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This Day in History - October 17

October 17

1244 – The Sixth Crusade ends when an Egyptian-Khwarezmian force nearly annihilates the Frankish army at Gaza

1346 – During the Battle of Neville’s Cross, English troops defeat the Scots under David II

1529 – Henry VIII of England strips Thomas Wolsey of his office for failing to secure an annulment of his marriage

1691 – Maine and Plymouth are incorporated in Massachusetts

1777 – British Maj. General John Burgoyne surrenders 5,000 men at Saratoga, NY during the Revolutionary War

1815 – Napoleon Bonaparte arrives at the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic, where he has been banished by the Allies

1817 – Indian educator and politician, Syed Ahmad Khan, is born

1821 – American photographer who documented the Civil War and the West, Alexander Gardner, is born

1835 – Texans approve a resolution to create the Texas Rangers, a corps of armed and mounted lawmen designed to “range and guard the frontier between the Brazos and Trinity Rivers”

1849 – Composer and pianist, Frederic Chopin, dies of tuberculosis

1859 – American impressionist painter and illustrator, Childe Hassam, is born

1863 – General Ulysses S. Grant is named overall Union Commander of the West

1864 – During the Civil War, Confederate General James Longstreet takes command of his corps in Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia after having been wounded

1868 – Canadian war heroine, Laura Secord, dies

1877 – Brigadier General Alfred Terry meets with Sitting Bull in Canada to discuss the Indians’ return to the US

1895 – Modern dance choreographer, Doris Humphrey, is born

1903 – Novelist and screenwriter, Nathanael West, is born

1906 – Wilhelm Voight, a German shoemaker, impersonates an army officer and leads an entire squad of soldiers to help him steal 4,000 marks, as a hoax that exploited the German blind obedience to authority. Voight was caught in Berlin days later and sentenced to four years in prison, but only served less than two. He went on to become somewhat of a folk hero and posing for pictures in the captain’s uniform for years

1912 – Serbia and Greece declare war on the Ottoman Empire, beginning the First Balkan War

1912 – Pope John Paul I is born

1913 – Zeppelin LII explodes over London, killing 28 people

1915 – Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Arthur Miller, is born

1918 – Film actress, Rita Hayworth, is born

1930 – Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author, and columnist Jimmy Breslin is born

1931 – Gangster Al Capone is sentenced to 11 years in prison for tax evasion and fined $80,000

1933 – Albert Einstein immigrates to the US, settling down in Princeton, N.J., due to rising anti-Semitism and anti-intellectualism in Hitler’s Germany

1937 – English businessman, J. Bruce Ismay, dies

1938 – US daredevil motorcycle stuntman, Evel Knievel, is born

1941 – During World War II, the government of Prince Fumimaro Konoye, prime minister of Japan, collapses

1941 – The US destroyer Kearny is damaged by a German U-boat torpedo off Iceland and eleven Americans are killed

1942 – Singer and songwriter, Gary Puckett, is born

1946 – Drummer for the Doobie Brothers, Michael Hossack, is born

1946 – Polish historian and editor in chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland’s largest newspaper, and Europe’s Man of the Year in la Vie magazine, Adam Michnik, is born

1948 – Actress, Margot Kidder, is born

1956 – Calder Hall, the first nuclear power station to feed an appreciable amount of power into a civilian network, is opened in Britain

1958 – Grammy and Country Music Association Award-winning country singer, Alan Jackson, is born

1960 – Emmy and Academy Award-winning theater and film director, choreographer Rob Marshall, is born

1961 – Paris police massacre more than 200 Algerians for marching in the city in support of peace talks to end their country’s war of independence against France

1965 – American cricketer, Bart King, dies

1966 – President Johnson leaves Washington for a 17-day trip to seven Asian and Pacific nations and a conference scheduled in Manila during the Vietnam War

1967 – Emperor of China, Puyi, dies

1968 – Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos are forced to return their awards because they raised their fists in a black-power salute during the medal ceremony

1968 – Jamaican musician, Ziggy Marley, is born

1972 – Peace talks between Pathet Lao and Royal Lao government begin in Vietnam

1972 – American rapper, producer, and actor, Eminem, is born

1973 – OPEC implements what it calls “oil diplomacy” prohibiting any nation that had supported Israel in its “Yom Kippur War” with Egypt, Syria and Jordan from buying any of the oil it sells, thus causing an energy crisis that marked the end of the era of cheap gasoline and caused the share value of the New York Stock Exchange to drop by $97 billion, ushering in one of the worst recessions the US has ever seen

1974 – President Gerald Ford explains to Congress why he had chosen to pardon his predecessor, Richard Nixon, who had been accused of obstruction of justice during the Watergate scandal, leading to what many thought was the contributing factor to Ford’s failure to win the presidential election of 1976. Ford claimed he was just trying to put a tragic event behind to end a “long national nightmare”

1974 – Beloved Benji debuts

1979 – Finnish race car driver, Kimi Raikkonen, is born

1986 – President Ronald Reagan signs into the law an act of Congress approving $100 million of military and humanitarian aid to the Contras, however, the Iran-Contra scandal is near breaking wide open, thus compromising their goal of overthrowing the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua

1989 – A 6.9 earthquake, known as the Loma Prieta, and the worst in 82 years, strikes San Francisco in the bay area minutes before the start of a World Series game, killing 67 and causing an estimated $10 billion in damage

1994 – Dmitry Kholodov, a Russian journalist, is assassinated while investigating corruption in the armed forces, and sets off a series of killings of journalists in Russia

2001 – Israeli tourism minister and founder of the right-wing Moledet party, Rehavam Ze’evi, is assassinated by a member of the Popular front of Liberation of Palestine

2003 – Taipei 101 is completed in Taipei, becoming the world’s tallest high-rise


Written by Crystal McCann

Crystal is the Chief Operating Officer of Lanterns Media Network and the owner of Madisons Media. She lives in Texas with her husband and dogs and is the proud mother of two adult children.


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