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September 21 is the 264th day of the year (265th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 101 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1780, during the American Revolution, American General Benedict Arnold meets with British Major John Andre to discuss handing over West Point to the British, in return for the promise of a large sum of money and a high position in the British army. The plot was foiled and Arnold, a former American hero, became synonymous with the word “traitor.”
Born in Connecticut, he was a merchant operating ships on the Atlantic Ocean when the war broke out in 1775. After joining the growing army outside Boston, he distinguished himself through acts of cunning and bravery. His actions included the Capture of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775, successful defensive and delaying tactics despite losing the Battle of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain in 1776, the Battle of Ridgefield, Connecticut (after which he was promoted to major general), operations in relief of the Siege of Fort Stanwix, and key actions during the pivotal Battles of Saratoga in 1777, in which he suffered leg injuries that ended his combat career for several years.
In spite of his successes, Arnold was passed over for promotion by the Continental Congress while other officers claimed credit for some of his accomplishments. Adversaries in military and political circles brought charges of corruption or other malfeasance, but he was acquitted in most formal inquiries. Congress investigated his accounts, and found that he owed it money after he had spent much of his own money on the war effort. Frustrated and bitter, Arnold decided to change sides in 1779, and opened secret negotiations with the British. In July 1780, he sought and obtained command of West Point in order to surrender it to the British. Arnold’s scheme was exposed when American forces captured British Major John André carrying papers that revealed the plot. Upon learning of André’s capture, Arnold fled down the Hudson River to the British sloop-of-war Vulture, narrowly avoiding capture by the forces of George Washington, who had been alerted to the plot.
Arnold received a commission as a brigadier general in the British Army, an annual pension of £360, and a lump sum of over £6,000. He led British forces on raids in Virginia, and against New London and Groton, Connecticut, before the war effectively ended with the American victory at Yorktown. In the winter of 1782, Arnold moved to London with his second wife, Margaret “Peggy” Shippen Arnold. He was well received by King George III and the Tories but frowned upon by the Whigs. In 1787, he entered into mercantile business with his sons Richard and Henry in Saint John, New Brunswick, but returned to London to settle permanently in 1791, where he died ten years later.
1217 – Livonian Crusade: The Estonian tribal leader Lembitu and Livonian leader Kaupo are killed in Battle of St. Matthew’s Day.
1435 – An agreement between Charles VII of France and Philip the Good ends the partnership between the English and Burgundy in Hundred Years’ War.
1745 – Battle of Prestonpans: A Hanoverian army under the command of Sir John Cope is defeated, in ten minutes, by the Jacobite forces of Prince Charles Edward Stuart
1780 – American Revolutionary War: Benedict Arnold gives the British the plans to West Point.
1792 – The National Convention declares France a republic and abolishes the monarchy.
1827 – Joseph Smith, Jr. is reportedly visited by the angel Moroni, who gave him a record of gold plates, one-third of which Smith has translated into The Book of Mormon.
1860 – In the Second Opium War, an Anglo-French force defeats Chinese troops at the Battle of Baliqiao.
1896 – British force under Horatio Kitchener takes Dongola in the Sudan.
1897 – The “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” editorial is published in the New York Sun.
1898 – Empress Dowager Cixi seizes power and ends the Hundred Days’ Reform in China.
1921 – A storage silo in Oppau, Germany, explodes, killing 500-600 people.
1934 – A large typhoon hits western Honshu, Japan, killing 3,036 people.
1937 – J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is published.
1938 – The Great Hurricane of 1938 makes landfall on Long Island in New York. The death toll is estimated at 500-700 people.
1939 – Romanian Prime Minister Armand Calinescu is assassinated by ultranationalist members of the Iron Guard.
1942 – On the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, Nazis send over 1,000 Jews of Pidhaytsi (west Ukraine) to Belzec extermination camp.
1942 – In Poland, at the end of Yom Kippur, Germans order Jews to permanently evacuate Konstantynow and move to the Ghetto in Biala Podlaska, established to assemble Jews from seven nearby towns, including Janow Podlaski, Rossosz and Terespol.
1942 – In Dunaivtsi, Ukraine, Nazis murder 2,588 Jews.
1942 – The B-29 Superfortress makes its maiden flight.
1961 – Maiden flight of the CH-47 Chinook transportation helicopter.
1964 – Malta becomes independent from the United Kingdom.
1964 – The North American XB-70 Valkyrie, the world’s first Mach 3 bomber, makes its maiden flight from Palmdale, California.
1965 – Gambia, Maldives and Singapore are admitted as members of the United Nations.
1971 – Bahrain, Bhutan and Qatar join the United Nations.
1972 – Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos signs Proclamation No. 1081 placing the entire country under martial law.
1976 – Orlando Letelier is assassinated in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the Chilean socialist government of Salvador Allende,overthrown in 1973 by Augusto Pinochet.
1976 – Seychelles joins the United Nations.
1981 – Belize is granted full independence from the United Kingdom.
1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor is unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate as the first female Supreme Court justice.
1984 – Brunei joins the United Nations.
1989 – Hurricane Hugo makes landfall in the U.S. state of South Carolina.
1991 – Armenia is granted independence from Soviet Union.
1993 – Russian President Boris Yeltsin suspends parliament and scraps the then-functioning constitution, thus triggering the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993.
1999 – Chi-Chi earthquake occurs in central Taiwan, leaving about 2,400 people dead.
2001 – Deep Space 1 flies within 2,200 km of Comet Borrelly.
2001 – AZF chemical plant explodes in Toulouse, France, killing 31 people
2001 – America: A Tribute to Heroes is broadcast by over 35 network and cable channels, raising over $200 million for the September 11 attack victims.
2003 – Galileo mission is terminated by sending the probe into Jupiter’s atmosphere, where it is crushed by the pressure at the lower altitudes.
2004 – The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People’s War and the Maoist Communist Centre of India merge to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist).
2008 – Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the two last remaining independent investment banks on Wall Street, become bank holding companies as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis.