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 July 24-30, 2017
1758 – George Washington is admitted to Virginia House of Burgesses. He is 26 years old. Washington represents Frederick County and Fairfax County until 1775. The first meeting of the colonial House of Burgesses was 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 but loses when the House of Representatives settles the contested election by selecting John Quincy Adams, who actually receives fewer popular and electoral votes. It is the only election when this ever happened. Four years later, Jackson handily wins the White House by defeating incumbent John Quincy Adams.
1866 – Tennessee becomes the first state to be readmitted to the Union after the U.S. Civil War. Georgia is the last in July 15, 1870. For Confederate states to be readmitted, they had to ratify the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship rights to former slaves and equal protection under the law.
1901 – O. Henry (pen name of author William Sydney Porter) is released from prison in Austin, Texas, after serving three years for embezzlement from a bank. O. Henry publishes a dozen stories from prison to help support his daughter after his wife died of TB. Porter wrote over 300 stories after being released from prison. He died in 1910 at age 47.
1915 – The excursion ship Eastland, carrying employees of the Western Electric Company to a company picnic, capsizes on Lake Michigan killing 844 of the 2,573 passengers. (Compare that with 815 passengers killed on the Titanic.) The Eastland almost capsized in July 1904 with 3,000 passengers on board and again in 1906 with 2,530 passengers on board.
1925 – John T. Scopes is found guilty of teaching evolution in the “Scopes monkey trial” in Dayton, Tennessee. He is fined $100 plus court costs. Scopes died in 1970 at age 70.
1956 – Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis end their highly successful 10-year partnership after their final live performance at the Copacabana Nightclub in New York City. They made 16 movies together. Martin and Lewis perform their first show as a team at Club 500 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on July 25, 1946. Martin died in 1995 at age 78. Lewis is now 91 years old.
1959 – Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Secretary Nikita Khrushchev have a series of impromptu arguments at the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow in what became known as the “Kitchen Debate.” Watch one exchange with translation:
1961 – A U.S. commercial airplane carrying 33 passengers and 5 crew is hijacked to Cuba. It is the first time an American carrier flight originating from the U.S. is hijacked to Cuba. Between 1961 and 1973 almost 160 U.S. aircraft were hijacked.
1974 – The Supreme Court unanimously rules that President Nixon must turn over his Watergate tapes. When the tapes are finally turned over, there is an 18 ½ minute gap in the tapes which the White House is unable to explain. Watch a Nation Archives video on the Watergate tapes:
1998 – Russell Eugene Weston, Jr. bursts into the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC and opens fire, killing Officer Jacob Chestnut and mortally wounding 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, now age 60, remains at the institution.
2002 – James Traficant (D-OH) is expelled from the 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 was released in 2009 and died in 2014 at age 73.
2005 – Lance Armstrong retires after winning a record seventh consecutive Tour de France victory. He is stripped of his titles in 2012 for “doping.” In 2013, he admits during an Oprah Winfrey interview that he took performance-enhancing drugs. Armstrong is now 45 years old. Watch part of the interview:
1775 – Maryland issues currency depicting King George III trampling the Magna Carta.
1832 – The first fatal railroad accident in U.S. 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.
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.” Sponsored by Representative John Crittenden of Kentucky and Senator (and future president) Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, the purpose was to limit the goals of the war.
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.
1990 – Roseanne Barr slaughters the National Anthem at San Diego Padre’s baseball game. Billboard ranks Barr’s performance as the second worst public singing of the National Anthem ever. The worst is Kat DeLuna’s performance at a 2008 Dallas Cowboys game. Watch Barr express regret for her performance in an interview:
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. She claims to be Cosby’s child. Jackson is now 42 years old.
2010 – WikiLeaks releases to the public more than 90,000 internal reports involving the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan from 2004-2010. WikiLeaks was founded in 2006 by Julian Assange, who has sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in June 2012. Assange is now 46 years old.
1775 – Benjamin Franklin becomes the first U.S. Postmaster General.
1878 – The American West outlaw and poet calling himself “Black Bart” (Charles E. Boles) commits his first of 28 robberies when he steals the safe box from a Wells Fargo stagecoach. No one is ever killed in the robberies 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 from jail early and in 1888 he disappears.
1908 – U.S. 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.
1964 – Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa is convicted of fraud and conspiracy and sentenced to prison. The case against Hoffa and organized crime was pursued by Attorney General Robert Kennedy. In 1971, President Nixon commutes Hoffa’s sentence to time served. Hoffa disappears in 1975 and his body is never found.
1990 – President H. W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act passed by Congress. The law prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all places open to the general public.
1999 – Over 1,500 pieces of Marilyn Monroe’s personal items go on display at Christie’s in New York City. The items go up for auction in October 1999. Watch part of the auction with live commentary:
2005 – The Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-114) launches as NASA’s first scheduled flight mission after the Columbia Disaster in 2003. There are a total of 135 Space Shuttle missions, ending in July of 2011.
1586 – Sir Walter Raleigh brings the first tobacco to England from Virginia.
1775 – Benjamin Rush begins his service as the first Surgeon General of the Continental Army. Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams is the current (acting) Surgeon General.
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.
1804 – The 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, directing the Electors to vote for a President and a Vice President. Prior to the amendment, the candidate with the most Electoral votes became president and the candidate with second most votes became vice president. In 1801, the Electoral vote ended in a tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Jefferson was elected president over Burr on the 36th ballot in the House of Representatives after being swayed by Alexander Hamilton. Vice President Burr killed Hamilton in a duel on July 11, 1804.
1909 – Orville Wright sets a record for the longest airplane flight. He tests the first Army airplane at Fort Myer, Virginia, and keeps it in the air for 1 hour 12 minutes and 40 seconds. Watch a silent video of the historic flight:
1918 – The first Tarzan film, “Tarzan of the Apes,” premieres at the Broadway Theater. It is based on the 1912 novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the first of his 26 Tarzan books. Elmo Lincoln stars as Tarzan. The most well-known Tarzan was Johnny Weissmuller, an Olympic gold medal swimmer, who starred in 12 Tarzan films.
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. The Korean War Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC, on this day in 1995.
1965 – President Johnson signs the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act that requires 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 located 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. Watch a National Geographic video on the 100th anniversary of the sinking:
1996 – A bomb explodes at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, killing 1 person 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. Jewell died in 2007 at age 44. Rudolph is now 50 years old.
2001 – The ribbon cutting ceremony is held for American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The event sets two new world records, one for the 3-mile-long ribbon and one for the 2,000 people who cut it.
1900 – Louis Lassing of New Haven, Connecticut, says his diner is the first to put a hamburger on a bun. (He is one of many who makes this claim.)
1932 – Two unemployed WWI veterans are killed in a scuffle with police in Washington, DC, during the “Bonus March.” President Hoover calls in federal troops when thousands of “Bonus Marchers” demand the government cash in their bonuses early. The clash with the troops is led by General Douglass MacArthur and supported by Major George S. Patton. Watch a video by Historic Films:
1933 – Lucille Lipps, a Western Union operator in New York City, delivers the first singing telegram. It is delivered to Rudy Vallee on his birthday.
1945 – An Army B-25 bomber crashes into the 79th floor of New York City’s Empire State Building, killing 14 people and injuring 26. The crash is blamed on thick fog.
1982 – San Francisco, California, becomes the first city in the U.S. to ban private ownership of handguns. A state court concludes that under California law such decisions are reserved to the state legislature and can’t be made by individual cities.
1983 – Four days after the “pine tar bat” game American League baseball president Lee McPhail announces that even though George Brett’s bat had too much pine tar, only the bat should have been removed from the game, not the batter. He upholds the Kansas City Royals’ protest and says the two teams must resume the game in Yankee Stadium on August 18, with the Royals leading New York, 5-4, and two outs in the ninth. The Royals win the game. Watch the pine tar bat incident and Brett’s reaction:
1998 – Monica Lewinsky receives blanket immunity from prosecution to testify before a grand jury about her relationship with President Bill Clinton. She gives her deposition to the Senate in February 1999. Clinton is impeached by the House for perjury and obstruction of justice in December 1998, but he is acquitted by the Senate in February 1999. Lewinsky is now 43 years old and Clinton is 70.
1858 – The Treaty of Amity and Commerce (Harris Treaty) is signed between the U.S. and Japan opening Japanese ports to trade.
1914 – The first transcontinental telephone service is inaugurated when two people hold a conversation between New York City and San Francisco.
1920 – The first of three JL-6 aircraft leave New York for San Francisco on the inaugural transcontinental airmail flight. Former WWI flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker is one of the passengers.
1928 – Walt Disney’s “Steamboat Willie” (Mickey Mouse) is released. Watch the primitive cartoon:
1945 – After delivering the Atomic Bomb across the Pacific, the USS Indianapolis is torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine. Since the mission was secret, the ship was not reported missing. Survivors were accidentally found and rescued 4 days later. Only 317 of the 1,196 men on board survived.
1957 – Jack Paar begins hosting the “Tonight” show on NBC-TV. The name of the show is changed to “The Jack Paar Show.” Paar is the host for five years. Steve Allen is the original host (1953-1957). Then comes Johnny Carson (1962-1992), Jay Leno (1992-2009 and 2010-2014), Conan O’Brien (2009-2010), and the current host Jimmy Fallon.
1958 – President Eisenhower signs into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act (NASA).
1984 – The Summer Olympic Games open in Los Angeles, California. LA also hosted the 1932 Summer Olympics. LA may host the 2024 or 2028 Summer Olympics, according to the IOC.
1988 – A judge orders NASA to release the 2-minutes of unedited tape from the Challenger cockpit after the Space Shuttle explodes on takeoff on January 28th.
1988 – The last Playboy Club in the U.S. (in Lansing, Michigan) closes. The first Playboy Club is opened by Hugh Hefner in 1960. Hefner is now 91 years old.
1998 – The United Auto Workers union end a 54-day strike against General Motors. The strike causes $2.8 billion in lost revenues.
2015 – Microsoft launches Windows 10.
1619 – The first representative assembly in America convenes in Jamestown, Virginia as the House of Burgesses.
1733 – Eighteen men gather at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern on King Street in Boston and organize the first Masonic Lodge in North America.
1839 – Slaves take over the slave ship Amistad after 60 days at sea and are arrested in New York. The district court judge ruled that the slaves are free men, and orders them released from prison. He also orders that the U.S. government transport them back to Africa. The Supreme Court upholds the decision.
1898 – “Scientific America” carries the first magazine automobile ad. The ad is for the Winton Motor Car Company of Cleveland, Ohio.
1909 – The Wright Brothers deliver the first military plane to the army after meeting strict criteria. They are paid $30,000.
1928 – George Eastman shows the first Kodacolor 16-mm color film to friends, including Thomas Edison and General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, at his home in Rochester, New York.
1932 – Walt Disney’s “Flowers and Trees” premiers. It is the first Academy Award winning cartoon and first cartoon short to use Technicolor. Watch the video, which includes sound:
1942 – President FDR signs a bill creating the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).
1956 – The phrase “In God We Trust” is adopted as the U.S. national motto.
1965 – President Johnson signs into law Social Security Act that establishes Medicare and Medicaid. It goes into effect the following year.
1998 – A group of Ohio machine-shop workers (who call themselves the Lucky 13) win the $295.7 million Powerball jackpot. It is the largest-ever American lottery to date. The largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history is Powerball in 2016 at $1.586 billion.
2014 – The European Union and the U.S. extend sanctions on Russia to include banks, energy, and defense firms. Moscow denies the allegation that Russia is arming rebels in Eastern Ukraine.