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September 21, 2013

Today in History for Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013

-- — Highlight in History

On Sept. 21, 1912, magician Harry Houdini first publicly performed his so-called Chinese Water Torture Cell trick at the Circus Busch in Berlin, escaping after being immersed upside-down in a vertical water tank, his ankles secured in a set of stocks which made up the tank lid, which was locked into place.

On this date

In 1792, the French National Convention voted to abolish the monarchy.

In 1893, one of America’s first horseless carriages was taken for a short test drive in Springfield, Mass., by Frank Duryea, who had designed the vehicle with his brother, Charles.

In 1897, the New York Sun ran its famous editorial, written anonymously by Francis P. Church, which declared, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

In 1912, legendary cartoon animator Chuck Jones was born in Spokane, Wash.

In 1937, “The Hobbit,” by J.R.R. Tolkien, was first published by George Allen & Unwin Ltd. of London.

In 1938, a hurricane struck parts of New York and New England, causing widespread damage and claiming some 700 lives.

In 1948, Milton Berle made his debut as permanent host of “The Texaco Star Theater” on NBC-TV.

In 1962, “The Jack Paar Program,” a weekly, prime-time show that followed Paar’s stint on “The Tonight Show,” began a three-year run.

In 1970, “NFL Monday Night Football” made its debut on ABC-TV as the Cleveland Browns defeated the visiting New York Jets, 31-21.

In 1982, Amin Gemayel, brother of Lebanon’s assassinated president-elect, Bashir Gemayel, was himself elected president. National Football League players began a 57-day strike, their first regular-season walkout.

In 1987, NFL players called a strike, mainly over the issue of free agency. (The 24-day walkout prompted football owners to hire replacement players.)

In 1989, Hurricane Hugo crashed into Charleston, S.C. (the storm was blamed for 26 directly caused U.S. deaths). Twenty-one students in Alton, Texas, died when their school bus, involved in a collision with a soft-drink delivery truck, careened into a water-filled pit.

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