On this day in history, the cornerstone of the United States Capitol was laid by George Washington in 1793.
Since then, the Capitol has been rebuilt and expanded dramatically (by no less than four different architects).
This daguerreotype is from a trio of images by John Plumbe, Jr. that form the first photographic record of the site.
The United States Capitol, 1846, John Plumbe, Jr. J. Paul Getty Museum.
Sept. 17, 1849: Harriet Tubman Attempts to Escape From Slavery
On this day in 1849, American abolitionist Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery. She escaped alongside her brothers, Ben and Henry, who forced her to turn back with them after they had second thoughts.
Tubman ran away again shortly afterward without her brothers, this time successfully, using the Underground Railroad as her escape route to the North.
The Underground Railroad was a lifeline for slaves escaping to freedom, and Harriet Tubman became undoubtedly one of its most famous “conductors.”
Photo: Harriet Tubman, full-length portrait, standing with hands on back of a chair between ca. 1860 and 1875 (Library of Congress)
Welcome to Roosevelt Week! In conjunction with our Board Vice President Ken Burns’s new documentary series "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History," this week we will be featuring related records from the holdings of the usnatarchives and the fdrlibrary.
Theodore Roosevelt and the regiment under his command, the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, known as the “Rough Riders,” became heroes after their victory at the Battle of San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War. Shortly after the war ended, Roosevelt was elected as Governor of New York, thanks in large part to his wartime exploits, beginning his long and storied career in high-profile politics.
Discover more about Teddy, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt in “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History,” premiering tonight on pbstv at 8pm EST.
September 14, 1901: Theodore Roosevelt is Sworn in as President After William McKinley is Assassinated
On this day in 1901, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office as President of the United States upon William McKinley’s assassination. Roosevelt was 42 at the time, making him the youngest President.
McKinley, who had been extremely resistant to accepting security measures, was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz about a week earlier in Buffalo, New York. Afterwards, Congress assigned the Secret Service the duty of protecting the President.
Photo: Assassination of President McKinley. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Sept. 12, 1992: Dr. Mae Jemison Becomes First African American Woman in Space
On this day in 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to travel through space. She served as Mission Specialist aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-47.
WTCI’s Alison Lebovitz discusses the legacy of the first woman of color to travel beyond the stratosphere on “The A List with Alison Lebovitz.” Watch the interview here.
September 11th 2001: 9/11 Terror Attacks
On this day in 2001, thirteen years ago today, two hijacked planes were crashed into the World Trade Center towers in New York City and another into the Pentagon building in Virginia. The Twin Towers collapsed and part of the Pentagon was badly damaged. A fourth plane was intended to strike the US Capitol Building in Washington DC but its passengers seized control from the hijackers and crashed the plane into a field in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people died on this terrible day and thousands more injured in the attacks which sent shockwaves around the world. The attacks were planned and carried out by members of the terrorist group al-Qaeda, and masterminded by Osama bin Laden, who was since been found and killed by US forces. The aftermath of the tragedy prompted greater focus on national security both in the US and abroad and contributed to the invasions of, and subsequent wars in, Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, thirteen years on, we remember the thousands of people who lost their lives on 9/11.
"America is under attack"
- White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card telling President Bush about the attacks
Today, September 8th, is the 60th birthday of Ruby Nell Bridges - a woman who, being the first black child to attend an all-white school in New Orleans in 1960, underwent a traumatizing ordeal that came to signify the deeply troubled state of race relations in America.
On her first day of school at William Frantz Elementary School, during a 1997 NewsHour interview Bridges recalled that she was perplexed by the site that befell, thinking that it was some sort of Mardi Gras celebration:
"Driving up I could see the crowd, but living in New Orleans, I actually thought it was Mardi Gras. There was a large crowd of people outside of the school. They were throwing things and shouting, and that sort of goes on in New Orleans at Mardi Gras.”
Only six-years-old at the time, little Ruby had to deal with a slew of disgusting and violent harassment, beginning with threats of violence that prompted then President Eisenhower to dispatch U.S Marshals as her official escorts, to teachers refusing to teach her and a woman who put a black baby doll in a coffin and demonstrated outside the school in protest of Ruby’s presence there. This particular ordeal had a profound effect on young Ruby who said that it “scared me more than the nasty things people screamed at us.”
Only one teacher, Barbara Henry, would teach Ruby and did so for over a year with Ruby being the only pupil in her class.
The Bridges family suffered greatly for their brave decision. Her father lost his job, they were barred from shopping at their local grocery store, her grandparents, who were sharecroppers, were forcibly removed from their land, not to mention the psychological effect this entire ordeal had on her family. There were, however, members of their community - both black and white - who gathered behind the Bridges family in a show of support, including providing her father with a new job and taking turns to babysit Ruby.
Part of her experience was immortalized in a 1964 Norman Rockwell painting, pictured above, titled The Problem We All Live With. Her entire story was made into a TV movie released in 1998.
Today, still living in New Orleans, Briges works as an activist, who has spoken at TEDx, and is now chair of the Ruby Bridges Foundation.
September 5, 1905: Theodore Roosevelt Negotiates a Peaceful Settlement of the Russo-Japanese War
On this day in 1905, peace delegates in New Hampshire signed the Treaty of Portsmouth which officially ended the Russo-Japanese War, a conflict over control of Manchuria and Korea. The Japanese emerged victorious as the first non-Western world power. Theodore Roosevelt, who helped mediate the treaty negotiations, later won the Nobel Peace Prize for his achievement.
Photo: Russian and Japanese peace delegates with Teddy Roosevelt in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 1905. Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University
September 1899: 15-year old Eleanor Roosevelt Attends Allenswood School in London
This month in 1899, Eleanor Roosevelt’s grandmother sent 15-year-old Eleanor to Allenswood School, an exclusive academy near London, to be formally educated. Up until this point, Eleanor had been instructed privately at home. Eleanor wrote fondly of her time at Allenswood and its headmistress, Marie Souvestre, describing the experience as the “happiest of my life.”
(1) Eleanor Roosevelt at Mademoiselle Marie Souvestre’s Allenswood School, South Fields, England, c.1900. Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library (2) Wikimedia Commons
August 28, 1943: Eleanor Roosevelt Visits U.S. troops in the South Pacific
On this day in 1943, Eleanor Roosevelt arrived in New Zealand as a volunteer for the Red Cross. She made 17 stops during her trip including Australia, New Zealand and many small Pacific islands, boosting the morale of American troops at military bases, hospitals and nursing homes along the way.
Photo: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library