This Day in History
September 20: Chester A. Arthur Sworn in as 21st President, Gay Men and Women Are Allowed to Serve Openly
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September 20: Chester A. Arthur Sworn in as 21st President, Gay Men and Women Are Allowed to Serve Openly


1664 - Maryland passes 1st anti-amalgamation law to stop intermarriage of English women & black men

1737 - Runner Edward Marshall completes his journey in the Walking Purchase forcing the cession of 1.2 million acres (4,860 km²) of Lenape-Delaware tribal land to the Pennsylvania Colony. In 1736, they claimed a deed from 1686 by which the Lenape promised to sell a tract beginning at the junction of the upper Delaware River and the tributory Lehigh River (near modern Easton, Pennsylvania) and extending as far west as a man could walk in a day and a half.

Provincial Secretary Logan hired the three fastest runners in the colony, Edward Marshall, Solomon Jennings and James Yeates, to run on a prepared trail. They were supervised during the "walk" by the Sheriff of Bucks County Timothy Smith. The walk occurred on September 19, 1737; only Marshall finished, reaching the modern vicinity of present-day Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, 70 miles (113 km) away. At the end of the walk, Sheriff Smith drew a perpendicular line back toward the northeast, and claimed all the land east of these two lines ending at the Delaware River.

In the legal suit / court case of Delaware Nation v. Pennsylvania (2004), the Delaware nation (one of three later federally recognized Lenape tribes) and its descendents in the 21st century claimed 314 acres (1.27 km2) of land included in the original so-called "purchase" in 1737, but the U.S. District Court granted the Commonwealth's motion to dismiss. It ruled that the case was nonjusticiable, although it acknowledged that Indian title appeared to have been extinguished by fraud. This ruling held through several appealed actions made through several levels of the United States courts of appeals. The Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear the case which had the effect of upholding the lower appeals courts decision.

1777 - Battle of Paoli took place in the area surrounding present-day Malvern, Pennsylvania. Following the American retreats at the Battle of Brandywine and the Battle of the Clouds, George Washington left a force under Brigadier General Anthony Wayne behind to monitor and harass the British as they prepared to move on the revolutionary capital of Philadelphia. On the evening of September 20, British forces under Major General Charles Grey led a surprise attack on Wayne's encampment near the Paoli Tavern. Although there were relatively few American casualties, claims were made that the British took no prisoners and granted no quarter, and the engagement became known as the "Paoli Massacre." Born in Easttown Township, Province of Pennsylvania, British America on January 1, 1745, Anthony Wayne in known by his sobriquet 'Mad Anthony' for his fiery personality and military exploits, Wayne rose to be a brigadier general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. After this he led the Legion of the United States, and fought in the Northwest Indian War.

1797 - US frigate Constitution (Old Ironsides) launched in Boston

1814 - "Star Spangled Banner" published as a song, lyrics by Francis Scott Key, tune by John Stafford Smith

1830 - 1st Negro Convention of Free Men agree to boycott slave-produced goods

1850 - Slave trade abolished in DC, but slavery allowed to continue

1861 - Battle of Lexington, MI-captured by Union

1863 - Battle of Shepardstown VA

1863 - Civil War Battle of Chickamauga, near Chattanooga Tenn, ends

1870 - Mayor William Tweed accused of robbing NY treasury. The construction cost of the New York County Courthouse, begun in 1861, grew to nearly $13 million—about $178 million in today's dollars, and nearly twice the cost of the Alaska Purchase in 1867. "A carpenter was paid $360,751 (roughly $4.9 million today) for one month's labor in a building with very little woodwork ... a plasterer got $133,187 ($1.82 million) for two days' work".

The exposé provoked an international crisis of confidence in New York City's finances, and, in particular, in its ability to repay its debts. European investors were heavily positioned in the city's bonds and were already nervous about its management – only the reputations of the underwriters were preventing a run on the city's securities. New York's financial and business community knew that if the city's credit was to collapse, it could potentially bring down every bank in the city with it.

The result was the formation of the Executive Committee of Citizens and Taxpayers for Financial Reform of the City (also known as "the Committee of Seventy"), which attacked Tammany by cutting off the city's funding. Property owners refused to pay their municipal taxes, and a judge—Tweed's old friend George Barnard, no less—enjoined the city Comptroller from issuing bonds or spending money. Unpaid workers turned against Tweed, marching to City Hall demanding to be paid. Tweed doled out some funds from his own purse—$50,000—but it was not sufficient to end the crisis, and Tammany began to lose its essential base.

Shortly thereafter, the Comptroller resigned, appointing Andrew Haswell Green, an associate of Tilden's, as his replacement. Green loosened the purse strings again, allowing city departments not under Tammany control to borrow money to operate. Green and Tilden had the city's records closely examined, and discovered money that went directly from city contractors into Tweed's pocket. The following day, they had Tweed arrested.

1873 - Panic sweeps NY Stock Exchange (railroad bond default/bank failure) NY shut banks for 10 days due to a bank scandal

1877 - Chase National Bank opens in NYC (later merges into Chase Manhattan)

1881 - Chester A. Arthur sworn in as 21st president. Elected vice president on the Republican ticket of 1880, Arthur acceded to the presidency upon the assassination of President James A. Garfield.

1884 - Equal Rights Party nominates female candidates for US President and Vice President

1891 - The first gasoline-powered car debuts in Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

The Duryea brothers, Charles and Frank, had worked together making bicycles before they began experimenting with motors in a Springfield, Mass., loft in the early 1890s. It was there that they would build and test drive a gas-powered car. They claimed that the car was completed before Haynes’ Pioneer. Charles said it was driven in 1892, but Frank set the date at Sept. 20, 1893, a claim supported by local newspaper accounts.

1904 - Orville & Wilbur Wright fly a circle in their Flyer II.

1926 - Bugs Moran attempts to assassinate Al Capone in a drive-by shooting but fails. A Chicago Prohibition-era gangster Bugs Moran (born August 21, 1891 as George Clarence Moran), he has been credited with popularizing the act of driving by a rival's hangout and spraying it with gunfire, now referred to as a drive-by shooting. Seven members of his gang were also gunned down in a warehouse, known as the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre.

1945 - German rocket engineers begin work in U.S. The first group of seven rocket scientists (aerospace engineers) arrived at Fort Strong, located on Long Island in Boston harbor: Wernher von Braun, Erich W. Neubert, Theodor A. Poppel, August Schulze, Eberhard Rees, Wilhelm Jungert, and Walter Schwidetzky. Later this year three rocket-scientist groups arrived in the United States for duty at Fort Bliss, Texas, and at White Sands Proving Grounds, New Mexico, as "War Department Special Employees".

Operation Paperclip was a secret program of the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) largely carried out by Special Agents of Army CIC, in which more than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians were recruited, after the end of World War II, in Germany and taken to the U.S. for government employment, primarily between 1945 and 1959. Many were former members, and some were former leaders, of the Nazi Party.

1962 - Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett refuses to admit an African-American, James Meredith, to Mississippi University. The state agency in charge of universities and colleges, the Institutions of Higher Learning, appointed Barnett the registrar in order to oppose James Meredith's efforts to desegregate Barnett's alma mater, the University of Mississippi. With the accreditation of the state's medical school and other universities in jeopardy due to the political interventions, the IHL board reversed their action after the riots on the campus. Barnett was fined $10,000 and sentenced to jail for contempt.

1963 - JFK proposes a joint US-Soviet voyage to the moon

1964 - Paramount Theater (NYC) presented the Beatles with Steve & Eydie, an American pop vocal duet, consisting of Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé. They were a husband and wife team from their wedding in 1957 until Eydie's death in 2013. Both have also had separate careers as solo singers.

The Beatles performed for no fee at this charity concert in aid of the United Cerebral Palsy of New York City and Retarded Infants Services. It was the last date of their first full US tour.

Afterwards the group stayed at the Riviera Motel near John F Kennedy International Airport. They were accompanied by Bob Dylan and his manager Albert Grossman. A month earlier, at New York's Delmonico Hotel, Dylan had turned The Beatles on to cannabis.

1966 - US Surveyor B launched toward Moon; crashed Sept 23

1970 - Jim Morrison found guilty of "open profanity and indecent exposure" after allegedly exposing himself at a concert in Miami in 1969

1979 - NASA launches HEAO 3, the last of NASA's three High Energy Astronomy Observatories.

1979 - Lee Iacocca is elected president of the Chrysler Corporation.

Iacocca appealed to the federal government for aid, gambling that it would not allow Chrysler to fail when the national economy was already depressed. Although his request sparked intense debate over the role of government in a market economy, Congress in 1980 agreed to guarantee $1.5 billion in loans if the company could raise another $2 billion on its own. Iacocca responded by finding new sources of credit and by trimming operations, closing plants, and persuading labour unions to accept layoffs and wage cuts. He then shifted the company’s emphasis to fuel-efficient models and undertook an aggressive advertising campaign that included personal appearances on television commercials. By 1981 Chrysler showed a small profit, and three years later it announced record profits of more than $2.4 billion. Iacocca became a national celebrity. He retired from Chrysler in 1992.

1990 - US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site

1992 - Space shuttle STS-47 (Endeavour 2) lands. It was the 50th Space Shuttle mission of the program, as well as the second mission of Space Shuttle Endeavour. The mission mainly involved conducting experiments in life and material sciences.

1994 - Space shuttle STS-64 (Discovery 20), lands at Edwards, CA to conclude mission STS-64. The mission featured the study of clouds and the atmosphere with a laser beaming system called Lidar In-Space Technology Experiment (LITE), and the first untethered space walk in over 10 years. A Spartan satellite was also deployed and later retrieved in the study of the sun's corona and the solar wind.

2001 - In an address to a joint session of Congress and the American people, U.S. President George W. Bush declares a "war on terror". Bush's first term was dominated by the September 11 terror attacks, which launched the country into the 'War on Terror' and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. After years of claiming Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, he authorized the invasion of Iraq in 2003. This proved to be an immensely controversial decision as no such weapons were found.

2011 - The United States ends its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, allowing gay men and women to serve openly for the first time.

2016 - Black American Keith Lamont Scott is shot dead by a black police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina, provoking violent protests in the city.

Author: USA Really