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This Day in History: September 15


1776 – American Revolutionary War: British forces land at Kip's Bay during the New York Campaign.

1789 – The United States "Department of Foreign Affairs", established by law in July, is renamed the Department of State and given a variety of domestic duties.

1812 – The French army under Napoleon reaches the Kremlin in Moscow.

1812 – War of 1812: A second supply train sent to relieve Fort Harrison is ambushed in the Attack at the Narrows.

1831 – The locomotive John Bull operates for the first time in New Jersey on the Camden and Amboy Railroad.

1851 – Saint Joseph's University is founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1862 – American Civil War: Confederate forces capture Harpers Ferry, Virginia.

1916 – World War I: Tanks are used for the first time in battle, at the Battle of the Somme.

1935 – The Nuremberg Laws deprive German Jews of citizenship.

1935 – Nazi Germany adopts a new national flag bearing the swastika.

1940 – World War II: The climax of the Battle of Britain, when the Royal Air Force shoots down large numbers of Luftwaffe aircraft.

1942 – World War II: U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Wasp is sunk by a Japanese torpedo at Guadalcanal.

1944 – Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill meet in Quebec as part of the Octagon Conference to discuss strategy.

1944 – Battle of Peleliu begins as the United States Marine Corps' 1st Marine Division and the United States Army's 81st Infantry Division hit White and Orange beaches under heavy fire from Japanese infantry and artillery.

1945 – A hurricane in southern Florida and the Bahamas destroys 366 planes and 25 blimps at Naval Air Station Richmond.

1947 – RCA releases the 12AX7 vacuum tube.

1950 – Korean War: United States forces land at Inchon

1959 – Nikita Khrushchev becomes the first Soviet leader to visit the United States.

1961 – Hurricane Carla strikes Texas with winds of 175 miles per hour.

1962 – The Soviet ship Poltava heads toward Cuba, one of the events that sets into motion the Cuban Missile Crisis.

1963 – 16th Street Baptist Church bombing: Four children killed at an African-American church in Birmingham, Alabama, United States

1966 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, responding to a sniper attack at the University of Texas at Austin, writes a letter to Congress urging the enactment of gun control legislation.

1978 – Muhammad Ali outpointed Leon Spinks in a rematch to become the first boxer to win the world heavyweight title three times at the Superdome in New Orleans.

1981 – The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approves Sandra Day O'Connor to become the first female justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

1981 – The John Bull becomes the oldest operable steam locomotive in the world when the Smithsonian Institution operates it under its own power outside Washington, D.C.

1987 – United States Secretary of State George Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze sign a treaty to establish centers to reduce the risk of nuclear war.

2004 – National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman announces lockout of the players' union and cessation of operations by the NHL head office.

2008 – Lehman Brothers files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history.


1789 – James Fenimore Cooper, American historian and author (d. 1851)

1857 – William Howard Taft, American lawyer, jurist, and politician, 27th President of the United States (d. 1930)

1903 – Roy Acuff, American singer-songwriter and fiddler (d. 1992)

1907 – Fay Wray, Canadian-American actress (d. 2004)

1913 – John N. Mitchell, American lieutenant, lawyer, and politician, 67th United States Attorney General (d. 1988)

1918 – Nipsey Russell, American comedian and actor (d. 2005)

1922 – Jackie Cooper, American actor, singer, director, and producer (d. 2011)

1937 – Robert Lucas, Jr., American economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate

1938 – Gaylord Perry, American baseball player and coach

1943 – Tommy Hall, American jug player


1835 – Sarah Knox Taylor, American wife of Jefferson Davis (b. 1814)

1938 – Thomas Wolfe, American novelist (b. 1900)

1978 – Willy Messerschmitt, German engineer and academic, designed the Messerschmitt Bf 109 (b. 1898)

1989 – Robert Penn Warren, American novelist, poet, and literary critic (b. 1905)