This Day In History, August 25th

What happened on this day in history: Ivan the Terrible is born, Samantha Smith dies in a plane crash, and more events that occurred on August 25th.

1530: Ivan The Terrible Is Born

Today In History August 25

Wikimedia CommonsPortrait of Ivan the Terrible, by Viktor Vasnetsov.

Russian tsar Ivan IV, commonly known as Ivan the Terrible, is born. The son of Vasily III, the Grand Prince of Moscow, Ivan went on to become the first tsar of Russia. He’s referred to as the “Terrible” not because he was a poor ruler, but because he inspired terror in his subjects. He was especially vicious toward his family members — and even murdered his own son. Under his rule, Russia transformed from a loose collection of duchies and principalities to a growing empire.

1835: “The Great Moon Hoax” Is Published In The New York Sun

The first of a series of six articles later dubbed “The Great Moon Hoax” is published in the newspaper New York Sun. The articles detailed the discovery of civilization and life on the moon, including winged humanoids and unicorns. The stories were likely written by reporter Richard Adams Locke and intended as satire, but readers were so convinced that the paper later had to admit to the hoax.

1875: Matthew Webb Becomes The First Person To Swim The English Channel

English Captain Matthew Webb becomes the first person to swim across the English Channel with no artificial aids. He was inspired to attempt the feat when he read about the failed efforts of others. Webb began in Dover, England on August 24th and swam the equivalent of about 40 miles to Calais, France in less than 22 hours. The accomplishment brought Webb renown, but it also inspired him to try more dangerous stunts, and he later died while trying to swim across the Niagara River downriver from Niagara Falls.

1985: Samantha Smith Dies In A Plane Crash

Samantha Smith Holding A Letter

Bettmann/Getty ImagesSamantha Smith holds up the letter she received from Soviet leader Yuri Andropov. April 1983.

American child actress and peace activist Samantha Smith dies in a plane crash at the age of 13. Smith was famous for her anti-war efforts. She became known as America’s Youngest Ambassador after she visited the Soviet Union following a letter she wrote to Yuri Andropov, in which she expressed concerns about nuclear war. Smith gained international fame and numerous opportunities to appear on TV, including for the series Lime Street. She was returning to her home in Maine after filming scenes for the show when the small plane she was on crashed into trees while attempting to land.