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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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August 11, 1942: Actress Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil received a patent for a Frequency-hopping spread spectrum communication system that later became the basis for modern technologies in wireless telephones and Wi-Fi. The early version of frequency hopping used a piano roll to change between 88 frequencies and was intended to make radio-guided torpedoes harder for enemies to detect or jam. However, the idea was not implemented in the USA until 1962, when it was used by U.S. military ships during a blockade of Cuba after the patent had expired. Consequently, the patent was little known until 1997, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave Lamarr a belated award for her contributions.
August 12, 30 BCE: Cleopatra VII Philopator, the last ruler of the Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty, committed suicide. Formerly involved with Julius Caesar, after Caesar's assassination in 44 BC, she aligned with Mark Antony in opposition to Caesar's legal heir, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (later known as Augustus). With Antony, she bore the twins Cleopatra Selene II and Alexander Helios, and another son, Ptolemy Philadelphus. After losing the Battle of Actium to Octavian's forces, Antony committed suicide. Cleopatra followed suit, according to tradition killing herself by means of an asp bite.
August 13, 1918: Opha May Johnson (2 Feb 1900 – Jan 1976) was the first woman to enlist officially in the United States Marine Corps,
when she joined the Marine Corps Reserve during World War I. Johnson was the first of 305 women to join up with the United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve that day.
August 14, 1952: Three-time Olympic champion, and a former world record-holder at three distances, Deborah Meyer was born in Annapolis, Maryland. Meyer won the 200-, 400-, and 800-meter freestyle swimming races in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. While she was still a 16-year old student at Rio Americano High School in Sacramento, California, she became the first swimmer to win three individual gold medals in one Olympics. Meyer is still the only woman Olympian to win three individual freestyle swimming gold medals in one Olympics, namely the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle events. No swimmer has ever done this in any other combination of distances
August 15, 1970: Patricia Palinkas became the first woman to play professionally in an American football game. She was a placekick holder for her husband Steven Palinkas for the minor league Orlando Panthers in the Atlantic Coast Football League. On her first play, against the Bridgeport Jets, Palinkas was attacked by Jets defenseman Wally Florence, who admittedly attempted to "break her neck" as punishment for what he perceived to be "making folly with a man's game." Palinkas went on to appear four more times: three consecutive successful extra point kicks, and a field goal attempt that was blocked.
August 16, 1902: Georgette Heyer was born in Wimbledon, London. She was named after her father, George Heyer. Her mother, Sylvia Watkins, studied both cello and piano and was one of the top three students in her class at the Royal College of Music. Heyer became a prolific and commercially successful historical romance and detective fiction novelist. Her writing career began in 1921, when she turned a story for her younger brother into the novel The Black Moth. Heyer essentially invented the historical romance and created the sub-genre of the Regency romance. At the time of her death, in 1974, forty-eight of her books were still in print, including her first novel.
August 17, 1953: Herta Müller, a German-Romanian novelist, poet, essayist and recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature. was born in Nițchidorf, Romania. Müller is noted for her works depicting the effects of violence, cruelty and terror, usually in the setting of Communist Romania under the repressive Nicolae Ceaușescu regime which she has experienced herself. Many of her works are told from the viewpoint of the German minority in Romania and are also a depiction of the modern history of the Germans in the Banat, and Transylvania. Her much acclaimed 2009 novel The Hunger Angel (Atemschaukel) portrays the deportation of Romania's German minority to Stalinist Soviet Gulags during the Soviet occupation of Romania for use as German forced labor. In 2009, the Swedish Academy awarded Müller the Nobel Prize in Literature, describing her as a woman "who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed."
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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.
October 7, 1949: Following the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany in Western Germany, the soviet-occupied zone in East Germany is reorganized as the Democratic Republic of Germany. The nation's first president was Wilhelm Pieck.
October 8, 1871: The Great Chicago Fire began. The fire lasted two days and killed between 200 and 300 people. Over 17,000 buildings were destroyed, costing $200 million dollars in damage, an equivalent of $3 billion today.
October 9, 1934: The Gashouse Gang wone the World Series. This St. Louis Cardinals team, led by Ozark native Dizzy Dean, defeated the Detroit Tigers in the seventh game of the series.
October 10, 1935: Porgy and Bess premiered on Broadway. George Gershwin, partnered with novelist DuBose Heyward, created what many people consider to be the first great American opera.
October 11, 1968: Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission, launched on an 11-day orbit of earth. Astronauts Walter Schirra, Donn Eisele, and Walter Cunningham were aboard.
October 12, 1870: Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, died at the age of 63. Following the war, Lee served as president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, where his body was interred.
October 13, 1775: The Continental Congress authorized the construction and administration of the first American Naval force.