This Week in History

This week in history will see the anniversaries of battles and government changes that helped shape the world we live in today. Here is a quick rundown of this week in history.

On Sept. 17, 1787, 39 delegates representing 12 states signed the United States Constitution at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Constitution was the end product of a four-month debate between some of the brightest minds in the country to determine a new form of government after the failure of the Articles of the Confederation.

It outlined a representative democracy which split our federal government into three branches, with checks and balances to prevent any one group from becoming too powerful.

Connecticut’s own Roger Sherman came up with the idea to have two bodies of the legislative branch, one where the number of delegates were based on population and the other where each state had two senators regardless of size. Only Rhode Island refused to sign the Constitution and left the convention under protest.

Over the next year, a bitter fight between people for and against the Constitution broke out as each side pleaded their case. Those in favor of ratification were led by 85 anonymous essays called the Federalist Papers that were written under the pseudonym Publius. The Constitution was ratified in June 1788 and it was discovered that John Jay, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton had co-written the papers.

On the same day in 1862, the Battle of Antietam took place between the Army of the Potomac and Confederate forces in Maryland during the Civil War. Robert E. Lee led the confederates against George McClellan and the Union Army as the battle waged back and forth, seeing vicious attacks and counter attacks from both sides.

While the battle eventually came to a stalemate, Lee led his forces back to Virginia, allowing the Union to claim a tactical victory. This allowed President Abraham Lincoln to issue his Emancipation Proclamation a few months later, declaring all slaves in states that had seceded to be freemen. The Civil War did not end until April of 1865 when the Confederacy officially surrendered. Antietam is still the bloodiest day in American history with over 20,000 casualties between both sides.

Lastly, on Sept. 21, 1792 the French National Convention abolished the French Monarchy and established the country’s first republic. This event occurred near the middle of the French Revolution as political turmoil rolled across France during the Reign of Terror.

The current monarch, King Louis XVI, had been imprisoned in August of 1792 for his horrible job leading the country and adding to the financial crisis. After it was discovered that Louis had asked other countries to help him end the revolution, he was convicted of treason and condemned to death by execution.

In January of 1793, Louis XVI, the last king of France, was beheaded by guillotine and his wife, Marie Antoinette, suffered the same fate nine months later.


Seamus McKeever is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at seamus.mckeever@uconn.edu.