August 12 30 BC
Cleoptara, Queen of Egypt and former wife to Julius Caesar, commits suicide by means of venomous snakebite to the mammary gland.
August 12 1676
Wampanoag chieftain Metacom (or “Philip”) is killed in a swamp near Mount Hope. Thus ends King Philip’s War, the first war between Indians and European settlers.
August 12 1869
In San Francisco, Emperor Norton I issues a stern edict outlawing both the Republican and Democratic political parties. Violators face a prison term of five-to-ten years.
August 12 1948
Russian schoolteacher Oksana Kosenkina is injured when she jumps out the window of the Soviet Consulate in New York City. Soviet officials claim they had rescued her from “White Russian” kidnappers, but Kosenkina says she was trying to escape from the Soviets. The US later expels the consul general, and the Soviets close their consulate.
August 12 1951
Dr. Jean Vieu discovers two patients stricken with abdominal pain and grotesque hallucinations in Pont St. Esprit, France. They are just the first of more than 230 afflicted townspeople, thanks to bread tainted with ergot.
August 12 1953
In Siberia, the Soviet Union successfully tests its first thermonuclear device, based on Andrei Sakharov’s fission-fusion “Layer Cake” design: alternating layers of uranium and hydrogen fuel sandwiched together and wrapped around a conventional Atomic Bomb. The fission explosion compresses the hydrogen, causing a fusion reaction.
August 12 1985
30 minutes after takeoff, JAL flight 123 loses all hydraulic pressure, rendering the controls inoperable. The crew attempts a return to Tokyo-Haneda airport by adjusting power to the engines, but the 747 crashes into a mountain ridge near Mt. Osutaka. When rescue workers arrive the following morning, they find 4 survivors and 520 dead.