1981: President Ronald Reagan nominates Sandra Day O’Connor, an Arizona court of appeals judge, to be the first woman Supreme Court justice in U.S. history. On Sept. 21, the Senate unanimously approved her appointment to the nation’s highest court, and on Sept. 25 she was sworn in by Chief Justice Warren Burger.
1898: A disgruntled city engineer in Skagway, Alaska, murders “Soapy” Smith, one of the most notorious con men in the history of the West. Born in Georgia in 1860, Jefferson Randolph Smith went west while still a young man, finding work as a cowboy in Texas. Smith eventually tired of the hard work and low wages offered by the cowboy life, though, and discovered that he could make more money with less effort by convincing gullible westerners to part with their cash in clever confidence games.
1962: “This here ain’t no protest song or anything like that, ’cause I don’t write no protest songs.” That was how Bob Dylan introduced one of the most eloquent protest songs ever written when he first performed it publicly. It was the spring of his first full year in New York City, and he was onstage at Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village, talking about a song he claims to have written in just 10 minutes: “Blowin’ In The Wind.” A few weeks later, Dylan walked into a studio and recorded the song that would make him a star.
1889: In a drunken rage, “Buckskin” Frank Leslie murders his lover, the Tombstone prostitute Blonde Mollie Williams. Leslie was an ill-tempered and violent man, especially when he drank. He sometimes claimed he had been trained in medicine and pharmacy, and he even boasted that he had studied in Europe. Supposedly, he earned the nickname “Buckskin” while working as an Army Scout in the Plains Indian Wars. None of his assertions can be confirmed in the historical record.
1656: Ann Austin and Mary Fisher, two Englishwomen, become the first Quakers to immigrate to the American colonies when the ship carrying them lands at Boston in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The pair came from Barbados, where Quakers had established a center for missionary work.
1979: As the 1970s came to an end, the age of disco was also nearing its finale. But for all of its decadence and overexposure, disco didn’t quite die a natural death by collapsing under its own weight. Instead, it was killed by a public backlash that reached its peak on this day in 1979 with the infamous “Disco Demolition” night at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. That incident, which led to at least nine injuries, 39 arrests and the cancellation and forfeit of a Major League Baseball game, is widely credited with dealing disco its death blow.
1990: The romantic-thriller Ghost, starring Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg, opens in theaters across the United States. The film, about a woman who communicates with her murdered husband through a sassy psychic, was a box-office hit and received multiple Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay.