August 17 is the 229th day of the year (230th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. There are 136 days remaining.
- 1807 - Robert Fulton's first American steamboat leaves New York City for Albany, New York on the Hudson River, inaugurating the first commercial steamboat service in the world.
- 1850 - Argentine's War of Independence hero, General José de San Martín, dies in Boulogne-sur-Mer (France), at the age of 77.
- 1862 - Indian Wars: Lakota (Sioux) uprising begins in Minnesota as desperate Lakota attack white settlements along the Minnesota River. They will be overwhelmed by the US military six weeks later.
- 1863 - American Civil War: In Charleston, South Carolina, Union batteries and ships bombard Confederate-held Fort Sumter. Bombardment will not end until December 31, 1863.
- 1877 - Arizona blacksmith F.P. Cahill is fatally wounded by Billy the Kid. Cahill will die the next day, becoming the first person killed by the 'Kid.
- 1914 - World War I: The German army of General Hermann von Francois defeats the Russian force commanded by Pavel Rennenkampf at the Battle of Stalluponen.
- 1915 - Jewish American Leo Frank is lynched for the alleged murder of a 13-year-old girl in Atlanta, Georgia.
- 1943 - World War II: The US 7th Army under General George S. Patton arrive in Messina, Italy followed several hours later by the British 8th Army under Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery, thus completing the Allied conquest of Sicily.
- 1945 - Indonesia proclaims itself independent from the Netherlands.
- 1953 - Addiction: First meeting of Narcotics Anonymous in Southern California.
- 1960 - Gabon gains independence from France.
- 1962 - East German border guards kill 18-year-old Peter Fechter as he attempts to cross the Berlin Wall into West Berlin. He thus became the first victim of the wall
- 1969 - Category 5 Hurricane Camille hits the Mississippi coast killing 248 people and causing US$1.5 billion in damage (1969 dollars).
- 1970 - Venera program: Venera 7 is launched. It will later becomes the first spacecraft to successfully transmit data from the surface of another planet, Venus.
- 1978 - Double Eagle II becomes first balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean when it lands in Miserey near Paris, 137 hours after leaving Presque Isle, Maine.
- 1979 - Two Soviet Aeroflot jetliners collide in mid-air over Ukraine killing 156
- 1988 - Pakistani President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq and US Ambassador Arnold Raphel are killed in a plane crash.
- 1998 - Monica Lewinsky scandal: US President Bill Clinton admits in taped testimony that he had an "improper physical relationship" with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. On the same day he admits before the nation that he "misled people" about his relationship.
- 1999 - A 7.4-magnitude earthquake strikes northwestern Turkey, killing more than 17,000 and injuring 44,000.
- 2002 - In Santa Rosa, California, the Charles M. Schulz Museum opens to the public.
- 2004 - MD5 collision found by Chinese researchers.
- 2004 - The National Assembly of Serbia unanimously adopts new state symbols for Serbia: Boze Pravde becomes the new anthem and the coat of arms is adopted for the whole country.
- 1601 - Pierre de Fermat, mathematician
- 1629 - John III of Poland (d. 1696)
- 1786 - Davy Crockett, frontiersman, soldier (d. 1836)
- 1882 - Samuel Goldwyn, Hollywood producer (d. 1974)
- 1887 - Marcus Garvey, American black leader (d. 1940)
- 1887 - Emperor Karl of Austria (d. 1922)
- 1893 - Mae West, actress, playwright (d. 1980)
- 1904 - Leopold Nowak, musicologist
- 1911 - Mikhail Botvinnik, world chess champion
- 1920 - Maureen O'Hara, actress
- 1929 - Jiang Zemin, President of the People's Republic of China
- 1929 - Francis Gary Powers, U-2 pilot (d. 1977)
- 1930 - Glenn Corbett, actor (d. 1993)
- 1932 - V. S. Naipaul, writer
- 1943 - Robert De Niro, actor
- 1958 - Belinda Carlisle, singer, guitarist
- 1958 - Kirk Stevens, Canadian snooker player
- 1959 - David Koresh, cult leader (d. 1993)
- 1960 - Sean Penn, actor, director
- 1964 - Colin James, blues musician
- 1969 - Donnie Wahlberg, actor, singer
- 1971 - Jorge Posada, Major League Baseball All-Star
- 1977 - Thierry Henry, French football star
- 1676 - Hans Jakob Christoph von Grimmelshausen, novelist
- 1850 - Don José de San Martín
- 1875 - Wilhelm Bleek, linguist
- 1880 - Ole Bull, Norwegian Violinist
- 1896 - Bridget Driscoll, world's first automobile fatality
- 1973 - Jean Barraqué, composer
- 1973 - Paul Williams, singer (member of the Temptations)
- 1979 - Vivian Vance, actress
- 1983 - Ira Gershwin, lyricist
- 1987 - Rudolf Hess, former member of Adolf Hitler's inner circle
- 1988 - Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, president of Pakistan
- 1990 - Pearl Bailey, singer
Holidays and observances
August 16 - August 18 - July 17 - September 17 -- listing of all days
es:17 de agosto
eo:17-a de aŭgusto
ia:17 de augusto
pt:17 de Agosto
wa:17 d' awousse