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 23-29, 2017
1812 – A 7.8 earthquake shakes New Madrid, Missouri.
1855 – The first bridge over the Mississippi River opens in what is now Minneapolis, Minnesota. The bridge today is called the Father Louis Hennepin Bridge.
1862 – Agoston Haraszthy, the first vintner in Sonoma Valley, California, imports 10,000 grape vine cuttings.
1865 – General Robert E. Lee is named Commander-in-Chief of the Confederate Armies.
1930 – The George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Colonial Beach, Virginia, is established.
1933 – The 20th amendment changes the date of presidential inaugurations to January 20.
1943 – Duke Ellington plays at Carnegie Hall in New York City for the first time.
1953 – NFL’s Dallas Texans move and become the Baltimore Colts. The Colts move to Indianapolis in 1984.
1968 – The spy ship USS Pueblo and its 83-man crew is seized in Sea of Japan by North Korea. The crew is released 11 months later but the ship remains in North Korea. Watch a video by the Council on Foreign Relations:
1973 – President Nixon announces an accord has been reach to end the Vietnam War.
1977 – The miniseries “Roots” premieres on TV and airs for eight consecutive nights. It is based on Alex Haley’s 1976 novel.
1983 – “The A-Team” with Mr. T (Laurence Tero Tureaud) premieres on NBC-TV and airs until 1987. Mr. T is now 64 years old.
1986 – The first inductees into Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame are Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, “Fats” Domino, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley.
1991 – “Seinfeld” debuts on NBC-TV and airs until 1998. Jerry Seinfeld and George discuss the show about nothing. Click on – Seinfeld video about nothing
1993 – New York Newsday reports that Oregon’s Senator Bob Packwood sexually harassed 23 women. Packwood announces his resignation from the Senate on September 7, 1995, after the Senate Ethics Committee unanimously recommends that he be expelled from the Senate for ethical misconduct.
2002 – Reporter Daniel Pearl is kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan. He is subsequently murdered on live TV.
2013 – The U.S. armed forces overturns a 1994 ban on women serving in combat.
1848 – James Marshall finds gold in Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California, starting the gold rush.
1908 – General Baden-Powell starts the Boy Scouts.
1922 – Christian K. Nelson gets the patent for the Eskimo Pie, a chocolate covered ice cream bar. It is originally called the “I Scream Bar.”
1925 – Moving pictures of a solar eclipse are taken from a U.S. Navy dirigible over Long Island. Watch the flight from LA to NY and the eclipse footage:
1935 – The Krueger Brewing Company sells the first canned beer, “Krueger Cream Ale.”
1947 – The National Football League adds a 5th official (the back judge) and allows for sudden death in playoff games.
1962 – Jackie Robinson is the first black player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1964 – The 24th Amendment to Constitution goes into effect. It states voting rights cannot be denied due to failure to pay taxes.
1984 – Apple Computer Inc. unveils its revolutionary Macintosh personal computer. Watch Apple’s first Mac commercial:
1989 – Confessed serial killer Ted Bundy is put to death in Florida’s electric chair for the 1978 kidnap-murder of 12-year-old Kimberly Leach.
2003 – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security officially begins operation.
2015 – Golden State Warrior basketball player Klay Thompson scores the most points in a quarter with 37 and the most 3-pointers in a quarter with 9.
1851 – Sojourner Truth addresses the first Black Women’s Rights Convention, held in Akron, Ohio.
1890 – Nellie Bly beats the fictional Phileas Fogg’s time around world by 8 days. American-born Bly travels around the world mostly by ship and rail, completing the trip alone in just over 72 days.
1890 – United Mine Workers of America forms.
1904 – 179 miners die in a coalmine explosion at Cheswick, Pennsylvania.
1907 – Julia Ward Howe, who penned “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” is the first woman elected to National Institute of Arts & Letters.
1915 – Alexander Graham Bell in New York places a call to Thomas Watson in San Francisco.
1937 – The first broadcast of “Guiding Light” airs on NBC radio. It premiers on TV in 1952, and airs until 2009.
1945 – Grand Rapids, Michigan, becomes the first U.S. city to fluoridate its drinking water.
1949 – The first television Emmy Awards is held. Ventriloquist Shirley Dinsdale and the popular TV show “Pantomime Quiz” win awards.
1957 – The FBI arrests Jack and Myra Soble and charges them with spying for the USSR. Myra is sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison, and Jack 7 years.
1964 – The Beatles have their first U.S. #1 hit with “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”
1971 – Charles Manson and three women followers convicted of the seven Tate-LaBianca murders. He is sentenced to death but his sentence is changed to life in prison when the death penalty is abolished. He has repeatedly been denied parole.
1981 – The 52 Americans held hostage by Iran for 444 days arrived back in the U.S. Watch their emotional return:
1993 – Sears announces it is closing its catalog sales department after 97 years.
2004 – The Mars Exploration Rover “Opportunity” lands on surface of Mars. The 3-month mission has lasted 10 years and is still ongoing.
2010 – The International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame has its grand opening in Arlington, Texas.
1784 – Ben Franklin expresses unhappiness over the eagle as America’s symbol. It is said he preferred the turkey.
1862 – President Lincoln issues General War Order #1, calling for a Union offensive. Union General McClellan ignores the order.
1911 – Glenn Curtiss pilots the first successful hydroplane in San Diego, California.
1913 – Jim Thorpe relinquishes his 1912 Olympic medals for playing semi-professional baseball. His medals are posthumously returned on January 18, 1983. Thorpe died in 1953 at age 64.
1918 – The U.S. food administrator Hoover calls for “wheatless” and “meatless” days for the war effort.
1920 – Former Ford Motor Company executive Henry Leland launches the Lincoln Motor Company, which he later sells to his former employer.
1931 – “Cimarron” premieres in New York and is the first western to win Best Outstanding Production/Picture. It is directed by Wesley Ruggles and stars Richard Dix and Irene Dunne.
1948 – President Truman signs Executive Order 9981, ending segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces.
1950 – Automaker Preston Tucker is found not guilty of mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud. Tucker’s defense attorneys surprised everyone by not calling any witnesses to the stand. Tucker is unable to pick up the pieces of his company. He died in 1956 at age 53.
1954 – Groundbreaking begins on Disneyland in California. The theme park opens on July 17, 1955. Walt Disney is introduced at the opening ceremony by the future Governor and future President Ronald Reagan. Watch Walt Disney reveal the plans for Disneyland:
1961 – Dr. Janet G. Travell becomes the first woman “personal physician to the president.” She is President Kennedy’s physician. Travell died in 1997 at the age of 95.
1979 – “The Dukes of Hazzard” premieres on CBS-TV and airs until 1985. Watch 10 minutes of jumps by “General Lee”:
1988 – “The Phantom of the Opera” by Andrew Lloyd Webber makes its U.S. debut at the Majestic Theater in New York City. It is the longest running show in Broadway history, playing more than 12,000 performances over 28 years.
1992 – The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) goes into effect.
2005 – Condoleezza Rice is sworn in as U.S. Secretary of State, becoming the first black woman to hold the post.
2009 – The U.S. Senate confirms President Obama’s nominee Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury in spite of the fact that Geithner failed to pay $35,000 in taxes.
2014 – First class postage stamps in the U.S. increase to 49 cents.
1825 – Congress approves a plan by Secretary of War John C. Calhoun for an Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa. This clears the way for the forced relocation of the Eastern Indians through the Indian Removal Act of 1830 during what becomes known as the “Trail of Tears.”
1888 – The National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, DC.
1918 – “Tarzan of the Apes,” the first Tarzan film, premieres in New York City. Tarzan is played by Elmo Lincoln.
1926 – The U.S. Senate agrees to join the World Court.
1927 – United Independent Broadcasters Inc. starts a radio network with 16 stations. The company later becomes Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS).
1951 – The U.S. conducts the first nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site located 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The mushroom-shaped cloud could be seen from Las Vegas.
1961 – “Sing Along with Mitch” (Mitch Miller) premieres on TV and airs until 1966. Miller died in 2010 at age 99. Sing along with Mitch:
1967 – Astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White, and Roger B. Chaffee die when a flash fire engulfs their Apollo 1 command capsule during testing. They are the first astronauts to die in the line of duty.
1973 – The United States and Vietnam sign the Paris Peace Accord initiating a cease-fire. Negotiations began in 1968. The Vietnam War does not officially end until May 1975.
1976 – “Laverne & Shirley,” a spinoff from “Happy Days,” premieres on TV and airs until 1983.
1985 – The Coca-Cola Company, of Atlanta, Georgia, announces a plan to sell its soft drinks in the Soviet Union.
1992 – Presidential candidate Bill Clinton and Genifer Flowers accuse each other of lying. She asserts they had a 12-year affair.
1998 – First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton appears on NBC’s “Today” show with charges that the allegations against her husband are the work of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” See it for yourself:
2010 – Steve Jobs unveils the Apple iPad. Jobs died in 2011 at age 56.
1878 – George W. Coy is hired in New Haven, Connecticut, as the first full-time telephone operator at the first telephone exchange.
1887 – The world’s largest snowflakes are reported in a snowstorm at Fort Keogh, Montana, being 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick.
1915 – The first U.S. ship lost in World War I is the merchant ship “William P. Frye.” It is carrying wheat to England.
1915 – The Coast Guard is created by an act of the Congress to fight contraband trade and aid distressed vessels at sea.
1932 – Wisconsin enacts the first U.S. state unemployment insurance.
1950 – Auto maker Preston Tucker is found not guilty of mail fraud after being hounded by the SEC for years. Even though he was acquitted, his factory had been closed down and he was deep in debt. Of the 51 Tucker Sedans that were made, 47 are still around, mostly in private collections. Tucker died in 1956 at age 53.
1956 – Elvis Presley makes his first TV appearance. He performs on the Dorsey Brothers Stage Show with Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Watch Elvis Presley’s first TV performance:
1965 – General Motors reports the biggest profit of any U.S. company in history.
1985 – USA For Africa records the song “We are the World.” The song is written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones. It sells more than 20 million copies. Watch the official star-studded video:
1986 – The Challenger, on the 25th Space Shuttle mission, explodes 73 seconds after liftoff. All crewmembers are lost. Watch the disaster on CNN live video:
1990 – The San Francisco 49ers beat the Denver Broncos 55 to 10 in Super Bowl XXIV. It is the most lopsided game in Super Bowl history.
2013 – John Kerry succeeds Hillary Rodham Clinton as the U.S. Secretary of State.
1845 – Edgar Allen Poe’s narrative poem “The Raven” is first published once upon a midnight dreary. Poe died mysteriously in 1849 at the age of 40.
1879 – The Custer Battlefield National Monument in Montana is established. Lakota, Sioux, and Cheyenne warriors kill Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and over 200 troops of the 7th Cavalry on June 25, 1876 near the Little Bighorn River.
1920 – Walt Disney starts his first job as a cartoonist with the Kansas City Slide Company at $35 a week.
1936 – Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson are the first players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Watch actual footage of the 1939 opening of the Baseball Hall of Fame:
1951 – Elizabeth Taylor gets divorced for the first time. Conrad Hilton, Jr. is the first of her eight husbands. She married Richard Burton twice. Liz died in 2011 at age 79.
1959 – The Walt Disney movie “Sleeping Beauty” is released.
1975 – First American Annual Comedy Awards is held. It is hosted by Alan King.
1989 – The Episcopal Church of the United States appoints Barbara Harris as its first female bishop.
1995 – The San Francisco 49ers become the first team in National Football League (NFL) history to win five Super Bowl titles when they defeat the San Diego Chargers 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIX. The Pittsburgh Steelers now hold the record at six Super Bowl wins.
2002 – In his State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush describes the “regimes that sponsor terror” as an Axis of Evil, which includes Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Listen to his chillingly accurate prediction: