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 2-8, 2017
1811 – U.S. Senator Timothy Pickering is the first senator to be censured. He reveals confidential documents communicated from President Taft to the Senate.
1893 – The post office issues the first U.S. commemoratives stamps and first U.S. stamp to picture a woman. It is of Queen Isabella, the patron of Columbus.
1903 – President Theodore Roosevelt shuts down a post office in Indianola, Mississippi, for refusing to accept its appointed postmistress because she is black.
1906 – Willis Carrier receives a U.S. patent for the world’s first air conditioner.
1910 – The first junior high school in the U.S. opens in Berkeley, California.
1932 – The Young Brothers (Paul, Harry, and Jennings) kill six police officers in a shootout near Springfield, Missouri. It is the worst single killing of U.S. law enforcement officers in the 20th Century. Harry and Jennings are tracked down in Texas after a national manhunt and are killed in what is believed to be a murder-suicide. Watch the trailer for the upcoming movie about the massacre, “Come On, In We’re Dead”:
1942 – The U.S. Navy opens a blimp base at Lakehurst, New Jersey. Although the crash of the Hindenburg over Lakehurst in 1937 ended commercial blimp travel, the military continued to successfully use blimps. Watch a 1952 tour of the base:
1961 – The Houston Oilers beat the LA Chargers 24-16 in the first AFL Championship Game.
1974 – President Richard Nixon imposes a National Maximum Speed Law of 55 MPH as part of the Emergency Highway Conservation Act. This is in response to the 1973 oil crisis. Congress repeals the national speed limit in 1995 and returns control to individual states.
1975 – U.S. Department of Interior designates the grizzly bear a threatened species. In 2007 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removes the grizzly from the Threatened and Protected Species list. After several environmental groups file suit U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy reinstates the grizzly bear on the list.
1988 – Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and President Ronald Reagan sign a Canada-U.S. free trade agreement.
1996 – The U.S. deploys troops in Northern Bosnia with the intention of maintaining order and peace between Bosnian Serbs and Muslims.
2008 – The price of oil tops $100 per barrel for the first time.
1777 – George Washington defeats the British at the Battle of Princeton in New Jersey.
1823 – Stephen F. Austin receives a grant of land from the government of Mexico and settles with his family in what is now Texas. He is considered the “Father of Texas.”
1870 – Construction begins on Brooklyn Bridge in New York. It is completed on May 24, 1883.
1920 – The New York Yankees purchase baseball player Herman “Babe” Ruth from the Boston Red Sox for $125,000. It is the largest sum paid for a single player to date. He leads the Yankees to seven pennants and four World Series wins. Ruth retires from baseball with the Boston Braves in 1935. Ruth died in 1948 at age 53.
1929 – Twenty-seven-year-old William S. Paley becomes the founder and president of CBS-TV. In 1946 he names Frank Stanton to head CBS. Paley died in 1990 at age 89.
1933 – Minnie D. Craig is elected Speaker of the House of Representatives in North Dakota. Craig is the first female to hold a Speaker position in the U.S.
1938 – March of Dimes is established to fight polio.
1944 – World War II top flying ace Major Greg “Pappy” Boyington is shot down over the Pacific and captured by the Japanese. The Black Sheep Squadron leader is released after 20 months in captivity. Boyington is awarded the Medal of Honor by President F. D. Roosevelt while still a prisoner of war. He is presented with the Medal by President Truman the following October. Pappy died in 1988 at age 75.
1952 – Dragnet with Jack Webb premieres on NBC-TV. It starts as a radio series in 1949, spawns three generations of TV series, and is made into movies in 1954, 1966 and 1987. Webb died in 1982 at age 62. Watch one of Webb’s classics fast-paced speeches:
1959 – Alaska is admitted as 49th U.S. state.
1961 – The U.S. breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba and closes its embassy in Havana.
1977 – Apple Computer is incorporated.
1984 – Syria frees captured U.S. pilot Lt. Robert Goodman after an appeal from Jesse Jackson.
1987 – The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducts Aretha Franklin as its first female artist.
1993 – The Start II arms reduction treaty is signed by President George H. W. Bush and Boris Yeltsin in Moscow, Russia.
1993 – Quarterback Frank Reich leads the Buffalo Bills back from a 32-point deficit to defeat the Houston Oilers 41-38 in overtime in a wild card playoff game. It is the greatest deficit comeback in pro football history.
1994 – The 35-foot-tall statue of Chief Wahoo, the Cleveland Indians trademark on top of Stadium since 1962, is taken down to be moved to Jacob’s Field.
2005 – Casey Kasem gives up “American Top 40” after hosting it across 4 decades. Ryan Seacrest is the new host. Kasem died in 2014 at age 82. Listen to Kasem’s final broadcast and signoff:
2016 – Jimmy Butler breaks Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls record for points in a half. Butler scores 40 of his 42 points in the second half to lead the Bulls in a 115-113 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
1754 – Columbia University is founded as Kings College in New York City.
1847 – Samuel Colt sells his first revolver pistol, the Walker, to the U.S. government.
1863 – James Plimpton of New York patents the four-wheeled roller skates.
1893 – President Harrison grants amnesty to Mormon polygamists and Utah is admitted to the Union exactly 3 years later.
1920 – The first Black baseball league, National Negro Baseball League, organizes.
1935 – Bob Hope makes his debut on network radio as part of The Intimate Revue.
1936 – Billboard magazine publishes its first music Hit Parade. The first # 1 song in Billboard history is Joe Venuti, father of the jazz violin, performing “Stop, Look and Listen.” Listen to the recording:
1954 – Elvis Presley records a 10-minute demo tape in Nashville, Tennessee.
1968 – Leo Fender sells Fender Guitars for $13 million.
1970 – Walter Cronkite stops hosting his weekly documentary but continues reporting for the CBS Evening News. He retires from CBS in March 1981 because of their policy of mandatory retirement by age 65. Cronkite died in 2009 at age 92.
1980 – President Carter announces the U.S. boycott of the Moscow Summer Olympics in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
1995 – Newt Gingrich (R) becomes Speaker of the House. He resigns as Speaker in January 1999 after House Republicans have the worst mid-term performance in 64 years following the November 1998 mid-term elections.
1999 – Former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura is sworn in as governor of Minnesota and serves one term.
2004 – NASA’s Mars Rover “Spirit” lands successfully on Mars. Watch NASA’s JPL interviews with animated simulations:
2007 – The 110th United States Congress convenes, electing Nancy Pelosi as the first female Speaker of the House in U.S. history.
2010 – The Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removes HIV infection from its list of communicable diseases of public health significance.
1781 – A British naval expedition led by former American General and traitor Benedict Arnold burns Richmond, Virginia.
1836 – Davy Crockett arrives in Texas. Crocket serves in the U.S. House of Representatives 1927-1935. After being defeated for reelection in 1934, he tells people, “I told the people of my district that I would serve them as faithfully as I had done; but if not, they might go to hell, and I would go to Texas.” He is killed defending the Alamo on March 6th at age 49.
1905 – The National Association of Audubon Society incorporates in New York. William Dutcher serves as its first president.
1914 – James Cox of Ford Motor Company announces wages will jump from $2.40/9-hour day to $5.00/8-hour day.
1925 – Nellie Taylor Ross becomes the governor of Wyoming. She is the first woman governor in U.S.
1949 – President Harry Truman announces his “Fair Deal” during his State of the Union Address.
1959 – The “Bozo the Clown” live children’s show premieres on TV. The show survives in several forms, including “Bozo’s Big Top,” until 2001. One of the actors who portrayed Bozo is Willard Scott, who went on to be the first Ronald McDonald. Watch one of the early live TV shows:
1961 – “Mr. Ed” debuts on TV and airs for six years.
1961 – The U.S. breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba.
1971 – The Harlem Globetrotters lose 99-100 to the New Jersey Reds, ending their 2,495-game winning streak.
1971 – The body of U.S. heavyweight boxer “Sonny” Liston is found in his Las Vegas home. It is estimated that he has been dead a week. He is approximately 38 years old since his actual date of birth is unknown. His death is ruled a heroin overdose but the cause of death is inconclusive.
1972 – President Nixon signs a bill for NASA to begin research on a manned space shuttle.
1976 – The “MacNeil-Lehrer Report” premieres on PBS. Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer originally team up to cover the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaigns, formed to investigate Watergate.
1987 – The surrogate Baby M case begins in Hackensack, New Jersey. William and Elizabeth Stern enter into a surrogacy agreement with Mary Beth Whitehead. Whitehead changes her mind and takes Baby M away from the Sterns. A New Jersey court awards custody to the Sterns and Whitehead is given visitation rights. Baby M (Melissa Stern) is now 30 years old.
1993 – The state of Washington executes Westley Allan Dodd by hanging (at his request) for multiple child murders. It is the first legal hanging in America since 1965.
1998 – U.S. Representative Sonny Bono (of Sonny and Cher fame) dies in skiing accident.
2002 – Fifteen-year-old student pilot Charles Bishop crashes a small plane into a building in Tampa, Florida. Bishop is about to begin a flying lesson when he takes off without permission and without an instructor. Watch a report on his suicide flight:
1759 – George Washington marries Martha Dandridge Custis. Martha is a widow who has 2 children. George died in 1799 at age 67 and Martha died in 1802 at age 70.
1893 – The Washington National Cathedral is chartered by Congress and signed by President Benjamin Harrison. Construction takes 83 years, from 1907 to 1990, at a cost of $65 million in private donations.
1898 – Naval engineer and designer Simon Lake sends the first telephone message from a submerged submarine.
1931 – Thomas Edison submits the last of his 1,093 patent applications. Edison died in October of 1931 at age 84.
1939 – The daily comic strip “Superman” debuts in newspapers.
1941 – FDR makes his “4 Freedoms” speech (speech, worship, from want and from fear).
1942 – Pan American Airlines becomes the first commercial airline to schedule a flight around the world.
1963 – “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” hosted by Marlin Perkins premiers on TV. It airs until 1985. Perkins died in 1986 at age 81. Watch the original opening credits:
1967 – The final “Milton Berle Show” airs on TV. Berle’s comeback show lasts only one season. The original Texaco Star Theater airs from 1948-1956. Berle died in 2002 at age 93.
1973 – “Schoolhouse Rock” premieres on ABC-TV with Multiplication Rock. It airs until 2009. Watch one of the multiplications shows:
1975 – The original daytime version of “Wheel of Fortune” debuts on NBC-TV. It lasts until 1989, when it moves to CBS for two years before moving back to NBC. The original host is Chuck Woolery. Pat Sajak (age 70) has been the host since 1981. Vanna White (age 59) has been the hostess since 1982.
1978 – The U.S returns St. Stephen’s crown to Hungary. The thousand-year-old crown is smuggled out of Hungary during WWII and is eventually transferred to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for safe keeping.
1994 – Tonya Harding’s ex-husband and her bodyguard hire Shane Stant to break the leg of ice skater Nancy Kerrigan the day before the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Kerrigan withdraws from the competition with a bruised leg. Both skaters are named to the Olympic team, where Kerrigan wins the Silver Medal and Harding finishes eighth. Harding pleads guilty to hindering the prosecution and receives three years of probation, 500 hours of community service, a $160,000 fine, and a lifetime ban from figure skating.
2005 – Edgar Ray Killen is arrested as a suspect for the 1964 murders of three Mississippi Civil Rights workers. Killen is convicted on three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 60 years in prison (20 years for each count). Killen is now 91 years old.
2016 – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” breaks several box office records, including being the fastest movie to gross $1 billion (12 days).
1608 – Fire destroys the colony at Jamestown, Virginia.
1782 – The first U.S. commercial bank, Bank of North America, opens in Philadelphia.
1830 – The first U.S. Railroad Station opens in Baltimore, Maryland.
1896 – Fanny Farmer publishes her first cookbook. She is partially paralyzed after a stroke when she is 16. She enrolls in the Boston Cooking School at age 30 and attends until 1989. Farmer died in 1915 at age 57.
1911 – The first airplane bombing experiments with explosives take place in San Francisco, California.
1927 – The Harlem Globetrotters basketball team play their first game in Hinckley, Illinois. They start as the “Savoy Big Five” in 1926 with 24-year-old coach Abe Saperstein. “Sweet Georgia Brown” becomes their theme song in 1952. They play basketball against the Washington Generals. In 1982 the Harlem Globetrotters become the only sports team with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Watch their “Top 10 Dunks” video:
1929 – “Tarzan,” one of the first adventure comic strips and “Buck Rogers,” the first sci-fi comic strip, first appear in print.
1934 – The “Flash Gordon” comic strip by Alex Raymond debuts.
1949 – Daniel Pease and Richard Baker take the first photo of genes using an electron microscope at University of Southern California.
1953 – President Harry Truman announces America’s development of the hydrogen bomb.
1955 – Marian Anderson becomes the first black singer to perform at the Metropolitan in New York City.
1963 – First class postage stamps increase from 4 cents to 5 cents.
1968 – First class postage stamps increase from 5 cents to 6 cents.
1969 – The U.S. Congress doubles the president’s salary to $200,000. In 1999, President Clinton doubles his salary to $400,000. In 1789, George Washington got paid $25,000 a year.
1970 – Local farmers sue Max Yasgur for $35,000 in damages caused by the “Woodstock” concert. Yasgur died in 1973 at the age of 53. Watch him speak to the assembled crowd at Woodstock:
1972 – William H. Rehnquist and Lewis F. Powell Jr. are sworn in as Supreme Court Justices. It is the only time two Supreme Court justices are sworn in at the same time.
1980 – President Jimmy Carter authorizes legislation to bail out automaker Chrysler Corporation with a $1.5 billion loan. In 2009, President Obama authorizes another Chrysler (and GM) bailout to the tune of $80 billion. Fiat bought Chrysler in 2014.
1994 – Tonya Harding wins the U.S. female Figure Skating Championship. Nancy Kerrigan drops out after Harding orchestrates an attack on Kerrigan the day before.
1998 – Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky signs an affidavit denying she had an affair with President Bill Clinton.
1999 – President Bill Clinton begins his impeachment trial in the Senate for perjury and obstruction of justice after saying he did not have sex with “that woman.” Although Clinton is convicted in the House, both impeachment charges fail in the Senate on February 12th. Watch Clinton give his definition of the word “is”:
2002 – Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates introduces a new device called the Mira. The device is a tablet-like device that is a cross between a handheld computer and a TV remote control.
1790 – President George Washington delivers the first State of the Union Address.
1833 – The Boston Academy of Music, the first U.S. music school, is established.
1835 – The U.S. national debt is $0 for the first and only time. The current national debt is almost $19 billion. (Last year on this date the national debt was just over $17 billion.)
1867 – Legislation gives voting rights to blacks in Washington, DC, despite President Andrew Johnson’s veto.
1877 – Crazy Horse and his warriors fight their last battle with the U. S. Cavalry at Wolf Mountain in the Montana Territory. Crazy Horse surrenders in May with his band to protect them, and goes to Fort Robinson in Nebraska. Crazy Horse died that September.
1918 – Mississippi becomes the first state to ratify 18th amendment (prohibition).
1935 – A.C. Hardy patents the spectrophotometer, which measures the intensity of light in a spectrum.
1954 – Elvis Presley pays $4 to a Memphis studio and records his first two songs, “Casual Love” and “I’ll Never Stand in Your Way.” Listen to the Elvis recording with photos of the King:
1956 – Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog” single goes to #1 and stays #1 for a record 11 weeks.
1962 – Golfer Jack Nicklaus, age 21, makes his first pro appearance and comes in 50th. Nicholas goes on to beat Arnold Palmer in the 1962 U.S. Open.
1963 – The “Mona Lisa” painting by Leonardo de Vinci, on loan from the Louvre Museum in Paris, is unveiled in America’s National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC for President and Mrs. Kennedy. Watch a newsreel of the event:
1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson declares the “War on Poverty.”
1965 – The Star of India, a 563 carat blue star sapphire, is returned to the American Museum of Natural History. Jack Roland Murphy, Alan Kuhn, and Roger Clark steal this and other gems on October 29, 1964, and are arrested two days later. Each receives three-year sentences.
1968 – Jacques Cousteau’s first undersea special airs on U.S. network TV.
1973 – The trial of Watergate burglars begins in Washington, DC. James W. McCord and G. Gordon Liddy are convicted on charges conspiracy, burglary, and wiretapping. Five others plead guilty earlier. McCord’s sentence is reduced to four months and Liddy serves four years of his 20-year sentence.
1987 – The Dow Jones closes above 2,000 for the first time (2,002.25).
1993 – NBC offers “The Tonight Show” to David Letterman, but gives the hosting duties to Jay Leno. Jimmy Fallon is now the host. Steve Allen was the first.
1996 – For the first time in 25 years no one is elected to Baseball Hall of Fame.
2002 – President George W. Bush signs into law the “No Child Left Behind” Act.
2008 – New Jersey officially apologizes for slavery, becoming the first Northern state to do so.
2011 – The attempted assassination of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, kills 6 and wounds 13, including Giffords. She resigns from Congress a year later. Jared Lee Loughner is convicted of the shootings and is sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. Giffords, whose husband is an astronaut, is now 46 years old.