This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“The most effective way to destroy people is to
deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
Week of Jan. 8-14, 2018
1790 – President George Washington delivers the first State of the Union Address before a joint session of Congress in New York City. Many of the early addresses, however, were only delivered to Congress in writing. Since the ratification of the 20th Amendment in 1933, that changed the opening of Congress from March to January, the President’s Annual Message to Congress has been delivered in late January of early February.
1835 – The U.S. national debt is $0 for the first and only time. The current national debt is about $20.5 billion. (Last year on this date the national debt was almost $19 billion.) The National Debt Clock registers dozens of U.S. indicators: U.S. Debt Clock
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 surrendered in May with his band to protect them, and went to Fort Robinson in Nebraska. Crazy Horse died that September. A mountain monument of Crazy Horse is being constructed 17 miles from Mount Rushmore in Custer County, South Dakota. His face is 87 feet high, while the president’s faces are 60 feet high.
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:
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.
1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson declares the “War on Poverty.”
1973 – The trial of Watergate burglars begins in Washington, DC. James W. McCord and G. Gordon Liddy were convicted on charges conspiracy, burglary, and wiretapping. Five others plead guilty earlier. McCord’s sentence was reduced to four months and Liddy served four years of his 20-year sentence.
2002 – President George W. Bush signs into law the “No Child Left Behind” Act. The “Every Student Succeeds” Act replaced NCLB in 2015.
2008 – New Jersey officially apologizes for slavery, becoming the first Northern state to do so.
2011 – The attempted assassination of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at a Safeway grocery store in Tuscon, Arizona, kills 6 and wounds 13, including Giffords. She resigned from Congress a year later. Jared Lee Loughner was convicted of the shooting and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
1793 – The first hot-air balloon flight in the U.S. lifts off in Philadelphia, piloted by Jean Pierre Blanchard. He flew to an altitude of over one mile and traveled more than 15 miles.
1861 – The Union merchant vessel Star of the West is fired upon at Ft. Sumter in South Carolina in the first hostile act of Civil War.
1903 – Frank Farrell and Bill Devery purchase the American League Baltimore baseball team franchise for $18,000 and move the team to New York City. The team was renamed the Highlanders until 1913, then became the Yankees.
1942 – The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff positions are created. The first members are Admiral William D. Leahy, President Roosevelt’s special military adviser/ Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy; General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the Army; Admiral Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations and Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet; and General Henry H. Arnold, Deputy Army Chief of Staff for Air and Chief of the Army Air Corps.
1956 – Abigail Van Buren’s “Dear Abby” column first appears in newspapers. Her real name was Pauline Phillips. Abby died in January 2013 at age 94. Her twin sister was columnist “Ann Landers,” who died in 2002 at age 83.
1979 – The Supreme Court strikes down a Pennsylvania law (by a 6-3 vote) requiring doctors performing an abortion to try to preserve lives of potentially viable fetuses.
1991 – Baseball officially bans Pete Rose from being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. “Charlie Hustle” was banned for betting on baseball games while he was a player and manager. Rose is now 76 years old.
2002 – Michael Jackson receives the Artist of the Century award at the American music awards. Jackson died in 2009 at age 50. Jackson’s physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for administering the drugs that killed Jackson. Murray served two years of a four-year sentence. Watch the award ceremony:
2007 – Apple Inc. CEO, Steve Jobs announces the iPhone.
1776 – Thomas Paine publishes “Common Sense.” Originally published anonymously, “Common Sense” advocated independence from Britain for the American colonies.
1789 – The first national presidential election in the U.S. ends. The election process began on December 15, 1788. George Washington was unanimously elected to the first of his two 4-year terms.
1870 – John D. Rockefeller incorporates Standard Oil. He became the world’s first millionaire.
1943 – President F.D. Roosevelt leaves for Casablanca, Morocco, becoming the first U.S. president to visit a foreign country in wartime.
1967 – PBS, the National Educational TV station, begins as a 70-station network.
1984 – The U.S. establishes full diplomatic relations with Vatican after 117 years. In 1983, Congress lifted a prohibition on diplomatic relations enacted in 1867 during widespread anti-Roman Catholic sentiment and concern about the struggle for Italian unification.
1987 – The Dow Jones industrial average closes over the 2,000 mark for the first time. Thirty years later, on January 25, 2017, the Dow Jones closed at 20,000.
1994 – The trial of Lorena Bobbitt begins. She cut off her husband John’s penis in 1993 after what she claims is years of abuse. His member was reattached during a nine-hour surgery. Lorena was acquitted of malicious wounding.
1794 – Robert Forsyth, a 40-year-old U.S. Marshal, is killed in Augusta, Georgia, when trying to serve court papers. Forsyth was the first U.S. marshal to die in the line of duty.
1803 – James Monroe and Robert Livingston sail for Paris to buy New Orleans. They end up purchasing Louisiana. Monroe served as president from 1817 to 1825. Livingston helped draft the Declaration of Independence and administered the presidential oath of office to George Washington in 1789.
1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman in the U.S. to earn a medical degree. She opened an infirmary in 1857 and trained nurses during the Civil War. Blackwell died in 1910 at age 89. Watch a brief bio of Dr. Blackwell:
1953 – J. Edgar Hoover turns down a 6-figure offer as the president of the International Boxing Club. Hoover served as FBI director from 1924 until his death in 1972.
1963 – The first discotheque, Whiskey-a-Go-Go, opens in Los Angeles on the Sunset Strip. The nightclub is still open.
1964 – The first government report is issued by U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry warning that smoking may be hazardous to one’s health.
1984 – The Supreme Court reinstates the $10 million award to Karen Silkwood’s family. Silkwood worked at the Kerr-McGee Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site plant near Crescent, Oklahoma, and became a nuclear safety activist. She died in a suspicious car accident in 1974 at age 28.
1991 – Congress empowers President Bush to use force against Iraq.
1773 – The first public museum in the U.S. is established in Charlestown, South Carolina.
1896 – Dr. Henry Smith of Davidson, North Carolina, makes the first X-ray photo in the U.S.
1906 – Dow Jones closes above 100 for the first time (100.26). After the stock market crash and the Great Depression, it wasn’t until 1933 that the Dow Jones closed above 100 again.
1921 – Kenesaw Mountain Landis becomes the first commissioner of baseball. The former federal judge served until his death in 1944 at age 78.
1948 – The Supreme Court rules in favor of Ada Sipuel in the case of Sipuel vs. Oklahoma State Board of Regents. Two years earlier Ada Sipuel applied for admission to the all-white law school at the University of Oklahoma and was denied because of her race. Future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall argued before the Supreme Court while future Justice John Paul Stevens watched from the gallery.
1967 – The Louisville, Kentucky, draft board refuses an exemption for the boxer Muhammad Ali. Ali (born Cassius Clay) was convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to 5 years in prison, fined $10,000, and banned from boxing for three years. He stayed out of prison during his appeal and the Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 1971. Ali died in 2016 at age 74.
1967 – Dr. James Bedford, who died of kidney cancer at age 73, becomes the first person to be placed in cryonic suspension with the intent of future resuscitation. Bedford’s body was successfully transferred to a new cryogenic storage dewar (capsule) in 1991.
1990 – Civil Rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton is stabbed in Brooklyn, New York by 27-year-old Michael Riccardi. Riccardi was sentenced to 5-15 years in prison and was released in 2001. Sharpton is now 63 years old.
1995 – Malcolm X’s daughter Qubilah Shabazz is arrested for plotting the murder of Louis Farrakhan, whom she believed was responsible for her father’s assassination in 1965.
2005 – NASA’s spacecraft Deep Impact launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a Delta 2 rocket on a mission to land on a comet. In July, the impactor separated from the fly-by spacecraft and hit the comet. The fly-by spacecraft was reprogrammed and crossed paths with other comets. Communication was lost in 2013. Watch an onboard video of the impact (no sound):
1794 – Congress changes the U.S. flag to 15 stars and 15 stripes.
1888 – The National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, DC.
1906 – Telimco advertises the first radio set for $7.50 in Scientific American. It claimed to receive signals up to one mile.
1948 – The first country music TV show, Midwestern Hayride, premieres in Cincinnati, Ohio.
1972 – Former housewife Bernice Gera wins the lawsuit she initiated on March 15, 1971, to become a minor league baseball umpire. Gera became the first professional female umpire of a minor league baseball game in June 1972, but later resigned because male umpires refuse to work with her. Gera died in 1992 at age 61.
1979 – The YMCA files a libel suit against The Village People’s “YMCA” song. The lawsuit was later dropped. Watch the original music video:
1988 – The Supreme Court issues a landmark decision (5-3) in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier that public school officials have broad powers to censor school newspapers, plays, and other expressive activities.
2016 – Three winning tickets holders in California, Tennessee, and Florida share a record Powerball lottery of $1.6 billion.
1699 – Massachusetts holds a day of fasting for wrongly persecuting “witches.”
1784 – The Revolutionary War ends when Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris.
1794 – Dr. Jesse Bennett of Edom, Virginia, performs the first successful Cesarean section operation in the U.S. He performed the surgery on his wife Elizabeth after their family physician refused to operate. Elizabeth and her daughter both survived.
1914 – Henry Ford introduces the assembly line for Model T Fords.
1938 – The National Society for the Legalization of Euthanasia is founded in New York by Rev. Charles Francis Potter. Euthanasia was referred to as “mercy killing.” Potter was also an advisor on the Bible to Clarence Darrow during his defense of Thomas Scopes, who was charged with teaching evolution.
1952 – The “Today Show” premieres on TV with Dave Garroway and Jack Lescoulie as the world’s first morning news and talk show. Watch the Today Show premiere:
1954 – Marilyn Monroe and New York Yankee’s baseball star Joe DiMaggio get married. They got a divorce in October 1954, 274 days after they were married.
1963 – George C. Wallace is sworn in as the governor of Alabama for the first of four nonconsecutive terms. In his inaugural address he stated, “Segregation now; segregation tomorrow; segregation forever!” He was shot and left paralyzed in 1972. Wallace died in 1998 at age 79.
1979 – President Jimmy Carter proposes that Martin Luther King’s birthday be a holiday. President Ronald Reagan signed legislation in 1983 designating the third Monday in January as an annual federal holiday. The first official celebration took place on January 20, 1986. Watch Carter’s speech on the 50th anniversary of King’s march on Washington:
1995 – Mexico pledges the profits from its state-owned Pemex’s $7-billion-per-year oil revenues in an effort to secure U.S. congressional approval of loan guarantees. President Clinton approved a $20-billion U.S. aid package for Mexico. Emails released in 2017 from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s private server showed that her State Department helped break up Pemex’s monopoly in 2009.
2004 – A Lewis and Clark Exhibition opens at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis featuring 500 rare and priceless objects used by the Corps of Discovery.
Photo from CrazyHorseMemorial.org