History: October 17, 2018

1777

Continental General Horatio Gates captures almost 6,000 British soldiers at Saratoga, New York.

More than 20,000 American forces were on hand to surround the relatively small group of Redcoats and Hessians. Rather than being decimated, their general negotiated surrender. The men would remain in captivity, and pledged to never again serve the Crown in North America.

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1835

The Texas Rangers are founded — the border guards, not the baseball team.

The corps of lawmen kept watch over the Brazos and Trinity Rivers, which outlined part of the independent republic’s territory.

They were especially important during Texas’ war with Mexico. Settlers along the frontier were especially in danger from Mexican troops or even hostile Indians.

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1912

The First Balkan War is set into motion, when Serbia and Greece declare war on the Ottoman Empire.

The Turkish powerhouse still controlled much of Southeastern Europe, including smaller countries like Montenegro and Macedonia.

Even when the Ottomans were driven out and countries’ borders redrawn, the situation remained chaotic with new independent states struggling to govern themselves.

War broke out again in 1913, after Bulgaria was ticked off that it didn’t get more land in the deal — but was quickly defeated.

All of the tumult eventually impelled the world into its first global war.

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1931

Al Capone gets 11 years in prison for tax evasion and is slapped with an $80,000 fine. The sentence marked the beginning of the end for the infamous gangster.

Though Elliot Ness’ “Untouchables” were successful in breaking up Capone’s bootlegging enterprises, they FBI finally busted Capone for not paying taxes.

Capone began his sentence in Atlanta, but word got out he was given too good of treatment, so he was transferred to Alcatraz. He was released in 1939 for good behavior, having spent the last year of his sentence in the hospital (for syph).

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1974

President Ford outlines his reasons for pardoning his predecessor Richard Nixon.

When Ford took office, he famously said that the “long national nightmare” was over.

Since there was no precedent for Ford’s handling of the indictment hanging over Nixon’s head, Ford took action to move the country forward. He said an endless trial would only serve to polarize the country.

In response to the pardon, Nixon apologized for not acting more decisively in the handling of Watergate, lamenting that it turned from a political scandal to a national tragedy.

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1989

A 7.1-magnitude earthquake rocks San Francisco.

It lasted 15 seconds. Millions of people witnessed the disaster on TV, since game three of the World Series was being hosted in San Francisco.

It began just before the start of the game — the sportscasters turned into news anchors, reporting from the stadium.

63 died and more than 3,00 injured. 100,000 buildings sustained damage.

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2004

The Taipei 101 skyscraper becomes the tallest high-rise in the world when it’s fixed with an extra-tall tower on top.

It held the title of tallest building for 6 years, until the Burj Khalifa is opened in Dubai in 2010.