This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past,
for human events ever resemble those of preceding times.”
Week of February 13-19, 2017
1795 – The University of North Carolina opens, becoming the first state university in the U.S.
1866 – Jesse James robs his first bank, the Clay County Savings Association in Liberty, Missouri, netting $60,000.
1909 – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded.
1935 – Bruno Hauptmann is found guilty of kidnapping and murdering the 20-month-old Lindbergh baby during “The Trial of the Century.” Hauptman is executed in the electric chair in 1936.
1957 – The Southern Christian Leadership Conference organizes in New Orleans. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. serves as its first president.
1959 – The Barbie doll goes on sale. Ruth Handler invents the iconic doll and names it after her own daughter Barbara. Ruth died in 2002 at age 85. Barbie is 57 years old. Watch an interview with Handler:
1984 – Six-year-old Stormie Jones of Texas receives the first successful heart and liver transplant. Jones died in 1990 at age 13.
1997 – The Space Shuttle Discovery captures the Hubble Space Telescope to make repairs.
2000 – Charles M. Schulz publishes the last original “Peanuts” comic strip after announcing he is retiring in December 1999.
2002 – Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani receives an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.
1803 – Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall declares that any act of the U.S. Congress that conflicts with the Constitution is void.
1849 – James Knox Polk becomes first sitting U.S. President to have his photograph taken. Future Civil War photographer Matthew Brady takes the photo.
1876 – Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray apply separately for telephone patents. The Supreme Court eventually rules that Bell is the rightful inventor.
1924 – IBM Corporation is founded by Thomas Watson.
1929 – Seven gangsters are killed in Chicago, allegedly on Al Capone’s orders, in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
1937 – The “Prince Valiant” comic strip appears in print. It is known for its historical detail.
1951 – Sugar Ray Robinson defeats Jake LaMotta to take the middleweight boxing title in their 6th and final fight. In 1943 LaMotta handed Robinson his first defeat. Robinson wins 173 of his 200 bouts, 108 by KO. He died in 1989 at age 67 and was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame the following year. Watch the exciting 13th and final round:
1966 – Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia 76ers sets a National Basketball Association record by reaching a career high of 20,884 points after seven seasons.
1971 – President Richard Nixon installs a secret taping system in the White House.
1978 – The first “micro on a chip” is patented by Texas Instruments.
1988 – Bobby Allison, age 50, becomes oldest driver to win the Daytona 500 stock car race. Trevor Bayne, age 20, becomes the youngest Daytona 500 winner in 2011.
1989 – The first of 24 satellites of the Global Positioning System (GPS) are placed into orbit.
1990 – Space probe Voyager 1, launched in 1977, takes a photograph of our entire solar system. It carries a gold-plated audio-visual disc containing photos of Earth life forms, scientific information, music, and sounds of the Earth in the event it is found by intelligent life forms. Voyager’s mission is expected to continue collecting and sending back data until 2025, when it won’t have enough power to operate its instruments.
2002 – The House of Representatives passes the Shays-Meehan bill. The bill bans millions of unregulated money that goes to the national political parties.
2005 – The video-sharing website YouTube is activated. Watch the first video ever uploaded on YouTube:
1764 – St. Louis, Missouri, is founded as a French trading post by fur trader Pierre Laclede. Laclede died in 1877 at age 48.
1879 – Congress authorizes women lawyers to practice before the Supreme Court.
1903 – The first Teddy Bear, named after President Theodore Roosevelt, is made by Morris and Rose Michtom.
1932 – George Burns and Gracie Allen debut as regulars on the “Guy Lombardo Show” on the radio. Gracie Allen died in 1964 at age 69 and George Burns died in 1996 at age 100.
1932 – U.S. bobsled team member Eddie Eagan becomes the only athlete to win gold medals in both the Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics. He also won gold in 1920 in boxing. Egan died in 1995 at age 65. Watch an impressive bio of Eagan:
1941 – Duke Ellington records his hit song “Take the A Train.”
1961 – The entire U.S. figure skating team of 18 dies in the Belgian Sabena 707 plane crash en route to the World Figure Skating Championships in Prague. One of the skaters who died is 16-year-old Laurence Owen, who won the U.S. Figure Skating Championship in January. She appeared on the February 13th cover of Sports Illustrated. Watch her skate just one month before her death:
1992 – Jeffrey Dahmer is found sane and subsequently convicted of killing 15 boys and sentenced to 15 life terms in prison. Dahmer is murdered in prison in 1994 at age 34 by then 25-year-old Christopher Scarver.
2001 – The first draft of the complete Human Genome is published in Nature, the international weekly journal of science.
2002 – Investigators find uncremated bodies disposed of in the woods and buildings at the Tri-State Crematory in La Fayette, Georgia. It is one of the worst incidents of abuse in the funeral service industry.
2005 – YouTube, the popular Internet site on which videos may be shared and viewed by others, is launched in the U.S.
1838 – Kentucky passes a law permitting women to attend school under certain conditions.
1852 – The Studebaker Brothers Wagon Company is established. It is the precursor of automobile manufacturing.
1857 – Gallaudet College (National Deaf Mute College) forms in Washington, DC. Edward Miner Gallaudet, founder of the first school for deaf students in the U.S., becomes the new school’s first superintendent.
1878 – The silver dollar becomes U.S. legal tender.
1883 – “Ladies Home Journal” begins publication. In 1903 it becomes the first American magazine to reach 1 million subscribers. Last April the Meredith Corporation announces it will cease publishing the monthly magazine, saying it will be available quarterly and online.
1932 – James Markham of Illinois receives the first patent issued for a tree. It is for a peach tree.
1937 – DuPont Corporation patents nylon, developed by its employee Wallace H. Carothers.
1950 – The longest-running prime-time game show at the time, “What’s My Line,” premiers on CBS-TV and airs until 1967. An all-star panel tries to guess the contestant’s occupation. The first contestant is Miss Pat Finch, a hat check girl. The first “mystery guest,” when the panelists are blindfolded, is Yankee baseball great Phil Rizzuto. Watch a montage of Pat Finch on WML:
1951 – New York City passes a bill prohibiting racism in city-assisted housing.
1953 – Baseball star Ted Williams, recalled for active duty as a Marine fighter pilot in 1952, safely crash lands his damaged Panther jet in Korea. Williams is awarded the Air Medal and two Gold Stars before being discharged for health reasons. He returns to play baseball until 1960. Williams died in 2002 at age 83.
1968 – The first 911 emergency phone system in the U.S. goes into service in Haleyville, Alabama.
1982 – “Six Million Dollar Man” Lee Majors and “Charlie’s Angel” Farrah Fawcett divorce after 7 years of marriage. Majors is now 76 years old. Fawcett died in 2009 at age 62.
2005 – National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman cancels the 2004-05 season. This is the first time that a North American professional sports league has canceled a season due to a labor dispute.
1801 – The House of Representatives breaks an Electoral College tie, after casting three-dozen ballots, choosing Thomas Jefferson for president over Aaron Burr. Each candidate received 73 votes, but electors fail to distinguish between the office of President and Vice President.
1817 – Baltimore, Maryland, is the first U.S. city lit by gas.
1864 – The Confederate submarine “H.L. Hunley” sinks the Union ship “Housatonic,” becoming the first submarine to sink an enemy ship.
1897 – The National Congress of Parents and Teachers (PTA) organizes in Washington, DC.
1905 – Frances Willard – educator, temperance reformer, and women’s suffragist – becomes the first woman honored in National Statuary Hall in Washington, DC. Willard died in 1898 at age 58.
1913 – The first minimum wage law in the U.S. takes effect in Oregon.
1915 – Edward Stone, the first U.S. combatant to die in World War I, is mortally wounded.
1933 – The first issue of “Newsweek” magazine is published.
1934 The first high school car driving course offered in the city of State College, Pennsylvania.
1936 – The world’s first superhero, The Phantom, makes his first appearance in comics.
1943 – New York Yankee and future Baseball Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio enlists into the U.S. army. After being hospitalized with stomach ulcers DiMaggio is released from the service in September of 1945. He returns to play for the New York Yankees in 1946.
1947 – Voice of America begins radio broadcasting to the USSR. The Soviet Union responds by initiating electronic jamming of VOA broadcasts on April.
1953 – Baseball star and pilot Ted Williams is uninjured when his plane shot down in Korea. Williams retires from baseball in 1960, is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966, and dies in 2002 at age 83. His son has Williams’ body cryogenically frozen in Scottsdale, Arizona.
1964 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules 1 man 1 vote in Westberry v Sanders after James Westberry files suit against Georgia Governor Carl Sanders over the unequal apportionment of congressional districts.
1969 – Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash record an album together, but it is never released. Listen to part of the amazing recording session with still photos:
1972 – President Nixon leaves Washington, DC for a trip to China.
1995 – A Federal judge allows a lawsuit claiming U.S. tobacco makers knew nicotine was addictive and manipulated its levels to keep customers hooked.
1998 – Larry Wayne Harris and Bill Leavitt are arrested in Las Vegas for possession of anthrax. Harris is put on probation for 18 months for violating terms of a previous probation. Charges are dismissed when the material turns out to be a veterinary vaccine.
2006 – Lindsey Jacobellis wins the Silver Medal in snowboarding after falling on her final jump at the Turin Winter Olympics. Watch the entire run and the dramatic fall:
2016 – Chief Executive Tim Cook confirms that Apple will contest an FBI order to unlock the phone of radical Muslim terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook after the mass murder in San Bernardino.
1841 – The first continuous filibuster in the U.S. Senate begins over the dismissal of the printer for the Senate and lasts until March 11th.
1861 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis is inaugurated in Montgomery, Alabama. Davis resigned his seat as a U.S. senator from Mississippi in January.
1878 – Outlaw Jessie Evans murders John Tunstall, sparking the Lincoln County War in New Mexico between immigrant English and Irish ranchers and merchants. Tensions and murders raged until 1884. One of the combatants is Billy the Kid.
1885 – Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is published.
1929 – The first Academy Awards, hosted by Douglas Fairbanks, are announced. “Wings” starring Clara Bow and Gary Cooper is the winner for Best Picture.
1932 – Sonja Henie wins her 6th straight World Women’s figure skating title. Henie wins Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936. She moves to the U.S. and becomes a movie star. Henie died in 1969 at age 57. Watch Henie at the 1932 Olympics:
1944 – The Cincinnati Reds sign 15-year-old Joe Nuxhall as the youngest player in baseball history.
1960 – The 8th Winter Olympics games open in Squaw Valley, California.
1972 – The California Supreme Court abolishes the state death penalty.
1977 – The Space Shuttle Enterprise, mounted above a modified Boeing 747, goes on its first test flight.
1978 – Fifteen competitors race in the first Ironman Triathlon (swim, bike ride, and marathon) held in Kona, Hawaii. Gordon Haller is the winner, completing the race in 11 hours and 46 minutes. U.S. Navy Commander John Collins founded the event as a way to determine whether swimmers, cyclists, or runners are more fit. Watch a 2013 interview with Haller:
1988 – Anthony M. Kennedy is sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice. Kennedy, currently the longest serving jurist, is now 80 years old.
2001 – FBI agent Robert Hanssen is arrested for spying for the Soviet Union. He is ultimately convicted and sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms in prison after a plea deal enables him to escape the death penalty. Hanssen is now 72 years old.
1807 – Vice President Aaron Burr, arrested in Alabama for treason, is later found innocent.
1856 – Hamilton Smith of New London, Connecticut, patents the tintype camera. Smith is a scientist, photography, and astronomer.
1859 – Dan Sickles is acquitted of murder on grounds of temporary insanity. It is the first time this defense is successfully used.
1878 – Thomas Alva Edison patents the gramophone (phonograph).
1881 – Kansas becomes the first state to prohibit all alcoholic beverages.
1906 – W. K. Kellogg and Charles D. Bolin incorporate the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company in Battle Creek, Michigan.
1913 – The first prize is inserted into a Cracker Jack box. The snack’s creator Louis Rueckheim gives the treat to a salesman who exclaims, “That’s a Cracker, Jack!” So Rueckheim trademarks the name in 1896.
1922 – Ed Wynn becomes the first talent to sign a contract as a radio entertainer.
1942 – President FDR orders the detention and internment of all west coast Japanese-Americans during World War II. Twelve detention centers in California and one in Oregon house more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans. In December of 1944, FDR announces the end of the detentions and the internees return home. By then, they had lost their homes, businesses, and possessions. President Ronald Reagan signed into law The Civil Liberties Act of 1988, providing an apology and redress to the internees still living, although nearly half of those who had been imprisoned died before the bill was signed.
1945 – The U.S. 5th Fleet launches the invasion of Iwo Jima against the Japanese when 30,000 U.S. Marines land on the island.
1963 – The USSR informs President Kennedy it is withdrawing several thousand troops from Cuba.
1974 – The first American Music Award are held. Helen Reddy and Jim Croce win. Jim Croce died in a plane crash the previous September at age 30.
1984 – Twins Phil and Steve Mahre become the first brother combo to win Gold and Silver medals in the same event. They competed at the Sarajevo Olympics (Slalom skiing).
1985 – Canned and bottled Cherry Coke introduced by Coca-Cola. Watch the first Cherry Coke commercial:
1986 – The U.S. Senate ratifies the United Nation’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide 36 years after it is adopted by the UN.
1987 – An anti-smoking ad by the American Cancer Society, featuring Yul Brynner, airs for the first time on TV. It is filmed two years before, just months before Brynner dies of lung cancer. Watch Yul Brynner’s plea:
1997 – The FCC makes available 311 for non-emergency calls and 711 for hearing or speech-impaired emergency calls.
2002 – NASA’s Mars Odyssey space probe begins to map the surface of Mars using its thermal emission imaging system.