Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
September is the 260th day of the year (261st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 105 days remaining until the end of the year.
On September 17, 1787, the Constitution was signed. As dictated by Article VII, the document would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the 13 states. Beginning on December 7, five states–Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut–ratified it in quick succession. However, other states, especially Massachusetts, opposed the document, as it failed to reserve undelegated powers to the states and lacked constitutional protection of basic political rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press. In February 1788, a compromise was reached under which Massachusetts and other states would agree to ratify the document with the assurance that amendments would be immediately proposed. The Constitution was thus narrowly ratified in Massachusetts, followed by Maryland and South Carolina. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document, and it was subsequently agreed that government under the U.S. Constitution would begin on March 4, 1789. In June, Virginia ratified the Constitution, followed by New York in July.
On September 25, 1789, the first Congress of the United States adopted 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution–the Bill of Rights–and sent them to the states for ratification. Ten of these amendments were ratified in 1791. In November 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Rhode Island, which opposed federal control of currency and was critical of compromise on the issue of slavery, resisted ratifying the Constitution until the U.S. government threatened to sever commercial relations with the state. On May 29, 1790, Rhode Island voted by two votes to ratify the document, and the last of the original 13 colonies joined the United States. Today, the U.S. Constitution is the oldest written constitution in operation in the world.
1577 – The Peace of Bergerac is signed between Henry III of France and the Huguenots.
1630 – The city of Boston, Massachusetts is founded.
1631 – Sweden wins a major victory at the Battle of Breitenfeld against the Holy Roman Empire during the Thirty Years War.
1683 – Antonie van Leeuwenhoek writes a letter to the Royal Society describing “animalcules”: the first known description of protozoa.
1776 – The Presidio of San Francisco is founded in New Spain.
1778 – The Treaty of Fort Pitt is signed. It is the first formal treaty between the United States and a Native American tribe (the Lenape or Delaware Indians).
1787 – The United States Constitution is signed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1809 – Peace between Sweden and Russia in the Finnish War. The territory to become Finland is ceded to Russia by the Treaty of Fredrikshamn.
1814 – Francis Scott Key finishes his poem The Star-Spangled Banner.
1859 – Joshua A. Norton declares himself “Emperor Norton I” of the United States.
1862 – American Civil War: George B. McClellan halts the northward drive of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army in the single-day Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American history.
1862 – American Civil War: The Allegheny Arsenal explosion results in the single largest civilian disaster during the war.
1894 – The Battle of Yalu River, the largest naval engagement of the First Sino-Japanese War.
1900 – Philippine-American War: Filipinos under Juan Cailles defeat Americans under Colonel Benjamin F. Cheatham at Mabitac.
1908 – The Wright Flyer flown by Orville Wright, with Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge as passenger, crashes killing Selfridge. He becomes the first airplane fatality.
1914 – Andrew Fisher becomes Prime Minister of Australia for the third time.
1916 – World War I: Manfred von Richthofen (“The Red Baron”), a flying ace of the German Luftstreitkräfte, wins his first aerial combat near Cambrai, France.
1920 – The National Football League is organized in Canton, Ohio, United States.
1924 – The Border Defence Corps is established in the Second Polish Republic for the defence of the eastern border against armed Soviet raids and local bandits.
1928 – The Okeechobee Hurricane strikes southeastern Florida, killing upwards of 2,500 people. It is the third deadliest natural disaster in United States history, behind the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
1939 – World War II: The Soviet Union joins Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland during the Polish Defensive War of 1939.
1939 – World War II: A German U-boat U 29 sinks the British aircraft carrier HMS Courageous.
1939 – Taisto Maki becomes the first man to run the 10,000 metres in under 30 minutes, in a time of 29:52.6
1941 – World War II: A decree of the Soviet State Committee of Defense, restoring Vsevobuch in the face of the Great Patriotic War, is issued
1943 – World War II: The Russian city of Bryansk is liberated from Nazis.
1944 – World War II: Allied Airborne troops parachute into the Netherlands as the “Market” half of Operation Market Garden.
1947 – James V. Forrestal is sworn in as the first Secretary of Defense of United States.
1948 – The Lehi (also known as the Stern gang) assassinates Count Folke Bernadotte, who was appointed by the UN to mediate between the Arab nations and Israel.
1949 – The Canadian steamship SS Noronic burns in Toronto Harbour with the loss of over 118 lives.
1956 – Television is first broadcast in Australia.
1957 – Malaysia joins the United Nations.
1970 – Fighting breaks out along the Syria-Jordanian border between Jordanian troops and the fedayeen.
1974 – Bangladesh, Grenada and Guinea-Bissau join the United Nations.
1976 – The first Space Shuttle, Enterprise, is unveiled by NASA.
1978 – The Camp David Accords are signed by Israel and Egypt.
1980 – After weeks of strikes at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, Poland, the nationwide independent trade union Solidarity is established.
1980 – Former Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza Debayle is killed in Asunción, Paraguay.
1983 – Vanessa Williams becomes the first black Miss America.
1991 – Estonia, North Korea, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia join the United Nations.
1991 – The first version of the Linux kernel (0.01) is released to the Internet.
1992 – An Iranian Kurdish leader and his two joiners are assassinated by political militants in Berlin, Germany.
1993 – Last Russian troops leave Poland.
2001 – The New York Stock Exchange reopens for trading after the September 11 Attacks, the longest closure since the Great Depression.
2004 – Tamil is declared the first classical language in India.
2006 – Fourpeaked Mountain in Alaska erupts, marking the first eruption for the long-dormant volcano in at least 10,000 years.
2007 – AOL, once the largest ISP in the U.S., officially announces plans to refocus the company as an advertising business and to relocate its corporate headquarters from Dulles, Virginia to New York, New York.