This Day in History

1789: U.S Army established: The United States Department of War, the original name for the Department of Defense, established the first regular army of the U.S. on this day in 1789. This first army was made up of several hundred volunteers. Many American revolutionaries were skeptical of standing armies prior to this, but this marked the beginning of a permanent military establishment.

1789: First Session of the First United States Congress adjourns: The first session of the first U.S. Congress ended on this day, having commenced in March. During this session, Washington was elected and inaugurated as the country’s first president. The Department of Foreign Affairs, later to become the Department of State, was established, along with the Department of War and the Department of the Treasury. The Judiciary Act established the Attorney General, courts and district attorneys.

1850: Universalis Ecclesiae: The Catholic Church’s hierarchy had not had an active presence in England and Wales since the English reformation 300 years prior. The dioceses from before that time were in use by the Church of England, and so new dioceses were established by Pope Pius IX. The Catholic Relief Act of 1829 restored civil rights to Catholics, which caused a flood of English converts and Irish Catholics to return to public life. In response to the surge of Catholicism in the British Isles, Pius IX issued the Papal bull Universalis Ecclesiae. Anti-Catholic response was heavy, with protests of “No Popery,” processions occurring around England, and Church windows being broken.

1938: Munich Agreement: Earlier in the decade, the Nazi regime rose to power in Germany, and when their army was strong enough, they began their expansion. The first territory annexed by the Third Reich was Sudetenland, a region of Czechoslovakia inhabited by German speakers. Alarmed by Germany’s expansionism, France, the UK and the Soviet Union called a conference and decided to let Germany keep Sudetenland in order to avoid war. British prime minister Neville Chamberlain infamously commented that the agreement achieved “Peace in our time.” The Munich Agreement is now considered one of history’s most notorious examples of failed appeasement. The next year Germany invaded Poland and World War II began.

2008: Drop the… Dow Jones: After the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers (the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history if you read this column a few weeks ago) and Washington Mutual, the Dow Jones Industrial Average took a historic dip. But not just a dip — a plummet. It dropped 777.68 points, the largest ever lost in a single day. The great recession, as its now called, has been the worst in recent memory. It sparked millions of jobs lost, and we are still recovering from the effects.

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