History: September 20

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September 20

357BC Birth: Alexander III the Great, king of Macedonia, emperor.

480BC Themistocles and his Greek fleet win one of history's first decisive naval victories over Xerxes' Persian force off Salamis. "The great naval victory over Xerxes' invasion fleet off the island of Salamis marked the turning point of the Persian Wars and ushered in the maritime supremacy of fifth-century BC Athens. After retreating in the face of superior Persian power, the Greeks squabbled over the next point of collective resistance. On the advice of the Athenian general Themistocles, who had under his charge the alliance's greatest contingent of 180 triremes, the Greeks staked their national safety in a last-ditch sea battle in the channel between Salamis and Attica, within sight of occupied Athens.

The narrow straits hampered the mobility of the much larger Persian fleet, which may also have been more vulnerable to ramming by the heavier Greek ships. The decisive defeat of Xerxes' fleet prompted the king and his navy to abandon Greek waters altogether and ensured that the heroic defenders would never again fear enemy landings at their rear: Greece south of Attica was now safe. After Salamis, Greeks for the first time felt that defeat of the Persians was entirely practicable, and so in great numbers they joined a national army of resistance that drove out the Persian infantry the next year at Plataea. In the battle's immediate aftermath, Greeks rightly saw the victorious rowers of Salamis as proof of the skill and courage inherent within the nascent democratic citizenry of Athens. But in the years subsequent, reactionary philosophers took a dimmer view. Plato and Aristotle traced radical democracy, Athenian maritime imperialism, and the collapse of the traditional Greek values back to Salamis—a victory that had given enormous prestige to the poor and ill-bred of the fleet, and therefore in their eyes had made the Greeks "worse as a people." Few Greeks, however, shared their jaded appraisal, and instead rightly commemorated Salamis as the battle that had saved the West."

0622 Mohammad's Hegira: "Mohammed, the founder of Islam, was born in 570 AD in the city of Mecca. When young he studied both Judaism and Christianity became convinced that there is only one true and living God, Allah. Mohammed traveled extensively in Arabia. The Arabs were believers in many gods and spirits and this idolatry troubled Mohammad. When 40 years old he claimed that the archangel Gabriel had called him and revealed that Allah had chosen him to be the last of the prophets, and to preach submission to the will of Allah. The name Islam means submission, and Muslim or Moslem is one who submits to the will of Allah. The time of the claimed visit of Gabriel was about 610 AD which marks the beginning of his ministry. In 622 AD Mohammad journeyed to Medina. In Muslim history this flight is called the Hegira; it is the turning point in Mohammad's career, and in the history of Islam..."

1378 The election of Robert of Geneva as anti-pope by discontented cardinals creates a great schism in the Catholic church; touched off when Gregory XI dies, shortly after returning the papal seat from Avignon, in France, to Rome. Continuing for nearly 40 years (until 1417), the Schism at one point will produce three concurrent popes.

1519 Ferdinand Magellan embarks from Spain to find a route to the Spice Islands of Indonesia, a voyage that will become the first to circumnavigate the world.

1565 Spanish forces under Pedro Menéndez de Avilés capture the French Huguenot settlement of Fort Caroline, near present-day Jacksonville, Florida. The French, commanded by René Goulaine de Laudonniere, lose 135 men in the first instance of colonial warfare between European powers in America. Most of those killed are massacred on the order of Avilés, who allegedly had the slain hung on trees beside the inscription "Not as Frenchmen, but as heretics."

Laudonniere and some 40 other Huguenots escape. In 1564, the French Huguenots (Protestants) had settled on the Banks of May, a strategic point on the Florida coast. King Philip II of Spain was disturbed by this challenge to Spanish authority in the New World and sent Menéndez de Avilés to Florida to expel the French heretics and establish a Spanish colony there. In early September 1565, Avilés founded San Augustin on the Florida coast, which would later grow into Saint Augustine--the oldest city in North America. Two weeks later, on September 20, he attacks and destroys the French settlement of Fort Caroline. The decisive French defeat encourages France to refocus its colonial efforts in America far to the north, in what is now Quebec and Nova Scotia in Canada.

1561 Queen Elizabeth of England signs a treaty at Hampton Court with French Huguenot leader Louis de Bourbon, the Prince of Conde. According to its terms, the English are to occupy Le Harve in return for aiding Bourbon against the Catholics of France.

1604 After a two-year siege, the Spanish retake Ostend, the Netherlands, from the Dutch.

1664 Maryland enacts the first anti-amalgamation law to prevent widespread intermarriage of English women and black men.

1746 Bonnie Prince Charles makes his escape back to France sailing on the French privateer L'Heureux. Charles wanders around Europe trying to revive his cause, but his drunken, debauched behavior is said to have alienated his friends.

1784 Packet and Daily, the first daily publication in America, appears on the streets.

1792 Prussian-Austrian invaders are turned back at Valmy.

1797 The US frigate 'Constitution' (Old Ironsides) is launched in Boston.

1806 Lewis and Clark: Explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark pass the French village of La Charette, the first white settlement they have seen in more than two years.

1830 The National Negro Convention convenes in Philadelphia with the purpose of abolishing slavery.

1833 Birh: Petroleum V. Nasby (David Ross Locke), humorist whose work was enjoyed by Abraham Lincoln.

1833 Birth: Ernesto Teodoro Moneta, in Italy, journalist, (Nobel Peace Prize 1907).

1842 Birth: Lord James Dewar, physician who will invent the vacuum flask and cordite, the first smokeless powder.

1850 The slave trade is abolished in the District of Columbia, but not slavery itself.

1854 The British and French defeat the Russians at the Battle of Alma, on the Crimean Peninsula. Six British soldiers are awarded the Victoria Cross for acts of bravery during the fighting.

1859 A patent is granted on the electric range (cooker).

1860 The first British royalty to visit US, the Prince of Wales (King Edward VII).

1863 US Civil War: The Battle of Chickamauga, near Chattanooga, Tennessee ends. Union troops under George Thomas (above) prevent the Union defeat at Chickamauga from becoming a rout, earning him the nickname 'the Rock of Chickamauga'.

1870 The Papal States come under the control of Italian troops, leading to the unification of Italy.

1873 Railroad bond defaults and bank failure cause panic on the New York Stock Exchange.

1877 The Chase National Bank, which will later merge into Chase Manhattan, opens in New York City.

1881 Chester Alan Arthur is sworn in as the 21st president of the USA following the death of James Garfield the previous day. This is the first time the oath of office has been taken in the Vice President's Room of the Capitol. Two ex-presidents (Grant and Hayes) are present at the ceremony.

1884 The Equal Rights Party is formed in San Francisco as it nominates female candidates for President and Vice President.

1904 The Wright Brothers make a public test flight in Ohio.

1911 Birth: Alfred Naujocks, SS Sturmbannfuehrer, secret-service veteran and member of the SD since its founding in 1934; is believed to have organized the "faked attack" on the German radio station at Gleiwitz on the German-Polish border on the night of August 31, 1939. After surrendering to the Americans in late 1944, he signed a sworn affidavit at Nuremberg on November 20, 1945, saying he had been given his orders personally by Heydrich and was accompanied during his mission by Heinrich Mueller. Shortly after signing his affidavit, he mysteriously disappeared. He will die on April 4, 1960, a successful Hamburg businessman.

1916 WW1: Brusilov, slowed by ammunition shortages, reaches the Carpathian foothills. The offensive ends when German reinforcements, rushed from Verdun, bolster the shattered Austrians, who are in danger of being knocked out of the war.

1917 WW1: At Ypres, a series of British assaults inch forward against determined counterattacks. The Germans, for the first time, use mustard gas, scorching and burning the British troops.

1919 Hitler is ordered by his superior, Captain Mayr, to join the German Worker's Party (DAP), even though he is still in the army and such an act is technically illegal. Captain Mayr will later write that it was General Ludendorff himself who had come to him and personally suggested that Hitler should be allowed to join the party and build it up. (Mayr, autobiography) Note: In Hitler's version, no one orders him to do anything. He claims to have joined the party out of shared ideals, and a sense that he would be able to become a big fish in this very small pond.

1931 Britain comes off the gold standard to stop speculation against the pound.

1935 Nazi party ideologists give their official interpretation of the Nuremberg Laws. (Edelheit)

1935 Church and Reich: Himmler issues an order forbidding members of the SS to take any leading role in religious organizations, including the German Faith movement, and strictly forbidding all manifestations of religious intolerance or scorn of religious symbols. (Lewy)

1936 The Gestapo arrests a number of well-known rabbis and Zionist leaders without charging them with any crimes.

1938 Sudeten Crisis: Sep 20-21 The Czech government is forced to accept the Anglo-French "appeasement plan" after being bluntly informed by representatives of Britain and France that they can expect no help if the Germans attack.

1939 WW2: Press Reaction to Hitler's Sep 19 Speech: "The most noteworthy feature of Hitler's first speech as a military conqueror is that it contains nothing new.... Hitler is still explaining why he invaded Poland. Despite the pleas of President Roosevelt, the Pope and the Oslo Powers, the offers to mediate of King Leopold and Queen Wilhelmina, he is still shouting he sought everywhere for peace and nobody would give it to him.... Hitler scoffs at the folly of those who try to rupture the 'unbreakable ties' between Germany and Italy, or rather between 'myself and Mussolini' But he still clings to the idea that he can drive a wedge between France and Britain."-- New York Times

1939 WW2: Press Reaction to Hitler's Sep 19 Speech: "…some of it reads like a rehash of 'Mein Kampf' with its gibes at the so-called 'Polish State'…Proposals which were never communicated in full to any of the Allied Governments…now masquerade…as the earnest efforts of a zealous seeker for peace…Such a speech calls for a practical and not an argumentative reply…"--London Times

1941 Birth: Dale Chihuly, in Tacoma, Washington, artist in glass, (Louis Tiffany Award 1967).

1944 WW2: The US 82nd and 101st divisions of the First Allied Airborne Army cross the Rhine River in the Nijmegen-Arnhem area.

1944 Death: Guy Gibson, who had led the Dambusters raid to destroy the Mohne and Eder dams, in a plane crash.

1945 German rocket engineers begin work in the US.

1946 The first Cannes film festival, planned for 1939 but held up by war, opens on the French Riveria.

1951 The first North Pole jet crossing takes place.

1952 Scientists confirm that DNA holds hereditary data.

1954 The first FORTRAN computer program is run.

1954 The first National People's Congress adopts the Chinese constitution.

1958 Martin Luther King JR, is stabbed in the chest at a New York City department store by a deranged black woman.

1960 The UN General Assembly admits 13 African countries and Cyprus.

1963 US President John F. Kennedy proposes a joint US-Soviet expedition to the moon in a speech to the UN General Assembly. This proposition causes both applause and skepticism, but is never fulfilled due to the assassination of President Kennedy just two months later.

1965 The Nam: Seven US planes are downed in one day over Vietnam.

1966 US Surveyor B is launched toward the Moon, where it crashes 3 days later.

1967 Hurricane Beulah strikes Texas and the Mexican border killing 38 people.

1970 Luna 16 lands on the Moon at 05:18:00 UT, Latitude 0.68 S, Longitude 56.30 E's in the Mare Fecunditatis. It drills for core samples, eventually bringing some back to Earth.

1976 Playboy releases Jimmy Carter's controversial interview where he admitted that he 'lusts for women,' but with the qualifier 'only in my heart.'

1977 The first of the "boat people" arrive in San Francisco from Southeast Asia under a new US resettlement program.

1979 NASA launches HEAO.

1982 US President Ronald Reagan announces that the US, France, and Italy are going to send peacekeeping troops back to Beirut.

1984 A suicide bomber drives a lorry load of explosives at the United States embassy in Beirut, killing 40 people.

1990 Saddam Hussein demands that US networks broadcast his message.

1991 UN weapons inspectors leave for Iraq in a renewed search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

1995 The US House of Representatives voted to drop the national speed limit, allowing individual states to decide their own speed limits.

2001 In a national address, US President George W. Bush announces creation of a Cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security and names Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge to coordinate efforts to prevent terrorism. Bush directs US military forces to "be ready" for the gathering battle: "The hour is coming when America will act and you will make us proud..."

2001 The Pentagon announces that 5,131 members of the Air Force National Guard and Air Force Reserve have been ordered to active duty.

2001 Islamic clerics urge bin Laden to voluntarily leave Afghanistan.

2001 The British Government considers 'targeted support' for airlines after British Airways axes 7,000 jobs in the wake of the US terrorist attacks.





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