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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 1, 1952: The Old Man and the Sea, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Ernest Hemingway, was first published. The book was the last major work of fiction to be produced by Hemingway and published in his lifetime. One of his most famous works, it focuses upon the character of Santiago, an aging fisherman who struggles with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. The Old Man and the Sea was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953 and was cited by the Nobel Committee as contributing to the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Hemingway in 1954.
September 2, 1901: Vice President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt uttered the famous phrase, "Speak softly and carry a big stick" at the Minnesota State Fair. Roosevelt attributed the term to a West African proverb, "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far," but the claim that it originated in West Africa has been disputed. The idea of negotiating peacefully, simultaneously threatening with the "big stick", or the military, ties in heavily with the idea of Realpolitik, which implies a pursuit of political power that resembles Machiavellian ideals.
September 3, 1260: The Mamluks defeated the Mongols at the Battle of Ain Jalut in Palestine, marking their first decisive defeat and the point of maximum expansion of the Mongol Empire, as it was the first time a Mongol advance had ever been permanently beaten back in direct combat on the battlefield. After previous battlefield defeats, the Mongols had always returned and avenged their loss, ultimately defeating their enemies. The Battle of Ain Jalut marked the first time they were unable to do so. By the end of the thirteenth century, the Mongol Empire fractured into four separate khanates or empires, each pursuing its own separate interests and objectives.
September 4, 1886: After almost 30 years of fighting, Apache leader Geronimo, with his remaining warriors, surrendered to General Nelson Miles in Arizona. Following an attack by Mexican soldiers, which killed his mother, wife and three children in 1858, Geronimo joined insurgent attacks on the Mexicans. During his career as a war chief, he was notorious for consistently urging raids upon Mexican Provinces and their towns, and later against American locations across Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas. Geronimo's surrendered come only after a lengthy pursuit by U.S. forces. As a prisoner of war in old age he became a celebrity and appeared in fairs but was never allowed to return to the land of his birth. He later regretted his surrender and claimed the conditions he made had been ignored. Geronimo died in 1909 from complications of pneumonia at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
September 5, 1882: The first United States Labor Day parade was held in New York City. The day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the parade. After the Haymarket Massacre in 1886, US President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. Thus, in 1887, it was established as an official holiday in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored.
September 6, 1995: Cal Ripken Jr of the Baltimore Orioles played in his 2,131st consecutive game, breaking a record that stood for 56 years. The game, between the Orioles and the California Angels, still ranks as one of the ESPN's most watched baseball games. Ripken's children, Rachel and Ryan, threw out the ceremonial first balls. Both President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore were at the game. Clinton was in the WBAL local radio broadcast booth when Ripken hit a home run in the fourth inning, and called the home run over the air. When the game became official after the Angels' half of the fifth inning, the numerical banners that displayed Ripken's streak on the wall of the B&O Warehouse outside the stadium's right field wall changed from 2130 to 2131.
September 7, 1986: Desmond Tutu became the first black man to lead the Anglican Church in South Africa. He rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid.Tutu's admirers see him as a man who since the demise of apartheid has been active in the defence of human rights and uses his high profile to campaign for the oppressed, though his consistent opposition to Israel and the United States has made him controversial. He has campaigned to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, poverty, racism, sexism, the imprisonment of Bradley Manning, homophobia and transphobia. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984; the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986; the Pacem in Terris Award in 1987; the Sydney Peace Prize in 1999; the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2007; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
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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.