Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
September 19 is the 262nd day of the year (263rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 103 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1796, President George Washington’s Farewell Address to the Nation is published.
George Washington’s Farewell Address was written to “The People of the United States” near the end of his second term as President of the United States and before his retirement to Mount Vernon.
Originally published in David Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser on September 19, 1796 under the title “The Address of General Washington To The People of The United States on his declining of the Presidency of the
United States,” the letter was almost immediately reprinted in newspapers across the country and later in a pamphlet form. The work was later named a “Farewell Address,” as it was Washington’s valedictory after 45 years of service to the new republic, first during the Revolution of the Continental Army and later as the nation’s first president.
The letter was originally prepared in 1792 with the help of James Madison, as Washington prepared to retire following a single term in office. However, he set aside the letter and ran for a second term after his Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, and his Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, convinced him that the growing divisions between the newly formed Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties, along with the current state of foreign affairs, would tear the country apart in the absence of his leadership.
Four years later, as his second term came to a close, Washington revisited the letter and with the help of Alexander Hamilton prepared a revision of the original draft to announce his intention to decline a third term in office; to reflect the emerging issues of the American political landscape in 1796; and to parting advice to his fellow Americans, express his support for the government eight years following the adoption of the Constitution; and to defend his administration’s record.
The letter was written by Washington after years of exhaustion due to his advanced age, years of service to his country, the duties of the presidency, and increased attacks by his political opponents. It was published almost two months before the Electoral College cast their votes in the 1796 presidential election.
335 – Dalmatius is raised to the rank of Caesar by his uncle Constantine I.
1356 – In the Battle of Poitiers, the English defeat the French.
1676 – Jamestown is burned to the ground by the forces of Nathaniel Bacon during Bacon’s Rebellion.
1692 – Giles Corey is pressed to death after refusing to plead in the Salem witch trials.
1777 – First Battle of Saratoga/Battle of Freeman’s Farm/Battle of Bemis Heights.
1778 – The Continental Congress passes the first budget of the United States.
1796 – George Washington’s farewell address is printed across America as an open letter to the public.
1862 – American Civil War: Battle of Iuka – Union troops under General William Rosecrans defeat a Confederate force commanded by General Sterling Price.
1863 – American Civil War: Battle of Chickamauga.
1870 – Franco-Prussian War: the Siege of Paris begins, which will result on January 28, 1871 in the surrender of Paris and a decisive Prussian victory.
1870 – Having invaded the Papal States a week earlier, the Italian Army lays siege to Rome, entering the city the next day, after which the Pope described himself as a Prisoner in the Vatican.
1881 – President James A. Garfield dies of wounds suffered in a July 2 shooting.
1893 – Women’s suffrage: in New Zealand, the Electoral Act of 1893 is consented to by the governor giving all women in New Zealand the right to vote.
1900 – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid commit their first robbery together.
1934 – Bruno Hauptmann is arrested for the kidnap and murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr..
1940 – Witold Pilecki is voluntarily captured and sent to Auschwitz in order to smuggle out information and start a resistance.
1944 – Armistice between Finland and Soviet Union is signed. (End of the Continuation War).
1946 – The Council of Europe is founded following a speech by Winston Churchill at the University of Zurich.
1952 – The United States bars Charlie Chaplin from re-entering the country after a trip to England.
1957 – First American underground nuclear bomb test.
1959 – Nikita Khrushchev is barred from visiting Disneyland.
1961 – Betty and Barney Hill claim that they saw a mysterious craft in the sky and that it tried to abduct them.
1970 – The first Glastonbury Festival is held at Michael Eavis’s farm in Glastonbury, United Kingdom.
1971 – Montagnard troops of South Vietnam revolt against the rule of Nguyen Khanh, killing 70 ethnic Vietnamese soldiers.
1972 – A parcel bomb sent to Israeli Embassy in London kills one diplomat.
1973 – King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden has his investiture.
1978 – The Solomon Islands join the United Nations.
1982 – Scott Fahlman posts the first documented emoticons 🙂 and 🙁 on the Carnegie Mellon University Bulletin Board System.
1983 – Saint Kitts and Nevis gains its independence.
1985 – A strong earthquake kills thousands and destroys about 400 buildings in Mexico City.
1985 – Tipper Gore and other political wives form the Parents Music Resource Center as Frank Zappa and other musicians testify at U.S. Congressional hearings on obscenity in rock music.
1991 – Otzi the Iceman is discovered by German tourists.
1995 – The Washington Post and The New York Times publish the Unabomber’s manifesto.
1997 – Guelb El-Kebir massacre in Algeria; 53 killed.
2006 – The Thai military stages a coup in Bangkok. The Constitution is revoked and martial law is declared.