This Week in History, January 25-31, 2016


This Week In History
by Dianne Hermann

“While I take inspiration from the past, like most Americans,
I live for the future.”
– Ronald Reagan

Week of January 25-31, 2016

January 25

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 at:

1985 – USA For Africa records the song “We are the World,” written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. It sells more than 20 million copies. Watch the official star-studded video at:

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.

January 26

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.

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 – Ground breaking begins on Disneyland in California. The theme park opens on July 17, 1955. Walt Disney is introduced at the opening ceremony by future governor and president Ronald Reagan.

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” at:

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 11,000 performances over 27 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.

2014 – First class postage stamps in the U.S.increase to 49 cents.

January 27

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.

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 NBC-TV and airs until 1966. Miller died in 2010 at age 99. Sing along with Mitch at:

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.

1985 – The Coca-Cola Company, of Atlanta, Georgia, announces a plan to sell its soft drinks in the Soviet Union.

1998 – First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton appeares on NBC’s “Today” show with charges that the allegations against her husband are the work of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

2010 – Steve Jobs unveils the Apple iPad. Jobs died in 2011 at age 56.

January 28

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.

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 at:

1965 – General Motors reports the biggest profit of any U.S. company in history.

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 at:

2013 – John Kerry succeeds Hillary Rodham Clinton as the U.S. Secretary of State.

January 29

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.

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.

1995 – The San Francisco 49ers become the first team in National Football League (NFL) history to win five Super Bowl titles. The 49ers defeat the San Diego Chargers 49-26. The Pittsburgh Steelers have since won six Super Bowls.

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 at:

January 30

1798 – The first brawl in the House of Representatives takes place when Congressmen Matthew Lyon and Roger Griswold fight on the House floor.

1815 – The Library of Congress, burned by the British during the War of 1812, is reestablished with 6,487 books bought from Thomas Jefferson at a cost of $23,950.

1835 – Andrew Jackson becomes the first president to be the victim of an assassination attempt when Richard Lawrence’s gun misfires in the Capitol Building. Jackson clubs Lawrence with his cane.

1862 – The U.S. Navy’s first ironclad warship, the USS Monitor, is launched. The Monitor and the USS Virginia (formerly the Merrimack) engage in the first ironclad battle on March 9th. Neither ship sustains serious damage but the Monitor sinks in bad weather off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina later the same year.

1933 – “The Lone Ranger” begins a 21-year run on ABC radio. “The Lone Ranger” TV show airs from 1949 to 1957 starring Clayton Moore. Moore died in 1999 at age 85.

1946 – The Franklin Roosevelt dime is first minted.

1956 – Martin Luther King Jr.’s home is bombed. No one is injured.

1962 – Two members of the Flying Wallendas high-wire act are killed when their 7-person chair pyramid collapses during a performance in Detroit, Michigan. The Wallenda family started as circus performers in the 1780s in Europe.

1976 – Future president George Bush (#41) becomes the 11th CIA director.

1977 – The 8th and final episode of “Roots” is one of the most-watched TV entertainment shows to date.

1989 – The American embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, closes.

January 31

1851 – Mr. Gail Borden announces the invention of evaporated milk. He patents the process of condensing milk in a vacuum.

1865 – General Robert E. Lee is named Commander-in-Chief of the Confederate Armies during the American Civil War.

1865 – Congress passes the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery in America by declaring that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

1905 – The first auto to exceed 100 mph is driven by A. G. MacDonald at Daytona Beach, Florida.

1928 – Scotch tape is first marketed by 3-M Company.

1949 – “These Are My Children” airs as the first daytime soap opera on TV.

1950 – President Harry Truman publicly announces development of the H-bomb.

1957 – Elizabeth Taylor gets divorced for the 2nd time. It’s Michael Wilding turn.

1958 – Explorer I is put into orbit around the earth and is was the first U.S. earth satellite.

1964 – A U.S. report “Smoking & Health” connects smoking to lung cancer.

1974 – McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc buys the San Diego Padres baseball team.

1984 – Newscaster Edwin Newman retires from NBC News after 35 years with the network. Newman died in 2010 at age 91. Watch Newman in a 1983 brief: