This Day in History: Sept. 21

1780: Traitor!: Benedict Arnold was a revolutionary war general, fighting for the American side in the continental army. He led or participated in the Capture of Fort Ticonderoga, Battle of Valcour Island, the Battle of Ridgefield, Siege of Fort Stanwix, and the Battles of Saratoga. The Continental Congress did not give Arnold the promotion he thought he deserved, and opposed the alliance with France and the refusal to accept self governance for the colonies. For this, he switched sides and on this day gave the British Army plans to West Point.

1792: French monarchy abolished: 18th century France was divided into three basic components, the First Estate, which is the clergy, the Second Estate, the nobility, and the rest of society was considered the Third Estate. The Estates General functioned as a legislative body in France, and its assembly was called in 1789, the first time in over a hundred years, to address grievances against the monarchy. The furor mounted in 1792 when the National Convention abolished the monarchy and established the first French Republic. The French Revolution would soon descend into the chaos of the reign of terror, in which thousands were sent to the guillotine.

1933: Lucha libre!: Wrestling has been around since ancient times, but in 1933, Luche Libre, a form of Mexican professional wrestling, was born. Salvador Lutteroth founded, Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre, the world’s oldest continuously operated wrestling promotion company. This new style of professional wrestling saw the wrestlers, or luchadores, in colorful masks with unique personas.

1981: Sandra Day O’Connor appointed as first female SCOTUS justice: The Supreme Court of the United States consists of nine justices who decide on important matters of constitutional law. In 1981, President Reagan confirmed the first female justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, to the Supreme Court. O’Connor had difficulty finding employment as an attorney after law school because of her gender, but did eventually fill positions as Assistant Attorney General of Arizona, The Arizona State Senate, Maricopa County Superior Court and Arizona State Court of Appeals. Her voting record was ambiguous, she came from a moderate Republican background and would be considered a swing vote. O’Connor retired in 2005, being replaced by Samuel Alito.

1996: DOMA: The issue of same sex marriage is one of the cornerstone debates of the culture wars. The idea did not start gaining momentum until the 1980s, and it was only federally recognized with the Obergefell v. Hodges decision in 2015. In 1996, DOMA, or the Defense of Marriage Act, passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by Bill Clinton. The law prevented the federal government from recognizing same sex marriage, while allowing individual states to recognize it. SCOTUS ruled DOMA unconstitutional in 2013 with United States v. Windsor, and fully overturned with Obergefell v. Hodges when same sex marriage was legalized federally.

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