In 1780, American revolutionary general Benedict Arnold made a secret pact with the British to surrender the American fort at West Point, N.Y. The plot failed, but Arnold escaped to fight for the British.
In 1797, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, wife of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and the author of “Frankenstein,’’ was born. She died in 1851.
In 1901, British engineer Cecil Booth patented the first commercially produced vacuum cleaner. His gigantic creation was mounted on wheels and parked outside the houses being cleaned. One of its first jobs was to clean the aisle carpet of Westminster Abbey for the 1902 coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.
In 1941, the Second World War siege of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) began as Nazi forces severed the last railroad link between Leningrad and the rest of the Soviet Union.
In 1987, Ben Johnson became the fastest man in the world when he smashed the world record for the 100-metre dash at the world track and field championships in Rome. Johnson’s time of 9.83 seconds cut a tenth of a second off the previous record. A year later, Johnson was stripped of his gold medal in the same event at the Seoul Olympics when he tested positive for steroid use.
In 1993, the federal government turned over control of Pearson International Airport near Toronto to the private sector.