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This Day in History: September 17


1630 – The city of Boston, Massachusetts is founded.

1775 – American Revolutionary War: The Invasion of Canada begins with the Siege of Fort St. Jean.

1776 – The Presidio of San Francisco is founded in New Spain.

1778 – The Treaty of Fort Pitt is signed. It is the first formal treaty between the United States and a Native American tribe (the Lenape or Delaware Indians).

1787 – The United States Constitution is signed in Philadelphia.

1814 – Francis Scott Key finishes his poem "Defence of Fort McHenry", later to be the lyrics of "The Star-Spangled Banner".

1849 – American abolitionist Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery.

1859 – Joshua A. Norton declares himself "Norton I, Emperor of the United States."

1862 – American Civil War: George B. McClellan halts the northward drive of Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army in the single-day Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American military history.

1862 – American Civil War: The Allegheny Arsenal explosion results in the single largest civilian disaster during the war.

1900 – Philippine–American War: Filipinos under Juan Cailles defeat Americans under Colonel Benjamin F. Cheatham Jr., son of confederate general Benjamin F. Cheatham in the Battle of Mabitac.

1908 – The Wright Flyer flown by Orville Wright, with Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge as passenger, crashes, killing Selfridge. He becomes the first airplane fatality.

1916 – World War I: Manfred von Richthofen ("The Red Baron"), a flying ace of the German Luftstreitkräfte, wins his first aerial combat near Cambrai, France.

1920 – The National Football League is organized as the American Professional Football Association in Canton, Ohio

1928 – The Okeechobee hurricane strikes southeastern Florida, killing more than 2,500 people. It is the third deadliest natural disaster in United States history, behind the Galveston hurricane of 1900 and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

1939 – World War II: The Soviet Union joins Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland during the Polish Defensive War of 1939.

1940 – World War II: Following the German defeat in the Battle of Britain, Hitler postpones Operation Sea Lion indefinitely.

1944 – World War II: Allied Airborne troops parachute into the Netherlands as the "Market" half of Operation Market Garden.

1944 – World War II: Soviet troops launch the Tallinn Offensive against Germany and pro independence Estonian units.

1944 – World War II: German forces are attacked by the Allies in the Battle of San Marino.

1961 – The world's first retractable-dome stadium, the Civic Arena, opens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

1976 – The first Space Shuttle, Enterprise, is unveiled by NASA.

1978 – The Camp David Accords are signed by Israel and Egypt.

1983 – Vanessa Williams becomes the first black Miss America.

1987 – Pope John Paul II embraces an AIDS-infected boy while visiting San Francisco.

2001 – The New York Stock Exchange reopens for trading after the September 11 attacks, the longest closure since the Great Depression.

2006 – Fourpeaked Mountain in Alaska erupts, marking the first eruption for the long-dormant volcano in at least 10,000 years.

2011 – Occupy Wall Street movement begins in Zuccotti Park, New York City.


1730 – Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, Prussian-American general (d. 1794)

1739 – John Rutledge, American judge and politician, 2nd Chief Justice of the United States (d. 1800)

1854 – David Dunbar Buick, Scottish-American businessman, founded Buick Motor Company (d. 1929)

1900 – J. Willard Marriott, American businessman, founded the Marriott Corporation (d. 1985)

1907 – Warren E. Burger, American lawyer and judge, 15th Chief Justice of the United States (d. 1995)

1909 – Elizabeth Enright, American author and illustrator (d. 1968)

1928 – Roddy McDowall, English-American actor, singer, and producer (d. 1998)

1934 – Maureen Connolly, American tennis player (d. 1969)

1939 – Carl Dennis, American poet and educator

1948 – John Ritter, American actor and producer (d. 2003)

1966 – Doug E. Fresh, American rapper and producer


1858 – Dred Scott, American slave (b. 1795)

1899 – Charles Alfred Pillsbury, American businessman, co-founded the Pillsbury Company (b. 1842)

1973 – Hugo Winterhalter, American bandleader and composer (b. 1909)

1993 – Willie Mosconi, American pool player and actor (b. 1913)

1996 – Spiro Agnew, American soldier and politician, 39th Vice President of the United States (b. 1918)

1997 – Red Skelton, American actor, singer, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1913)

2015 – Milo Hamilton, American sportscaster (b. 1927)

2017 - Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, American professional wrestler and manager (b. 1944)