This Day In History, September 9th

What happened on this day in history: Harland David Sanders — better known today as Colonel Sanders — is born, Mao Zedong dies, and other noteworthy events from September 9th throughout history.

1087: William The Conqueror Dies

William the Conqueror dies around the age of 59. Weeks earlier, his horse had reared up during a battle in France, pushing the king’s saddle pommel into his abdomen. It caused an infection that proved fatal, and after he was placed in a tomb too small for his body, his corpse exploded during his funeral.


1890: Colonel Sanders Is Born

September 9 Today In History

Fred Ross/Toronto Star via Getty ImagesHarland Sanders, known popularly as Colonel Sanders.

Harland David Sanders, popularly known as Colonel Sanders, is born in Henryville, Indiana. A businessman who sold insurance, tires, and gas, Sanders eventually started selling fried chicken at a gas station in Corbin, Kentucky. The chicken was a hit and led to the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, which has over 24,000 outlets today.


1971: The Attica Prison Riot Begins

Attica Prison Riot

Bettmann/Getty ImagesInmates raise their fists during the Attica Prison Riot.

The Attica Prison Riot begins at Attica Correctional Facility near Buffalo, New York. The inmates — frustrated by overcrowding, censorship, and policies like having only one roll of toilet paper per month — started the uprising by overpowering prison guards.

Despite negotiations, the prisoners refused to yield for four days, at which point state police and prison officers raided the facility, killing 10 hostages and 29 inmates, and injuring 89 others.


1976: Mao Zedong Dies

Mao Zedong

Public DomainMao Zedong in 1963. Historians estimate that 45 million died over the course of four years under his “Great Leap Forward” policies.

Mao Zedong dies at the age of 82 in Bejing, China, following three heart attacks and ongoing struggles with Parkinson’s disease.

The leader of the Chinese Communist Party, Mao rose to power in 1949 and set out to develop China as a communist country and an economic powerhouse. Though some of his policies, like the Great Leap Forward, killed millions, Mao is largely viewed favorably in China today.