August 17

1807

Robert Fulton's steamboat, the Clermont, began its trip up the Hudson River to Albany.

1863

Fort Sumter, S.C. was bombarded by Union ships during the Civil War.

1896

Prospectors found gold in Alaska, a discovery that set off the Klondike gold rush.

1945

Indonesian nationalists proclaimed independence from the Netherlands.

1962

18-year-old Peter Fechter was shot and killed by guards at the Berlin Wall, spurring riots.

1969

Hurricane Camille devastated the Gulf Coast, killing 248 people.

1978

The first successful trans-Atlantic balloon flight landed outside of Paris.

1987

Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler's second in command, committed suicide.

2008

U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps won his eighth gold medal, breaking the record set by Mark Spitz in the 1972 Games. Phelps also set the record for the most golds in a single Olympics.

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