History & Celebrations Today – September 22

Celebrations Today – September 22

Holidays and observances

Celebrations Today – USA: September 22

National Centenarian’s Day
National White Chocolate Day
American Business Women’s Day
Car Free Day
Dear Diary Day
Elephant Appreciation Day
Hobbit Day
National Ice Cream Cone Day
Autumnal Equinox – Changes Annually September 22, 2016
National Business Women’s Day
International Day of Radiant Peace
National Centenarian’s Day
National Elephant Appreciation Day
National Hobbit Day
National Ice Cream Cone Day
World Carfree Day
World Rhino Day

Today in US History: September 22

Nathan Hale

On September 22, 1776, American patriot Nathan Hale was hanged for spying on British troops. As he was led to the gallows, Hale’s famous last words—inspired by a line from Joseph Addison’s popular play, Cato, reportedly were—”I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Hale allegedly spoke these words to British Captain John Montresor, chief engineer of His Majesty’s Forces in North America and aide-de-camp to British General William Howe, while the preparations for his hanging were underway.

Nathan Hale statue
Nathan Hale Statue,
Reproduction of a Photograph Published by Cosmos Pictures.
Prints & Photographs Online Catalog

Nathan Hale was born in Coventry, Connecticut, on June 6, 1755. He graduated with honors from Yale College in 1773 and then taught, first in East Haddam, and next in New London, Connecticut.

After hearing news of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, Hale left his job teaching and joined the army. He was commissioned a first lieutenant on July 1, 1775, and was promoted to captain on January 1, 1776.

General George Washington believed that General Howe, who had evacuated Boston in March 1776, would continue the battle in New York. In fact, the British had captured Staten Island and had begun a military buildup on Long Island.

map of the western part of Long Island
The Seat of Action, between British and American Forces…
Samuel Holland, surveyor,
Printed for Robert Sayer and Jonathan Bennett,
London: 1776.
Map Collections: Military Battles and Campaigns

Further intelligence was needed. At the battle of Harlem Heights, Washington, again facing Howe, requested a volunteer to undertake a reconnaissance mission behind enemy lines. Hale stepped forward.

Disguised as a schoolmaster seeking work, Nathan Hale set out on about September 10, 1776. He gathered information on the position of British troops until his capture on September 21 by General Howe, who ordered his hanging as a spy the following day. Hale’s possession of incriminating papers led to the charge of espionage. It is said that his cousin, Samuel Hale, a Loyalist British sympathizer under Howe’s command, betrayed him.

Visit various Library of Congress Web sites for more information on Nathan Hale:

The Emancipation Proclamation

Lincoln reading the proclamation
First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation before the Cabinet,
Alexander Hay Ritchie, engraver, copyright 1866.
By Popular Demand: Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies, 1789-Present

Never in all the march of time,
Dawned on this land a more sublime
A grand event than that for which
To-day the lowly and the rich,
Doth humbly bow and meekly send
Their orisons to God, their Friend.From a poem read by J. Madison Bell
at The Centennial Jubilee of Freedom,
September 22, 1888.
African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A. P. Murray Collection, 1818-1907

On September 22, 1862, partly in response to the heavy losses inflicted at the Battle of Antietam, President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, threatening to free all the slaves in the states in rebellion if those states did not return to the Union by January 1, 1863. The extent of the Proclamation’s practical effect has been debated, as it was legally binding only in territory not under Union control. In the short term, it amounted to no more than a statement of policy for the federal army as it moved into Southern territory.

Detail of manuscript page
First Draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, [detail of closing sentence],
Abraham Lincoln, July 22, 1862.
Mr. Lincoln’s Virtual Library

In larger terms, however, Lincoln’s decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation was enormous. This event, combined with the determination on the part of African Americans to flee across Union lines as the federal army advanced into Southern territory, framed the Civil War as a struggle for freedom and against slavery. In more practical terms, the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation prevented European nations from intervening in the war on behalf of the Confederacy and enabled the Union to enlist nearly 180,000 black volunteer soldiers to fight between January 1, 1863 and the conclusion of the war.

March on Emancipation Day
Emancipation Day,
Richmond, Virginia, 1905.
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

Throughout the intervening years, the public has commemorated the Emancipation Proclamation with marches and celebrations. Accounts of these events can be found in American Memory by searching on Emancipation Proclamation or civil rights for photographs, sermons, orations, and programs of events.

In American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940, two people share their memories of these events. “Mrs. Ella Boney,” born in Henry Country, Kentucky on October 12, 1869, remembers childhood celebrations in Hill City, Kansas in her 1938 interview:

One of the biggest events of the year for Negroes in Kansas is the Emancipation Proclamation picnic every fourth of August. We celebrate four days in a large grove just out side of Nicodemus, and Negroes come from all over the state. There are about twelve barbecue pits dug and they are going all day barbecuing chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigs, sides of beef, etc.”Mrs. Ella Boney,”
Albert Burks, interviewer,
November 26, 1938.
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940

In a 1939 interview, John Wesley Dobbs, a Grand Master of the Prince Hall Masons, recounts his Emancipation Day speech for “Wings over Jordan,” a radio program heard every Sunday morning in the 1930s on station WGAR in Cleveland:

Over the doorway of the nation’s Supreme Court Building in Washington, D. C. are engraved four words, ‘Equal Justice Under Law’. This beautiful American ideal is what the Negroes want to see operative and effective from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the Great Lakes to the Gulf – nothing more or less.”I Saw the Stars,”
Atlanta, Georgia,
Geneva Tonsill, interviewer,
December 2, 1939.
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940

From African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A. P. Murray Collection, 1818-1907 come speeches and sermons, including an oration delivered by Reverend A.L. DeMond to members of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, on January 1, 1900. In “The Negro Element in American Life,” DeMond describes the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation as

two great patriotic, wise and humane state papers…Both were born in days of doubt and darkness. Both were the outcome of injustice overleaping the bounds of right and reason. The one was essential to the fulfilling of the other. Without the Declaration of Independence the nation could not have been born; without the Emancipation Proclamation it could not have lived.”The Negro Element in American Life,”
an oration delivered by Rev. A.L. DeMond in the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church,
Montgomery, Alabama, January 1, 1900.
African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A. P. Murray Collection, 1818-1907

Learn more about the Emancipation Proclamation:

Today in History – September 22-External Links

Today’s Weather in History
Today in Earthquake History
This Day in Naval History
Today’s Document from the National Archives
Today’s Events, Births & Deaths –Wikipedia
Today in History by AP
On this Day -1950 to 2005 – Today’s Story–BBC
On This Day: The New York Times
This Day in History –History.com
Today in Canadian History – Canada Channel
History of Britain that took place On This Day
Russia in History –Russiapedia