Year
1936
Month Day
August 04

Jesse Owens wins long jump—and respect—in Germany

On August 4, 1936, American Jesse Owens wins gold in the long jump at the Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. It was the second of four gold medals Owens won in Berlin, as he firmly dispelled German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler’s notion of the superiority of an Aryan “master race,” for all the world to see.

Jesse Owens first made his mark on the international stage at just 21 years old on May 25, 1935, while an undergrad at Ohio State University, by setting three world records and tying another at the Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “The Buckeye Bullet” started his afternoon by running the 100-meter dash in just 9.4 seconds to tie the world record. Just 10 minutes later, Owens jumped 26’8 1/4″, setting a world record he would hold until 1951. And, ten minutes after that, Owens set another world record in the 220-yard dash with a time of 20.3 seconds. Finally, less than an hour after his afternoon of competition started, Owens ran the 220-yard hurdles in 22.6 seconds for his third outright world record of the day. Owens’ impressive performance caused a sensation across the United States, and the track world looked forward to following his progress at the upcoming 1936 Olympics.

Owens would win his third gold medal and set his second Olympic record of the games in the 200 meters the next day. On August 9, he followed that up by helping his team set a new world record—39.8 seconds—in the 4 x 100 meter relay. Owens and Metcalfe replaced two American Jews, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller, originally scheduled to run the relay that day. Later, the U.S. team was criticized for the move, which was thought to be an appeasement of Hitler and the Nazi party, who would likely have been even angrier to see Jews, already a frequent target of Nazi hate and harassment, bring home a medal.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Dayton, Ohio shooting becomes second mass shooting in 24-hour period

A mass shooting takes place early in the morning in Dayton, Ohio on August 4, 2019. The killing of nine people and the injuries of 27 was significant in its own right, but this mass shooting was particularly notable for being America’s second in less than 24 hours. Just one day ...read more

U.S. and Mexico sign the Mexican Farm Labor Agreement

On August 4, 1942, the United States and Mexico sign the Mexican Farm Labor Agreement, creating what is known as the "Bracero Program." The program, which lasted until 1964, was the largest guest-worker program in U.S. history. Throughout its existence, the Bracero Program ...read more

Oscar Pistorius becomes the first amputee runner to compete at the Olympics

On August 4, 2012 in London, Oscar Pistorius of South Africa becomes the first amputee to compete at the Olympics by running in an opening heat of the men’s 400-meter. Pistorius finished second out of five runners and advanced to the semifinals, where he finished eighth out of ...read more

George Washington becomes a Master Mason

George Washington, a young Virginia planter, becomes a Master Mason, the highest basic rank in the secret fraternity of Freemasonry. The ceremony was held at the Masonic Lodge No. 4 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Washington was 21 years old and would soon command his first military ...read more

Slain civil rights workers found

The remains of three civil rights workers whose disappearance on June 21 garnered national attention are found buried in an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in ...read more

Lizzie Borden's parents found dead

On August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden are found hacked to death in their Fall River, Massachusetts, home. Andrew was discovered in a pool of blood on the living room couch, his face nearly split in two. Abby was upstairs, her head smashed to pieces; it was later determined ...read more

Anne Frank captured

Acting on tip from a Dutch informer, the Nazi Gestapo captures 15-year-old Jewish diarist Anne Frank and her family in a sealed-off area of an Amsterdam warehouse. The Franks had taken shelter there in 1942 out of fear of deportation to a Nazi concentration camp. They occupied ...read more

Colonel Custer and 7th Cavalry attacked by the Sioux

While protecting a railroad survey party in Montana, Custer and his 7th Cavalry clash for the first time with the Sioux Indians, who will defeat them three years later at Little Big Horn. During the previous two years, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his 7th ...read more

Lizzie Borden took an axe…

Andrew and Abby Borden, elderly residents of Fall River, Massachusetts, are found bludgeoned to death in their home. Lying in a pool of blood on the living room couch, Andrew’s face had been nearly split in two. Abby, Lizzie’s stepmother, was found upstairs with her head smashed ...read more

“Talladega Nights” released

“Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” an irreverent comedy based in the outlandish (fictionalized) world of American stock car racing, premieres in movie theaters around the United States on August 4, 2006. The comedian Will Ferrell (who also co-wrote the screenplay ...read more

U.S. proclaims neutrality in World War I

As World War I erupts in Europe, President Woodrow Wilson formally proclaims the neutrality of the United States, a position that a vast majority of Americans favored, on August 4, 1914. Wilson’s initial hope that America could be “impartial in thought as well as in action” was ...read more