This Day In History, September 1st

What happened on this day in history: Adolf Hitler invades Poland and sparks World War II in Europe, the wreckage of the Titanic is discovered on the floor of the North Atlantic, and more.

1807: Aaron Burr Is Acquitted Of Treason

Aaron Burr's Trial

National Endowment for the HumanitiesThe courtroom during Aaron Burr’s trial.

Infamous for his fatal duel with Alexander Hamilton, former Vice President Aaron Burr is acquitted of treason charges in the first test of the U.S. Constitution’s Treason Clause. He was arrested on accusations of conspiring to entice western states to leave the Union and colonize new lands with the support of England.

President Thomas Jefferson himself called Burr a traitor and declared he was guilty in front of Congress. But due to the specific wording of the Treason Clause and the recanting of the primary witness, a jury quickly acquitted Aaron Burr of the charges against him.


1939: Germany Invades Poland, Triggering The Outbreak Of World War II In Europe

Nazi Germany invades Poland, justifying the action by claiming Poland was persecuting ethnic Germans living in the country and that Poland was collaborating with Britain and France to invade Germany. The SS staged a false flag attack against a German radio station on the border and Nazi forces attacked Poland in “retaliation.”

This invasion would trigger the European theatre World War II as France and Britain soon declared war on Germany.


1972: Bobby Fischer Wins The World Chess Championship

Bobby Fischer

Bobby Fischer faces off against Boris Spassky at the World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland.

In what’s often called the “Match of the Century,” 29-year-old Bobby Fischer defeats Russian Boris Spassky to become the first American to win the World Chess Championship.

Fischer had previously won the U.S. Open Championship at the age of 14 and he became the world’s youngest international grandmaster at 15, but his victory at the 1972 World Chess Championship cemented his position in chess history. His success also marked the first time a non-Soviet had won the championship in 24 years.


1985: The Wreckage Of The Titanic Is Discovered

Today In History September 1

Public DomainThe bow of the RMS Titanic.

A joint expedition between American and French oceanographers Robert Ballard and Jean-Louis Michel leads to the discovery of the wreckage of the RMS Titanic on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. The vessel was found 400 miles east of Newfoundland and 13,000 feet beneath the surface, 73 years after it sank.

The oceanographers used an unmanned submersible called Argo to explore the ocean’s depths. In the early morning hours of September 1, Argo came across one of the Titanic‘s boilers. Similar submersibles later explored the ship’s wreckage, recovering thousands of artifacts.