Since Labor Day is essentially a meaningless holiday (but by all means, enjoy your Bar-B-Qs!), let’s instead take a look at and celebrate (if appropriate) the important events that unfolded on this day in American history.
1781: What is now the city of Los Angeles was founded by a diverse group of settlers. In 1821, Los Angeles became part of Mexico following Mexico’s War of Independence with Spain. In 1848, following the conclusion of the Mexican-American War, L.A. (as part of California) became part of the United States.
1812: The U.S. Army captured its first victory in the War of 1812 with the Battle of Fort Harrison, which lasted from Sept. 4-15. A sick, hungry, and outnumbered garrison commanded by then-Captain (and future president) Zachary Taylor, bravely held the Indiana Territory fort from unrelenting Native American forces.
1862: Confederate General Robert E. Lee moved his Army of Northern Virginia into Northern/U.S. territory, marking Lee’s first invasion of the Union. The two sides would clash 13 days later in the Battle of Antietam — the deadliest single-day battle in American history.
1882: At approximately 3:00 p.m. local time in New York City, Thomas Edison flipped the switch that commenced the electrical illumination of the world. He turned on the first commercial electrical power plant in world history, bringing electricity to about one square mile of New York City.
1886: After decades of clashes, legendary Apache chief Geronimo surrendered to U.S. troops in Arizona. His surrender marked the end of the American Indian Wars in the Southwest.
1923: The USS Shenandoah, the first airship developed by the United States, made its maiden flight. Just two years later, the airship crashed during a storm over Caldwell, Ohio.
1941: Three months prior to U.S. entry into World War II, a German submarine attacked the USS Greer. This led President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to announce a “shoot on sight” order in response to Nazi submarine activity.
1957: Orval Faubus, the Democrat governor of Arkansas, called in the state National Guard to stop nine African-American students from stepping foot on Little Rock High School grounds. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional, but Democratic holdouts in the South attempted to fight the ruling. President Eisenhower took action in Little Rock and the nine black students eventually finished the school year, under federal protection.
1967: U.S. forces in Vietnam commenced Operation Swift, a 1st Marine Division-led campaign to rescue two Marine companies ambushed by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces.
1998: Google was founded by entrepreneurs Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who were students of Stanford University at the time.