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This Day in History: September 23


1642 – First commencement exercises occur at Harvard College.

1779 – American Revolution: John Paul Jones on board the USS Bonhomme Richard wins the Battle of Flamborough Head.

1780 – American Revolution: British Major John André is arrested as a spy by American soldiers exposing Benedict Arnold's change of sides.

1806 – Lewis and Clark return to St. Louis after exploring the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

1845 – The Knickerbockers Baseball Club, the first baseball team to play under the modern rules, is founded in New York.

1846 – Astronomers Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier, John Couch Adams and Johann Gottfried Galle collaborate on the discovery of Neptune.

1899 – American Asiatic Squadron destroys a Filipino battery at the Battle of Olongapo.

1942 – World War II: The Matanikau action on Guadalcanal begins: U.S. Marines attack Japanese units along the Matanikau River.

1950 – Korean War: The Battle of Hill 282: The first US friendly-fire incident on British military personnel since World War II occurs.

1952 – Richard Nixon makes his "Checkers speech".

1959 – Iowa farmer and corn breeder Roswell Garst hosts Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.

1962 – The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts opens in New York City.

1969 – The Chicago Eight trial opens in Chicago.

1986 – Jim Deshaies of the Houston Astros sets a major league record by striking out the first eight batters he faces in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

1988 – José Canseco of the Oakland Athletics becomes the first member of the 40–40 club.

1999 – NASA announces that it has lost contact with the Mars Climate Orbiter.

2002 – The first public version of the web browser Mozilla Firefox ("Phoenix 0.1") is released.

2010 – Convict Teresa Lewis became the first female inmate to die by lethal injection in the state of Virginia.

2015 – In Washington, D.C., Pope Francis canonized Father Junipero Serra as a saint.


1863 – Mary Church Terrell, American author and activist (d. 1954)

1889 – Walter Lippmann, American journalist and publisher, co-founded The New Republic (d. 1974)

1920 – Mickey Rooney, American actor, singer, director, and producer (d. 2014)

1926 – John Coltrane, American saxophonist and composer (Miles Davis Quintet) (d. 1967)

1930 – Ray Charles, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and actor (d. 2004)

1949 – Bruce Springsteen, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (E Street Band)

1976 – Homaro Cantu, American chef (d. 2015)


1900 – William Marsh Rice, American businessman, founded Rice University (b. 1816)

1939 – Sigmund Freud, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist (b. 1856)

1981 – Chief Dan George, Canadian actor, author, and poet (b. 1899)

1987 – Bob Fosse, American actor, dancer, choreographer, and director (b. 1927)

1992 – James Van Fleet, American general (b. 1892)