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September 15, 1944: The Battle of Peleliu began as the United States Marine Corps' 1st Marine Division and the United States Army's 81st Infantry Division hit White and Orange beaches under heavy fire from Japanese infantry and artillery. Major General William Rupertus, USMC—commander of 1st Marine Division—predicted the island would be secured within four days. However, due to Japan's well-crafted fortifications and stiff resistance, the battle lasted over two months. In the United States, it was a controversial battle because of the island's questionable strategic value and the high casualty rate, which was the highest for U.S. military personnel of any battle in the Pacific War.
September 16, 1920: A bomb in a horse wagon exploded in front of the J. P. Morgan building on Wall Street in New York City – 38 are killed and 400 injured. The bombing was never solved, although investigators and historians believe the Wall Street bombing was carried out by Galleanists (Italian anarchists), a group responsible for a series of bombings the previous year. The attack was related to postwar social unrest, labor struggles and anti-capitalist agitation in the United States.
September 17, 1916: Manfred von Richthofen, better known as "The Red Baron," a flying ace of the German Luftstreitkräfte credited with 80 air combat victories, won his first aerial combat near Cambrai, France. Originally a cavalryman, Richthofen transferred to the Air Service in 1915, becoming one of the first members of Jasta 2 in 1916. He quickly distinguished himself as a fighter pilot, and during 1917 became leader of Jasta 11 and then the larger unit Jagdgeschwader 1 (better known as the "Flying Circus"). By 1918, he was regarded as a national hero in Germany, and was very well known by the other side. Richthofen was shot down and killed near Amiens on 21 April 1918.
September 18, 2007: Buddhist monks joined anti-government protesters in Myanmar, starting what some called the Saffron Revolution. A series of anti-government protests originally started on 15 August 2007. The immediate cause of the protests was mainly the unannounced decision of the ruling junta to remove fuel subsidies, which caused the price of diesel and petrol to suddenly rise as much as 66%, and the price of compressed natural gas for buses to increase fivefold in less than a week. Led by students and opposition political activists, including women, the protest demonstrations took the form of a campaign of nonviolent resistance, sometimes also called civil resistance. They were at first dealt with quickly and harshly by the junta, with dozens of protesters arrested and detained. When thousands of Buddhist monks joined the protests, they were allowed to proceed until a renewed government crackdown on 26 September. During the crackdown, there were rumors of disagreement within the Burmese military, but none were confirmed.
September 19, 1692: Giles Corey was pressed to death after refusing to plead in the Salem witch trials. According to the law at the time, a person who refused to plead could not be tried. To avoid persons cheating justice, the legal remedy for refusing to plead was "peine forte et dure". In this process the prisoner is stripped naked, with a heavy board laid on his body. Then rocks or boulders are laid on the plank of wood. Samuel Sewall's diary states, under date of Monday, September 19, 1692: "About noon at Salem, Giles Cory [sic] was pressed to death for standing mute; much pains was used with him two days, one after another, by the court and Captain Gardner of Nantucket who had been of his acquaintance, but all in vain."
September 20, 1498: The 1498 Meiō Nankaidō earthquake generated a tsunami that washed away the building housing the statue of the Great Buddha at Kōtoku-in in Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan; since then the Buddha has sat in the open air.
September 21, 1937: J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, or There and Back Again was published. Receiving wide critical acclaim, the book was being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction. The book remains popular and is recognized as a classic in children's literature. Encouraged by the book's critical and financial success, the publisher requested a sequel. As Tolkien's work on the successor The Lord of the Rings progressed, he made retrospective accommodations for it in The Hobbit. These few but significant changes were integrated into the second edition. Further editions followed with minor emendations, including those reflecting Tolkien's changing concept of the world into which Bilbo stumbled. The work has never been out of print.
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September 8, 1504: Michelangelo's David was unveiled in Florence. The statue represents the Biblical hero David, a favored subject in the art of Florence. Originally commissioned as one of a series of statues of prophets to be positioned along the roofline of the east end of Florence Cathedral, the statue was instead placed in a public square, outside the Palazzo della Signoria, the seat of civic government in Florence.
September 9, 1739: The Stono Rebellion, the largest slave uprising in the American colonies prior to the Revolution, erupted near Charleston, South Carolina. the uprising was led by Catholic Kongolese. Their leader, Jemmy, was a literate slave who led 20 other enslaved Kongolese, who may have been former soldiers, in an armed march south from the Stono River. They recruited nearly 60 other slaves and killed 22–25 whites before being intercepted by the South Carolina militia near the Edisto River. In that battle, 20 whites and 44 slaves were killed, and the rebellion was largely suppressed. Most of the captured slaves were executed, while survivors were to the West Indies. In response to the rebellion, the South Carolina legislature passed the Negro Act of 1740 restricting slave assembly, education, and movement. It also enacted a 10-year moratorium against importing African slaves, and established penalties against slaveholders' harsh treatment of slaves. It required legislative approval for manumissions, which slaveholders had previously been able to arrange privately.
September 10, 1972: The United States suffered its first loss of an international basketball game in a disputed match against the Soviet Union at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. With the U.S. team trailing 49–48 in the waning seconds of the contest, American guard Doug Collins stole a Soviet pass at halfcourt and was fouled hard by Zurab Sakandelidze as he drove toward the basket, being knocked down into the basket stanchion. With three seconds remaining on the game clock, Collins was awarded two free throws and sank the first to tie the score at 49. Just as Collins lifted the ball to begin his shooting motion in attempting the second free throw, the horn from the scorer's table sounded, marking the beginning of a chain of events that left the game's final three seconds mired in controversy.
September 11, 1893: Parliament of the World's Religions opened in Chicago, where Swami Vivekananda delivered his famous speech on fanaticism, tolerance and the truth inherent in all religions. The 1893 Parliament, which ran from 11 to 27 September, had marked the first formal gathering of representatives of Eastern and Western spiritual traditions. Today it is recognized as the occasion of the birth of formal interreligious dialogue worldwide.
September 12, 490 BCE: Though the date is subject of some debate, the Athenians and their Plataean allies, defeated the first Persian invasion force of Greece. The Battle of Marathon was a watershed in the Greco-Persian wars, showing the Greeks that the Persians could be beaten; the eventual Greek triumph in these wars can be seen to begin at Marathon. Since the following two hundred years saw the rise of the Classical Greek civilization, which has been enduringly influential in western society, the Battle of Marathon is often seen as a pivotal moment in European history. The battle is perhaps now more famous as the inspiration for the marathon race. Although thought to be historically inaccurate, the legend of the Greek messenger Pheidippides running to Athens with news of the victory became the inspiration for this athletic event, introduced at the 1896 Athens Olympics, and originally run between Marathon and Athens.
September 13, 1814: In a turning point in the War of 1812, the British fail to capture Baltimore. During the battle, Francis Scott Key composed his poem "Defence of Fort McHenry," which is later set to music and becomes the United States' national anthem. Key, accompanied by the British Prisoner Exchange Agent Colonel John Stuart Skinner, dined aboard the British ship HMS Tonnant, as the guests of the British Skinner and Key were there to negotiate the release of prisoners, one of whom was Dr. William Beanes, who had been arrested after putting rowdy stragglers under citizen's arrest. Skinner, Key, and Beanes were not allowed to return to their own sloop because they had become familiar with the strength and position of the British units and with the British intent to attack Baltimore. As a result of this, Key was unable to do anything but watch the bombarding of the American forces at Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore on the night of September 13–14, 1814.
September 14, 1975: The first American saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton, was canonized by Pope Paul VI. On 31 July 1809, Elizabeth established a religious community in Emmitsburg, Maryland dedicated to the care of the children of the poor. It was the first congregation of religious sisters to be founded in the United States, and its school was the first free Catholic school in America. This modest beginning marked the start of the Catholic parochial school system in the United States. The order was initially called the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph. From that point on, she became known as "Mother Seton".
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August 25, 1916: The National Park Service was created when President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation that mandated the agency "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."
August 26, 1789: The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is approved by the National Constituent Assembly of France. The fundamental document of the French Revolution defined the individual and collective rights of all the estates of the realm as universal. Influenced by the doctrine of "natural right", the rights of man are held to be universal: valid at all times and in every place, pertaining to human nature itself.
August 27, 410 CE: The Sack of Rome which had begun on August 24, 410, came to an end. The city was attacked by the Visigoths, led by Alaric I. This was the first time in almost 800 years that Rome had fallen to an enemy. The previous sack of Rome had been accomplished by the Gauls under their leader Brennus in 387 BCE. The sacking of 410 is seen as a major landmark in the fall of the Western Roman Empire. St. Jerome, living in Bethlehem at the time, wrote that "The City which had taken the whole world was itself taken."
August 28, 1565: Pedro Menéndez de Avilés sighted land near St. Augustine, Florida and founds the oldest continuously occupied European-established city in what would become the continental United States.The Spanish crown had approached Menéndez to fit out an expedition to Florida on the condition that he explore and colonize the region as King Philip's adelantado, and eliminate the Huguenot French settlers, whom the Catholic Spanish considered to be dangerous heretics. Menéndez was in a race to reach Florida before the French captain Jean Ribault, who was on a mission to secure Fort Caroline, near present day Jacksonville. The two fleets met in a brief skirmish off the coast, but it was not decisive. On 28 August 1565, the feast day of St. Augustine of Hippo, Menéndez's crew finally sighted land. They landed shortly after to found the settlement they named St. Augustine.
August 29, 1949: The Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb, known as First Lightning or Joe 1, at Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan. The explosion yielded 22 kilotons of TNT, similar to the American Gadget and Fat Man bombs. In order to test the effects of the new weapon, workers constructed houses made of wood and bricks, along with a bridge, and a simulated metro in the vicinity of the test site. Armoured hardware and approximately 50 aircraft were also brought to the testing grounds, as well as over 1,500 animals to test the bomb's effects on life. The resulting data showed the explosion to be 50% more destructive than originally estimated by its engineers.
August 30, 1967: Thurgood Marshall was confirmed as the first African-American Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Before becoming a judge, Marshall was a lawyer who was best known for his high success rate in arguing before the Supreme Court and for the victory in Brown v. Board of Education, a decision that desegregated public schools. He served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit after being appointed by President John F. Kennedy and then served as the Solicitor General after being appointed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965.
August 31, 1876: The Ottoman Sultan Murat V was deposed and succeeded by his brother Abd-ul-Hamid II, who would be the last Sultan to exert effective control over the Ottoman Empire. Abd-ul-Hamidd II oversaw a period of decline in the power and extent of the Empire, until he was deposed on 27 April 1909. During his tenure, he was responsible for both modernization of the Ottoman Empire, as well as exerting maximum control over its affairs. Changes included: rationalization of the bureaucracy; the ambitious Hijaz Railway project; the creation of a modern system of personnel records (1896); establishment of an elaborate system for population registration and control over the press; systematization of officials salaries (1880); first modern law school (1898).
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June 16, 1816: Lord Byron read Fantasmagoriana to his four house guests at the Villa Diodati, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, Claire Clairmont, and John Polidori, and challenged each guest to write a ghost story. His challenge culminated in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, John Polidori's short story, The Vampyre, and Byron's poem, Darkness.
June 17, 1963: The United States Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 in Abington School District v. Schempp against requiring the reciting of Bible verses and the Lord's Prayer in public schools.
June 18, 1815: The Duke of Wellington and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher defeated Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo thereby forcing Bonaparte to abdicate the throne of France for the second and final time.
June 19, 1865: Over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves in Galveston, Texas, United States, were finally informed of their freedom when General Gordon Granger read the contents of “General Order No. 3”. The anniversary is still officially celebrated in Texas and 13 other states as Juneteenth.
June 20, 1893: Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother. Andrew Borden and Abby Borden were brutally murdered on August 4, 1892, in Fall River, Massachusetts. Lizzie Borden was arrested for the murders a week later.
June 21, 1964: Three civil rights workers, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Mickey Schwerner, were murdered in Neshoba County, Mississippi, by members of the Ku Klux Klan.
June 22, 2009: Eastman Kodak Company announced that it would discontinue sales of the Kodachrome Color Film, concluding its 74-year run as a photography icon.
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June 2, 1896: Guglielmo Marconi applied for a patent for his newest invention, the radio. As an entrepreneur, businessman, and founder of the The Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company in Britain in 1897, Marconi succeeded in making a commercial success of radio by innovating and building on the work of previous experimenters and physicists.
June 3, 1839: In Humen, China, Lin Tse-hsü destroyed 1.2 million kg of opium confiscated from British merchants, providing Britain with a casus belli to open hostilities, resulting in the First Opium War.
June 4, 1939: The MS St. Louis, a ship carrying 963 Jewish refugees, was denied permission to land in Florida, in the United States, after already being turned away from Cuba. Forced to return to Europe, more than 200 of its passengers later died in Nazi concentration camps.
June 5, 1851: Harriet Beecher Stowe's anti-slavery serial, Uncle Tom's Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly, started a ten-month run in the National Era abolitionist newspaper. The novel changed forever how Americans viewed slavery, as it demanded an end of the institution, galvanized the abolition movement, and contributed to the outbreak of the Civil War.
June 6, 1844: The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) was founded in London in response to unhealthy social conditions arising in the big cities at the end of the Industrial Revolution. George Williams, who had come to London to work as a sales assistant in a draper’s shop, joined a group of fellow drapers to organize the first YMCA in order to substitute Bible study and prayer for life on the streets.
June 7, 1892: Homer Plessy was arrested for refusing to leave his seat in the “whites-only” car of a train. Plessy would lose the resulting court case, Plessy v. Ferguson, in 1896. The landmark United States Supreme Court decision upheld the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities under the doctrine of “separate but equal.”
June 8, 1794: Robespierre inaugurated the French Revolution's new state religion, the Cult of the Supreme Being, with large organized festivals all across France. The primary principles of the Cult of the Supreme Being were a belief in the existence of a god and the immortality of the human soul.
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May 19, 1536: Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII of England, was beheaded for adultery, treason, and incest. Despite having been condemned and abandoned by her husband, moments before her execution, she reportedly said, "I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord."
May 20, 1802: By the Law of 20 May 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte reinstated slavery in the French colonies, thereby revoking the Law of 4 February 1794 passed during the French Revolution which had abolished the practice.
May 21, 1881: Inspired by the work of the International Red Cross, Clara Barton and Adolphus Solomons established the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C. to provide humanitarian aid to victims of wars and natural disasters. in congruence with the International Red Cross.
May 22, 1964: U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the goals of his Great Society social reforms to bring an "end to poverty and racial injustice" in America.
May 23, 1951: Tibetans signed the Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet with the People's Republic of China. The terms of the agreement had not been cleared with the Tibetan Government before signing and the Tibetan Government was divided about whether it was better to accept the document as written or to flee into exile. The Dalai Lama, who by this time had ascended to the throne, chose not to flee into exile, and formally accepted the Seventeen Point Agreement in October 1951.
May 24, 1738: John Wesley was converted, essentially launching the Methodist movement; the day is celebrated annually by Methodists as Aldersgate Day and a church service is generally held on the preceding Sunday
May 25, 1935: Jesse Owens of Ohio State University broke three world records and tied a fourth at the Big Ten Conference Track and Field Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A year later, Owens would go on to participate in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, where he achieved international fame by winning four gold medals. He was the most successful athlete at the 1936 Summer Olympics.