This Day in History - September 17

September 17

1179 – German saint, composer, and philosopher, Hildegard of Bingen, dies

1743 – French mathematician and philosopher who was a leader during the Enlightenment, Marquis Marie Jean de Condorcet, is born

1778 – During the Revolutionary War, Mohawk Indian Chief and British Loyalist leader Joseph Brant leads a force of Indians and Loyalists in a surprise attack on the area of German Flats, New York

1787 – The Constitution of the United States is approved by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia

1796 – Before concluding his second term in office, President George Washington delivers his “Farewell Address” to Congress

1820 – Poet, John Keats, sets off for Italy with the hopes that the climate will ease his tuberculosis

1862 – The bloodiest day in American history occurs in a cornfield, Bloody Lane and Burnside’s Bridge in Maryland during the Battle of Antietam in the Civil War. Union and Confederate armies lose a combined total of 26,293 men

1868 – Major George “Sandy” Forsyth and just fifty volunteers hold off 500 Cheyenne in eastern Colorado as the Battle of Beecher’s Island begins

1879 – Indian businessman and politician, Periyar E. V Ramasamy, is born

1879 – Father of the Negro baseball leagues, Andrew “Rube” Foster, is born

1883 – Poet, playwright, writer, and Pulitzer prize winner, William Carlos Williams, is born

1884 – Judge Allen disposes of 13 criminal cases in Oakland, California in six minutes setting a new record for speed

1902 – Tthe US sends troops to Panama to keep the train lines open over the isthmus as Panamanian nationals struggle for independence from Colombia

1903 – Over 10,000 civilians are killed when the Turks destroy the town of Kastoria in Bulgaria

1907 – Chief justice of the Supreme Court, Warren E. Burger, is born

1908 – Lt. Thomas Selfridge becomes the first airplane fatality when the plane piloted by Orville Wright in which Selfridge was a passenger, crashes

1915 – Indian painter and director, M.F. Husain, is born

1916 – Germany’s “Red Baron,” Manfred von Richthofen, wins his first aerial combat during World War I

1917 – The German Army recaptures the Russian Port of Riga from the Russians during World War I

1923 – Country singer and songwriter, Hank Williams Sr., is born

1923 – A fire in northern California kills 2 people and does $10 million in damages and destroys half of the fraternity and sorority houses in the U.C. Berkeley area

1935 – Author, Ken Kesey, is born

1939 – The Soviet Union launches an invasion of eastern Poland while the Germans are attacking western Poland during World War II

1942 – Soviet Premier Josef Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill meet in Moscow during which time the German Army enters Stalingrad during World War II

1944 – Operation Market-Garden takes place where British airborne troops parachute into Holland to capture the Arnhem Bridge. They were to be relieved by British troops that never arrived, leaving them to surrender to the Germans during World War II

1947 – The first US Secretary of Defense, James Forestall, is sworn in

1947 – Political cartoonist, Jeff MacNelly, is born

1948 – Actor/ comedian, John Ritter, is born

1948 – American anthropologist, Ruth Benedict, dies

1953 – Drummer, songwriter, and member of Welch heavy metal group, Budgie, Steve Williams, is born

1953 – Founder and leader of Pakistan’s Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Altaf Hussain, is born

1957 – The Thai army seizes power in Bangkok

1957 – Louis Armstrong, a famous black jazz musician, announces he will not participate in the US government-sponsored tour of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The tour was set up to ease the war of words that was extremely prevalent during the Cold War, in which America had been painted as a racist nation. Developments in Little Rock, Arkansas where white citizens and National Guardsmen prevented nine black students from entering an all-white school, had infuriated the musician, and he accused the US government of being complicit

1959 – The first flight of the X-15 occurs

1962 – The first federal suit to end public school segregation is filed by the US Justice Department

1965 – Four Englishmen arrive at Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany after crossing the English Channel by Amphicar, the world’s only mass-produced amphibious passenger car

1967 – The Who inspired Jimi Hendrix to famously burn his guitar when playing at the Monterey Pop Festival

1968 – Crown Princess of Greece, Marie-Chantal, is born

1970 – The People’s Revolutionary Government for South Vietnam presents a peace plan at the Paris talks that was refused by the US since it called for the purge of South Vietnam’s top leaders, including President Nguyen Van Thieu during the Vietnam War

1972 – During the Vietnam War, Hanoi releases three U.S. pilots who had been kept as POWs since 1969

1975 – American race car driver, Jimmie Johnson, is born

1976 – The Space Shuttle is unveiled to the public

1978 – The Camp David Accords are signed by Egypt and Israel

1980 – Nationwide independent trade union solidarity established in Poland

1980 – Former president of Nicaragua, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, is assassinated in Paraguay

1981 – Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, Fernando Valenzuela, throws his eight shutouts of the season

1983 – Vanessa Williams becomes the first black Miss America, but will later relinquish crown over a nude photo scandal

1985 – Czech tennis player, Tomas Berdych, is born

1994 – Heather Whitestone of Alabama becomes the first deaf Miss America

1994 – Austrian and English philosopher, Karl Popper, dies

1996 – Daytime talk show host Oprah Winfrey launches a television book club

1996 – 39th Vice President of the US, Spiro Agnew, dies

1997 – American actor and comedian, Red Skelton, dies

2001 – The New York Stock Exchange is reopened for the first time since the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. It was the longest period of closure since the Great Depression

2004 – Barry Bonds becomes the third baseball player to hit 700 career home runs, joining Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth

2006 – Alaska’s Fourpeaked Mountain erupts for the first time in at least 10,000 years

2011 – Occupy Wall Street movement calling for greater social and economic equality begins in New York City’s Zuccotti Park, coining the phrase “We are the 99%”


Written by Crystal McCann

Crystal is the Chief Operating Officer of Lanterns Media Network and the owner of Madisons Media. She lives in Texas with her husband and dogs and is the proud mother of two adult children.

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