September 29th “History Lesson”
1780 – British spy John André was court-martialed, found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. André, an accomplice of Benedict Arnold, had been captured by six days earlier incriminating papers were found stashed in his boot.
It was the discovery of these papers that revealed the traitorous actions of Benedict Arnold to the U.S. authorities. Upon hearing of André’s capture, Arnold fled to the British warship Vulture and subsequently joined the British in their fight against his country.
John André was executed by hanging in Tappan, New York, on October 2, 1780. He was 31 years old.
1829 – Greater London’s Metropolitan Police went into action. Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel had requested the act (the police were called ‘Bobbies’ in honor of him). The Bobbies’ first official headquarters were at Scotland Yard; and Scotland Yard later became the official name of the force.
1907 – Construction of Washington National Cathedral (officially named The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington) began when the foundation stone was laid in the presence of President Theodore Roosevelt and a crowd of more than 20,000.
1918 – After a 56-hour-long bombardment, Allied forces breached the so-called Hindenburg Line, the last line of German defenses on the Western Front during World War I.
1938 – British Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain, French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, and Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini, agreed on the Munich Agreement which forced the Czechoslovak Republic to cede the Sudetenland, including the key Czechoslovak military defense positions, to Nazi Germany.
They signed the agreement at 1:30 the following morning. Czechoslovakia was informed by Britain and France that it could either resist Nazi Germany alone or submit to the prescribed annexations. The Czechoslovak government, realizing the hopelessness of fighting the Nazis alone, reluctantly capitulated and agreed to abide by the agreement.
1939 – Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to divide control of occupied Poland roughly along the Bug River – the Soviets taking everything east, including Lvov and its rich oil wells; the Germans had control of most of Poland’s most heavily populated and industrialized regions.
1941 – Nearly 34,000 Jews were brought to a suburban ravine known as Babi Yar, on the outskirts of Kiev, where men, women, and children were systematically machine-gunned in a two-day orgy of execution.
In the months following the massacre, German authorities stationed at Kiev killed thousands more Jews there, as well as non-Jews including Gypsies, Communists, and Soviet prisoners of war.
It is estimated that 100,000 people were murdered in total at Babi Yar.
1951 – The University of California defeated the University of Pennsylvania 35-0 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. It was the first network football game to be televised in color.
1953 – Make Room For Daddy debuted on ABC. Later, in 1957, the show would move to CBS for seven years. Danny Thomas’ success allowed him to give something back to the world, in the form of his philanthropic efforts to build St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis.
“All I prayed for was a break,” Thomas told an interviewer, “and I said I would do anything, anything, to pay back the prayer if it could be answered. All I needed was a sign of what to do and I would do it.” And he did.
1954 – Willie Mays, centerfielder for the New York Giants, made an amazing over-the-shoulder catch of a fly ball hit by Cleveland Indians first baseman Vic Wertz to rob Wertz of extra bases in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series. The catch has gone down as one of the greatest in the history of baseball.
1954 – A Star Is Born, starring Judy Garland and James Mason, premiered. It would garner six Academy Award nominations.
1955 – Sergeant Preston of The Yukon premiered on ABC, beginning a three-year run. Although the setting of the program was Alaska, the bulk of the series was filmed in Ashcroft, Colorado.
1957 – A passenger train collided with an oil-tanker train in the Gambar province of western Pakistan, killing 300 people and seriously injuring another 150.
1959 – The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis premiered on CBS. The series, which ran for four years, was significant as the first American network television program to feature teenagers as its lead characters, rather than as supporting characters in a program about a family.
1960 – My Three Sons premiered on ABC. In 1965, it switched to CBS and stayed there for another seven years.
1962 – My Fair Lady closed after a run of 6½ years on Broadway.
1963 – My Favorite Martian premiered on CBS. It lasted three years.
1963 – Stan Musial played his final game with the St. Louis Cardinals. “Stan the Man” collected 3,630 hits in his 22-year career. He hit 475 home runs during his career, was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player three times, and won three World Series championship titles.
He was selected as a National League All-Star Games 20 times, and was a first-ballot inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.
1965 – Hanoi published the text of a letter it had written to the Red Cross claiming that since there was no formal state of war, U.S. pilots shot down over the North would not receive the rights of prisoners of war and would be treated as war criminals.
1982 – Flight attendant Paula Prince bought a bottle of Tylenol. She would later be found dead, final victim of a mysterious ailment in Chicago, Illinois. Over the previous 24 hours, six other people had suddenly died of unknown causes in northwest Chicago. An investigation revealed that several bottles of the Tylenol capsules had been poisoned with cyanide.
While bottles of Extra-Strength Tylenol were recalled nationwide, the only contaminated capsules were found in the Chicago area. The culprit was never caught, but the mass murder led to new tamper-proof medicine containers.
1990 – Construction of Washington National Cathedral (remember that from way up at the top of this article?) was finally completed, 83 years to the day after it started. The total cost of building the Cathedral was $65 million, all of which was raised through private donations. It remains privately funded, with no direct funding for operations from the government or any national church.
Several notable American citizens are buried (or have their ashes interred) in Washington National Cathedral and its columbarium. They include President Woodrow Wilson, Admiral George Dewey and Helen Keller. State funerals for three American Presidents (Eisenhower, Reagan and Ford) have been held at the cathedral
1995 – Following closing arguments, the jury in the murder trial of O.J. Simpson received their final instructions from Judge Lance Ito.
Johnnie Cochran’s summation for the defense added controversy to an already very controversial trial. His co-counsel, Robert Shapiro, was later to condemn his closing for “not only playing the race card, but playing it from the bottom of the deck.” Cochran compared the prosecution case to Hitler’s campaign against the Jews, and in the process he did everything but put Detective Mark Fuhrmann on trial:
“There was another man not too long ago in this world who had those same views, who wanted to burn people, who had racist views, and ultimately had power over people in his country. People didn’t care. People said he’s crazy. He’s just a half-baked painter. And they didn’t do anything about it. This man, this scourge, became one of the worst people in the world, Adolf Hitler, because people didn’t care, didn’t stop him. He had the power over his racism and his anti-religionism. Nobody wanted to stop him….And so Fuhrman. Fuhrman wants to take all black people now and burn them or bomb them. That’s genocidal racism. Is that ethnic purity? We’re paying this man’s salary to espouse these views.”
2007 – Actress Lois Maxwell (best known for her portrayal of Miss Moneypenny in the first fourteen James Bond films) died of cancer at the age of 80.
2010 – Actor Tony Curtis (Houdini, Sweet Smell Of Success, Some Like It Hot, Spartacus, The Boston Strangler, and nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for The Defiant Ones) died of cardiac arrest at the age of 85.
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