This Week in History, June 15-21 2015


This Week In History

by Dianne Hermann


“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people.

They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

– Thomas Jefferson


Week of June 15-21, 2015


June 15

1741 – Captain Vitus Bering leaves Petropavlovsk in Russia sailing to North America. He discovers Kodiak Island, Alaska. Bering died on a voyage in December.

1775 – George Washington is appointed commander-in-chief of Continental Army.

1844 – Charles Goodyear patents the vulcanization of rubber.

1864 – Robert E. Lee’s home in Arlington, Virginia, becomes a military cemetery.


1877 – Henry Ossian Flipper becomes the first African American to graduate from West Point Military Academy.

1878 – Leland Stanford, former governor of California, hires photographer Eadweard Muybridge to make the first motion pictures to see if all 4 of a horse’s hooves leave the ground. Muybridge uses 12 cameras, each taking 1 picture. Watch the film:

1887 – Carlisle D. Graham survives the third of his four successful rides over a Niagara waterfall in barrel. In 1901 Graham lent his newly designed barrel to Martha Wagenfuhrer, who became the first woman to successfully navigate through the rapids and whirlpool alone.

1924 – Ford Motor Company manufactures its 10 millionth Model T automobile.

1924 – J. Edgar Hoover assumes leadership of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

1955 – The Eisenhower administration stages the first annual “Operation Alert” (OPAL) civil defense readiness exercise, an attempt to assess the America’s preparations for a nuclear attack.

1962 – Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) complete the Port Huron Statement, a radical manifesto written primarily by SDS co-founder Tom Hayden during a United Auto Workers retreat in Port Huron, Michigan. Hayden was married to Jane Fonda from 1973 to 1990.

1969 – “Hee Haw” with Roy Clark and Buck Owens premiers on TV and air until 1993. Roy is now 82 years old. Buck died in 2006 at age 76. Watch a brief documentary including interviews with Roy Clark:

1978 – King Hussein of Jordan marries 26-year-old American Lisa Halaby, who becomes Queen Noor. Hussein died in 1999 at age 63.

1979 – The first Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster qualification test firing lasts 122 seconds.

1982 – The Supreme Court rules that all children, regardless of citizenship, are entitled to a public education.

1983 – The Supreme Court strikes down two state and local restrictions on abortion. In the City of Akron v Akron Center, the court rules against a law requiring parental consent for abortions for girls under age 15. On the same day the court also rules against a Missouri law requiring abortions in the second trimester be performed at a hospital.

1994 – Ruth Bader Ginsburg is sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice. Justice Ginsburg is now 82 years old.


June 16

1858 – Abraham Lincoln says, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” when accepting the Illinois Republican Party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate.

1903 – “Pepsi-Cola” is officially registered with the U.S. Patent Office. Pepsi is invented in 1893 by Caleb David Bradham of North Carolina as “Brad’s Drink” and is sold to aid in digestion. He renames it Pepsi after the two main ingredients, pepsin and cola. Bradham launches the company in the back room of his pharmacy in 1902.

1909 – Glenn Curtiss sells the first commercial airplane in the U.S. for $5,000. The plane is purchased by the Aeronautical Society of New York.

1909 – Jim Thorpe makes his professional pitching debut in baseball for the Rocky Mount Railroaders with a 4-2 win. This causes him to forfeit his 1912 Olympic medals by violating the amateur status rules. Thorpe’s medals are restored in 1983, 30 years after his death.


1933 – The U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is created.

1941 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the closure of all the German consulates in the United States. The deadline is set as July 10.

1941 – National Airport opens in Washington, DC. The airlines draw straws to determine who would land at National Airport first and American Airlines wins the honor. The airplane is piloted by Bennett H. Griffin, who becomes the manager of National Airport in 1947.

1966 – “Rowan & Martin Show” (aka “The Dean Martin Summer Show”) debuts on NBC-TV. The show is hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. Rowan and Martin launch “Laugh-In” in 1967.

1967 – Over 50,000 people attend the Monterey International Pop Festival in Monterey, California.


1968 – Lee Trevino wins the U.S. Open Golf Tournament and is the first golfer to play all 4 rounds of the golf tournament under par.

1987 – Subway Vigilante Bernhard Goetz is acquitted on all but gun possession charges after shooting 4 black teenagers who tried to rob him on the subway.

2000 – Federal regulators approve the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE Corp, creating the nation’s largest local phone company.

2008 – California begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.


June 17

1579 – Sir Francis Drake lands on the northern coast of California and names it “New Albion,” claiming it for England.

1775 – The Battle of Bunker Hill, a pivotal battle during the Revolutionary War, is actually fought on Breed’s Hill.

1863 – Travelers Insurance Company of Hartford is chartered as the first accident insurer.

1885 – The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York City aboard French ship “Isere.”

1894 – The first U.S. poliomyelitis (polio) epidemic breaks out in Rutland, Vermont.

1928 – Amelia Earhart leaves Newfoundland to become the first woman passenger to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. The plane is piloted by Wilmer Stultz.

1932 – During the Bonus Army March about a thousand World War I veterans amass at the United States Capitol as the U.S. Senate considers a bill that would give them certain benefits. Watch a news report using actual footage:

1950 – The first kidney transplant in the U.S. is performed on 44-year-old Ruth Tucker. Although Tucker’s body rejects the kidney, she lives for five more years with one functioning kidney.

1953 – Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas stays the executions of convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg scheduled for the next day on their 14th wedding anniversary. The Supreme Court vacates the Douglas stay and the Rosenbergs are executed on the 19th.

1963 – The Supreme Court bans the required reading of the Lord’s Prayer and Bible reading in public schools.

1972 – Five White House “plumbers” are apprehended after the second burglary of the Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate Hotel.

1972 – The Main Street Electrical Parade premiers at Disneyland in California. Watch the first parade:

1980 – Carolyn Shoemaker discovers asteroid #2586 Matson. She holds the record for the most asteroids discovered by any individual.

1982 – President Reagan delivers his first address to the U.N. General Assembly.

1988 – Stella Nickell is sentenced to 90 years in prison in the first product tampering murder case instituted after the Chicago Tylenol murders. Nickell is convicted of killing her husband and a woman by poisoning bottles of Extra-Strength Excedrin. Nickell will be eligible for parole in 2018 when she is 75 years old.


1994 – OJ Simpson does not turn himself in on murder charges and the Los Angeles police chase his Ford Bronco for 1 and 1/2 hours. Simpson eventually gives up. The slow motion car chase is seen live on TV.


June 18

1682 – William of Penn founds Pennsylvania.

1812 – The War of 1812 begins when the U.S. declares war against Britain.

1873 – Susan B. Anthony is fined $100 for voting for president.

1898 – The first amusement park, Steel Pier, opens in Atlantic City, New Jersey.


1928 – Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean as she completes a flight from Newfoundland to Wales.

1959 – A Federal Court annuls the Arkansas law allowing school closings to prevent integration.

1961 – “Gunsmoke” is broadcast for the last time on CBS radio. It airs in 1952. Gunsmoke airs on TV from 1955 to 1975.

1968 – The Supreme Court bans racial discrimination in the sale and rental of housing.

1977 – The Space Shuttle test model “Enterprise” carries a crew aloft for the first time. It is fixed atop a modified Boeing 747.


1981 – Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart retires. Sandra Day O’Connor replaces him, becoming the first woman on U.S. Supreme Court.

1983 – The Challenger Space Shuttle launches with Sally Ride on board as the first American woman in space. Ride died in 2012 at age 61. Watch an interview with Sally Ride:

1990 – Hale Irwin wins the first sudden death U.S. Open Golf Championship, also making him the oldest U.S. Open champion at age 45.


June 19

1586 – English colonists sail away from Roanoke Island, North Carolina, after failing to establish England’s first permanent settlement in America.

1846 – The New York Knickerbocker Club plays the New York Club in the first baseball game at the Elysian Field in Hoboken, New Jersey. It is the first organized baseball game.

1867 – Ruthless wins the first Belmont Stakes horse race.

1910 – Father’s Day is celebrated for the first time in Spokane, Washington.

1912 – The U.S. government established the 8-hour work day.

1934 – Congress establishes the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate radio and (later) TV broadcasting.

1940 – “Brenda Starr, Reporter” the first cartoon strip by a woman, appears in Chicago Tribune.


1941 – Cheerios Cereal invents an O-shaped cereal.

1951 – President Harry S. Truman signs the Universal Military Training and Service Act, which extends Selective Service until July 1, 1955 and lowers the draft age to 18.

1952 – “I’ve Got A Secret” debuts on CBS-TV with Garry Moore as host and airs until 1967. Moore died in 1993 at age 78. Watch Moore being interview by William Shatner:

1956 – Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin end their partnership after starring together in 16 films. Jerry Lewis is 89 years old. Dean Martin died in 1995 at age 78.

1961 – The Supreme Court strikes down a provision in Maryland’s constitution requiring state office holders to believe in God.

1964 – The Civil Rights Act of 1964 passes by a vote of 73-27.

1977 – Pope Paul VI makes 19th-century Bishop John Neumann the first U.S. male saint.

1978 – Garfield appears in newspapers around the U.S. for the first time.


1987 – Ben & Jerry Ice Cream and Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia announce a new ice cream flavor, Cherry Garcia.

1981 – “Superman II” sets the all-time, one-day record for theater box-office receipts when it takes in $5.5 million.

1987 – The Supreme Court strikes down the Louisiana law that requires that schools teach creationism.

1988 – A team of 32 divers in Santa Barbara, California, cycle underwater on a standard tricycle to complete 116.66 miles in 75 hours and 20 minutes.

2000 – The Supreme Court rules that a group prayer led by students at public school football games violates the 1st Amendment’s principle that called for the separation of church and state.


June 20

1782 – Congress approves the Great Seal of the U.S. and the eagle as its symbol.

1793 – Eli Whitney applies for a patent for his cotton gin.


1863 – The National Bank of Davenport, Iowa, is the first bank chartered in the U.S.

1871 – The Ku Klux Klan trial begins in federal court in Oxford, Mississippi, following the Meridian Race Riot. No one is ever convicted in the deaths resulting from the riots.

1893 – Lizzie Borden is acquitted in the axe murders of her father and stepmother in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Lizzie died in 1927 at age 66.

1911 – The NAACP incorporates in New York.

1936 – American Jesse Owens sets 100-meter record at 10.2 seconds at the Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany.


1944 – Congress charters the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

1947 – Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel is murdered in Beverly Hills, California, at the order of mob associates angered over the soaring costs of his project, the Flamingo resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was 41 years old.

1948 – “Toast of the Town” hosted by Ed Sullivan premieres on CBS-TV and airs until 1971. Sullivan died in 1974 at age 73. Watch one of Ed’s shows:

1955 – The AFL and CIO unions agree to combine their names and a merge into a single group.

1963 – The U.S. and the USSR agree to set up a “Hot Line” communication system.

1967 – Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) is convicted of refusing induction into the armed services. Ali is sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000, and banned from boxing for three years. He stays out of prison while his case is appealed and returns to boxing in 1970.

1977 – Oil enters the Trans-Alaska pipeline and exits 38 days later at Valdez.

1988 – The Supreme Court upholds a law making it illegal for private clubs to discriminate against women and minorities.

1990 – Nelson Mandela lands in New York City to begin a tour of eight U.S. cities. Watch a news report on his visit:

1997 – The tobacco industry agrees to a massive settlement in exchange for major relief from mounting lawsuits and legal bills.

2002 – The Supreme Court rules that the execution of mentally retarded murderers is unconstitutionally cruel in a 6 to 3 vote.


June 21

1684 – King Charles II revokes the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s charter due to insubordination for violating the terms of the charter.

1788 – The U.S. Constitution goes into effect when New Hampshire becomes the 9th state to ratify it.

1877 – Ten Molly Maguires, Irish coal miner immigrants, are hanged at the Schuylkill County and Carbon County, Pennsylvania, prisons for a series of murders.

1879 – F. W. Woolworth opens his first store in Utica, New York, but it fails the following year. He opens a new store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1881 and within a few years Woolworth is a millionaire. Woolworth died in 1919 at age 66.

1893 – The first Ferris wheel premieres at Chicago’s Columbian Exposition. It is designed and built by George Washington Gale Ferris. Ferris died of TB in 1896 at age 37.


1913 – Georgia Broadwick becomes the first woman parachutist to jump from an airplane.


1938 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the $3.75 billion Emergency Relief Appropriation Act.

1939 – The New York Yankees announce Lou Gehrig’s retirement after doctors reveal he has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

1945 – Pan Am announces an 88-hour round-the-world flight at a cost of $700.

1954 – The American Cancer Society reports significantly higher death rates among cigarette smokers than among non-smokers.

1964 – Bryon de la Beckwith is arrested for the murder of Medgar Evers. Two trials in 1964 end in hung juries with all white jurors. Beckwith is found guilty 30 years later based on new evidence. He is sentenced to life in prison without parole and died in prison in 2001 at age 80.

1964 – Three civil rights workers, Michael H. Schwerner Andrew Goodman, and James E. Chaney, disappear after their release from a Mississippi jail. Their remains are found six weeks later buried in an earthen dam. In December 19 men, including the county’s Deputy, are arrested and tried for federal civil rights violations. An all-white jury convicts seven, acquits nine, and is deadlocked on three others. In 2005, 80-year-old Edgar Ray Killen is convicted on three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 60 years in prison. Killen is now 90 years old.

1977 – Former White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman enters prison. He spends 18 months in jail for his role in the Watergate scandal.

1982 – John Hinckley, Jr. is found not guilty by reason of insanity for the 1981 assassination attempt of President Reagan. He is confined to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, DC. Hinckley is now 60 years old.

1989 – The Supreme Court rules that burning the American flag as a form of political protest is protected by the First Amendment.

1997 – The Women’s National Basketball Association begins as the New York Liberty beats Los Angeles Sparks.

2003 – The fifth Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” is published by J.K. Rowling. ships out more than one million copies on this day, making it the largest distribution day of a single item in e-commerce history. The book set sales records around the world with an estimated 5 million copies sold on the first day.

2004 – SpaceShipOne, designed by Burt Rutan and piloted by Mike Melvill, reaches 328,491 feet above Earth in a 90-minute flight. The height is about 400 feet above the distance scientists consider to be the boundary of space. It wins the $10 million Ansari X Prize for being the first non-governmental manned spacecraft to go into space twice within two weeks. Watch the flight: