TODAY IN 1775

By The Associated Press

On August 23, 1775, Britain’s King George III proclaimed the American colonies to be in a state of “open and avowed rebellion.”

On this date: In 1754, France’s King Louis XVI was born at Versailles (vehr-SY’).

In 1785, U.S. naval hero Oliver Hazard Perry was born in South Kingstown, R.I.

In 1912, actor, dancer, director and choreographer Gene Kelly was born Eugene Curran Kelly in Pittsburgh.

In 1913, Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid statue, inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen story, was unveiled in the harbor of the Danish capital.

In 1914, Japan declared war against Germany in World War I.

In 1927, amid worldwide protests, Italian-born anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed in Boston for the murders of two men during a 1920 robbery. (On the 50th anniversary of their executions, then-Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation that Sacco and Vanzetti had been unfairly tried and convicted.)

In 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to a non-aggression treaty, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, in Moscow.

In 1960, Broadway librettist Oscar Hammerstein (HAM’-ur-STYN’) II, 65, died in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

In 1973, a bank robbery-turned-hostage-taking began in Stockholm, Sweden; the four hostages ended up empathizing with their captors, a psychological condition now referred to as “Stockholm Syndrome.”

In 1982, Lebanon’s parliament elected Christian militia leader Bashir Gemayel president. (However, Gemayel was assassinated some three weeks later.)

In 1989, in a case that inflamed racial tensions in New York, Yusuf Hawkins, a 16-year-old black youth, was shot dead after he and his friends were confronted by a group of white youths in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. (Gunman Joey Fama was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison; he will be eligible for parole in 2022.)

In 2000, an estimated 51 million viewers tuned in for the finale of the first season of the CBS reality show “Survivor,” in which contestant Richard Hatch won the $1 million prize.

Five years ago: A military jury convicted Maj. Nidal Hasan in the deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, that claimed 13 lives; the Army psychiatrist was later sentenced to death. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier who’d massacred 16 Afghan civilians, was sentenced at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, to life in prison with no chance of parole. San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, a Democrat, agreed to resign in return for the city’s help defending him against claims he’d groped, kissed and made lewd comments to women. (Filner later pleaded guilty to a felony for manhandling a woman at a fundraising event and two misdemeanor battery charges; he served three months of house arrest.)

Thought for Today: “I know the world is filled with troubles and many injustices. But reality is as beautiful as it is ugly. I think it is just as important to sing about beautiful mornings as it is to talk about slums. I just couldn’t write anything without hope in it.” — Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960).