This Week in History

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Cat Madish, Editor-in-Chief

  • On Sept. 22, 1692, the Salem witch trials came to an end as the last eight people were hanged. This brought the death toll to 25, five of which died in prison and one who was pressed to death. One of the people executed on this day was a woman named Martha Corey. Martha did not believe in witches and even encouraged people to dismiss the things that children were saying; in response, she got a shoe thrown at her. Only three days earlier, her husband, Giles Cory, had defended her which got him labeled as a wizard. After refusing to stand trial and confess, he suffered a slow death as he got crushed under layers and layers of stones. The famous quote, “More weight!” is said to have been the only thing Giles responded when asked for a confession.
  • The first Supreme Court was established on Sept. 24, 1789, when Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1789 and it was signed by President George Washington. The same day, President Washington nominated the first 6 Supreme Court Justices that would serve till their death. The first session wasn’t until Feb. 1, 1790, but quickly grew to become the most important judicial body in the country.
  • A little known fact is that President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation twice. The first one was on Sept. 22, 1862, when Lincoln told the southern states that if they did not stop the war, he would issue the final Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves in rebelling states. When they did not cease the rebellion, he did exactly that. While this only freed the slaves in the southern, rebellious states, it paved the way for the abolition of slavery across the nation.
  • On Sept. 21, 1893, Charles Duryea and his brother Frank took a gasoline-powered American automobile for a test ride. Deemed the Duryea Motor Wagon, this is believed to be the first successful commercial gasoline-powered automobile. This automobile had four horsepower and used one cylinder and had friction transmission, spray carburetor, and low tension ignition. After winning a race that gained them fame, Frank Duryea put the car into storage in 1894 where it lay untouched until 1920 when it was given to the  United States National Museum.
  • During a campaign speech on Sept. 23, 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt defended his dog when Republicans had made him the center of a political attack. Fala, a black Scottish Terrier, was always by FDRs side. In fact, Fala slept at the foot of FDR’s bed. Not only this, but the president wouldn’t allow anyone but himself to feed him. Eleanor Roosevelt was said to be very against having a dog in the White House. However, when FDR died, Fala lived with Eleanor until his death in 1952 when Fala was buried beside the president.
  • On Sept. 25, 1957, nine black students began their first day at previously all-white Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. Only a few weeks before, on Sept. 4, Governor Orval Faubus ordered the National Guard to the school. Instead of protecting the black students, the National Guard, along with a mob of white students, parents, and community members refused to let the students enter the school. This went on until they were escorted by 1,000 heavily armed paratroopers sent by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. These troops remained at the school throughout the year. Despite this, the Little Rock Nine were subjected to physical and verbal harassment.