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This Day in History: October 17


1777 – American Revolutionary War: British General John Burgoyne surrenders his army at Saratoga, New York.

1781 – American Revolutionary War: British General Charles, Earl Cornwallis surrenders at the Siege of Yorktown.

1888 – Thomas Edison files a patent for the Optical Phonograph (the first movie).

1919 – RCA is incorporated as the Radio Corporation of America.

1931 – Al Capone is convicted of income tax evasion.

1933 – Albert Einstein flees Nazi Germany and moves to the United States.

1941 – World War II: a German submarine attacks an American ship for the first time in the war.

1941 – German troops execute the male population of the villages Kerdyllia in Serres, Greece.

1943 – The Holocaust: Sobibór extermination camp is closed.

1956 – Donald Byrne and Bobby Fischer play a famous chess game called The Game of the Century. Fischer beat Byrne and wins a Brilliancy prize.

1961 – Scores of Algerian protesters (some claim up to 400) are massacred by the Paris police at the instigation of former Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon, then chief of the Prefecture of Police.

1965 – The 1964–65 New York World's Fair closes after a two-year run. More than 51 million people had attended the event.

1966 – A fire at a building in New York City kills 12 firefighters, the fire department's deadliest day until the September 11, 2001 attacks.

1973 – OPEC imposes an oil embargo against a number of Western countries, considered to have helped Israel in its war against Egypt and Syria.

1979 – The Department of Education Organization Act is signed into law creating the US Department of Education and US Department of Health and Human Services.

1992 – Having gone to the wrong house for a Halloween party, Japanese exchange student Yoshihiro Hattori is shot and killed by the homeowner in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


1711 – Jupiter Hammon, American poet (d. 1806)

1859 – Childe Hassam, American painter and illustrator (d. 1935)

1912 – Theodore Marier, American composer and educator, founded the Boston Archdiocesan Choir School (d. 2001)

1914 – Jerry Siegel, American author and illustrator (d. 1996)

1915 – Arthur Miller, American playwright and screenwriter (d. 2005)

1938 – Evel Knievel, American motorcycle rider and stuntman (d. 2007)

1954 – Carlos Buhler, American mountaineer

1956 – Mae Jemison, American physician, academic, and astronaut

1972 – Eminem, American rapper, producer, and actor


1910 – Julia Ward Howe, American poet and songwriter (b. 1819)

2000 – Leo Nomellini, Italian-American football player and wrestler (b. 1924)

2008 – Levi Stubbs, American singer and actor (Four Tops) (b. 1936)

2013 – Lou Scheimer, American animator, producer, and voice actor, co-founded the Filmation Company (b. 1928)