What Happened on September 17?

  • The Red Baron shot down his first plane. (1916) Manfred von Richthofen was a fighter pilot for the German military during World War I. In the final eight months of his flying career, he flew a bright red Fokker triplane, from which he got his nickname. He was killed at age 25 when he was shot down while flying near the Somme River; he had shot down more than 80 enemy planes by the time of his death.

  • The US Constitution was signed and awaited ratification. (1787) At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, 38 of the 41 delegates signed their approval. The document then needed to be ratified by at least nine of the 13 US states before it could take effect. The US Constitution became the foundation of the US government on March 4, 1789.

  • The bloodiest battle in US history took place. (1862) A Civil War battle at Antietam in which the Union soldiers fought against an invasion of Maryland by the Confederate Army left more then 23,000 soldiers captured, wounded or dead.

  • A judge in California set a record for clearing cases. (1884) In Oakland, California, Judge Allen ruled on 13 cases in six minutes. All likely were guilty verdicts, as at that time only about 1 in 100 cases in Oakland courts ended with an acquittal.

  • NASA introduced its very first space shuttle. (1976) The Enterprise was viewed by the public for the first time in Palmdale, California. The shuttle, which cost nearly $10 billion US Dollars (USD), never actually flew in space. Its mission was to test the Earth's atmosphere. It flew its final mission on October 26, 1977 and is now on view at the Smithsonian Institution.

  • The world's first mass-produced amphibious car "drove" across the English Channel. (1965) Four men from England traveled in the car from London to Germany to attend the Frankfurt Motor Show. The trip took about seven hours. The "Amphicars" were quite popular — about 3,000 were shipped to the US; some even remain on the road today.

  • After the longest blackout since the Great Depression, trading on the New York Stock Exchange resumed. (2001) The Dow saw its largest one-day drop in history after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US. Trading on Wall Street ceased for four days after the almost 700 point drop.

  • The US television show M*A*S*H premiered. (1972) M*A*S*H continued until February 28, 1983, when its finale became the most watched TV show in US history — nearly 106 million people watched the 2.5-hour special episode. The record stood until 2010 when Super Bowl XLIV garnered 106.5 million fans.

  • Australians viewed their first television broadcast. (1956) Broadcasting experiments began in Melbourne, Australia, in 1929, but it wasn't until 1956 that widespread TV broadcasts were achieved. The first regular TV broadcasts in the US — the first country in the world to have regular broadcasts — began in 1928.

  • The first black woman and the first first deaf woman won the Miss America crown. (1983 & 1994) The first black Miss America was Vanessa Williams; the first deaf woman to win the crown, Heather Whitestone, was from Alabama.

Discussion Comments


I was born in the 80s, but when I was growing up, M*A*S*H was still as popular as ever and aired on TV on a daily basis. I can say that I grew up watching it. I still run into it on TV sometimes when I'm channel surfing. I don't think M*A*S*H will ever get old.


@ddljohn-- I believe the three who didn't sign were George Mason, Edmund Randolph and Elbridge Gerry.

I don't know the exact reasons for why they chose not to sign, but most of the disagreements about the Constitution were about representation. Small states and large states couldn't agree on how states should be represented in government and how the votes should be allocated. It was an issue of equal representation versus proportional representation.

Even when the Constitution was being ratified, some important people did not sign. Some of them still had problems with the Constitution and then there were others who couldn't make it because of illness or some other personal issue.


Which delegates didn't approve the US Constitution? And why?

38 out of 41 is still a great number but I wonder why the three delegates didn't want to approve.

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