What Happened on October 17?

  • The British surrendered to US military forces in the Battle of Saratoga. (1777) The surrender was the major turning point in the American Revolutionary War that led the French government to recognize America's independence and officially offer military aid to US forces. French assistance was a critical part of America's victory in the war.

  • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) began an embargo on oil exports to Western countries. (1973) The embargo was a protest against countries viewed to have helped Israel during the Yom Kippur War. The embargo lasted until March, 1974, causing an energy crisis in several countries, including the US.

  • Al Capone was sent to prison for tax evasion. (1931) The famous mobster served eight years of an 11-year sentence in a US federal prison.

  • The world's first recorded Human Rights Declaration was made. (539 BC) Persian leader King Cyrus The Great entered Babylon and released the Jews who had been in captive exile for 70 years.

  • Albert Einstein left Nazi Germany and moved to the US. (1933) Einstein, who was one of the world's most important physicists, moved to the US after learning that his name was listed as an assassination target in Nazi Germany.

  • Nine people were killed in the London Beer Flood. (1814) A 135,000-gallon (about 610,000-liter) vat of beer at the Meux and Company Brewery in London exploded, causing several other vats to explode in unison. More than 323,000 gallons (almost 1.5 million liters) of beer exploded into the street, killing nine people and destroying two homes and a neighboring pub wall.

  • The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) electronics company was founded. (1919) RCA operated in the US until 1986, when General Electric took over the company. The trademark is now owned by Technicolor SA, an electronics conglomerate in France.

  • Mother Theresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. (1979) The award honored her for work done to alleviate distress and poverty around the world.

  • Construction on the world's tallest high-rise was completed. (2003) The Taipei 101 skyscraper was completed, making it the tallest high-rise in the world at 1,671 feet (about 509.2 meters). The record held until 2010, when the Burj Khalifa skyscraper opened in Dubai.

  • The population in the US topped 300 million. (2006) In 2010, the population cleared 310 million.

  • Two Olympic medalists were stripped of their medals performing a black power salute. (1968) John Carlos, a bronze medalist, and Tommie Smith, a gold medalist, were protesting racial discrimination — a violation of the Olympic's policy against bringing politics into the games.

  • The Loma Prieta earthquake struck San Francisco. (1989) The damaging earthquake was the first in history to be broadcast on live TV — the World Series was being played there at the time and cameras covering the event live were able to capture the devastating scenes.

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