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11 Other Big Events That Also Occurred on September 11th

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Even before the tragic attacks of 2001, some pretty noteworthy events had occurred on September 11th. While our brains will forever link the calendar date to the 2001 attacks - and rightly so - let's take a look at some other notable September 11th happenings from previous years.

1297

William Wallace defeats forces of the English crown in the Battle of Stirling Bridge. As anyone who's seen Braveheart knows, the party doesn't last long for Wallace, but the Scots do regain their independence in 1328.

1609

English explorer Henry Hudson sails up a river on the coast of northeastern America aboard the Dutch vessel Halve Maen (Half Moon). In the process he discovers the island of Manhattan. He successfully navigates the river which now bears his name all the way to present-day Albany.

1789

Alexander Hamilton receives his appointment as first secretary of the U.S. Treasury. One of his first acts is to suggest that the federal government assume the debt incurred by the states during the Revolutionary War. He proposes a whiskey tax that inspires a rebellion a few years later—an insurrection he personally accompanies federal troops to stamp out.

1792

During the early days of the French Revolution, the Hope Diamond (originally known as the Blue Diamond of the French Crown) is stolen while Louis XVI is under house arrest at the Tuileries Palace. Although rumors abound about what happens to the diamond in the intervening years, it cannot be definitively placed again until 1812. In September of that year it surfaces in London, almost twenty years to the day from its disappearance and two days after a statute of limitations on revolutionary crimes expires. The diamond is hardly as good as new, though; over the course of two decades, someone had lopped the stone in half!

1814

In the War of 1812, the Battle of Plattsburgh ends in a decisive American victory. This marks the end of a British invasion into the northern states of the U.S. The redcoats retreat into Canada. The two sides sign a peace treaty in Ghent several months later.

1857

The Mountain Meadows massacre occurs: Utah residents viciously attack a band of westward-bound settlers from the American South. After several days under siege, the settlers allow several members of the Utah militia inside their defenses. Despite assuring the settlers of their safety, the militia kills over 100 unarmed people. Seventeen children are spared and taken to live with local Mormon families. Controversy continues to this day about whether Brigham Young had a hand in the events.

1941

The U.S. government breaks ground on construction of the Pentagon.

1962

The Beatles record the third and final version of what will be their first single, "Love Me Do," at EMI Studios on Abbey Road. The first two recordings are deemed unsatisfactory due to Ringo Starr's drumming. His replacements on the other recordings are Pete Best and Andy White. On the third and final cut, Ringo is relegated to playing tambourine.

1973

Salvador Allende, a democratically elected president, is overthrown in Chile with the help of the CIA (who disdain his Marxism). Taking his place is General Augusto Pinochet, who becomes known as one of the most malevolent dictators in the history of the Western hemisphere. The event becomes a major blight on the reputation of Henry Kissinger.

1985

During a game against the San Diego Padres, Pete Rose breaks the record for all-time number of hits with a single to left-center. It is his 4192nd hit, breaking the mark previously set by Ty Cobb. Less than four years later, Major League Baseball bans Rose for betting on games.

1998

Independent Council Kenneth Starr releases the infamous Starr Report, which details his investigation into the Whitewater controversy, during the course of which he began investigating President Clinton's sexual impropriety. Remember when our biggest problems were philandering politicians?

Finally, more than a few notable people were born on September 11th. They include: Carl Zeiss (1816), O. Henry (1862), Bear Bryant (1913), Brian De Palma (1940), Bashar al-Assad (1965), Moby (also '65), and Ludacris (1977).

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P.G. Wodehouse's Exile from England
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You don’t get more British than Jeeves and Wooster. The P.G. Wodehouse characters are practically synonymous with elevenses and Pimm’s. But in 1947, their creator left England for the U.S. and never looked back.

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, better known as P.G., was living in northern France and working on his latest Jeeves and Wooster novel, Joy in the Morning, when the Nazis came knocking. They occupied his estate for a period of time before shipping him off to an internment camp in Germany, which he later said he found pretty pleasant:

“Everybody seems to think a German internment camp must be a sort of torture chamber. It was really perfectly normal and ordinary. The camp had an extraordinarily nice commander, and we did all sorts of things, you know. We played cricket, that sort of thing. Of course, I was writing all the time.”

Wodehouse was there for 11 months before being suddenly released to a hotel in Berlin where a man from the German foreign office named Werner Plack was waiting to meet him. Wodehouse was somewhat acquainted with Plack from a stint in Hollywood, so finding him waiting didn't seem out of the ordinary. Plack advised Wodehouse to use his time in the internment camp to his advantage, and suggested writing a radio series about his experiences to be broadcast in America.

As Plack probably suspected, Wodehouse’s natural writing style meant that his broadcasts were light-hearted affairs about playing cricket and writing novels, This didn’t sit too well with the British, who believed Wodehouse was trying to downplay the horrors of the war. The writer was shocked when MI5 subjected him to questioning about the “propaganda” he wrote for the Germans. "I thought that people, hearing the talks, would admire me for having kept cheerful under difficult conditions," he told them in 1944. "I would like to conclude by saying that I never had any intention of assisting the enemy and that I have suffered a great deal of mental pain as the result of my action."

Wodehouse's contemporary George Orwell came to his aid, penning a 1945 an essay called “In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse." Sadly, it didn’t do much to sway public opinion. Though MI5 ultimately decided not to prosecute, it seemed that British citizens had already made up their minds, with some bookstores and libraries even removing all Wodehouse material from their shelves. Seeing the writing on the wall, the author and his wife packed up all of their belongings and moved to New York in 1947. They never went back to England.

But that’s not to say Wodehouse didn’t want to. In 1973, at the age of 91, he expressed interest in returning. “I’d certainly like to, but at my age it’s awfully difficult to get a move on. But I’d like to go back for a visit in the spring. They all seem to want me to go back. The trouble is that I’ve never flown. I suppose that would solve everything."

Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack before he could make the trip. But the author bore no ill will toward his native country. When The Paris Review interviewed Wodehouse in 1973, they asked if he resented the way he was treated by the English. “Oh, no, no, no. Nothing of that sort. The whole thing seems to have blown over now,” he said.  He was right—the Queen bestowed Wodehouse with a knighthood two months before his death, showing that all was forgiven.

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Mata Hari: Famous Spy or Creative Storyteller?
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Nearly everyone has heard of Mata Hari, one of the most cunning and seductive spies of all-time. Except that statement isn't entirely true. Cunning and seductive, yes. Spy? Probably not. 

Margaretha Geertruida Zelle was the eldest daughter of a hat store owner who was quite wealthy thanks to some savvy oil investments.  When her mother died, her father remarried and shuffled his children off to various relatives. To escape, an 18-year-old Margaretha answered an ad in the paper that might have read something like this: "Dutch Colonial Army Captain Seeks Wife. Compatibility not important. Must not mind blatant infidelity or occasional beatings."

She had two children with Captain Rudolf MacLeod, but they did nothing to improve the marriage. He brazenly kept a mistress and a concubine; she moved in with another officer. Again, probably looking to escape her miserable existence, Margaretha spent her time in Java (where the family had relocated for Captain MacLeod's job) becoming part of the culture, learning all about the dance and even earning a dance name bestowed upon her by the locals—"Mata Hari," which meant "eye of the day" or "sun."

Her son died after being poisoned by an angry servant (so the MacLeods believed).

Margaretha divorced her husband, lost custody of her daughter and moved to Paris to start a new life for herself in 1903. Calling upon the dance skills she had learned in Java, the newly restyled Mata Hari became a performer, starting with the circus and eventually working her way up to exotic dancer. 

To make herself seem more mysterious and interesting, Mata Hari told people her mother was a Javanese princess who taught her everything she knew about the sacred religious dances she performed. The dances were almost entirely in the nude.

Thanks to her mostly-nude dancing and tantalizing background story, she was a hot commodity all over Europe. During WWI, this caught the attention of British Intelligence, who brought her in and demanded to know why she was constantly traipsing across the continent. Under interrogation, she apparently told them she was a spy for France—that she used her job as an exotic dancer to coerce German officers to give her information, which she then supplied back to French spymaster Georges Ladoux. No one could verify these claims and Mata Hari was released.

Not too long afterward, French intelligence intercepted messages that mentioned H-21, a spy who was performing remarkably well. Something in the messages reminded the French officers of Mata Hari's tale and they arrested her at her hotel in Paris on February 13, 1917, under suspicion of being a double agent.

Mata Hari repeatedly denied all involvement in any spying for either side. Her captors didn't believe her story, and perhaps wanting to make an example of her, sentenced her to death by firing squad. She was shot to death 100 years ago today, on October 15, 1917.

In 1985, one of her biographers convinced the French government to open their files on Mata Hari. He says the files contained not one shred of evidence that she was spying for anyone, let alone the enemy. Whether the story she originally told British intelligence was made up by them or by her to further her sophisticated and exotic background is anyone's guess. 

Or maybe she really was the ultimate spy and simply left no evidence in her wake.

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