On this day, September 20


The Nankai earthquake sent a tsunami raging towards Japan’s southern coast, washing over the city of Kamakura. The tsunami destroyed the buildings that housed the famous Great Buddha statue, and has since sat in the same place, out in the open.


Diego de Montemayor founded the city of Monterrey in New Spain, which is currently the state capital of Nuevo León. Monterey, California was named after a duke from Monterrey.


The 21st president of the United States, Chester A. Arthur, was sworn in just one day after having become president, due to James A. Garfield’s death.


Charles Duryea and his brother J. Frank Duryea take the first ever American-made gasoline-powered automobile out onto the roads. The Duryea motor wagon was also the first-ever commercially produced vehicle, and their garage in Massachusetts was the largest automobile factory in the United States at the time.


The Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the South Africa Act 1909. Uniting the British colonies of the Cape of Good Hope, Natal, Orange River and the Transvaal colony into the Union of South Africa. This would be the predecessor to the present day Republic of South Africa.


The first ever Cannes Film Festival was held. It’s debut event had been delayed seven years at this point, due to the second world war.


The United States military ends its “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. This allowed gay men and women to serve openly for the first time in United States history.


Hurricane Maria touches down in Puerto Rico as a category 4 hurricane.

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