The Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia. (1787) The result from the convention, the modern American Constitution, completely reformed the American government, which had previously been operating on the Articles of Confederation, and became national law two years later.
Shakespeare became legal in China. (1977) All Shakespearean works had been banned at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1966. The government finally lifted the ban in 1977 to appear more friendly to the West, and to signal that the days of the Cultural Revolution were over.
Star Wars opened. (1977) The movie became a cultural phenomenon, with people camping out for days to get tickets. It won seven Oscars, and launched a new wave of sci-fi films — and Harrison Ford's career.
President John F. Kennedy announced his intention to "put a man on the moon." (1961) Kennedy asked Congress to support an extension of the space program, which was largely linked with national identity at the time. The USSR had become the first country to send a man into space the month before, and Congress embraced Kennedy's plan.
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis was inaugurated. (1968) The arch had taken almost ten years to complete, and upon completion, became the tallest man-made monument in the United States.
The Restoration ended in England. (1660) The exiled Charles II returned to England on this day after Oliver Cromwell was overthrown, ending 11 years of military rule.
The first Catholic priest was ordained in the United States. (1793) Father Stephen Theodore Badin was ordained and sent to a mission in Kentucky. Though Catholicism existed in the US before Badin's ordination, it was mostly in Maryland, and no priest had actually been ordained on American soil. Badin's ordination was a landmark in the spread of Catholicism in America.
Babe Ruth hit his last home run. (1935) Baseball star Ruth hit his 714th home run on this day, setting a record that lasted almost 40 years.
The US conducted its first nuclear artillery test. (1953) An 11-inch nuclear shell nicknamed Atomic Annie was fired and detonated. Atomic Annie was actually the only piece of nuclear artillery ever fired; the program faltered, and was completely dismantled in the 1990s.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was born. (1803) Emerson was an extremely influential American writer, and a pillar of the Transcendentalist movement along with Henry David Thoreau, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Bronson Alcott, the father of Little Women author Louisa May Alcott.