On This Day in History, August 20

In 1858, a journal article comprised of the scientific papers written by Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin is printed following a presentation to the Linnean Society of London. The article, entitled “On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection” would lead Darwin to write his own book, On the Origin of Species.

In 1910, dry spells, multiple smaller regional fires, and hurricane-like winds led to the Great Fire of 1910 in the Inland Northwest region of the United States. In a weekend, over three million acres of land, including a number of small towns and large sections of ten national forests between Idaho, Montana, and Washington, was burned and destroyed. 87 died from the fire. The fire had a significant impact upon the forest service and firefighting in the US.

In 1960, Senegal broke away from the Mali Federation and declared their independence. The Mali Federation was independent of the French government for two months before Senegal broke away, with tensions quickly rising in part because of an internal lack of intercultural exchange between the former French Sudan and the Senegalese during the colonial period.

A Notable Birth

1935 – Ron Paul is an American physician and former politician who served two periods as a congressional representative with the Republican Party, while converting to and from the Libertarian Party while out of office. He is turning 85.

A Notable Death

2008 – Hua Guofeng (b. 1921 as Su Zhu) was a leading figure in Communist China following the death of Mao Zedong. He worked his way up the party system, in part thanks to his loyalty to Mao. In 1981, others in the party, disgruntled by his leadership, had him removed and he stepped away from politics.

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