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 March 27-April 2, 2017
1794 – The U.S. Government establishes a permanent navy and authorizes the building of six frigates.
1860 – M. L. Byrn patents the “covered gimlet screw with a ‘T’ handle” (a.k.a. corkscrew).
1884 – The first long-distance telephone call is made from Boston to New York.
1912 – The first cherry blossom trees are planted in Washington, DC. The trees are a gift from Japan.
1917 – The Seattle Metropolitans, of the Pacific Coast League of Canada, defeats the Montreal Canadiens to become the first U.S. hockey team to win the Stanley Cup.
1956 – The U.S. seizes U.S. communist newspaper “Daily Worker” for non-payment of taxes. The newspaper is founded in 1924 by the American Communist Party. The last issue is published in January 1958.
1964 – An earthquake, 9.2 on the Richter scale, strikes Alaska, killing 118. It is the strongest earthquake to hit the U.S. In fact, nine of the top ten strongest earthquakes in the U.S. have hit Alaska. Watch amateur film footage of the aftermath:
1973 – Marlon Brando refuses to accept the Oscar for best actor in “The Godfather” at the Academy Awards ceremony in protest of the treatment of American Indians. Sacheen Littlefeather gave a speech citing the reasons for Brando declining the Oscar. Listen to Littlefeather’s speech:
1979 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules 8-1 that police can’t randomly stop cars because it violates the 4th Amendment protection from illegal search and seizure.
1989 – The first African American soap opera “Generations” premieres on TV.
1997 – Martin Luther King’s son Dexter meets with his father’s killer James Earl Ray. Ray died the following year at age 70. Dexter is now 56 years old. Watch the meeting and a news report:
1998 – The U.S. FDA approves the prescription drug Viagra. It is the first pill for male impotence.
2007 – National Football League owners vote to make the instant replay a permanent officiating tool.
1774 – Britain passes the Coercive Acts against Massachusetts in response to the Boston Tea Party.
1866 – The first use of a hospital-based ambulance is recorded in Cincinnati, Ohio.
1885 – The U.S. Salvation Army is officially organized. William Booth and his wife Catherine start the Salvation Army in England in 1852.
1917 – The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) is founded during World War I.
1921 – President Warren Harding nominates former president William Howard Taft as chief justice of the Supreme Court. Taft is the only former president to also serve on the Supreme Court.
1946 – The U.S. State Department releases the Acheson-Lilienthal Report, outlining a plan for the international control of nuclear power. It is written in large part by Robert Oppenheimer, the committee’s chief scientific consultant.
1963 – Team owner Sonny Werblin announces that the New York Titans of the American Football League will change its name to the New York Jets.
1966 – The inaugural Country & Western Music Awards is held at the Palladium in Hollywood. Merle Haggard and Buck Owens are among the winners. Its name is changed to the Academy of Country Music in the early 70s and the awards are first aired on TV in 1972 (7th Annual). Loretta Lynn and Freddie Hart win as top female and male vocalists. Watch Kenny Rogers award the top album of the year:
1979 – A partial meltdown causes a major nuclear accident at Nuclear Generating Station #2 at Three Mile Island in Middletown, Pennsylvania. There are no deaths and Station #2 is permanently shut down. Station #1 is still operational. Watch an ABS News report:
1990 – Jesse Owens is posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President George H. W. Bush. In the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Owens becomes the first American in Olympic Track and Field history to win four gold medals in a single Olympiad. Owens died in 1980 at age 66.
2010 – China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Company signs a deal to buy Ford Motor Company’s Volvo car unit for $1.8 billion.
1806 – Construction is authorized of the Great National Pike, better known as the Cumberland Road, becoming the first federal highway in the U.S.
1812 – Lucy Payne Washington (the sister of Dolley Madison) marries Thomas Todd in the first wedding at the White House.
1848 – Niagara Falls stops flowing for 30 hours due to an ice jam.
1867 – Congress approves the Lincoln Memorial. The Memorial is dedicated in 1922 and Lincoln’s only surviving son, 79-year-old Robert Todd Lincoln, is in attendance.
1927 – Henry O. D. Segrave races his Mystery Sunbeam to a record 203.79 mph at Daytona Beach, Florida.
1932 – Jack Benny debuts on the radio on Ed Sullivan’s New York interview program.
1943 – Meat, butter, and cheese are rationed in the U.S. during WW II.
1951 – Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are convicted of spying. They are executed in 1953. Watch a 1951 newsreel of the events:
1961 – The 23rd Amendment is ratified, allowing Washington, DC residents to vote in presidential elections.
1971 – 1st Lt. William L. Calley, Jr. is found guilty in the My Lai (Vietnam) massacre and is sentenced to life in prison with hard labor. Calley is transferred to house arrest pending appeal, where is serves 3 1/2 years at Fort Benning, Georgia, before being released. He is finally pardoned by President Nixon in 1974. Calley is now 73 years old.
1973 – U.S. troops leave Vietnam nine years after The Tonkin Resolution. Two U.S. ships are attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin by three Vietnamese Navy ships on August 2, 1964. At President LBJ’s request Congress passes the Resolution authorizing the president “to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty requesting assistance in defense of its freedom.” President Nixon signs the repeal of the resolution in 1971.
1974 – U.S. space probe Mariner 10 becomes the first spacecraft to reach the planet Mercury. It was launched on November 3, 1973.
1979 – The Committee on Assassinations Report issued by House of Representatives states the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was the result of a conspiracy.
1987 – During Wrestlemania III, a record 93,173 people watch Hulk Hogan beat Andre the Giant. Watch video excerpts from the event:
1995 – The House of Representatives rejects a constitutional amendment that would have limited terms to 12 years in the House and Senate.
1999 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above the 10,000 mark for the first time ever (10006.78).
1842 – Dr. Crawford Long of Jefferson, Georgia, uses ether as an anesthetic during surgery for the first time.
1858 – Hyman L. Lipman of Philadelphia patents a pencil with an attached eraser.
1867 – The U.S. Secretary of State William Seward agrees to buy Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, or 2 cents an acre, in what becomes known as Seward’s Folly. Gold is discovered in the Yukon in 1896. Watch a brief history of Alaska’s acquisition:
1870 – Texas becomes the last confederate state readmitted to the Union after the Civil War.
1889 – John Reid and John Upham open the first U.S. golf course in Yonkers, New York, in a former cow pasture and play the first mixed foursome.
1905 – President Theodore Roosevelt is chosen to mediate in the Russo-Japanese peace talks.
1909 – The Queensboro Bridge in New York linking Manhattan and Queens opens as the first double-decker bridge.
1932 – Amelia Earhart is the first woman to fly solo cross the Atlantic.
1939 – The comic book “Detective Comics #27” appears on newsstands. This comic book introduces Batman.
1950 – President Truman denounces Senator Joe McCarthy as a saboteur of U.S. foreign policy.
1964 – Astronaut John Glenn withdraws from the Ohio senate race because of injuries he suffered in a fall. Glenn finally wins his senate seat in 1974 after a third run and serves until he retires in 1997. In 1998 John Glenn becomes the oldest astronaut to go into space. Glenn died in 2016 at the age of 95.
1964 – “Jeopardy” debuts on TV and is hosted by Art Fleming. Merv Griffin creates the daytime game show. The nighttime game show debuts in 1984 and is hosted by Alex Trebek. Watch part an early episode:
1981 – President Ronald Reagan is shot and wounded by John Hinckley, Jr. President Reagan recovers while Hinckley is found not guilty by reason of insanity. Hinckley, now 61 years old, was released in 2016 from of St. Elizabeth’s Mental Hospital in Washington, DC after 35 years.
1984 – The U.S. ends its participation in the multinational peace force in Lebanon.
1990 – Jack Nicklaus made his debut in the “seniors” golf tournament and wins.
2012 – The U.S. Mega Millions lottery hits a world record lottery amount of $656 million. There are three winning tickets.
1870 – Thomas P. Mundy of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, is the first black person to vote in the U.S. Mundy died in 1904 at age 79.
1878 – Jack Johnson is the first black man to hold a heavyweight boxing title.
1906 – The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States is founded to set rules in amateur sports. The organization becomes the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in 1910.
1917 – The U.S. purchases the Danish West Indies for $25 million and renames them the Virgin Islands.
1918 – Daylight savings time goes into effect for the first time in the U.S.
1921 – Albert Einstein gives a lecture in New York City on his new theory of relativity.
1930 – The Motion Pictures Production Code (Hays Code) is instituted, imposing strict guidelines on the treatment of sex, crime, religion, and violence in film for the next thirty-eight years. The new film rating system goes into effect in 1968 using G (general), M (mature), R (restricted), and X (sexually explicit).
1943 – Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical “Oklahoma!” opens on Broadway.
1948 – Congress passes Marshall Aid Act to rehabilitate war-torn Europe.
1949 – RCA releases the first single 45-rpm record. It is “Texarkana Baby” and “Bouquet of Roses” by Eddy Arnold. Listen to “Texarkana Baby”:
1954 – The U.S. Air Force Academy is established in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
1980 – President Jimmy Carter deregulates the banking industry.
1981 – The first Raspberry Awards are held to honor the worst films of the previous year. The 1980 winner (or loser) is “Can’t Stop the Music.”
2004 – Google Inc. announces that it will introduce a free e-mail service called Gmail.
2008 – Senator and presidential candidate Obama criticizes President Bush for ”Trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all.” Watch his comments and campaign promise:
1778 – New Orleans businessman Oliver Pollock creates the “$” (dollar) symbol.
1853 – Cincinnati becomes the first U.S. city to pay fire fighters a regular salary.
1866 – Congress rejects President Andrew Johnson’s veto giving equal rights to all in the U.S. It is the first major piece of legislation passed over a presidential veto.
1889 – The first dishwashing machine is marketed in Chicago, Illinois. Josephine Cochrane patents her invention in 1886. A wealthy socialite, Cochrane designs the dishwasher because she is tired of her best china being chipped by the hired help. Cochrane’s dishwashing machine company eventually becomes KitchenAid. Cochrane died in 1913 at age 74.
1891 – The Wrigley Company is founded in Chicago, Illinois. At the age of 29 William Wrigley, Jr. leaves his home in Philadelphia with $32 and starts selling his father’s soap in Chicago. In 1893, after giving away chewing gum as a promotion, he introduces a new gum called “Juicy Fruit.” Wrigley died in 1932 at age 70.
1927 – Victor Victrola (His Master’s Voice) introduces the first automatic record changer.
1929 – Toy maker Louis Marx introduces the Yo-Yo.
1934 – Bonnie and Clyde kill two police officers near Grapevine, Texas. On May 23rd, law enforcement officers kill Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow near Sailes, Louisiana. Bonnie was 23 and Clyde was 25.
1938 – The Baseball Hall of Fame opens in Cooperstown, New York. The first inductees are Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, and Babe Ruth.
1946 – Weight Watchers is formed by overweight housewife Jean Nidetch in her apartment in Queens, New York. Nidetch died in 2015 at age 91. Watch a brief history of Weight Watchers:
1948 – Ralph Alpher (American), Hans Bethe, and George Gamow propose the Big Bang Theory in Physical Review, a publication organized in 1893 at Cornell University.
1954 – The U.S. Air Force Academy is formed in Colorado.
1970 – President Nixon signs a bill limiting cigarette advertisements effective January 1, 1971.
1986 – World oil prices dip below $10 a barrel. Oil has been over $100 a barrel.
1991 – The U.S. minimum wage goes from $3.80 to $4.25 per hour.
1992 – The battleship USS Missouri (on which Japan surrendered ending World War II) is decommissioned. It is now a memorial museum at Pearl Harbor. The USS Missouri is used in the 2012 movie “Battleship.” The extras in the movie are actual WWII veterans from the USS Missouri.
2004 – Google introduces Gmail. The launch is met with skepticism because of the launch date.
2009 – President Obama bows when meeting King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Watch the greeting:
2010 – Congress cuts Medicare reimbursements to physicians by 21 percent.
1792 – The Coinage Act is passed establishing the United States Mint.
1870 – Victoria Woodhull is the first woman to be nominated for the U.S. presidency. She runs on the Equal Right Party ticket. Woodhull died in 1927 at age 88.
1877 – The first Easter egg roll is held on the White House lawn.
1917 – Jeannette Rankin (R-MT) begins her term as the first woman member of U.S. House of Representatives.
1917 – President Woodrow Wilson asks Congress to declare war against Germany. Congress declares war on the German Empire on April 6th.
1921 – Albert Einstein arrives in the U.S. for the first time to give a series of lectures on his new “Theory of Relativity.”
1932 – Charles Lindbergh turns over $50,000 as ransom for his kidnapped son. Watch a short report about the “crime of the century”:
1951 – U.S. General and future president Dwight D. Eisenhower assumes command of all allied forces in the Western Mediterranean area and Europe.
1956 – The soap operas “Edge of Night” and “As the World Turns” premiere on TV. “Edge of Night” ends in 1984 and “As the World Turns” ends in 2010. Watch a montage of “Edge of Night” opening credits:
1978 – The TV show “Dallas” premieres on CBS and airs until 1991. The Southfork Ranch is actually located in Parker, Texas, about 25 miles north of Dallas. “Dallas” launches its new series in 2012. Larry Hagman (JR Ewing) dies in 2012 at age 81 after filming just 17 new episodes.
1986 – The NCAA adopts the 3-point basketball rule at a distance of 19 feet 9 inches.
1987 – The speed limit on U.S. interstate highways is increased to 65 miles per hour in limited areas.
1992 – Country singer Wynonna Judd makes her first appearance as a single act. Her mother Naomi is diagnosed with Hepatitis C and forced to retire from performing. Wynonna is now 52 and Naomi is 71 years old.
2014 – The Supreme Court rules that limits on the total amount of money individuals can give political candidates and political action committees are unconstitutional.