On Sept. 21, 1780, American General Benedict Arnold commits treason when he meets with British Major John Andre to discuss handing over West Point to the British. In return, Arnold was promised a large sum of money and a high position in the British army.
• On Sept. 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issues a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which sets a date for the freedom of more than 3 million black slaves in the United States and recasts the Civil War as a fight against slavery.
• On Sept. 23, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt defends the honor of his small dog, Fala, who had recently been the subject of a political attack. Critics had circulated a story claiming that Roosevelt had accidentally left Fala behind while visiting the Aleutian Islands, and that the president sent a Navy destroyer, at a taxpayer expense of up to $20 million, to go back and pick up the dog.
• On Sept. 26, 1957, “West Side Story,” composed by Leonard Bernstein, opens on Broadway. The play was a reinterpretation of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” transposed onto New York’s West Side. It tells the tale of a love affair between Tony, who is Polish American, and Maria, a Puerto Rican, set against an urban background of interracial warfare.
• On Sept. 25, 1978, a Pacific Southwest Airlines jet collides in mid-air with a small Cessna over San Diego, killing 153 people. The fuel in the jet burst into a massive fireball upon impact, and a witness on the ground reported that she saw her “apples and oranges bake on the trees.”
• On Sept. 27, 1989, actress Zsa Zsa Gabor storms out of a courtroom in Beverly Hills, Calif., where she stood accused of slapping Officer Paul Kramer during a traffic stop and having an open container and expired license. Gabor violated a court-imposed gag order by calling a prosecution witness “a little punk with a hairdo like a girl.”
(c) 2009 King Features Synd.