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 January 16-22, 2017
1847 – John C. Frémont is appointed the Governor of the new California Territory. Frémont is the first presidential candidate of the new Republican Party in 1856.
1868 – The refrigerated railroad boxcar is patented by William Davis, a fish dealer in Detroit, Michigan.
1919 – Prohibition is ratified by three-quarters of the states when Nebraska becomes the 36th state to vote in favor of the prohibition of alcohol. Prohibition is repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1933.
1938 – The first jazz concert is held at Carnegie Hall and features Benny Goodman.
1939 – The comic strip “Superman” debuts.
1951 – The world’s largest gas pipeline opens. It spans from Brownsville, Texas, to New York City.
1964 – “Hello, Dolly!” starring Carol Channing, opens at St. James Theater in New York City for 2,844 performances. Channing will be 96 years old on the 31st.
1970 – Curt Flood files a $1 million civil lawsuit challenging baseball’s reserve clause. The Supreme Court rules in favor of major league baseball in its 1972 decision.
1970 – Buckminster Fuller, author of over 30 books, receives the Gold Medal award from the American Institute of Architects. He is awarded the patent for the geodesic dome, although it is created by Dr. Walther Bauersfeld 30 years earlier. Fuller died in 1983 at age 87. Watch a biography including interviews with Fuller:
1974 – The book “Jaws” by Peter Benchley is published. It is made into a movie starring Roy Scheider in 1975.
1976 – The “Donny & Marie” [Osmond] musical variety show premieres on TV and airs until 1978.
1988 – Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder fired from CBS for racial remarks. Watch a news report and his comments:
1991 – Operation Desert Storm begins when the U.S. and 27 allies attack Iraq for occupying Kuwait. The air war begins at 6:38 PM EST due to an 8-hour time difference, when an Apache helicopter attacks.
2001 – President Bill Clinton awards former President Theodore Roosevelt a posthumous Medal of Honor for his service in the Spanish-American War.
2003 – The Space Shuttle Columbia takes off for mission STS-107 on what would be its final space flight. Columbia disintegrates on re-entry 16 days later.
1916 – Professional Golfer Association (PGA) forms in New York City. Englishman Jim Barnes wins the first PGA Championship at Siwanoy Country Club Bronxville, New York.
1917 – The U.S. pays Denmark $25 million for the Virgin Islands.
1920 – Prohibition goes into effect in the U.S. as a result of the 18th amendment.
1948 – The trial of 11 U.S. Communist Party members begins in New York City, under the Smith Act, a statute that imposes penalties on those who advocate the violent overthrow of the government. All are convicted and sentenced to 5 years in prison. Their convictions are upheld by the Supreme Court in 1951.
1950 – Seven men rob the Brinks office in Boston of $1.2 million cash and $1.5 million in securities. Six years after the robbery one of the conspirators who languished in jail on unrelated charges confesses to the crime and implicates 10 others. Eight of the surviving men are convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Only a small amount of the money and securities is ever recovered.
1954 – Oceanographer Jacques Cousteau’s first U.S. network telecast airs on “Omnibus” on TV. Cousteau died in 1997 at age 87.
1955 – The submarine USS Nautilus begins its first nuclear-powered test voyage.
1969 – Rock band Led Zeppelin releases their debut album in the U.S.
1984 – The Supreme Court rules (5-4) that the private use of home VCRs to tape TV programs for later viewing do not violate federal copyright laws.
1989 – “The Simpsons” premieres on Fox-TV. It is the longest running sitcom in TV history at 28 seasons. Previously, the longest running TV show was “Gunsmoke,” at 20 years. Watch the making of “The Simpsons”:
1995 – The Los Angeles Rams football team announces that they are moving to St. Louis. The Rams started in Cleveland in 1936, moved to Los Angeles in 1946, Anaheim in 1980, then to St. Louis in 1995. The Rams leave St. Louis are return to Los Angeles in 2016.
2001 – President Bill Clinton posthumously raises Meriwether Lewis’ rank from Lieutenant to Captain.
1778 – Captain James Cook stumbles onto the Sandwich Islands (later renamed Hawaiian Islands).
1896 – An X-ray machine is first demonstrated in U.S. in New York City.
1911 – The first shipboard landing of a plane is successfully completed when Eugene Burton Ely lands his Curtiss pusher airplane from Tanforan Park onto the deck of the USS Pennsylvania.
1929 – The “New York Daily Mirror” with columnist Walter Winchell debuts on the radio.
1948 – “Ted Mack and The Original Amateur Hour” talent show debuts and airs until 1970. It follows the “Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour” radio show after the death of Bowes.
1960 – The U.S. and Japan sign a joint defense treaty.
1962 – The U.S. begins spraying foliage in Vietnam with Agent Orange to reveal Viet Cong guerrillas.
1974 – “$6 Million Man” starring Lee Majors premieres on TV and airs until 1978. Majors is now 77 years old. Watch the show’s intro:
1975 – “The Jeffersons,” a spin-off from “All in the Family,” premieres on TV and airs until 1985.
1979 – Peter Jenkins finishes “A Walk Across America” in Florence, Oregon. He starts in New York in October 1973. Jenkins is now 64 years old.
1983 – The International Olympic Committee restores Jim Thorpe’s Olympic medals 70 years after they were taken from him for being paid $25 in semipro baseball. Thorpe died in 1953 at age 64.
1986 – AIDS charity record “That’s What Friends Are For” hits #1. The song is written by Bert Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager and performed by Elton John, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, and Dionne Warwick. Watch the iconic performance:
1991 – Eastern Air Lines goes out of business after 62 years, citing financial problems.
1993 – The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday observed in all 50 states for the first time.
1996 – Lisa Marie Presley files for divorce from Michael Jackson after 20 months of marriage.
1825 – Ezra Daggett and his nephew Thomas Kensett patent food storage in tin cans to “preserve animal substances in tin.”
1840 – American naval officer Charles Wilkes leads an expedition and discovers Antarctica.
1883 – The first electric lighting system employing overhead wires, built by Thomas Edison, begins service at Roselle, New Jersey.
1922 – The U.S. Geological Survey says the U.S. oil supply will be depleted in 20 years.
1937 – Millionaire Howard Hughes sets a transcontinental air record (7 hours, 28 minutes 25 seconds).
1955 – The letter tile board game “Scrabble” debuts.
1961 – The first episode for the “Dick Van Dyke Show” is filmed. It airs until 1966. Watch the original 1961 show intro:
1977 – President Ford pardons American-born World War II propaganda broadcaster Iva Toguri D’Aquino (a.k.a. Tokyo Rose). She is arrested, tried, and convicted of treason in 1949. She serves six years of a 10-year sentence. D’Aquino died in 2006 at age 90.
1988 – “48 Hours” premieres on TV.
2006 – The New Horizons probe is launched by NASA on the first mission to Pluto.
2013 – Lance Armstrong admits to doping in all seven of his Tour de France victories. He is stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. Armstrong is 45 years old. Watch his confession to Oprah:
1778 – The first American military court martial trial begins in Brunswick, New Jersey. General Charles Lee, George Washington’s second in command, is charged and found guilty of disobeying orders, misbehavior before the enemy, and disrespect to the Commander-In-Chief. He is suspended from the Army for one year.
1801 – John Marshall is appointed U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice. Chief Justice Marshall serves until his death in 1835 at age 79. Marshall is the longest serving Chief Justice in U.S. history, serving during the administration of six presidents.
1869 – Elizabeth Cady Stanton becomes the first woman to testify before the U.S. Congress. She speaks about woman’s rights and suffrage. Stanton died in 1902 at age 86.
1920 – The American Civil Liberties Union is founded. Its primary focus in the early years is defending free speech and anti-war protesters.
1929 – “In Old Arizona” is the first feature talking motion picture filmed outdoors.
1930 – “The Lone Ranger” makes its first radio broadcast. The theme song is the William Tell Overture by Rossini.
1937 – FDR is the first president to be inaugurated on the newly selected Inauguration Day. It is held every four years on the January 20th there after.
1945 – FDR is sworn-in for an unprecedented 4th term as President. FDR died April 12th at age 63 and is succeeded by Vice President Harry Truman.
1953 – President Eisenhower delivers the first live coast-to-coast inauguration address.
1961 – Poet Robert Frost recites “Dedication” at JFK’s inauguration. Frost is the first poet to be included in a presidential inauguration. Frost died in 1963 at age 88. Watch a short excerpt of Frost reciting his poem with difficulty:
1964 – The world’s largest cheese (17 tons) is manufactured in Wisconsin for the 1965 New York’s World’s Fair.
1980 – President Jimmy Carter announces the U.S. boycott of the Winter Olympics in Moscow following the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. The U.S. is one of 65 countries that do not participate in the Olympics.
1981 – The 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days are freed just moments after President Ronald Reagan is inaugurated.
1986 – New footage of the 1931 movie “Frankenstein” is found. The footage is originally deleted because it is considered to be too shocking. Watch 18 seconds of unseen footage:
1989 – Ronald Reagan becomes the first President since 1840 to be elected in a year ending in “0” to leave office alive.
1994 – Shannon Faulkner becomes the first woman to attend classes at The Citadel in South Carolina. Faulkner joins the cadet corps in August 1995 under court order but soon drops out.
1677 – The first medical publication in America is a pamphlet on smallpox. Thomas Thacher’s pamphlet, “A Brief Rule to Guide the Common People of New England how to order themselves and theirs in the Small Pocks, or Measles” is published in Boston.
1789 – The first American novel, W. H. Brown’s “Power of Sympathy” is published. It is subtitled “The Triumph of Nature.”
1853 – An envelope-folding machine patented by Russell Hawes of Worcester, Massachusetts.
1880 – The first sewage disposal system in the U.S. that is separate from storm drains is built in Memphis, Tennessee.
1908 – The Sullivan Ordinance is passed in New York City. It made smoking in public places by women illegal. The measure is vetoed by Mayor George McClellan, Jr. two weeks later.
1915 – Kiwanis International is founded in Detroit, Michigan. It is now headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. Its new motto, adopted in 2005, is “Serving the Children of the World.”
1942 – Count Basie records “One O’clock Jump.” Watch Count Basie’s band perform it with the Count on piano:
1950 – A New York jury finds former State Department official Alger Hiss guilty of perjury. He is convicted of lying about passing state secrets to Whittaker Chambers, a Time magazine editor.
1954 – The Nautilus is launched in Groton, Connecticut, as the first atomic-powered submarine. First Lady Mamie Eisenhower breaks the traditional bottle of champagne across the bow to christen the sub.
1977 – President Carter pardons almost all Vietnam War draft evaders.
1987 – BB King donates his 7,000 record album collection to the University of Mississippi. King died in 2015 at age 89.
1990 – American John McEnroe becomes the first tennis player ever expelled from the Australian Open for throwing a tantrum and swearing at an official. Watch the close encounter:
1999 – In one of the largest drug busts in American history, the U.S. Coast Guard intercepts a ship with over 9,500 pounds of cocaine on board.
2003 – The Census Bureau announces that estimates show that the Hispanic population has passed the black population for the first time.
2004 – NASA’s MER-A (the Mars Rover Spirit) ceases communication with mission control. The problem is determined to be with the Flash Memory management and is fixed remotely from Earth on February 6.
1673 – Postal service between New York and Boston is inaugurated.
1814 – The first Knights Templar grand encampment in the U.S. is held in New York City.
1879 – James Shields begins a term as a Senator from Missouri. He previously serves from Illinois and Minnesota. He is the first Senator to serve three states.
1903 – Secretary of State John M. Hay and Colombian Chargé Dr. Tomás Herrán sign the Hay-Herrán Treaty, granting the U.S. rights to the land proposed for the Panama Canal.
1917 – President Wilson pleads for an end to war in Europe, calling for “peace without victory.” America enters the war the following April.
1946 – Congress creates the CIA, Central Intelligence Agency, during the Hoover administration. Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter is its first director.
1964 – The world’s largest cheese (15,723 kg) manufactured in Wisconsin.
1968 – “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” premieres on NBC-TV. The show is hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin and airs until 1973. Watch the opening credits:
1970 – The first commercial Boeing 747 flight from New York to London takes 6½ hours.
1973 – The U.S. Supreme Court legalizes some abortions in the Roe vs. Wade decision. There have been over 55 million abortions in the U.S. since Roe vs. Wade.
1973 – George Foreman TKOs Joe Frazier early in 2 round for the heavyweight boxing title. Watch the bout:
1982 – Seventy-five percent of North America is covered by global warming (a.k.a. snow).
1988 – Mike Tyson TKOs Larry Holmes in 4 rounds for heavyweight boxing title.
1990 – Robert Tappan Morris, Jr. is convicted of releasing the 1988 Internet worm. He is the first person to be indicted under the new Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Morris is sentenced to three years of probation, 400 hours of community service, and is fined $10,050.
2002 – Kmart Corp becomes the largest retailer in U.S. history to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
2003 – NASA makes its last successful contact with spacecraft Pioneer 10, one of the most distant man-made objects.