This Month in History Sept

September 1
World War II Begins
In 1939, World War II began when Germany invaded Poland. In May of that year, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini had signed the”Pact of Steel,” promising mutual aid in case of war. In August, Hitler reached an agreement with Russia that contained an agreement to divide Poland. This Nazi-Soviet pact was Hitler’s green light for the invasion of Poland, which occurred at dawn on September 1. Two days later, Britain and France declared war on Germany.

September 2
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Created
In 1940 U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). This park encompasses more than eight hundred square miles of Tennessee and North Carolina, and is ninety-five percent forest. The park’s facilities were constructed over the course of six years as part of Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” Today the GSMNP is the most visited national park in the country.

September 4
Geronimo Surrenders
In 1886, in present-day Arizona, Geronimo formally surrendered to the United States Army. He had led a violent resistance to White encroachment on Apache territory for almost thirty years. At the time of his capture he was the most wanted man in the United States and had more than five thousand soldiers searching for him. He surrendered because he had grown weary of fighting and believed his cause to be hopeless.

September 6
William McKinley Assassinated
In 1901 a twenty-eight year old unemployed worker fatally shot U.S. President William McKinley while the President was visiting the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. McKinley was a popular President, and had recently begun a second term. Ironically, at the Pan-American Exposition the newly invented x-ray machine was being displayed to the public. Had it been used on McKinley it may have enabled doctors to save his life.  September 8St. Augustine EstablishedIn 1565 Spanish soldiers under the command of Pedro Menendez de Aviles established St. Augustine, Florida. This was the first permanent European settlement in the New World. The settlement at St. Augustine was originally built to protect Spanish trade routes. In 1672 the Spanish constructed the Castillo de San Marcos, a large fort that remains largely intact.

September 10
Nathan Hale Becomes American Spy
In 1776, during the American Revolution, Nathan Hale became America’s first spy. Hale volunteered to spend time in New York City, which was occupied by the British, and gather information on troop strength and positions. Once in the city he was discovered and hanged. Hale was twenty-one years old.

September 12
Marxist rebelsIn 1974
Marxist rebels overthrew Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. Selassie had ruled for more than forty years. He had fought against Italy during World War II, and was a staunch U.S. ally during the Cold War. Although very popular abroad, during the early 1970s a severe famine undermined his standing at home and eventually led to the collapse of his government. Selassie died in 1975.

September 15
Penicillin Discovered
In 1928 Alexander Fleming, a British biologist, discovered the antibiotic penicillin. Fleming noticed that mold on unwashed culture plates secreted a substance that killed bacteria. Penicillin’s potential to revolutionize medicine was instantly understood, but it took more than ten years for scientists to isolate it, and produce it in large quantities.

September 16
Mexican Revolution Begins
In 1810, in Mexico, the War for Independence began when Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla issued a public statement calling for the Mexican people to resist Spanish rule. By this time the Spanish Empire in the Western Hemisphere was crumbling, and many colonies were in open revolt. During the next several years a variety of forces fought against the Spanish. In 1821 the Spanish government granted Mexico her independence.

September 20
National Football League Established
In 1920 representatives from several football teams met at a car dealership in Akron, Ohio, and formed the American Professional Football Association. This later became the National Football League. The men selected Jim Thorpe as president, who at the time was the most popular athlete in the country and an excellent football player. Early NFL teams included the Canton “Bulldogs,” the Toledo “Maroons,” and the Milwaukee “Badgers.”

September 22
Peace Corps. Established
In 1964 U.S. President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps. The United States and the Soviet Union were locked in the Cold War, and Kennedy saw the Peace Corps as a means to help establish stable, pro-Western governments around the world. Kennedy called on thousands of young Americans to volunteer their skills to help modernize underdeveloped nations. Today it is one of the largest and most respected service organizations in the world.

September 23
Lewis and Clark Return
In 1806 the expedition led by Meriweather Lewis and William Clark returned to St. Louis. During the previous two years the team traveled to and from the Pacific Ocean. Although officially charged with documenting the characteristics of the western frontier, the men also secretly examined the the strength of the Spanish occupation in North America. This expedition convinced the American public that settlement west of the Mississippi River was possible.

September 25
First American Newspaper Published
In 1690, in Boston, Richard Pierce and Benjamin Harris published the first newspaper in the English colonies. “Publick Occurrences both Foreign and Domestick” differed from earlier publications in that it contained real news of notable events. The men intended to publish it once per month. The British government, however, was resistant to an informed populace in the colonies, and shut down the paper after the first issue.

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