• On Aug. 23, 1784, four counties in North Carolina declare their independence as the state of Franklin. The counties lay in what would become Tennessee. In defiance of Congress, Franklin survived as an independent nation for four years with its own constitution, Indian treaties and legislated system of barter.
• On Aug. 21, 1911, theft of the Mona Lisa is discovered. After a two-year search for the painting, former employee Vincenzo Perugia was captured attempting to collect a ransom.
• On Aug. 20, 1920, seven men, including legendary football star Jim Thorpe, meet to organize a professional football league. The meeting led to the creation of the American Professional Football Conference, the forerunner to the National Football League.
• On Aug. 22, 1933, the notorious Barker gang robs a Federal Reserve mail truck in Chicago and kills Officer Miles Cunningham. Netting only a bunch of worthless checks, the Barkers soon returned to a crime with which they had more success — kidnapping. Their first victim, William Hamm, had earned the gang $100,000 in ransom.
• On Aug. 18, 1958, Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel “Lolita” is published in the U.S. The novel, about a man’s obsession with a 12-year-old girl, had been rejected by four publishers before G.P. Putnam’s Sons accepted it.
• On Aug. 19, 1960, in the USSR, captured American U-2 spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers is sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for his confessed espionage. Only 18 months into his sentence, the Soviets released him in exchange for Rudolf Abel, a senior KGB spy who was caught and convicted in the U.S. five years earlier.
• On Aug. 17, 1978, the Double Eagle II, with three pilots, completes the first trans-Atlantic balloon flight when it lands near Paris after lifting off from Presque Isle, Maine. The helium-filled balloon had flown 3,233 miles in the nearly six-day odyssey.
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