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Today in History for October

Oct 04

Which country became a Republic today in 1824?

October 4, 1824 — The Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1824 was enacted today after the overthrow of the Mexican Empire of Agustin de Iturbide. In the new constitution, Mexico took the name of United Mexican States, and was defined...

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Oct 06

Who patented the self-winding clock today?

October 6, 1783 — Benjamin Hanks patented the self-winding clock today when he obtained a 14-year intellectual rights patent for the apparatus that could wind itself and operate by the use of air. Plus, it would automatically continue to wind itself up and operate until the mechanical...

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Oct 07

What is the Granite Railway?

October 7, 1826 — The first chartered railway in US began operations today. Called the Granite Railway, it was built to carry granite from Quincy, Massachusetts, to a dock on the Neponset River in Milton. From there boats carried the heavy stone to Charlestown...

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Oct 09

Which meeting established the US Naval Institute today?

October 9, 1837 — A meeting at the US Naval Academy established the US Naval Institute today in 1837. A fixture at the US Naval Academy, the group of 15 naval officers met to discuss the serious implications of a smaller, post-Civil War Navy....

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Oct 10

How many were killed in the Great Hurricane of 1780?

October 10, 1780 — Great Hurricane of 1780 (also known as Hurricane San Calixto II), killed 20,000 to 30,000 in Caribbean today. Hitting Barbados first, it remains the Atlantic's deadliest recorded hurricane in history. According to, forecasters and historians believe that the Great...

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Oct 11

What invention did Thomas Edison patent today in 1868?

October 11, 1868 — Thomas Alva Edison patented his first invention today: the electric voice machine. This was the first of 1,093 patents that he was issued during his lifetime (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931). The American inventor and businessman developed many devices that greatly...

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Oct 12

Where did America’s first insane asylum open today?

October 12, 1773 — America's first insane asylum opened today in Williamsburg, Virginia for "Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds." A two-story brick institution south of Francis Street, this public hospital was founded at the urging of Governor Francis Fauquier, who believed science...

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Oct 14

Who was Henry Blair?

October 14, 1824 — Henry Blair was the first black man to obtain a US patent today — for a corn planter. Born in Glen Ross, Maryland, United States in 1807, Blair was a successful farmer for years and a natural when it came to...

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Oct 16

Who was John Brown, and how did he die?

October 16, 1859 — Today, Caucasian abolitionist John Brown led 21 activists in a raid on the federal arsenal in Harper's Ferry, which was then in Virginia (now West Virginia). He was defeated by a detachment of U.S. Marines led by Col. Robert E....

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Oct 19

Who were the first African Americans elected to Congress?

October 19, 1870 — Senator Hiram Revels (pictured right) of Mississippi, and Representative Joseph Rainey of South Carolina, are the first African Americans elected to US House of Representatives today. Since then, a total of 140 African Americans have served as U.S. Representatives or...

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Oct 21

When did the famous Can-Can dancers arrive in the US?

October 21, 1830 — The famous dance, the Can-Can, is performed for the first time today in Paris. The high-energy and physically demanding music hall dance, was performed by a chorus line of female dancers who wore costumes with long skirts, petticoats, and...

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Oct 24

When did West Virginia secede from west Virginia?

October 24, 1861 — The U.S. state of West Virginia was formed out of western Virginia today, making it one of two American states formed during the American Civil War (1861–1865), along with Nevada. Of the 46 members of the convention that represented what became West Virginia, 9 voted for the ordinance...

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Oct 26

What great mission did Benjamin Franklin set forth on today?

October 26, 1776 — Benjamin Franklin departed for France today on a mission to seek French support for the American Revolution. He served as the American ambassador to France until 1785, and met with many leading diplomats, aristocrats, intellectuals, scientists and financiers. His image...

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Oct 27

Which branch of the armed forces was formed today?

October 27, 1775 — The US Navy formed today. Rooted in the American seafaring tradition, it produced a large community of sailors, captains and shipbuilders in the colonial era. In the early stages of the American Revolutionary War, Massachusetts had its own navy. The...

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