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 27-March 5, 2017
1813 – Congress authorizes the use of steamboats to transport mail.
1872 – Charlotte Ray, the first black woman lawyer, graduates from Howard University.
1883 – Oscar Hammerstein (grandfather of composer Oscar Hammerstein II) patents the first cigar-rolling machine. He also opens several theaters and produces several operas. Hammerstein died in 1919 at age 73.
1901 – The National League Rules Committee decrees that all fouls in baseball are to count as strikes except after two strikes.
1922 – The Supreme Court unanimously upholds the 19th amendment guaranteeing a woman’s right to vote. The 19th Amendment is passed by Congress in June 1919 and ratified in August 1920.
1927 – Golfers in South Carolina are arrested for the second Sunday in a row for violating the Sabbath.
1940 – Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben discover carbon-14, which is used to date ancient organic objects.
1951 – The 22nd amendment is ratified, limiting a president to two terms (8 years).
1974 – “People” magazine goes on sale. Actress Mia Farrow is on the first cover.
1982 – Earl Anthony becomes the first professional bowler to win more than $1 million. Anthony died in 2001 at age 63. Watch Anthony win the PBA National Championship (part 2 – frames 6-10):
1990 – Exxon Corporation and Exxon Shipping are indicted on 5 criminal counts following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.
1991 – The Gulf War ends after Iraqi troops retreat and Kuwait is re-taken by the U.S.
1992 – Tiger Woods, age 16, becomes the youngest PGA golfer in 35 years. Woods is now 41 years old. Watch Tiger at the 1992 PGA tournament, including interviews:
1998 – The FBI arrests Tony Ray Amati, a suspected serial killer on the 10 most wanted list.
1794 – Swiss-born Abraham Gallatin’s election to the U.S. Senate is voided because he did not meet the citizenship requirement of 9 years. Gallatin is elected to the House of Representatives in 1795, where he becomes the House Majority Leader. He is also the founder of New York University.
1827 – The Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) is chartered as the first commercial railroad in the U.S.
1883 – The first U.S. vaudeville theater opens in Boston.
1914 – Construction begins on Tower of Jewels in San Francisco for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition at the 1915 World’s Fair. The Tower is 435 feet tall and decorated with 102,000 glass jewels. The temporary building is demolished after the World’s Fair ends.
1933 – Francis Perkins becomes the first female in a president’s cabinet when she is appointed Secretary of Labor.
1953 – In a Cambridge University laboratory, American scientist James D. Watson and British scientist Francis H.C. Crick discover the double-helix structure of DNA. Crick died in 2004 at age 88. Watson is now 88 years old.
1961 – President John F. Kennedy names German-born Henry Kissinger as a special advisor. President Nixon names Kissinger his Secretary of State in 1973. Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger is now 93 years old.
1977 – The first killer whale is born in captivity at Marineland in Los Angeles, California.
1983 – The final episode of the TV show “M*A*S*H” airs on CBS with a record 125 million viewers. Watch the end of the final episode:
1993 – A gun battle erupts between the FBI and the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas. The standoff lasts 51 days. Seventy-six men, women, and children die after the FBI launches an assault in the compound, including 33-year-old founder David Koresh.
1997 – Smokers must prove they are over 18 to purchase cigarettes in the U.S.
1997 – Two heavily armed men wearing body armor are involved in the North Hollywood shootout after a failed Bank of America robbery attempt. The bank robbers fire over 1,100 rounds of ammunition before being killed by law enforcement officers. Eighteen officers and civilians are wounded. Watch actual news footage:
2001 – The Environmental Protection Agency announces that it intends to proceed with implementation of tighter restrictions on the sulfur content in diesel fuel.
1642 – Georgeana, Maine, becomes the first incorporated American city.
1692 – The “Salem witch hunt” begins when authorities interrogate Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and an Indian slave, Tituba, to determine if they practiced witchcraft. In all, more than 150 people are jailed and 14 women and 5 men are executed. Many of those in jail die while incarcerated.
1790 – The first U.S. census is authorized. The U.S. population is almost 4 million.
1792 – The U.S. Presidential Succession Act is passed, establishing the first line of succession.
1845 – President Tyler signs a resolution annexing the Republic of Texas.
1872 – Yellowstone is established as the world’s first national park.
1875 – Congress passes a Civil Rights Act forbidding discrimination in hotels, trains, and public spaces, but the Supreme Court invalidates it in 1883.
1909 – The first U.S. university school of nursing is established at the University of Minnesota.
1912 – Captain Albert Berry performs the first parachute jump from an airplane. Berry jumps from a Benoist pusher-type airplane piloted by Tony Jannus after they take off from Kinloch Field in St. Louis.
1932 – Charles Lindbergh, Jr. (20 months old) is kidnapped in New Jersey. The Lindbergh baby is found dead May 12. Bruno Hauptmann is found guilty of kidnapping and murdering the Lindbergh baby and is executed in 1936. Watch a short British Movietone newsreel:
1936 – The Hoover Dam is completed. Construction begins in 1931. The concrete arch-gravity dam sits on the border of Arizona and Nevada.
1941 – “Captain America” first appears in a comic book.
1957 – Kokomo the Talking Chimp becomes the Today Show’s animal editor. The Chimpanzee, owned and trained by Nick Carrado, appears on a number of TV shows over four decades and retires from show biz in 1983. The date Kokomo died is unknown.
1961 – President Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps.
1962 – The first K-Mart store opens in Garden City, Michigan. Sebastian S. Kresge founds the S.S. Kresge Company and opens the first store in Detroit in 1899. The “K” in K-Mart stands for Kresge. Attention K-Mart shoppers, watch the history of S. S. Kresge and K-Mart:
1967 – The House of Representatives excludes (refuses to allow to seat) Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. on a 307 to 116 vote. He is accused of mismanaging his committee’s budget in previous Congress, excessive absenteeism, and misuse of public funds. Powell died in 1972 at age 63.
1970 – The U.S. ends commercial whale hunting.
1974 – The Watergate grand jury indicts 7 presidential advisors and aides: John Mitchell, H. R. Halderman, John Ehrlichman, Charles Colson, Gordon Strachan, Robert Mardian, and Kenneth Parkinson.
1981 – The first Golden Raspberry Awards ceremony is held in John Wilson’s living room to recognize the worst movies of the previous year. The winner (or loser) is “Can’t Stop the Music.” It isn’t until the 4th Razzies that the event is televised.
1994 – The Senate rejects a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
2002 – The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Operation Anaconda, begins in eastern Afghanistan.
2004 – Terry Nichols is convicted of state murder charges and being an accomplice to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. Nichols is sentenced to 161 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole (160 people plus 1 unborn child were killed). Nichols is incarcerated in Colorado and is now 61 years old.
2016 – The Forbes richest people list is released. Bill Gates is No. 1 with $75 billion.
1819 – The U.S. passes its first immigration law.
1867 – The U.S. Congress creates the Department of Education.
1877 – Rutherford B. Hayes (R) is declared president despite Samuel J. Tilden (D) winning the popular vote, but Tilden is 1 electoral vote short of victory. The other presidents who receive fewer popular votes but more electoral votes, thus becoming president, are John Quincy Adams (over Andrew Jackson), Benjamin Harrison (over Grover Cleveland), George W. Bush (over Al Gore), and Donald Trump (over Hillary Clinton).
1923 – Time magazine debuts. Speaker of the House of Representatives Joseph G. Cannon is on the first cover.
1939 – The Massachusetts Legislature votes to ratify the Bill of Rights – 147 years late.
1942 – The Stage Door Canteen opens on West 44th Street in New York City. The canteen provides dancing and entertainment for WWII servicemen. The first canteen could accommodate 500 people. Other canteens open later in Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Newark. Watch the history of the Stage Door Canteen:
1950 – Silly Putty is invented accidentally by James Wright, a General Electric engineer. GE is under a government contract to create an inexpensive substitute for synthetic rubber.
1962 – Wilt Chamberlain, with the Philadelphia Warriors, scores an incredible 100 points in a National Basketball Association game against the New York Nicks. The record still stands. Chamberlain died in 1999 at age 63. Watch Wilt “The Stilt” score the 100 points:
1976 – Walt Disney World logs its 50 millionth guest.
1977 – Bette Davis is the first woman to receive the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award. Davis died in 1989 at age 81. Watch Davis accept the award:
1977 – Future Tonight Show host Jay Leno debuts with host Johnny Carson. Leno is the host of The Tonight Show from 1992 to 2014, with a brief ill-fated break in 2009 when Conan O’Brien takes over the microphone.
1985 – The U.S. approves screening test for the AIDS virus.
1986 – Protesters try to stop the Land Rover motor company from being sold to the U.S. Ford buys the Land Rover in 2000 and sells it to Tata Motors in 2008.
1994 – Representative William Natcher (D-KY) casts his 18,401st (and last) consecutive vote. Natcher dies while in office on March 29, 1994 at age 84.
2016 – U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko return to earth after nearly a year (340 days) in space, setting an ISS record.
1791 – Congress establishes the U.S. Mint.
1812 – The U.S. Congress passes the first foreign aid bill to aid Venezuela earthquake victims.
1837 – Congress increases Supreme Court membership from 7 to 9 justices.
1845 – The U.S. Senate overrides a presidential veto for the first time. President Tyler vetoes a Congressional bill that would have denied him the power to appropriate federal funds to build ships without Congressional approval.
1885 – American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) incorporates.
1885 – Congress passes the Indian Appropriations Act, making Indians wards of the federal government.
1887 – Anne Sullivan begins teaching 6-year-old blind and deaf Helen Keller. Sullivan died in 1936 at age 70. Author and lecturer Helen Keller died in 1968 at age 87. Watch the actual newsreel with Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller when Anne explains how she taught Helen to speak:
1915 – The National Advisory Committee Aeronautics is founded, which is the predecessor of NASA.
1923 – The U.S. Senate rejects membership in the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
1926 – The International Greyhound Racing Association is formed in Miami, Florida.
1931 – The “Star Spangled Banner” officially becomes the U.S. national anthem. Francis Scott Key writes it as a poem on a ship near Fort McHenry, Maryland, during the War of 1812.
1934 – John Dillinger breaks out of jail using a wooden pistol. Dillinger takes part in a robbery on March 6th in South Dakota, on March 13th in Iowa, and on June 30th in Indiana. After spending time with family and friends Dillinger is shot and killed by federal agents on July 22, 1934 outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago. He is 31 years old. His body is put on display for 2 days for the public to view.
1972 – Sculpted figures of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson are completed on Stone Mountain in Georgia.
1975 – The first “People’s Choice Awards” show airs on TV. The Favorite All-Around Male and Female Entertainers are Bob Hope and Carol Burnett.
1985 – Women Against Pornography awards its ‘Pig Award’ to Huggies Diapers, claiming that the TV ads for diapers had “crossed the line between eye-catching and porn.”
1991 – The Los Angeles Police severely beat motorist Rodney King, which is captured on amateur video. Four LAPD police officers are indicted for assault and using excessive force. Their acquittal results in riots where more than 50 people are killed. King is arrested several more times for various offenses. King died in 2012 at age 47. He drowned in his pool after using drugs and alcohol. Watch a short 1992 ABC news report:
1999 – Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones begin their attempt to circumnavigate the Earth in a hot air balloon non-stop. They succeed on March 20th.
2005 – Steve Fossett becomes the first person to fly an airplane solo around the world without any stops and without refueling. The journey of 25,000 miles begins and ends in Kansas and is completed in 67 hours and 2 minutes. Watch a video about Fossett and the flight:
2013 – A 2-year-old U.S. girl becomes the first child born with HIV to be cured.
1789 – The House of Representatives has its first meeting in New York City.
1793 – George Washington is inaugurated for his second term as president and delivers the shortest inaugural speech (133 words).
1801 – Thomas Jefferson is the first president inaugurated in Washington, DC.
1841 – William Henry Harrison delivers the longest inauguration speech in history (8,443 words).
1849 – The U.S. has no president for one day. James Polk’s term ends at noon on Sunday, but Zachary Taylor refuses to be sworn in on Sunday. Senator David Atchison (D-MO), the President Pro Tem, is sworn in for one day and Taylor is sworn in on Monday.
1861 – Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated as the sixteenth president. For the first time the U.S. has five living former presidents: Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan. There are currently five living former presidents. They are Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush (#41), Bill Clinton, George W. Bush (#43), and Barack Hussain Obama.
1902 – The American Automobile Association (AAA) is founded in Chicago.
1917 – Representative Jeannette Rankin (R-MT) becomes the first female member of Congress. She is the only member of Congress to vote against declaring war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Rankin died in 1973 at age 92.
1924 – The song “Happy Birthday To You” is published by Claydon Sunny.
1934 – The Easter Cross located on Mt. Davidson (San Francisco) is dedicated. In 1991 the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Jewish Congress, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State sue the city over its ownership of the cross. The city loses and in 1997 auctions the .38-acre and cross to the highest bidder. The Council of Armenian American Organization purchases the cross for $26,000. Watch an aerial view of the cross and surrounding area:
1950 – Walt Disney’s animated movie “Cinderella” is released in the U.S.
1957 – The S&P 500 stock market index is introduced. It replaces the S&P 90.
1964 – Jimmy Hoffa is convicted of jury tampering. He appeals his case all the way to the Supreme Court, and loses.
1974 – “People” magazine is available for the first time.
1993 – The first ESPY Awards (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) are held. The awards recognize individual and team athletic achievement. Michael Jordan and Monica Seles win for Best Male and Female Athletes. The Dallas Cowboys win for Outstanding Team. Coach Jim Valvano receives the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Watch Valvano’s touching speech:
1995 – A blind teenage boy receives a “Bionic Eye” at a Washington Hospital.
1997 – President Clinton bans federally funded human cloning research.
1998 – The Supreme Court rules in Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services that federal laws banning on-the-job sexual harassment also apply when both parties are the same gender.
2006 – The final attempted contact with Pioneer 10 by the Deep Space Network is unsuccessful when no response is received. Pioneer is launched on 1972 and is over 6 billion miles from earth.
1770 – During the “Boston Massacre,” British troops shoot and kill five citizens in a crowd. Crispus Attucks, an American of African descent, is the first to die. He is later held up as early black martyr.
1821 – James Monroe is the first President inaugurated on March 5th because the 4th is Sunday.
1836 – Samuel Colt manufactures the first pistol, a 34-caliber “Texas” model.
1845 – Congress appropriates $30,000 to ship camels to the U.S. for use in the western deserts. The first shipment from Egypt arrives with camels 33 and the second shipment has 41 camels. The camels are used extensively but are scattered during the Civil War. Several camels are reported to have survived and bred, with numerous sightings reported in the desert southwest for decades after.
1923 – Montana and Nevada become the first states to enact old age pension laws.
1925 – South Dakota Governor Gunderson signs a bill establishing a memorial association that will build Mount Rushmore. The faces of presidents Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Lincoln (L to R) are carved under the direction of sculptor Gutzon Borglum. He dies before the monument is dedicated in October of 1941.
1946 – Winston Churchill delivers his “Iron Curtain” speech in Fulton, Missouri. Watch Churchill’s speech:
1960 – Elvis Presley ends his 2-year hitch in the U.S. Army and resumes his music career.
1979 – Voyager I, launched in 1977, makes its closest approach to Jupiter (172,000 miles).
1984 – The Supreme Court rules by a 5-4 decision in Lynch v Donnelly that a city (Pawtucket, Rhode Island) may use public money for a Nativity scene because it does not violate the Establishment Clause and has “legitimate secular purposes.”
1998 – It is announced that Air Force Lt. Col. Eileen Collins will lead crew of Columbia on a 1999 mission to launch a large X-ray telescope. She is the first woman to command a space shuttle mission. In 1995, Collins becomes the first woman to pilot a space shuttle mission. Collins is now 60 years old. Watch a brief biography of Collins:
2013 – The Dow Jones surpasses its 2007 pre-financial crisis levels for the first time. It closes at 14,253.77.