This Week in History, March 30 – April 5


1964This 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 March 30-April 5, 2015



March 30

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.


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 introduces Batman.

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 is now 93 years old.

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 of an early episode at:


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, who is now 59 years old, is still a resident of St. Elizabeth’s Mental Hospital in Washington, DC.

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.


March 31

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.


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” at:

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.”

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.” Listen to his campaign promise at:


April 1

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 – The U.S. 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.

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 is 23 and Clyde is 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.

1948 – Alpher (American), Bethe, and Gamow propose the Big Bang Theory in the publication Physical Review.

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 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 at:

2010 – The U.S. Congress cuts Medicare reimbursements to physicians by 21%.


April 2

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.

1932 – Charles Lindbergh turns over $50,000 as ransom for his kidnapped son. (See April 3, 1936)

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.

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.

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 50 and Naomi is 69 years old.


April 3

1513 – Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon lands at what is now Florida.

1860 – The first Pony Express riders leave St. Joseph, Missouri, for Sacramento, California, on a trip across the country that takes about a week. The Pony Express, which advertises for “Young, skinny, wiry fellows, not over 18, must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily, orphans preferred,” only lasts about a year and a half. Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok are among the riders.

1882 – The outlaw Jesse James is shot in the back by Robert Ford. Jesse James was 34 years old.

1910 – James Wickersham makes the first (albeit unsuccessful) attempt to climb Alaska’s Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain in North America.

1936 – Richard Bruno Hauptmann is executed for the kidnapping and death of the son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh.

1948 – President Harry Truman signs the Marshall Plan giving $5 billion in aid to 16 European countries.

1949 – Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis debut on radio on the “Martin and Lewis Show”. The NBC radio program runs until 1953. Martin and Lewis go on to star in a variety of TV shows and movies. Martin died in 1995 at age 78. Lewis is now 89 years old.


1953 – “TV Guide” is published for the first time. Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s son Desi Arnaz, Jr. are on the cover. Little Desi is now 62 years old.


1973 – The first portable cell phone call is made in New York City.

1977 – Egyptian President Anwar Sadat has his first meeting with President Jimmy Carter.

1986 – The U.S. national debt hits $2 trillion. The current national debt is over $18 trillion, which has doubled since 2006.

1991 – Football player Bo Jackson signs a 1-year contract with the Chicago White Sox baseball team. Jackson is the first athlete to play in the All-Star game in two different sports. In 2013 ESPN names Jackson the “Greatest Athlete of All Time.”


1996 – Unabomber suspect Theodore Kaczynski is arrested. He pleads guilty in January 1998 to five Unabomber attacks in exchange for a life sentence without the chance of parole.

2000 – The Nasdaq set a one-day record when it loses 349.15 points to close at 4,233.68.

2010 – The first Apple iPad is released.


April 4

1887 – Susanna Madora Salter of Argonia, Kansas, is elected the first woman mayor in the U.S.


1933 – The U.S. Dirigible Akron crashes off coast of New Jersey, killing 73 people. There are three survivors.


1949 – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) treaty is signed in Washington, DC.

1967 – Johnny Carson quits “The Tonight Show.” He returns three weeks later after getting a raise of $30,000 a week. Carson retired in 1992 after hosting the show 30 years and died in 2005 at age 79.

1968 – Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated at age 39 in Memphis, Tennessee.

1974 – Hank Aaron ties Babe Ruth’s home-run record by hitting his 714th home run. Watch #714 go over Pete Rose’s head at:

1975 – Microsoft is founded as a partnership between Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

1988 – Eddie Hill becomes the world’s first driver to cover the quarter mile in less than 5 seconds. Watch the trials and record race at:

2008 – During a raid on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints owned YFZ Ranch in Texas, 401 children and 133 women are taken into state custody. Several male members of the compound are found guilty or plead no contest to sexual assault.


April 5

1869 – Daniel Bakeman, the last surviving soldier of the U.S. Revolutionary War, dies at the age of 109.

1887 – Anne Sullivan teaches the hand sign for “water” to Helen Keller.

1923 – Firestone Tire and Rubber Company begins the first regular production of balloon tires for automobiles.

1973 – Pioneer 11 launches on its mission to study Jupiter. NASA loses contact with the spacecraft in 1995 after receiving data for 22 years. Watch the launch and space mission info at:

1974 – The world’s tallest building, the World Trade Center, opens in New York City at 110 stories. We will always remember 9-11-01.

1984 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar breaks Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time career scoring record by scoring 31,421.

1987 – The FOX Broadcasting Company launches its nighttime shows with “Married . . . With Children” and “The Tracey Ullman Show.”

1997 – Steve Irwin’s show “The Crocodile Hunter” debuts on TV. Irwin dies in 2006 at age 44 while filming underwater.


1999 – Three of Tammy Wynette’s daughters file a $50 million lawsuit that blame Wynette’s death on negligence by her husband and her doctor. Tammy died in 1998 at age 55.