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What Happened on September 20?

  • The Panic of 1873 caused the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to shut down. (1873) In the wake of the Fourth Coinage Act, which demonetized silver, as well as the bankruptcy of 89 railroads and many banks, the NYSE shut down for 10 days.

  • The first Moon rocks were gathered up and returned to Earth. (1970) The unmanned Soviet probe Luna 16 brought back the first objects from space when it returned to Earth on September 24th with soil and rocks from the Moon.

  • The Paoli Massacre took place, leaving 200 American Patriot troops dead. (1777) While they were sleeping, American soldiers were attacked by five thousand British "Redcoats" who used bayonets in order to keep quiet. No prisoners were taken — anyone who tried to surrender was also killed.

  • Galileo Galilei was tried for claims that the Earth orbited the Sun. (1633) The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found him guilty of heresy. Galileo was forced to recant his claim and was sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life.

  • The first European battle in America took place. (1565) Spanish troops captured Fort Caroline, a French Huguenot colony near what is now known as Jacksonville, Florida. The battle resulted in France looking to settle farther north into the modern-day Canada areas of Nova Scotia and Quebec.

  • The American Association for the Advancement of Science was born. (1848) The international scientific organization was created to bring scientists from around the world into collaboration in the interest of humanity. It is now the largest scientific organization in the world and publishes the weekly journal named Science.

  • Nazis killed 3,000 Jews in Letychiv, Ukraine — nearly half of its population. (1942) The small town of Letychiv had been established as a Jewish "ghetto" after the Nazi occupation. The remaining 4,000 Jews in the "ghetto" were killed on November 2nd, leaving the town's entire population dead.

  • The Cannes Festival held its first international film festival. (1946) The festival, which is still held in Cannes on the French Riviera, was France's response to the world's first international film festival in Venice, Italy, in 1932. By 1938, the Venice festival had become a Nazi propaganda tool, and France decided to hold a rival event focused strictly on film. Its planned 1939 debut was delayed when World War II broke out.

  • The Queen Elizabeth 2 luxury cruise ship set sail for the first time. (1967) The ship at one point was the only ocean liner to offer regular transatlantic transport. It also was the last passenger ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean powered by oil rather than diesel.

  • Billy Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in a battle-of-the-sexes tennis showdown. (1973) Riggs had made many sexist remarks, claiming a woman could never beat him on the tennis court. King took him up, and in a match that gained worldwide attention, she solidly beat him in three sets — gaining an advancement for equal rights and winning a $100,000 US Dollar purse. The match was the most-watched in tennis history, with more than 30,000 people in attendance and millions more watching on TV.

Discussion Comments

By anon996626 — On Sep 20, 2016

If the patriotic American troops had posted sentries, they might not have been have been caught sleeping. The bayonet is a legal weapon of war, so don't try to make it sound like a war crime.

By fify — On Oct 14, 2013

The world was a different place in 1633. It seems shocking now that Galileo would be convicted of heresy for expressing his opinion, which in fact was true. Back then, the Catholic Church thought that the Earth was the center of the universe and everything else orbited around it.

By stoneMason — On Oct 13, 2013
I think this list should also include the end of the don't ask, don't tell policy in the US military. The new regulation was passed on September 20, 2011. I think it's an important regulation, servicemen and women can declare their social orientation without backlash now.
By fBoyle — On Oct 13, 2013
I didn't know about the background of the Cannes Film Festival. Thanks for the information!

I follow Cannes, but only to see which Indian films and actors will go to the Festival. I started following Cannes when Devdas was selected for Cannes in 2002. It was the first mainstream Indian film (Bollywood film) to premier at the Festival. It was very exciting. I've been following it ever since.

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