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 9-15, 2017
1793 – The first hot-air balloon flight in the U.S. lifts off in Philadelphia, piloted by Jean Pierre Blanchard. He flies to an altitude of over one mile and travels more than 15 miles.
1858 – Anson Jones, the last President of the Republic of Texas, commits suicide by shooting himself in the head. He is bitterly disappointed at not being appointed to the U.S. Senate, suffers a crippling arm injury, and then fails to win a single vote in the state legislature. He was 59 years old.
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 is renamed the Highlanders until 1913, when they become the Yankees. (See Jan. 11, 1915)
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.
1945 – U.S. soldiers led by General Douglas MacArthur invade the Philippines.
1956 – Abigail Van Buren’s “Dear Abby” column first appears in newspapers. Her real name is Pauline Phillips. Abby died in January 2013 at age 94. Her twin sister is columnist “Ann Landers,” who died in 2002 at age 83.
1959 – “Rawhide” with Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates premieres on TV and airs until 1965. Watch the show’s opening credits with the theme song by Frankie Laine:
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” is banned for betting on baseball games while he is a player and manager. Rose is now 75 years old.
1997 – Frank Sinatra has a heart attack and is sent to the hospital for the second time that week. Sinatra died in 1998 at age 82.
2002 – Michael Jackson receives the Artist of the Century award at the American music awards. Jackson died in 2009 at age 50. Watch the award ceremony:
2007 – Apple Inc. CEO, Steve Jobs announces the iPhone.
1776 – Thomas Paine publishes “Common Sense.” Originally published anonymously, “Common Sense” advocates independence from Britain for the American colonies.
1789 – The first national presidential election in the U.S. ends. The election process begins on December 15, 1788. George Washington is unanimously elected to the first of his two 4-year terms.
1870 – John D. Rockefeller incorporates Standard Oil.
1901 – Oil is discovered at the Spindletop claim near Beaumont, Texas.
1912 – The Curtiss hydroaeroplane, the world’s first flying boat, makes its maiden flight. The aircraft is designed by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss.
1932 – “Mickey Mouse” comics is syndicated.
1943 – President F.D. Roosevelt leaves for Casablanca, Morocco, becoming the first U.S. president to visit a foreign country in wartime.
1957 – Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick rules that Bing Crosby can keep token stock in the Detroit Tigers, even though he owns part of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
1964 – “Introducing the Beatles” is the first Beatles album released in the U.S.
1967 – PBS, the National Educational TV station, begins as a 70-station network.
1975 – Ella Grasso becomes the governor of Connecticut. She is the first woman to become a governor of a state without a husband preceding her in the governor’s chair.
1984 – The U.S. establishes full diplomatic relations with Vatican after 117 years. In 1983, Congress lifts a prohibition on diplomatic relations enacted in 1867 during widespread anti-Roman Catholic sentiment and concern about the struggle for Italian unification.
1984 – Clara Peller first asks, “Where’s the Beef?” in a Wendy’s commercial. Peller died in 1987 at age 85.Watch the original commercial:
1987 – The Dow Jones industrial average closes over the 2,000 mark for the first time.
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 is reattached during a nine-hour surgery. Lorena is acquitted of malicious wounding.
2005 – The rate for U.S. First Class mail is raised to 39 cents. Stamps currently cost 48 cents.
1794 – Robert Forsyth, a 40-year-old U.S. Marshal, is killed in Augusta, Georgia, when trying to serve court papers. Forsyth is 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 serves as president from 1817 to 1825. Livingston helps draft the Declaration of Independence and administers 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 opens an infirmary in 1857 and trains nurses during the Civil War. Blackwell died in 1910 at age 89. Watch a brief bio of Dr. Blackwell:
1873 – The Drovers Journal, the first livestock market newspaper, is published in Chicago.
1915 – Col. Jacob Ruppert and Col. Tillinghast Huston purchase the New York Yankees for $460,000. In 1922, Huston retires and sells his shares to Ruppert for $1.5 million.
1935 – Amelia Earhart flies non-stop from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Oakland, California.
1953 – J. Edgar Hoover turns down a 6-figure offer as the president of the International Boxing Club.
1963 – The first discotheque, Whiskey-a-Go-Go, opens in Los Angeles on the Sunset Strip.
1964 – The first government report is issued by U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry warning that smoking may be hazardous to one’s health.
1976 – Dorothy Hamill wins her third consecutive national figure skating championship. She also wins a gold medal at the Innsbruck Winter Olympics. Hamill is now 60 years old. Watch Hamill’s short program with brief commentary:
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.
2010 – Simon Cowell leaves as a judge on “American Idol.” The 15th and final season is in 2016.
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).
1921 – Kenesaw Mountain Landis becomes the first commissioner of baseball.
1943 – Hot dogs are replaced by Victory Sausages, a mix of meat and soy meal, due to the shortage of meat during World War II.
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 applies for admission to the all-white law school at the University of Oklahoma and is denied because of her race. Future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall argues before the Court while future Justice John Paul Stevens watches from the gallery.
1966 – “Batman” starring Adam West and Burt Ward premieres on TV and airs until 1968. West is now 88 years old and Ward is 71 years old. Watch and excerpt from the first episode:
1967 – The Louisville, Kentucky, draft board refuses an exemption for the boxer Muhammad Ali. Ali (born Cassius Clay) is convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to 5 years in prison, fined $10,000, and banned from boxing for three years. He stays out of prison during his appeal and the Supreme Court overturns 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 is successfully transferred to a new capsule in 1991.
1971 – “All in the Family” premieres on TV and features the first toilet flush on TV. It is the number one TV series from 1971-1976 and airs until 1979. Archie and Edith Bunker’s easy chairs are now on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC. Listen to the flush heard round the world (at 2:36): Click on – The flush heard round the world!
1990 – Civil Rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton is stabbed in Brooklyn, New York by 27-year-old Michael Riccardi. Riccardi is sentenced to 5-15 years in prison and is released in 2001. Sharpton is now 62 years old.
1995 – Malcolm X’s daughter Qubilah Shabazz is arrested for plotting the murder of Louis Farrakhan, whom she believes is responsible for her father’s assassination in 1965.
1995 – The murder trial against OJ Simpson begins in Los Angeles. He is acquitted in October 1995 of murdering his wife and her friend.
1997 – HAL (Heuristic ALgorithmic) becomes operational as the fictional computer in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
2004 – The world’s largest ocean liner, RMS Queen Mary 2, makes its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
2005 – NASA’s spacecraft Deep Impact launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a Delta 2 rocket on a mission to land on a comet.
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 claims to receive signals up to one mile.
1930 – The first “Mickey Mouse” comic strip appears in print.
1948 – The first country music TV show, Midwestern Hayride, premieres in Cincinnati, Ohio.
1957 – Wham-O Company produces the first Frisbee.
1972 – Former housewife Bernice Gera wins the lawsuit she initiated on March 15, 1971, to become a minor league baseball umpire. Gera becomes the first professional female umpire of a minor league baseball game in June 1972 but later resigns 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 is later dropped. Watch the original music video:
1982 – Air Florida flight 90 takes off from Washington, DC in a snowstorm, crashes into the 14th Street Bridge, and falls into the Potomac River, killing 78 people on the plane and the bridge. There are only 5 survivors from the airplane.
1988 – The Supreme Court rules (5-3) that public school officials have broad powers to censor school newspapers, plays, and other expressive activities.
1990 – Douglas Wilder (D-Virginia) is inaugurated as the first elected black U.S. governor.
1995 – America3 becomes the first all-female crew to win an America’s Cup yacht race.
1998 – CBS pays $4 billion to televise AFC football games for 8 years.
2000 – Microsoft chairman Bill Gates resigns as chief executive officer and promotes company president Steve Ballmer to the position, who serves until 2014. Satya Nadella took over as CEO in 2014.
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 performs the surgery on his wife Elizabeth after their family physician refuses to operate. Elizabeth and her daughter both survive.
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 Charles Francis Potter. Euthanasia was also referred to as “mercy killing.”
1943 – Franklin D. Roosevelt travels from Miami to Morocco to meet with Winston Churchill, becoming the first American president to travel by airplane.
1952 – The “Today Show” premieres on TV with Dave Garroway and Jack Lescoulie. Watch the Today Show premiere:
1954 – The Hudson Motor Car Company merges with Nash-Kelvinator Corporation forming the American Motors Corporation (AMC).
1954 – Marilyn Monroe and New York Yankee’s baseball star Joe DiMaggio get married. They get a divorce in October 1954, 274 days after they marry.
1963 – George C. Wallace is sworn in as the governor of Alabama for the first of four nonconsecutive terms. In his address he states, “Segregation now; segregation tomorrow; segregation forever!” He is shot and left paralyzed in 1972. Wallace died in 1998 at age 79.
1968 – The Green Bay Packers beat the Oakland Raiders, 33-14, in Super Bowl II. For the second year, the Super Bowl MVP is Bart Starr, Green Bay Quarterback.
1979 – President Jimmy Carter proposes that Martin Luther King’s birthday be a holiday. President Ronald Reagan signs legislation in 1983 designating the third Monday in January as an annual federal holiday. The first official celebration takes 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 approves a $20-billion U.S. aid package for Mexico.
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.
1762 – Fraunces Tavern opens in New York City. Samuel Fraunces buys an existing house and converts it into a tavern. George Washington bids farewell to his troops there in December of 1783.
1870 – A donkey is first used as a symbol of Democratic Party in Harper’s Weekly. The donkey is first associated with Democrat Andrew Jackson’s 1828 presidential campaign. Critics insulted Jackson by calling him a jack—.
1889 – The Coca-Cola Company, then known as the Pemberton Medicine Company, is officially incorporated in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. John Stith Pemberton invents Coca-Cola as a “Delicious and Refreshing” fountain drink. It is first sold at Jacobs’ Pharmacy in Atlanta for 5 cents.
1919 – Two million gallons of molasses flood Boston, Massachusetts, drowning 21 people.
1934 – John Dillinger is shot several times by police while robbing the First National Bank in East Chicago, Indiana. Dillinger survives because he is wearing a bullet proof vest.
1943 – The world’s largest office building, the Pentagon, is completed near the Potomac River in Northern Virginia.
1947 – The butchered, mutilated corpse of Elizabeth Short (“The Black Dahlia”) is found in Leimert Park, Los Angeles, California. Her murder remains unsolved.
1951 – The Supreme Court rules that “clear and present danger” of incitement to riot is not protected speech and can be a cause for arrest.
1967 – The Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in the first Super Bowl, which is held in Los Angeles, California. The Super Bowl MVP is Green Bay Quarterback Bart Starr.
1974 – “Happy Days” debuts on TV and airs for 11 years.
1976 – Sara Jane Moore is sentenced to life for attempting to assassinate President Gerald Ford in September 1975. Moore is released from prison in 2007. She is now 86 years old.
1988 – Sports broadcaster Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder makes racist remarks about black athletes. He is fired the following day. Snyder died in 1996 at age 77. Watch Snyder’s comments:
2001 – Wikipedia, a free Wiki content encyclopedia, goes online.
2009 – U.S. Airways Flight 1549, piloted by Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, makes an emergency landing in the Hudson River shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York City. All passengers and crew survive. Watch an amazing computer simulation with actual footage and audio:
2016 – The American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan unveils the exhibit of a replica skeleton of a Titanosaur dinosaur (found in 2010 in Argentina). It is the largest known dinosaur at 70 tons and 37m.