• On Sept. 22, 1776, in New York City, 21-year-old Nathan Hale, a captain in the Continental Army, is executed by the British for spying. Before being hanged, legend holds that Hale said, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” There is no historical record to prove that Hale actually made this statement.
• On Sept. 18, 1793, George Washington lays the cornerstone to the United States Capitol building. The building would take nearly a century to complete, as architects came and went, the British set fire to it, and it was called into use during the Civil War.
• On Sept. 23, 1846, German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle discovers the planet Neptune. The blue gas giant, which has a diameter four times that of Earth, has eight known moons and a ring system containing three bright and two dim rings.
• On Sept. 21, 1938, a powerful Category 3 hurricane slams into Long Island and southern New England. Charlie Pierce, a junior forecaster in the U.S. Weather Bureau, was sure that the hurricane was heading for the Northeast, but the chief forecaster overruled him. All told, 700 people were killed by the hurricane.
• On Sept. 19, 1959, in one of the more surreal moments in the history of the Cold War, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev explodes with anger when he learns he cannot visit Disneyland. Government authorities feared that the crowds would pose a safety hazard.
• On Sept. 17, 1965, four adventurous Englishmen arrive at a motor show in Germany after crossing the English Channel by Amphicar, the world’s only mass-produced amphibious passenger car. On land, the cars used a four-speedplus reverse manual transmission. In the water, they used a transfer case that had two speeds: forward and backward.
• On Sept. 20, 1973, in a highly publicized “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, top women’s player Billie Jean King, 29, plays Bobby Riggs, 55, a former No. 1-ranked men’s player. Riggs, a self-proclaimed male chauvinist, had boasted that women were inferior. King beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
(c) 2012 King Features Syndicate, Inc.