wilberforce

    English politician, philanthropist

Illustration of tombstone, signifying death

Deaths On This Day,
August 24

  • 2015 Justin Wilson

    English race car driver

  • 2014 Richard Attenborough

    English director

  • 1983 Scott Nearing

    American writer, educator

  • 1946 James Clark McReynolds

    American lawyer, judge

  • 1943 Simone Weil

    French mystic, philosopher