This Week In History, September 9


by Dianne Hermann


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

         – Winston Churchill           

Week of September 9-15, 2013

September 9

1675 – The New England colonies declare war on the Wampanoag Indians, who live in what is now Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It is believed that Thanksgiving is based on the interaction between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians.

1830 – Charles Durant, the first U.S. aeronaut, flies a hot air balloon from Castle Garden in New York City to Perth Amboy, New Jersey.

1861 – Sally Tompkins becomes the only female Confederate Army commissioned officer during the Civil War. Captain Tompkins, called “The Angel of the Confederacy,” founded and directed Robertson Hospital in Richmond, Virginia.


Sally Tompkins

1945 – Grace Hopper discovers the first “bug” in a computer while working with her associates at Harvard. A moth is removed from a relay with tweezers.

1955 – Elvis Presley makes his first of three appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. Actor Charles Laughton hosts for Ed, who is recovering from a serious car accident.


Elvis Presley on stage

1963 – Alabama Gov. George Wallace is served with a federal injunction to stop his orders that state police bar black students from enrolling in white schools.

1990 – American President George Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev meet in Helsinki, Finland, to urge Iraq to leave Kuwait.


September 10

1608 – John Smith is elected president of the Colony Council in Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent British colony in North American.

1776 – Nathan Hale volunteers after George Washington asks for a spy. (See September 12, 1776)


Nathan Hale

1858 – John Holden hits the first recorded home run in a baseball game between the Brooklyn Eckfords and the New York Mutuals.

1924 – Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb are found guilty of murdering Bobby Franks, a 14-year-old acquaintance. Their lawyer is Clarence Darrow. Leopold and Loeb, teenagers at the time of the murder, are sentenced to life in prison. Loeb is killed in prison in 1936. In 1958, after thirty-four years of confinement, Leopold is released from prison. He moves to Puerto Rico, where he dies in 1971 at the age of 65.


Leopold and Loeb

1955 – “Gunsmoke” premieres on CBS TV. The final episode airs in 1975.


September 11

1941 – Construction begins of the Pentagon. It is completed on January 15, 1943. The Pentagon is actually located in Northern Virginia just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC.

2001 – Two passenger planes hijacked by terrorists crash into New York City’s World Trade Center Towers, causing the collapse of both buildings and killing of 2,752 people. Terrorists hijack another passenger plane and crash it into the Pentagon, killing of 125 people. A fourth hijacked airplane crashes in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers and crew attempt to regain control of the aircraft. All 64 people on board are killed. Let’s roll!

2002 – The Pentagon is rededicated after repairs are completed, exactly one year after the terrorist attack on the building.


US flag hanging from the Pentagon

September 12

1776 – Nathan Hale, recruited by George Washington, slips behind enemy lines on Long Island, New York, on a spy mission. Hale is arrested by the British on September 21st and hanged the following day. He is 21 years old. Hale is credited with saying, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” See September 10th)

1910 – Alice Stebbins Wells is appointed the world’s first female cop by the Los Angeles Police Department.


Alice Stebbins Wells

1935 – Millionaire Howard Hughes sets a speed record of 352.46 mph in the H-1 Racer, an airplane of his own design. He goes on to design and build the largest aircraft ever flown, the Spruce Goose, in 1947.

1959 – “Bonanza” premieres on NBC-TV. The final episode airs in 1973.

1970 – University professor and activist Timothy Leary escapes from a California jail. He had been convicted following his 1968 arrest for marijuana possession.


September 13

1788 – New York City becomes the capital of the United States. Washington, DC becomes our nation’s capital in 1790.

1939 – Igor Sikorsky makes the first (tethered) flight of the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300, one of the first viable American helicopters.



The VS-300

1970 – Gary Muhrcke wins the first New York City Marathon in 2 hours 31 minutes 38 seconds.


Gary Muhrcke

1977 – The first TV “viewer discretion” warning is issued before the airing of Soap, a sitcom featuring Billy Crystal as a gay ventriloquist.

1977 – General Motors introduces the Oldsmobile 88, the first diesel automobile in the United States.


September 14

1814 – Francis Scott Key is inspired to write the poem “Defense of Fort McHenry” while he is a prisoner on board a ship near Fort McHenry outside Baltimore, Maryland. The poem is renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and put to music written by English composer John Stafford Smith. The song becomes our national anthem in 1931. That original flag, now restored, is on display of the Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

1872 – Britain pays the United States $15½ million for damages done to Union ships during Civil War by ships build by the British for the Confederacy.

1899 – Henry Bliss becomes the first automobile fatality in the United States. He is struck and killed by a taxi when he steps off a streetcar in New York City. Manslaughter charges against the taxi driver are dropped.

1948 – The groundbreaking ceremony for the United Nations world headquarters building is held in New York City. The building is completed in 1952. Representatives from 50 member countries sign the U.N. Charter in June of 1945.

1963 – Mary Ann Fischer of Aberdeen, South Dakota, gives birth to America’s first surviving quintuplets, 4 girls and a boy. Mary Ann Fischer dies in December 2012 at the age of 79. The quintuplets turn 50 today.


The Fischer quintuplets

1964 – Walt Disney is awarded Medal of Freedom at the White House by President Lyndon B. Johnson.


Walt Disney receiving the Medal of Freedom

1975 – Mother Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton is canonized by Pope Paul VI as the first US-born saint.


September 15

1620 – The Mayflower departs from Plymouth, England, with 102 pilgrims on board. They arrive at Plymouth Rock on December 21st.

1853 – Antoinette Blackwell becomes the first woman in the United States ordained as a minister.


Antoinette Blackwell

1949 – “The Lone Ranger” premieres on ABC-TV. The last show airs in 1957. (See September 1, 1979)

1963 – A church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, kills 4 African-American girls.

1966 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, responding to a sniper attack at the University of Texas at Austin, writes a letter to the United States Congress urging the enactment of gun control legislation.

1982 – The first issue of the USA Today newspaper is published by the Gannett Company.


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