This Week In History: September 16 – 22


by Dianne Hermann


“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”

         – Winston Churchill           


Week of September 16-22, 2013

September 16

1782 – The Great Seal of United States is used for first time. In June of 1782 Congress commissions Charles Thomson to create the final design after three different committees fail to agree on a design.


1863 – American philanthropist Christopher Robert becomes the founder of Robert College of Istanbul-Turkey, the first American educational institution outside the United States.

1908 – Carriage-maker William Durant becomes the founder of General Motors with $2,000 of his own money.

1919 – The American Legion is incorporated by an act of Congress.

1940 – Samuel T. Rayburn of Texas is elected Speaker of House of Representatives where he serves until his death in 1961. The Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC, completed in 1965, is named for him.


1968 – Richard Nixon appears on the “Laugh-in” TV show.


September 17

1778 – The first treaty between the United States and an Indian tribe is signed at Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania, with the Lenape Indians.

1787 – The U.S. constitution is adopted by the Philadelphia convention.

1849 – Harriet Tubman escapes slavery in Maryland with two of her brothers. Over a ten-year time span Tubman makes 19 trips to the South and escorts over 300 slaves to freedom.


1859 – Joshua Norton of San Francisco declares himself Norton I, emperor of America.


1908 – Army Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge becomes the first person to die in a plane crash. He is a passenger with the Wright Brothers.

1911 – The first transcontinental airplane flight from New York to Pasadena takes 82 hours 4 minutes.

1934 – RCA Victor releases the first 33 1/3 rpm recording (Beethoven’s 5th).

1983 – Twenty-year-old Vanessa Williams (Miss New York), crowned the 56th Miss America, is the first black Miss America. In July of 1984 nude photos taken of Williams in her freshman year of college are published in Penthouse Magazine. She is asked to resign and is allowed to keep her crown, title, and scholarship money but loses millions worth of endorsements. She now has a successful music, TV, and movie career.

2010 – The 54-year run of the soap opera As the World Turns ends as its final episode is broadcast.


September 18

1793 – President George Washington lays the cornerstone of the Capitol building. It isn’t completed until 1826 because of construction issues and the War of 1812.

1850 – Congress passes the Fugitive Slave Acts as part of the Compromise of 1850. It allows for the capture and return of escaped slaves. The laws are repealed by Congress in 1864.

1851 – The New York Times starts publishing their newspaper at 2 cents a copy.

1891 – Harriet Maxwell Converse is the first white woman to become an Indian chief and was given responsibility of the welfare of the Seneca Nation. She is given the name “Gaiiwanoh” meaning the watcher.

1932 – Actress Peg Entwistle commits suicide by jumping from the letter “H” in the Hollywood sign in California.

1947 – The United States Air Force becomes a separate branch of the military.

1977 – NASA’s Voyager I takes the first space photograph of the earth and moon together.


1997 – Ted Turner gives $1 billion to the United Nations.

2009 – The 72-year run of the soap opera The Guiding Light ends as its final episode is broadcast.


September 19

1778 – The Continental Congress passes the first budget of the United States.

1796 – George Washington delivers his farewell address when he leaves office as America’s first president.

1876 – The first carpet sweeper is patented by Melville Bissell of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

1928 – Mickey Mouse makes his screen debut as Steamboat Willie at New York City’s Colony Theater.


1947 – Jackie Robinson is named baseball’s “Rookie of Year.” In 1949 he is named the most valuable player (MVP). Robinson is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.


1961 – Betty and Barney Hill claim that they saw a mysterious craft in the sky and that it tried to abduct them.


1986 – Federal health officials announce that AZT will be available to AIDS patients.


September 20

1884 – The Equal Rights Party is the first political party to nominate female candidates for both President (Belva Ann Lockwood) and Vice President (Marieta Stow). Belva Ann Lockwood, a lawyer, is the first woman to argue before the Supreme Court.


1973 – Billy Jean King beats Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match.


1979 – Lee Iacocca is elected president of the Chrysler Corporation. He agrees to be paid $1 a year.

1985 – Walt Disney World admits its 200-millionth guest. The park opened on October 1, 1971. The 600-millionth guest enters Walt Disney World on June 24, 1998.


September 21

1780 – Benedict Arnold gives British Major John Andre the plans for an attack on West Point. Major Andre is captured and is hanged on October 2nd. Benedict Arnold escapes and becomes an officer in the British Army.

1814 – “The Star Spangled Banner” is published as a poem. (See September 14, 1814)

1827 – According to Joseph Smith, Jr., the angel Moroni gave him a record of gold plates, one-third of which Joseph translated into The Book of Mormon.


1903 – The first western film “Kit Carson,” premieres in the United States.

1948 – “Texaco Star Theater” with Milton Berle premieres on NBC-TV. The final shoe airs in 1956.


1970 – “Monday Night Football” premieres on ABC. The Browns beat the Jets 31-21.

1981 – Sandra Day O’Conner becomes the first female Supreme Court Justice. She serves until retirement on January 31, 2006.


2003 – The Galileo mission is terminated by sending the probe into Jupiter’s atmosphere, where it is crushed by the pressure of the lower altitudes.


September 22

1789 – The Office of Postmaster General is created under the Treasury Department. Ben Franklin is the first Postmaster General.

1893 – The Duryea brothers builds America’s first automobile in Springfield, Massachusetts. It has a one-cylinder engine, three speeds, and traveled at 10 miles an hour.

1920 – A Chicago grand jury convenes to investigate charges that 8 White Sox baseball players conspired to fix the 1919 World Series. (See August 2, 1921)

1966 – The unmanned spacecraft Surveyor 2, launched on September 20th, crashes on the Moon in a failed landing attempt.

1975 – Sara Jane Moore tries to assassinate President Gerald Ford in San Francisco, California.

1993 – Nolan Ryan pitches his last game at age 46. He holds the record for the most strikeouts of all time (5,714), the most no-hitters of all time (with 7), and the fastest “officially recorded” pitch thrown in a baseball game (100.9 miles per hour). Ryan is the only player to have his number retired by three baseball teams (Angels, Astros, and Rangers). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on January 5, 1999 with the second highest percentage of votes of all time (98.7% of ballots). Amazingly, Nolan Ryan never won the Cy Young Award.



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