This Week In History
by Dianne Hermann
“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”
– Winston Churchill
Week of July 21-27, 2014
1865 – Wild Bill Hickok shoots and kills Davis Tutt in Springfield, Missouri, after quarreling over a card game. This is the first recorded case of two men taking part in a quick-draw duel. The following month Hickok is acquitted of murder after pleading self-defense.
1873 – Jesse James and James Younger’s gang commit their first train robbery (the Rock Island Line) near Adair, Iowa.
1925 – The Scopes Monkey Trial ends when Tennessee high school biology teacher John Scopes is found guilty of teaching Darwinism. He is fined $100. His defense attorney is Clarence Darrow and the prosecutor is three-time Democrat nominee for president William Jennings Bryant, who dies five days after the trial.
1930 – The U.S. Veterans Administration is established.
1969 – Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the moon and utters the immortal words, “One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” A total of 12 people have walked on the moon, all Americans.
1972 – Fifty-seven murders are committed in 24 hours in New York.
1974 – The House Judiciary Committee approves two Articles of Impeachment against President Richard Nixon. Nixon resigns on August 9th.
1984 – The first documented case of a robot killing a human in the U.S. occurs when 34-year-old Harry Allen is pinned by a robot against a trim press at the Diecast Corporation in Jackson, Michigan. Allen dies 5 days later.
1997 – The fully restored 200-year-old USS Constitution (aka “Old Ironsides”) celebrates her 200th birthday by setting sail for the first time in 116 years.
2011 – NASA’s Space Shuttle program ends with the landing of Space Shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-135. NASA’s space shuttle program begins with its first launch (Columbia mission STS-1) on April 12, 1981.
1587 – The second English colony is established on Roanoke Island off North Carolina.
1775 – George Washington, at the age of 43, becomes Commander-In-Chief of America’s revolutionary army.
1893 – Katharine Lee Bates writes the poem, “America the Beautiful” after being inspired during a visit to Pike’s Peak in Colorado. She doesn’t publish it for two years, when it is then set to the music by composer S. A. Ward’s “Materna,” the tune to which we sing it today.
1934 – “Public Enemy No. 1” John Dillinger is mortally wounded by FBI agents outside Chicago’s Biograph Theatre.
1963 – Sonny Liston KOs Floyd Patterson in the first round during their second fight for the heavyweight boxing title.
1975 – The U.S. House of Representatives votes to restore citizenship to General Robert E. Lee. In 1865 Lee signs an amnesty oath issued by President Andrew Johnson but is not pardoned because Secretary of State William Seward (of Seward’s folly fame) gives the application to a friend as a souvenir. A National Archives examiner finds Lee’s oath and initiates the amnesty process.
1991 – Jeffrey Dahmer confesses to killing 17 boys and young men between 1978 and 1991. He pleads guilty and is sentenced to 16 life terms. In November 1994, 34-year-old Dahmer is killed in the Wisconsin prison shower by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver.
1994 – OJ Simpson pleads “Absolutely 100 percent not guilty” of murdering his ex-wife and her friend. He is found not guilty on October 3, 1995. One of OJ’s lawyers was Robert “Keeping Up With The” Kardashian.
1995 – Susan Smith is found guilty of drowning her 2 sons. She first claims she is carjacked but later admits to driving her car into a South Carolina lake with her 3-year-old and 14-month-old sons strapped in their car seats. Smith is sentenced to life in prison and will be eligible for parole in 2024 after serving a minimum of 30 years.
1726 – Benjamin Franklin sails back to Philadelphia from England on the first of 4-round trip crossings of the Atlantic from America to Europe.
1880 – The first application of hydropower electricity generation within an industrial setting in the United States occurs when the Wolverine Chair Factory in Grand Rapids, Michigan, powers up 16 brush-arc lamps using a water turbine. The world’s first commercial hydroelectric power plant built to provide electricity to buildings outside the plant opens in September 30, 1882, on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin.
1904 – The Library of Congress recognizes Charles E. Menches as the creator of the ice cream cone at the St. Louis World’s Fair. (He is one of many who make this claim.)
1956 – The Bell X-2 rocket plane sets a world aircraft speed record of 1,895 miles per hour (Mach 2.87) at 60,000 feet over Edwards Air Force Base in California. The X-15 currently holds the official world record for the fastest speed ever reached by a manned aircraft at 4,520 mph.
1989 – FOX-TV tops ABC, NBC, and CBS in ratings for the first time with the show “America’s Most Wanted.”
1980 – Billy Carter, brother of President Jimmy Carter, admits to being a registered agent of the Libyan government. He admits to taking more than $200,000 from Libya.
1984 – Vanessa Williams (Miss New York), the first black Miss America, resigns after it is revealed she posed nude for Penthouse Magazine. First runner-up Suzette Charles (Miss New Jersey) takes over the crown for the rest of the year.
1758 – George Washington is admitted to Virginia House of Burgesses. He represents Frederick County and Fairfax County until 1775. The first meeting of the colonial House of Burgesses is held in Jamestown in 1619.
1824 – A Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, newspaper publishes the results of the first public opinion poll showing a clear lead for presidential candidate Andrew Jackson in a four-candidate race for the presidency. Jackson receives a plurality of votes and loses when the House of Representatives settles the contested election by selecting John Quincy Adams, who actually receives fewer popular and electoral votes. It’s the only election when this ever happened. Four years later, Jackson handily wins the White House by defeating incumbent John Quincy Adams.
1901 – Author O. Henry (pen name of William Sydney Porter) is released from prison in Austin, Texas, after serving three years for embezzlement from a bank. Henry publishes a dozen stories from prison to help support his daughter after his wife dies of TB.
1915 – The excursion ship Eastland, carrying employees of the Western Electric Company to a company picnic, capsizes on Lake Michigan killing 844 passengers.
1938 – Nestlé creates instant coffee under the name Nescafé.
1974 – The Supreme Court unanimously rules that President Nixon must turn over his Watergate tapes.
1998 – Russell Eugene Weston Jr. bursts into the United States Capitol and opens fire, killing Officer Jacob Chestnut and Detective John Gibson, who shoots and wounds Weston. Weston is transferred to a psychiatric center at Butner Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, North Carolina, and is later ruled to be incompetent to stand trial. Weston, age 57, remains at the facility.
2002 – James Traficant (D-OH) is expelled from the United States House of Representatives on a vote of 420 to 1 for using campaign donations for his own personal use. He is tried, convicted, and sentenced to eight years in prison. He runs for his former House seat from prison in 2002, and loses. Traficant is released in 2009.
2005 – Lance Armstrong retires after winning a record seventh consecutive Tour de France victory. He is stripped of his titles in 2012 for doping.
1775 – Maryland issues currency depicting King George III trampling the Magna Carta.
1832 – The first fatal railroad accident in United States is on the Granite Railway in Quincy, Massachusetts. A Cuban tourist dies and three other passengers are injured when a cable snaps, throwing the passengers down a 35-foot cliff.
1850 – Gold is discovered in Oregon on the Rogue River.
1861 – Congress passes the Crittenden-Johnson Resolution stating that “the present deplorable civil war” . . . “is not waged upon our part in any spirit of oppression” but is to be “fought to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and to preserve the Union.”
1897 – Writer Jack London sails to join the Klondike Gold Rush where he will write his first successful stories.
1929 – A cross-country footrace from New York to San Francisco, dubbed the Bunion Derby, ends after more than 2 months. The winner is 60-year-old Abraham Lincoln Monteverde.
1946 – Micheline Bernardini models the first bikini at a Paris fashion show. Mechanical engineer Louis Réard and fashion designer Jacques Heim invent the bikini using 30-square-inches of cloth. Réard names the bombshell swimsuit after the Bikini Atoll where the U.S. tests atomic bombs.
1959 – Vice President Nixon argues with Khrushchev in what is known as the “Kitchen Debate.”
1969 – Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy pleads guilty to leaving the scene of an accident a week after the Chappaquiddick car accident that kills his passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne. Kennedy receives a two-month suspended sentence.
1997 – Autumn Jackson is found guilty of trying to extort $40 million from Bill Cosby. Jackson serves 14 months of a 26-month sentence for extortion, conspiracy, and crossing state lines to commit a crime. Jackson is now 39 years old.
1775 – Benjamin Franklin becomes the first U.S. Postmaster General.
1790 – The House of Representatives narrowly passes the Assumption Bill, making the federal government responsible for state debts.
1847 – Moses Gerrish Farmer of New Hampshire builds the first miniature train for children to ride.
1878 – The American West outlaw and poet calling himself “Black Bart” (Charles E. Boles) commits his first of 28 robberies when he steals a safe box from a Wells Fargo stagecoach. No one is ever killed and some of the empty safe boxes are left with taunting poems inside. He is captured and convicted in 1883 and sentenced to 6 years in jail. He is released early and disappears in 1888.
1908 – United States Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte issues an order to staff the Office of the Chief Examiner (later renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation).
1947 – President Harry Truman signs the National Security Act, establishing the Central Intelligence Agency.
1952 – Mickey Mantle hits his first grand slam home run in a game at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Michigan. During his career, “The Mick” hits 9 regular season grand slams and one in a World Series game.
1990 – President H. W. Bush signs the Americans With Disabilities Act.
1993 – NASA’s Mars Observer takes the first photo of Mars, from 5 billion km.
1586 – Sir Walter Raleigh brings the first tobacco to England from Virginia.
1789 – President Washington signs legislation establishing the Department of Foreign Affairs (now called the State Department). Representative and future president James Madison of New York introduces the bill.
1888 – The National Geographic Society organizes in Washington, DC.
1918 – The first Tarzan film, “Tarzan of the Apes,” premieres at the Broadway Theater.
1931 – Swarms of grasshoppers in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota destroy thousands of acres of crops.
1940 – Billboard magazine starts publishing their National List of Best Selling Retail Records.
1940 – The cartoon character Bugs Bunny debuts in “A Wild Hare.”
1953 – The Armistice is signed ending the Korean War. Over 50,000 Americans and millions of Koreans and Chinese are killed during the three-year-long war.
1965 – President Johnson signs the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act requiring cigarette makers print health warnings on all cigarette packages about the effects of smoking.
1987 – The first salvaging of the Titanic wreckage begins. Robert Ballard locates the wreckage in 1985. The mini-submarine Nautile dives 2.5 miles below the ocean’s surface to retrieve objects not seen since the 1912 sinking.
1995 – The Korean War Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington, DC.
1996 – A bomb explodes at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, killing 1 and injuring 110. Initially, Richard Jewell was falsely named a “person of interest” in the bombing. Eric Rudolph later pleads guilty and is sentenced to three concurrent terms of life imprisonment without parole.