Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo of Portugal leads an expedition to the shores of San Diego Bay — making it the first recorded European encounter with the West Coast.
He went on to explore much of present-day California’s coast. But in a freak accident on one of his landings, Cabrillo broke his leg, and fell very ill. He died four months later.
Today there’s a national monument where he’s believed to have landed.
Samuel Huntington is elected to succeed John Jay as the president of the Continental Congress
He was one of the more soft-spoken of the Revolutionaries, but vocal in opposition to British hegemony. His background in law made him a smart voice in the fight for independence.
He actively lobbied the colonies to support the war effort with supplies, troops, and money. Under his watch, the Continental Congress passed the Articles of Confederation. By some markers, some consider him the first president of the United States, but without the constitutional title.
Huntington would later become governor of Connecticut.
Nearly 20,000 Continental soldiers lay siege to Yorktown, Virginia, with the help of the French.
British General Cornwallis was there with 9,000 troops, defending his last headquarters of the Revolutionary War.
It took three weeks of constant artillery attacks to smoke out the remaining redcoats. Cornwallis issued surrender on October 17th, but was not gentlemanly enough to show up for the ceremony: he said he had a bad cold, and sent his Number Two to carry his sword to give to Washington.
The United States were officially recognized as a free nation after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, on September 3rd, 1783.
William Usherwood of England captures the first photo of a comet. He snapped a picture of Donati’s comet, whose two gas tails made a spectacular sight in the evening sky.
An American also tried to get a picture, but it didn’t turn out nearly as well.
The next recorded shot of a comet wasn’t captured until 1881.
The First General Conference on Weights and Measures meets to standardize the way we weigh and measure things.
Its first mission was to define the kilogram and the meter — which it did.
Today, a meter is defined as the distance light travels in a vaccuum in 1/299,792,458th of a second.
Ted Williams plays in his last game for the season. He gets a hit on 6 of his 8 at-bats, boosting his batting average to .406. He’s the last professional ballplayer to retire with a batting average above .400.
Exactly 19 years later, in 1960, Williams makes his last career trip to the plate, and hits a home run, for a career total of 521.
French voters approve a brand new constitution — the country’s fifth since its bloody revolution in the late 18th-century.
It came on he heels of the final collapse of the French Empire, particularly its holdings in Algiers. It replaced the parliamentary system with a president who appointed a Prime Minister.
It’s what they’re using today, though with some changes here and there.