September 5th in History

The Great Fire of London

September 5 is the 248th day of the year (249th in leap years). There are 117 days remaining until the end of the year. (Illustration: The Great Fire of London 1666, Robert Hooke.)

Today in History

  • The Great Fire of London ends, having destroyed more than 13,200 buildings including St. Paul’s Cathedral (1666)
  • Пётр I Вели́кий (Peter I the Great) of Russia implements a tax on beards as part of his effort to westernize the nobility (1698)
  • American Revolutionary War: The First Continental Congress assembles in Philadelphia (1774)
  • French Revolution: The Reign of Terror begins; over the next eleven months, nearly 17,000 people would be executed by guillotine and another 25,000 by other methods (1793)
  • The first legal forward pass in American football is thrown during a game between St. Louis University and Wisconsin’s Carroll College (1906)
  • World War I: The First Battle of the Marne begins (1914)
  • Young actress Virginia Rappe dies during a party hosted by Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle in one of Hollywood’s first major scandals (1921)
  • Walt Disney’s first Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon is released (1927)
  • Vietnam War: Lieutenant William Calley is charged with six counts of premeditated murder for his role in the My Lai Massacre; he is convicted and serves three and a half years under house arrest before receiving a limited Presidential pardon from Richard Nixon (1969)
  • The Palestinian terrorist group Black September take 11 Israeli athletes hostage at the Munich Olympic Games, killing two in the attack and nine the following day during a failed rescue attempt (1972)
  • Manson family member Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme attempts to assassinate US President Gerald Ford (1975)
  • NASA launches the deep space probe Voyager 1 (1977)


  • Louis VIII of France, monarch (1187)
  • Louis XIV of France, monarch (1638)
  • Jack Daniel, whiskey distiller (1850)
  • Jesse James, American outlaw (1847)
  • Arthur Nielsen, television rater (1897)
  • Darryl F. Zanuck, producer (1902)
  • Arthur Koestler, author (1905)
  • John Cage, composer (1912)
  • Frank Yerby, author (1916)
  • Jack Valenti, creator of the MPAA film rating system (1921)
  • Paul Volker, chairman of the Federal Reserve (1927)
  • Bob Newhart, comedian (1929)
  • Werner Erhard, founder of EST (1935)
  • William Devane, actor (1937)
  • George Lazenby, played James Bond in one film (1939)
  • Raquel Welch, actress and sex symbol (1940)
  • Werner Herzog, director (1942)
  • Freddy Mercury, singer-songwriter, lead vocalist of Queen (1946)
  • Loudon Wainwright III, singer-songwriter (1946)
  • Cathy Guisewite, newspaper cartoonist, creator of Cathy (1950)
  • Michael Keaton, actor (1951)
  • Dweezil Zappa, musician (1969)
  • Rose McGowan, actress (1973)
  • Randy Choate, baseball player (1975)


  • Catherine Parr, last of the six wives of Henry VIII of England (1548)
  • Tȟašúŋke Witkó (Crazy Horse), Oglala Lakota Sioux war leader (1877)
  • Ludwig Boltzmann, physicist and philosopher (1906)
  • Arthur MacArthur, Jr., US general, father of Douglas MacArthur (1912)
  • Gert Fröbe, actor who played the villain in Goldfinger (1988)
  • Fritz Leiber, author and actor (1992)
  • Georg Solti, conductor (1997)
  • Mother Teresa, missionary and saint (1997)
  • Leo Penn, director (1998)
  • Allen Funt, creator and host of Candid Camera (1999)

Holidays and Celebrations

  • International Day of Charity (worldwide)
  • Jupiter Stator (ancient Rome)
  • Jury Rights Day (Great Britain and US, Fully Informed Jury Association)
  • Teacher’s Day (India)

Informal and made-up holidays include Be Late for Something Day, Bring Your Manners to Work Day, National Cheese Pizza Day, and National Lazy Moms Day.

(*O.S., or Old Style, when used, refers to the fact that Russia did not convert from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar until 1918.)