First Posted: 8/21/2014
The History Channel
* On Sept. 10, 1813, in the first unqualified defeat of a British naval squadron in history, U.S. naval commander Oliver Hazard Perry leads a fleet of nine American ships to victory over a squadron of six British warships. After the battle, Perry sent a famous dispatch to U.S. Gen. William Henry Harrison that read, “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.”
* On Sept. 11, 1857, Mormon guerillas, stoked by a deep resentment of decades of public abuse and federal interference, murder 120 emigrants at Mountain Meadows, Utah. The conflict apparently began when the Mormons refused to sell the emigrants any supplies.
* On Sept. 14, 1959, a Soviet rocket bearing a Russian flag crashes into the moon’s surface. Vice President Richard Nixon expressed some sour grapes by noting that it took the Soviets four tries to hit the moon and reassured Americans that “We are way ahead” in the space race.
* On Sept. 9, 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signs the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Highway Safety Act into law. The two bills made the federal government responsible for setting and enforcing safety standards for cars and roads.
* On Sept. 12, 1972, after nearly 40 years of riding across millions of American TV and movie screens, the cowboy actor William Boyd, best known for his role as Hopalong Cassidy, dies at the age of 77. Boyd was to be the first cowboy actor to make the transition from movies to television.
* On Sept. 13, 1980, country music artist Willie Nelson and his band perform at the White House with President Jimmy Carter in attendance. Later that night, unbeknownst to the president, Nelson allegedly retired to the White House roof to smoke a marijuana cigarette.
* On Sept. 8, 1998, St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire hits his 62nd home run of the year, breaking Roger Maris’ record. McGwire was celebrated as a hero, though allegations that he used performance-enhancing substances have since led some to question the legitimacy of his accomplishments.