Updated:
Original:
Year
1944
Month Day
August 21

The seeds of the United Nations are planted

On August 21, 1944, representatives from the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and China meet in the Dumbarton Oaks estate at Georgetown, Washington, D.C., to formulate the formal principles of an organization that will provide collective security on a worldwide basis—an organization that will become the United Nations.

Following up on a promise made at the Moscow Conferences of 1943 to create an international organization to succeed the League of Nations, the Dumbarton Oaks Conference began planning its creation. Step one was the outline for a Security Council, which would be composed of the member states (basically, the largest of the Allied nations)—the United States, the USSR, China, France, and Great Britain—with each member having veto power over any proposal brought before the Council.

Many political questions would remain to be hammered out, such as a specific voting system and the membership status of republics within the Soviet Union. A more detailed blueprint for the United Nations would be drawn up at both the Yalta Conference in February 1945, and the San Francisco Conference, which would produce the U.N. charter, also in 1945.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Bloody Ban Tarleton born in Britain

On August 21, 1754, Banastre Tarleton is born as the fourth child of John Tarleton, the former lord mayor of Liverpool, and a money lender, merchant and slave trader. After completing his education at Oxford, Tarleton became the most feared officer in the British army during the ...read more

Lincoln-Douglas debates begin

Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois and Abraham Lincoln, a Kentucky-born lawyer and one-time U.S. representative from Illinois, begin a series of famous public encounters on the issue of slavery. The two politicians, the former a Northern Democrat and the latter a Republican, ...read more

Hawaii becomes 50th state

The modern United States receives its crowning star when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a proclamation admitting Hawaii into the Union as the 50th state. The president also issued an order for an American flag featuring 50 stars arranged in staggered rows: five six-star ...read more

Michael Phelps wins eighth medal

On August 21, 2004, American swimmer Michael Phelps wins his eighth medal of the 2004 Athens Olympics in spite of sitting out his eighth scheduled event, the final of the 4 x 100-meter medley relay. Phelps left Athens with six gold and two bronze medals. His eight total medals ...read more

Theft of "Mona Lisa" is discovered

An amateur painter sets up his easel near Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris, only to discover that the masterpiece is missing. Earlier in the day, in perhaps the most brazen art theft of all time, Vincenzo Perugia had walked into the Louvre, removed the famed ...read more

Attempted coup against Gorbachev collapses

Just three days after it began, the coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev collapses. Despite his success in avoiding removal from office, Gorbachev’s days in power were numbered. The Soviet Union would soon cease to exist as a nation and as a Cold War threat to the United ...read more

Olds Motor Works founded

Ransom Eli Olds of Lansing, Michigan, founds Olds Motors Works–which will later become Oldsmobile–on August 21, 1897. Born in Geneva, Ohio, in 1864, Olds went to work for his family’s machine-repair and engine-building business in 1883. In 1896, Olds completed his first ...read more