Today in History
History's Happenings for September 23
On September 23, 1806, after three years on the trail, Captain Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, returned from a lengthy expedition into the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase, specifically in search of the headwaters of the Missouri River, and into the Northwest. Having traced the Missouri into the Rockies, then followed the Columbia down into Oregon to the Pacific, they returned with tales to tell.
Lewis was later made Governor of Louisiana, and Clark a general in its militia. Their venture out into Oregon provided a basis for U. S. claims to that area when in dispute with Britain fifty years later.
Founded in 1636 in a cabin, and named in 1639 for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, tiny Harvard College graduated its first "class" on this date in 1642.
In 1779, at the height of the American Revolution, Continental Army General Benedict Arnold was in financial trouble. He and his new wife, Margaret Shippen, liked to have a good time in Philadelphia, mainly among wealthy loyalists.
To help pay the way, Arnold began negotiating with the British Commander-in-Chief, Sir Henry Clinton, to carry out certain treasonable acts in return for money and a commission in the British Army. An outstanding opportunity existed, in that Arnold was then Commandant of West Point, a sturdy fort guarding the approaches to the upper Hudson River.
Acting as go-between for Arnold and Clinton was one British Major John Andre, a bright young man who had advanced rapidly to become Adjutant-General of the British forces in America. Unfortunately, as he returned to the British lines this day in 1780 after a meeting with Arnold, disguised as a civilian and with the plans for West Point in his boots, he was captured by Continental forces. He was taken to Washington's headquarters in nearby Tappan, where he was sentenced to death by a military tribunal.
On October 2, 1780, Major Andre was hanged. General Arnold, in the meantime, made his escape to the British Army, wherein he led British troops against his former countrymen until 1781 when he sailed to England as an adviser.
With the Revolution over, Arnold's advice was no longer useful and he became viewed as the traitor he was. He was drummed out of the active military and never received anywhere close to the sum of money promised. He died in London in 1801. In America, his name has become synonymous with treason.
The autumnal equinox, occurring normally between September 20th and 22nd, marks the point when the sun is directly over the equator, producing exactly equal night and day length. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, it also signals the end of summer, and the march towards winter, as the sun slowly recedes toward the south.
The vernal, or spring equinox occurs in March.