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This Day in History: October 11


1614 – Adriaen Block and 12 Amsterdam merchants petition the States General for exclusive trading rights in the New Netherland colony.

1634 – The Burchardi flood: "The second Grote Mandrenke" killed around 15,000 men in North Friesland, Denmark and Germany.

1649 – Sack of Wexford: After a ten-day siege, English New Model Army troops (under Oliver Cromwell) stormed the town of Wexford, killing over 2,000 Irish Confederate troops and 1,500 civilians.

1767 – Surveying for the Mason–Dixon line separating Maryland from Pennsylvania is completed.

1776 – American Revolutionary War: Battle of Valcour Island: On Lake Champlain a fleet of American boats is defeated by the Royal Navy, but delays the British advance until 1777.

1809 – Along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee, explorer Meriwether Lewis dies under mysterious circumstances at an inn called Grinder's Stand.

1811 – Inventor John Stevens' boat, the Juliana, begins operation as the first steam-powered ferry (service between New York City, New York, and Hoboken, New Jersey).

1862 – American Civil War: In the aftermath of the Battle of Antietam, Confederate General J. E. B. Stuart and his men loot Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, during a raid into the north.

1890 – In Washington, D.C., the Daughters of the American Revolution is founded.

1899 – The Western League is renamed the American League.

1906 – San Francisco public school board sparks a diplomatic crisis between the United States and Japan by ordering Japanese students to be taught in racially segregated schools.

1910 – Former President Theodore Roosevelt becomes the first U.S. president to fly in an airplane. He flew for four minutes with Arch Hoxsey in a plane built by the Wright brothers at Kinloch Field (Lambert–St. Louis International Airport), St. Louis, Missouri.

1918 – The 7.1 Mw Puerto Rico earthquake shakes the island with a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent), killing 76–116 people. A destructive tsunami contributed to the damage and loss of life.

1929 – J. C. Penney opens store #1252 in Milford, Delaware, making it a nationwide company with stores in all 48 U.S. states.

1942 – World War II: Battle of Cape Esperance: On the northwest coast of Guadalcanal, United States Navy ships intercept and defeat a Japanese fleet on their way to reinforce troops on the island.

1950 – Television: CBS's mechanical color system is the first to be licensed for broadcast by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

1957 – Space Race: M.I.T. scientists calculate Sputnik 1's booster rocket's orbit.

1958 – Pioneer program: NASA launches the lunar probe Pioneer 1 (the probe falls back to Earth and burns up).

1968 – Apollo program: NASA launches Apollo 7, the first successful manned Apollo mission, with astronauts Wally Schirra, Donn F. Eisele and Walter Cunningham aboard.

1972 – A race riot occurs on the United States Navy aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk off the coast of Vietnam during Operation Linebacker.

1975 – The NBC sketch comedy/variety show Saturday Night Live debuts with George Carlin as the host and Andy Kaufman, Janis Ian and Billy Preston as guests.

1976 – George Washington's appointment, posthumously, to the grade of General of the Armies by congressional joint resolution Public Law 94-479 is approved by President Gerald R. Ford.

1984 – Aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger, astronaut Kathryn D. Sullivan becomes the first American woman to perform a space walk.

1986 – Cold War: U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev meet in Reykjavík,Iceland, in an effort to continue discussions about scaling back their intermediate missile arsenals in Europe.

1987 – First public display of AIDS Memorial Quilt on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., during the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

2000 – NASA launches STS-92, the 100th Space Shuttle mission, using Space Shuttle Discovery.

2001 – The Polaroid Corporation files for federal bankruptcy protection.


1844 – Henry J. Heinz, American businessman, founded the H. J. Heinz Company (d. 1916)

1872 – Harlan F. Stone, American lawyer and jurist, 12th Chief Justice of the United States (d. 1946)

1884 – Eleanor Roosevelt, American humanitarian and politician, 39th First Lady of the United States (d. 1962)

1905 – Fred Trump, American businessman (d. 1999)

1913 – Joe Simon, American author and illustrator (d. 2011)

1919 – Jean Vander Pyl, American actress (d. 1999)

1935 – Dan Evins, American businessman, founded Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (d. 2012)

1936 – James M. McPherson, American historian and author


1779 – Casimir Pulaski, Polish-American general (b. 1745)

1809 – Meriwether Lewis, American captain, explorer, and politician, 2nd Governor of Louisiana Territory (b. 1774)

1961 – Lucy Tayiah Eads, American tribal chief (b. 1888)

1961 – Chico Marx, American actor and singer (b. 1887)

1965 – Dorothea Lange, American photographer and journalist (b. 1895)

1971 – Chesty Puller, American general (b. 1898)

1991 – Redd Foxx, American actor and singer (b. 1922)

2007 – Werner von Trapp, Austrian-American singer (b. 1915)

2008 – Neal Hefti, American trumpet player and composer (b. 1922)