This Day In History : August 20

1991 Estonia

Estonia formally declares its independence from the USSR

Estonia formally declared its independence from the Soviet Union on August 20, 1991. This declaration came during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, leading to Estonia's re-establishment as an independent nation.

Also on This Day in History August 20

Discover what happened on August 20 with HISTORY's summaries of major events, anniversaries,
famous births and notable deaths.

Births on This Day, August 20
  • 1833 Benjamin Harrison

    American general, lawyer and politician who was the 23rd President of the United States from 1889-1893

  • 1922 Akutsu Tetsuzo

    Japanese surgeon who built the first artificial heart

  • 1908 Kingsley Davis

    American sociologist and demographer (coined the term "population explosion")

  • 1832 Thaddeus S. C. Lowe

    American aeronaut and inventor

  • 1936 Hideki Shirakawa

    Japanese chemist (Nobel Prize 2000 - discovery and development of conductive polymers)

Deaths on This Day, August 20
  • 1912 William Booth

    English preacher and founder of the Salvation Army

  • 2001 Sir Fred Hoyle

    English astronomer and mathematician(Steady State Theory, coined phrase 'Big Bang') and sci-fi writer

  • 1917 Adolf von Baeyer

    German chemist who synthesized indigo (1880) and formulated its structure (1883) (Nobel 1905)

  • 1915 Paul Ehrlich

    German bacteriologist and physician (Chemotherapy, Nobel Prize 1908)

  • 1991 Kalman Kahana

    Israeli politician and journalist, and a signatory of the Israeli declaration of independence


NASA launched Voyager 2

In 1977, NASA launched Voyager 2, on a Titan-Centaur rocket. It was an unmanned spacecraft to explore the outer planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, where it also discovered and photographed many previously unknown moons, rings and other features of the planets.

The first cable message sent around the world from the U.S. by commercial telegraph

In 1911, the first cable message sent around the world from the U.S. by commercial telegraph was transmitted from New York City. It read “This message sent around the world,” left the New York Times building at 7:00 pm and was received at 7:16 pm after travelling nearly 29,000 miles through 16 relays via the Azores, Gibraltar, India, Phillipines, Midway, Guam, Hawaii and San Francisco.

Hindi reform movement Brahmo Samaj founded by Ram Mohan Roy and Dwarkanath Tagore in Calcutta

The Brahmo Samaj, a significant Hindi reform movement, was founded by Ram Mohan Roy and Dwarkanath Tagore in Calcutta in 1828. It aimed to reform Hindu society by promoting monotheism, rationalism, and social reform, advocating against idolatry, caste distinctions, and social inequality.

1st US commercial radio station, 8MK (WWJ), Detroit begins daily broadcasting

The first US commercial radio station, 8MK (later known as WWJ), in Detroit began daily broadcasting on August 20, 1920. This historic event marked the beginning of regular commercial radio broadcasting in the United States, contributing significantly to the development of mass communication and entertainment in the 20th century.
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