This Week in History, August 4 – 10 2014


This Week In History
by Dianne Hermann

“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”
– Winston Churchill

Week of August 4-10, 2014

August 4

1821 – The first edition of Saturday Evening Post is published. It ceases publication in 1969 after losing a $3 million defamation lawsuit. The lawsuit arose from an article in the Post alleging that the Georgia Bulldogs football coach Wally Butts and Alabama football head coach Bear Bryant conspired to fix games. The Post returns as a quarterly publication in 1971.

1892 – The bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden are found in their house in Fall River, Massachusetts. Their daughter, Sunday school teacher Lizzie Borden, is arrested for their murders a week later but subsequently acquitted.


1916 – The U.S. agrees to buy the Virgin Islands from Denmark for $25 million.

1927 – The Peace Bridge between the U.S. and Canada opens. The 3,580 foot long bridge is located near Buffalo, New York, and crosses the Niagara River.


1964 – The bodies of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James E. Chaney are discovered in an earthen Mississippi dam. In November the FBI accuses 21 Mississippi men, including a county sheriff, of engineering a conspiracy to injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney. When Mississippi officials refuse to try any of the men for murder they are charged and convicted of civil rights violations. Seven are convicted but none serve more than 6 years. In 2005, 80-year-old Edgar Ray Killen is tried and convicted of three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to three consecutive terms of 20 years in prison. Killen is now 89 years old and still in prison.

1972 – Arthur Bremer is jailed for shooting Alabama Governor George Wallace, paralyzing the governor. Bremer is released early on November 9, 2007, for being a “model inmate.” Former Gov. Wallace dies in 1998. Arthur Bremer is now 63 years old.

1977 – President Jimmy Carter establishes the Department of Energy.

1985 – The musical “Dreamgirls” closes at the Imperial Theater in New York City after 1,522 performances. The movie “Dreamgirls” premiers in 2006 starring former American Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson, who wins an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

1988 – Congress votes to award $20,000 to each Japanese-American interned during WW II. President Reagan signs HR #442 on August 10th. Rev. Mamoru Eto of Los Angeles, age 107, is the first to receive a check on October 9, 1990.

2010 – California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative prohibiting same-sex marriage, which is passed by the state’s voters in 2008, is overturned by Judge Vaughn Walker in the case Perry v. Schwarzenegger.


August 5

1861 – The U.S. levies its first Income Tax (3% of incomes over $800).

1884 – The cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty is laid on Bedloe’s Island in New York City. The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, is dedicated in 1886.

1914 – The first traffic light in the United States is installed on Euclid Ave & East 105th Street in Cleveland, Ohio. The traffic signal had only red and green lights and a buzzer that was operated by a traffic officer on the corner. British railway signal engineer J.P. Knight invented the traffic light in 1868. Black American inventor Garrett Morgan is credited with adding the yellow warning light in 1923.

1924 – The comic strip “Little Orphan Annie,” by Harold Gray, debuts. Gray died in 1968 at age 64.


1945 – The United States drops the world’s first atom bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

1954 – The Ring magazine establishes the Boxing Hall of Fame and selects 24 modern and 15 boxing pioneers before it disbands in 1988. The following year the International Boxing Hall of Fame is established in New York and adopts the inductees from The Ring’s Boxing Hall of Fame.

1957 – The comic strip “Andy Capp,” by Reg Smythe debuts. Smythe died in 1998 at age 80.

1981 – President Regan fires 11,500 striking air traffic controllers who walk off the job 2 days previous.

1985 – The establishment of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is announced. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opens in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1995. The first inductees include Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, The Everly Brothers, Alan Freed, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, and 10 others.

1997 – Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of world trade center bombing, goes on trial. He is convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.


August 6

1819 – Norwich University is founded in Vermont as the first private military school in the United States.

1854 – Congress passes the Confiscation Act, which authorizes the appropriation of property, including slaves, from southern slaveholders.

1890 – The electric chair is first used in U.S. to execute John Hart in New York, who is convicted of murder.

1926 – Gertrude Ederle of New York becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel. Ederle died in 2003 at age 98.


1930 – Supreme Court Justice Joseph Force Crater disappears in New York City. He is declared legally dead in 1939. The case is officially closed in 1979 and remains unsolved. A letter found among the effects of a woman who died 2005 claimed her late police-officer husband and cab-diver brother-in-law murdered Crater and buried him under the Coney Island Boardwalk.

1946 – The United States officially submits to the jurisdiction of the World Court by accepting an optional clause in the Court’s statute. It gives the Court compulsory jurisdiction over cases regarding interpretation of treaties, any question of international law and any breach of international obligations.

1965 – President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act, guaranteeing voting rights for blacks.

2011 – A helicopter containing 20 members of Navy SEAL 6 is shot down in Afghanistan, killing all 31 U.S. specials ops troops and 7 Afghan commandos. The death toll surpasses the worst single day loss of life for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan since the war begins in 2001.


August 7

1782 – George Washington creates the Order of the Purple Heart after the Continental Congress forbids Washington from granting soldiers commissions and promotions for merit.

1882 – The Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky begin their infamous feud with the mortal wounding of Elliston Hatfield by 3 McCoy brothers in a dispute over a stolen pig. The families agree to stop fighting in 1891 after 15 people are killed and many more are wounded, but the bad feelings continue throughout the 20th Century. The ongoing grudge inspires the TV show “The Family Feud.” Descendents of both families appear on the show in 1979 where the show’s producers pay each family the winner’s share to avoid renewing hostilities.

1909 – The U.S. issues the first Lincoln penny.



1934 – The United States Court of Appeals upholds a lower court ruling striking down government’s attempt to ban the controversial James Joyce novel “Ulysses.”

1959 – The new Lincoln Memorial design on the U.S. penny goes into circulation. It replaces the “sheaves of wheat” design.

1963 – First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy has a daughter Arabella Kennedy, becoming the 1st First Lady since Frances Cleveland in 1893 to give birth while her husband is in office. Tragically, the Kennedy’s daughter is stillborn.

1970 – The first all-computer chess championship is held in New York City. Six programs enter the North American Computer Championships sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

1990 – Operation Desert Shield begins when the United States deploys troops to Saudi Arabia from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.

2007 – Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants breaks baseball great Hank Aaron’s record by hitting his 756th home run.


August 8

1844 – Brigham Young is chosen as the Mormon Church head following the death of Joseph Smith.

1854 – Smith & Wesson patents metal bullet cartridges.

1900 – The first Davis Cup tennis competition, named after Dwight Filley Davis, begins at Longwood Cricket Club in Massachusetts and is won by the United States two days later.


1911 – Public Law 62-5 sets the number of representatives in the United States House of Representatives at 435. The law goes into effect in 1913.

1918 – Alvin York is given command when six U.S. soldiers are surrounded by Germans in France during WWI. Sgt. York shoots 20 Germans and captures 132 more. York is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and eight other American and European awards.


1945 – President Harry S. Truman signs the United Nations Charter.

1973 – Vice President Spiro T. Agnew says reports he took kickbacks from government contracts in Maryland are “damned lies,” and he vows not to resign. Agnew resigns on October 10th.

1974 – President Richard M. Nixon announces he will resign his office 12 PM on August 9th, following the Watergate scandal.

2000 – The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley is raised to the surface after 136 years on the ocean floor off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. It is the first submarine to sink a ship during wartime. The sinking of the Federal warship USS Housatonic also resulted in the sinking of the Hunley due to its close proximity to the explosion. The Housatonic remains on the ocean floor.



August 9

1790 – The three-mast sailing ship Columbia under the command of Captain Robert Gray returns to Boston after a 3-year journey, becoming the first ship to carry the U. S. flag around the world.

1848 – Martin Van Buren is nominated for president in his third attempt to regain the White House. President Van Buren (1836-1840) loses re-election to William Henry Harrison in 1840, is passed over for the nomination in 1844, and tries unsuccessfully for the presidency again in 1848 as a member of the Free Soil Party. Whig Party candidate Zachary Taylor wins the 1848 election.

1910 – Alva Fisher patents the electric washing machine.

1936 – Jesse Owens wins his 4th gold medal at the Berlin Summer Olympics. FDR never invites Owens to the White House because FDR is running for re-election.


1945 – The United States drops its second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. Japan signs the surrender on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2nd.

1969 – The Manson family commits Tate-LaBianca murders. Manson’s followers murder pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in her home and Leno and
Rosemary LaBianca the next day. Manson and four of his followers are convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The sentences are commuted to life in prison by the California Supreme Court’s 1972 ruling in People vs. Anderson. Manson is now 79 years old.

1974 – Richard Nixon resigns the presidency. Vice President Gerald Ford becomes the president. Nixon selected Senator Gerald Ford as Vice President in 1973 after Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned. Ford is the only person to serve as both President and Vice President without having been elected to either office.

1988 – The Edmonton Oilers trade ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky to the LA Kings for $15 million and three future draft picks.



August 10

1831 – Former slave Nat Turner leads a violent slave insurrection, killing 55 to 65 whites. Turner is captured two months later. He is tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Turner is hanged on November 11th. Between 100 and 200 slaves (guilty and innocent) are executed and lynched after the revolt.

1846 – Congress signs a charter establishing the Smithsonian Institution with a $500,000 donation from English scientist James Smithson. Childless, Smithson’s will specifies that if his nephew dies without an heir that his fortune should go “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Smithson dies in 1829 and his nephew dies without an heir in 1835.

1900 – The first Davis Cup tennis match results in the United States beating the British Isles 3-0 in Boston. The Davis Cup is now the world’s largest annual international team sport competition (130 nations enter in 2013).

1948 – Allen Funt’s “Candid Camera” TV show debuts on ABC. Allen Funt hosts or co-hosts almost every TV version of the show until he has a stroke in 1993 from which he never recovers. His son Peter Funt hosts and produces the show until 2004.

1977 – “Son of Sam” killer David Berkowitz is arrested for six shooting deaths in New York. Berkowitz shoots a total of 13 people. He is arrested 11 days after his last murder when a witness notices the killer’s car has a parking ticket on the windshield. Berkowitz is sentenced to 25 years-to-life for each murder and is denied parole in May 2014 for the 7th time. He is now 61 years old.


1985 – Michael Jackson buys ATV Music (including every Beatles song) for $47 million.

2006 – Scotland Yard disrupts a major terrorist plot to destroy aircraft travelling from the United Kingdom to the United States. All toiletries over 3 ounces are banned from commercial airplanes.