This Day in History: Sept. 28

1787: Congress of Confederation votes to send Constitution to State legislatures for approval: The Constitution that we know was not our first constitution. The Articles of Confederation, a confederation of sovereign states, was the first constitution. When its weaknesses were too much to overcome, the Congress of Confederation convened and drafted the U.S. Constitution in a matter of weeks. On this day it was sent to the state legislatures for approval. It would be ratified the following year, and was effective in the year 1789.

1821: Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire: After the U.S. declared its independence from Britain, other revolutions, now known as the Atlantic revolutions, began stirring up. The French and Haitian revolutions and the Latin American Wars of Independence were all part of this wave. Mexico had been part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain for over 300 years. The Mexican War of Independence began in 1810. In 1821 the Mexican Empire, under the reign of Augustín de Iturbide, declared its independence from the Spanish Empire. The first Mexican Empire was short-lived, lasting only until 1823. It was replaced by a provisional government, and later the first Mexican Republic.

1871: Brazil passes Law of the Free Womb: The colonial era saw millions of Africans shipped to the Americas as slaves. As many as 40 percent, over four million were shipped to Brazil. The worldwide abolitionist movement saw a major success when slavery was outlawed in the British Empire in the 1830s. The U.S. fought the Civil War over the issue. Brazil was so attached to slavery that it was the last country in the Western world to formally abolish it, in 1888. The first step it took was the Law of the Free Womb, thanks to which children born to slaves were granted freedom. It was more of a loophole than anything; over a million remained enslaved until almost 20 years later.

1924: First worldwide flight: The Wright brothers pioneered flight in 1903; in the 20 years that followed, air technology grew exponentially. A team from the United States Army Air Service flew planes named Chicago, New Orleans, Boston, and Seattle around the world. They were the first to fly around the world successfully. The British, Italians, French, and Portuguese had all tried it, but the American team was the first to do it. They left Santa Monica, CA on April 4, 1924, to go to Seattle. From Seattle, the planes flew over or stopped in Alaska, Japan, China, Hong Kong, French Indochina, Thailand, Burma, India, the Middle East, and Europe. On Sept. 28, 175 days later, they landed back in Seattle.

1928: Eww, there’s mold on my petri dish: The Scotsman Alexander Fleming had a reputation as a brilliant scientist, but his most important discovery came about by accident. He had been studying staphylococci bacteria, and had been on holiday, stacking his petri dishes. When he returned he noticed that some penicillium mold had grown in the petri dishes, and there was a halo around the mold where the bacteria was not growing. He later grew a culture of the mold and identified penicillin as the active ingredient. Its use as an antibiotic has revolutionized modern medicine.

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