By The EditorsSeptember 16, 2021

Autumn in Colorado

In 2021, the autumnal equinox—also called the September equinox or fall equinox—arrives on Wednesday, September 22. This date marks the start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere and spring in the Southern Hemisphere. Read about the signs of fall and the ways we mark the approaching equinox. 

Autumn has caught us in our summer wear.
–Philip Larkin, British poet (192286)

Autumn days come quickly, like the running of a hound on the moor.
Irish proverb

The autumnal equinox—also called the September or fall equinox—is the astronomical start of the fall season in the Northern Hemisphere and of the spring season in the Southern Hemisphere.


The word “equinox” comes from Latin aequus, meaning “equal,” and nox, “night.” On the equinox, day and night are roughly equal in length. (See more about this below.)

During the equinox, the Sun crosses what we call the “celestial equator”—an imaginary extension of Earth’s equator line into space. The equinox occurs precisely when the Sun’s center passes through this line. When the Sun crosses the equator from north to south, this marks the autumnal equinox; when it crosses from south to north, this marks the vernal equinox.

After the autumnal equinox, days become shorter than nights as the Sun continues to rise later and nightfall arrives earlier. This ends with the December solstice, when days start to grow longer once again. 

Harvest moon with people standing in front


One of our favorite pieces of trivia surrounding the autumnal equinox involves its relationship with the full Moon. Curiously, the full Moon that occurs nearest to the autumnal equinox is always called the ”Harvest Moon!” Why is that?

Surprise, surprise: it has to do with farming! Around the fall equinox, the full Moon rises around sunset for several nights in a row, which traditionally provided farmers with just enough extra light for them to finish their harvests before the killing frosts of fall set in. Normally, the Moon rises about an hour later each night, but around the time of the fall equinox, the angle of the Moon’s orbit and the tilt of the Earth line up just right and cause the Moon to rise only about 20 to 30 minutes later each night for several nights in a row!

1789 – The U.S. Congress authorized the office of Postmaster General.


United States Postal Service

Fifty volumes of copies of Letters Sent by the Postmaster General between October 3, 1789, and December 31, 1836, are here reproduced. Each volume is assigned an alphabetical designation and contains an index of names of correspondents. The letters are arranged chronologically. The volumes reproduced on rolls 28, 38, and 46 are letters to members of Congress.

The letters, written by the Postmaster General, deal with activities of the Post Office Department and relate chiefly to post offices, postmasters, mail transportation, mail contracts, departmental organizations, appropriations, legislation, postal laws and regulations, budget, international mail service, international postal conventions, postage stamps, departmental employees, mail fraud, lottery cases, and claims against the Post Office Department and postmasters.

The Postmasters General holding office during the time these letters were written were: Samuel Osgood, beginning September 26, 1789; Timothy Pickering, beginning August 12, 1791; Joseph Habersham, beginning February 25, 1795; Gideon Granger, beginning November 28, 1801; Return J. Meigs, Jr., beginning April 11, 1814; John McLean, beginning December 9, 1823; William T. Barry, beginning March 9, 1829; and Amos Kendall, beginning April 11, 1835.

The Office of the Postmaster-General originated on July 26, 1775, with the selection by the Continental Congress of Benjamin Franklin as Postmaster General for a term of one year. The position of Postmaster General was continued by the Congress of the Confederation.


An act of September 22, 1789 (1 Stat. 70), under the Federal Government provided for the temporary establishment of a general post office and authorized the appointment of a Postmaster General who was subject to the direction of the President. It also provided that the duties, salaries, and regulations of the Department should be the same as those under the Congress of the Confederation. An act of February 20, 1792 (1 Stat. 232), later provided in detail for the Post Office Department and the postal service generally. Subsequent acts made the Post Office a permanent agency and enlarged its duties.

The Post Office operated as a single, undifferentiated unit until the appointment of a chief clerk on April 1, 1818. This officer was assigned supervision of the field operations of the Post Office, including mail contracts, inspections, activities of special agents, disbursements, and measures to deal with mail depredations. As the Post Office came to perform more services, other functions of the Postmaster General were delegated to the Chief Clerk and the Assistant Postmaster General. (The First Assistant Postmaster General was authorized on January 28, 1792; the Second Assistant Postmaster General on April 30, 1810; the Third Assistant Postmasters General on July 2, 1836; and the Fourth Assistant Postmaster General on March 3, 1891.) The salary of the Postmaster General was placed on an equal basis with that of other Department heads on March 2, 1827, and in 1830 the Postmaster General became a regular Member of the Cabinet.

The records reproduced in this microcopy are part of Record Group 28, Records of the Post Office Department. Related records are among Records of the Bureaus of Assistant Postmasters General, the Bureau Accounts, and the Bureau of the Chief Inspector of the Post Office Department also in Record Group 28.

1862 US President Abraham Lincoln says he will free slaves in all states on Jan 1

The Civil War began in 1861 as a struggle over whether states had the right to leave the Union. President Abraham Lincoln firmly believed that a state did not have that right. And he declared war on the southern states that tried to leave.

But the fight to preserve the nation was going badly. By summer of 1862, Union troops had not won a decisive victory in Virginia, the heart of the Confederacy. And the war was losing support with politicians and the public in the north. President Lincoln had to do something to guarantee their continued support.

President Abraham Lincoln, center, in Maryland after the Battle of Antietam in 1862
President Abraham Lincoln, center, in Maryland after the Battle of Antietam in 1862

Finally, in September 1862, the Union successfully stopped the Confederate invasion of Maryland. The armies of Union general George McClellan and Confederate general Robert E. Lee battled near Antietam Creek. Almost 100,000 men fought. More than 23,000 were killed, wounded or missing.

Antietam was a violent, savage battle — the bloodiest one-day battle in American history. But the North’s victory there made it easier for Abraham Lincoln to make an important announcement.

Lincoln decided to recognize that slavery was, in fact, a major issue in the war. On September 22, 1862, he announced a new policy on slavery in the rebel southern states. His announcement became known as the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Filibuster – The History

The term filibuster originated from the 18th-century word “flibustier,” which referred to pirates who pillaged the Spanish colonies in the West Indies, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

A filibuster is a political strategy in which a senator speaks—or threatens to speak—for hours on end to delay efforts to vote for a bill. The unusual tactic takes advantage of a U.S. Senate rule that says a senator, once recognized on the floor, may speak on an issue without being impeded by anyone. While various rule changes have tempered the filibuster’s power over the past century, it still offers unique leverage to the minority political party in the Senate.

The term filibuster originated from the 18th-century word “flibustier,” which referred to pirates who pillaged the Spanish colonies in the West Indies, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. By the mid-1800s the term had evolved to filibuster and taken on political meaning, describing the process by which long-winded senators hold the legislative body hostage by their verbiage.