1776 During the American Revolutionary War, British forces arrested American spy Nathan Hale as he attempted to cross back into American-controlled territory. He was caught with the intelligence he’d been gathering for several weeks behind British lines and was hanged the next day.
1780 American Revolutionary War General Benedict Arnold met with British Major John Andre and made plans for British forces to seize West Point, the fortress on the Hudson River under Arnold’s command, in exchange for 10,000 pounds and a British military commission. The conspiracy was uncovered, Major Andre captured and executed, and Arnold fled to England.
1792 The French National Convention formally abolished the monarchy.
1898 Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi seized power and imprisoned the Guangxu Emperor, her nephew and adopted son, ending the Hundred Days' Reform, a movement to modernize and reform China's imperial system that was vigorously opposed by the conservative elite.
1939 The Iron Guard, a fascist movement in Romania, assassinated Romanian Prime Minister Armand Călinescu with the approval and assistance of Germany.
1942 Horrors in the Ukraine: On Yom Kippur, the most revered holiday in Judaism, Nazis murdered 2,588 Jews in Dunaivtsi and sent more than 1,000 Jews of Pidhaitsi to Bełżec extermination camp.
1953 North Korean pilot Lieutenant No Kum-sok defected to South Korea with his Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 jet fighter. No received a $100,000 reward for being the first pilot to defect with an operational aircraft as well as asylum in the U.S. Five of his North Korean Air Force comrades and commanders, including his best friend, were executed by firing squad as punishment for his defection.
1972 Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos began authoritarian rule by declaring martial law.
1976 Agents of Chile's secret police, under orders from dictator Augusto Pinochet, assassinated Chilean exile Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C. with a car bomb. Letelier had been a member of the Chilean Marxist government of Salvador Allende, overthrown by Augusto Pinochet in 1973.
1981 The U.S. Senate unanimously approved Sandra Day O'Connor as the first female Supreme Court justice.
1985 American CIA case officer Edward Lee Howard fled to Russia after being identified as a KGB agent. He left a dummy made from stuffed clothes and an old wig stand in his car to fool the FBI agents following him. His book Safe House: The Compelling Memoirs of the Only CIA Spy to Seek Asylum in Russia explains his side of the story.
1993 Russian President Boris Yeltsin suspended parliament and scrapped the constitution, triggering a constitutional crisis.
1996 The U.S. Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act. The federal law defined marriage as the union between one man and one woman and allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages sanctioned by other states. Subsequent Supreme Court decisions (United States v. Windsor , Obergefell v. Hodges ) have ruled it unconstitutional or rendered it unenforceable.
1998 American television networks publicly broadcast President Bill Clinton's August 17th grand jury testimony in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. (This is the hearing where Clinton redefined “sexual relations” and argued the meaning of the word “is.”) The interview was taped at the insistence of the investigating team for the benefit of a jury member who could not attend the hearing. Members of the House of Representatives insisted on the release of the tape—along with 2,800 pages of supporting documentation—saying the public had the right to see all the evidence of the Starr Report.
2001 A gang of ten British Pakistani youths murdered Ross Parker, a white 17-year-old, in Peterborough, England, in a racially-motivated crime. Ross bled to death after being stabbed, beaten with a hammer, and repeatedly kicked. The Muslim community aided police in the capture of the perpetrators. Three defendants received life sentences and a fourth defendant was cleared of murder and manslaughter.
2019 The skies over Jambi province, Indonesia, turned red as the worst illegal forest fires since 2015 burned more than 800,000 acres and created respiratory problems for a million people. Fire is a cheaper and faster way to clear land than using heavy construction equipment, it provides a cheaper treatment than chemicals and fertilizers to create arable soil, and burned land can be sold illegally at a higher price. Environmental protection lawsuits against firms believed responsible for the fires have produced little change.