Month Day
August 20

Benjamin Harrison is born

Future President Benjamin Harrison is born in North Bend, Ohio on August 20, 1833.

Politics had long been the Harrison family business. At the time of his birth, Harrison’s father was serving Ohio in the United States House of Representatives, while his grandfather, William Henry Harrison, was serving as a senator from Indiana and only eight years away from becoming America’s ninth president. His great-grandfather and namesake, Benjamin Harrison, had served as governor of colonial Virginia and was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

After serving in the Civil War as an Army general, Harrison followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and was elected as a Republican to the U.S. Senate from Indiana. In 1888, Harrison beat incumbent Grover Cleveland to become America’s 23rd president. His legislative leadership is considered by many historians, political scientists and economists to have been productive, with his most noteworthy and long-lasting legislative stewardship coming in the form of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1889, which set the precedent for breaking up powerful industrial monopolies. He also presided over the passing of the Dependent Pension Act in 1890, which provided benefits to disabled vets, as well as the McKinley Tariff (introduced by then-Congressman and future Republican president William McKinley), which was intended to protect American economic trade.

Although he was re-nominated for the Republican ticket in the election of 1892, Harrison ultimately lost to Democrat Grover Cleveland who appealed to a farming and labor base that opposed McKinley’s protectionist policies. Harrison is sometimes referred to as the president who was “sandwiched” between Cleveland’s two terms.

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.


Viking 1 launched to Mars

Viking 1, an unmanned U.S. planetary probe, is launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a mission to Mars. On June 19, 1976, the spacecraft entered into orbit around Mars and devoted the next month to imaging the Martian surface with the purpose of finding an appropriate landing more

U.S. Marines deployed to Lebanon

During the Lebanese Civil War, a multinational force including 800 U.S. Marines lands in Beirut to oversee the Palestinian withdrawal from Lebanon. It was the beginning of a problem-plagued mission that would stretch into 17 months and leave 262 U.S. servicemen dead. In 1975, a more

Soviets invade Czechoslovakia

On the night of August 20, 1968, approximately 200,000 Warsaw Pact troops and 5,000 tanks invade Czechoslovakia to crush the “Prague Spring”—a brief period of liberalization in the communist country. Czechoslovakians protested the invasion with public demonstrations and other more

Professional football is born

On August 20, 1920, seven men, including legendary all-around athlete and football star Jim Thorpe, meet to organize a professional football league at the Jordan and Hupmobile Auto Showroom in Canton, Ohio. The meeting led to the creation of the American Professional Football more

The Menendez brothers murder their parents

Lyle and Erik Menendez shoot their parents, Jose and Kitty, to death in the den of the family’s Beverly Hills, California, home. They then drove up to Mulholland Drive, where they dumped their shotguns before continuing to a local movie theater to buy tickets as an alibi. When more

Battle of Fallen Timbers

On August 20, 1794, General “Mad Anthony” Wayne proves that the fragile young republic can counter a military threat when he puts down Shawnee Chief Blue Jacket’s confederacy near present-day Toledo, Ohio, with the newly created 3,000-man strong Legion of the United States at the more