This Day In History, August 20th

What happened on this day in history: The first enslaved Africans arrive in Jamestown, the Menendez brothers kill their parents, and more events that occurred on August 20th.

1619: The First Enslaved Africans Arrive In Jamestown Colony

Around 20 enslaved Africans who had been captured by Portuguese forces in Angola arrive in Jamestown. They disembarked from the White Lion ship at Point Comfort, near what is today Hampton, Virginia. Though they were not the first enslaved Africans to set foot in what would become the United States, their arrival marked a turning point for slavery in North America — as it helped introduce the transatlantic slave trade to Jamestown and other settlements.

1667: John Milton Publishes Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost, John Milton’s epic poem about the biblical Fall of Mankind, is released. The work is considered to be Milton’s masterpiece, and it is mostly because of Paradise Lost that he is today known as one of the greatest English writers of all time. Milton wrote the poem between 1658 and 1663 — dictating it to others, as he’d gone blind in 1652.

1940: Leon Trotsky Is Killed In Mexico

This Day In History August 20

Public DomainLeon Trotsky in the early 1920s.

Leon Trotsky, a Russian Marxist revolutionary and mortal enemy of Joseph Stalin, is brutally attacked while in exile in Mexico City. Spanish Communist and likely Soviet agent Ramón Mercader struck Trotsky with an ice ax, and he died of blood loss and shock the following day. Trotsky had previously survived several other assassination attempts, but his final words were: “I will not survive this attack. Stalin has finally accomplished the task he attempted unsuccessfully before.”

1968: Czechoslovakia’s Prague Spring Ends With Soviet Invasion

Czechoslovakia’s Prague Spring ends as a result of a Soviet invasion. For about seven months, Czechoslovakians enjoyed a brief period of liberal reforms in politics and economics. Alexander Dubček, a Czechoslovakian leader, became the figurehead of the liberalizing movement, dubbed the Prague Spring. However, Moscow was deeply unhappy with the reforms and expressed to Dubček that there would be consequences if the country continued to pursue liberalization. By August, the Soviet Union launched an invasion, putting an end to the Prague Spring.

1989: The Menendez Brothers Kill Their Parents

Lyle And Erik Menendez In Court

Ted Soqui/Sygma/Getty ImagesLyle and Erik Menendez were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Lyle and Erik Menendez shoot their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez, in the family’s Beverly Hills mansion. The brothers, who were 21 and 18 at the time, claimed their father had sexually, emotionally, and physically abused them for years. But prosecutors argued that they killed their parents to inherit their multimillion-dollar estate. The Menendez brothers were found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.