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History's Happenings for September 16

First Victory In Revolution

In the summer of 1776, British Commander-In-Chief General Sir William Howe made his first big push in the American Revolution, towards New York City. But while Howe was awaiting reinforcements by sea, General George Washington brought the Continental Army down from Boston to oppose him. Ultimately 32,000 British and Hessian regulars faced about 19,500 Americans in and around the city.

Unfortunately the American Army, still largely comprised of untrained militiamen, made many tactical errors and were repeatedly broken and pushed back by Howe's force of trained redcoats. However, on September 16, 1776, the Continental Army achieved its first victory of the War in the battle for Harlem Heights, just east of the city. Although just a skirmish during the halting process of pulling back from the city, in psychological terms, first victories count.

After abandoning New York, Washington and his shrinking army were pursued by Howe first northward, and then into New Jersey, until finally in December the army came to rest on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware. Howe established his defensive line across New Jersey from Perth Amboy to Trenton, then retired to an easy winter in New York.

If this seems a low point for the fortunes of American Independence, what happened next rings through history. On a cold, wet Christmas Night, 1776, Washington mustered out his men and, taking great risks in a bold stroke, crossed the icy Delaware in small boats with 2400 Continentals. As dawn broke, the Americans surprised the Hessian garrison in Trenton, Howe's southern anchor, in a stirring victory.

After Trenton came further success at Princeton and, though the travails were far from over, Washington and the Continental Army had established themselves as a force to be reckoned with.

Mayflower Departs England

On September 16, 1620, the tiny (180 ton) sailing ship "Mayflower", with about 100 Pilgrims aboard fleeing religious persecution at home, departed Portsmouth, England for a new life in America. Their destination: the small established Colony of Virginia. For want of supplies, two months later they instead put in at what became the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

They continued to live aboard the Mayflower, having scavenged supplies ashore, until the spring of 1621. Those that survived the hard winter then set about creating the community to which they had agreed in the Mayflower Compact.

Settlers Rush Oklahoma's "Cherokee Strip"

(Stay tuned for a write-up on this event.
On the other hand, if you'd like to try writing
one  ... send it in! )

Birth of Lawrence "Peter Principle" Peters

The "Peter Principle", first expounded by Lawrence Peters, dictates that in business (and presumably elsewhere), everyone will tend to rise to the level at which he or she becomes incompetent, and stay there.

American Legion Founded

(Stay tuned for a write-up on this event.
On the other hand, if you'd like to try writing
one  ... send it in! )

Roosevelt Signs Selective Service Act

(Stay tuned for a write-up on this event.
On the other hand, if you'd like to try writing
one  ... send it in! )

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