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 6-12, 2017
1831 – Edgar Allan Poe is removed from West Point Military Academy after 7 months. Poe is court-martialed in January of 1831 after he stops attending classes, parades, roll calls, and chapel.
1836 – Several thousand Mexican soldiers under the command of Santa Anna overrun the Alamo defended by fewer than 200 Americans near modern-day San Antonio, Texas. All defenders were killed, including Jim Bowie and former Congressman Davey Crockett.
1857 – In the infamous Dred Scott Decision the Supreme Court rules that slaves cannot be citizens or sue in federal court. The Dred Scott decision is overturned by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution, which are ratified in 1865 and 1868 respectively.
1921 – Police in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, issue an edict requiring women to wear skirts at least 4 inches below the knee.
1930 – Clarence Birdseye of Brooklyn develops a method for quick freezing food.
1950 – Silly Putty goes on sale in the U.S.
1964 – Liz Taylor gets divorced for the 3rd time, this time from Eddie Fisher.
1964 – Cassius Clay joins the Nation of Islam and its leader, Elijah Muhammad, renames him Muhammad Ali.
1967 – Muhammad Ali is ordered by selective service to be inducted. He refuses.
1967 – Joseph Stalin’s only daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, asks for political asylum in U.S. at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, which is granted. She spent the rest of her life in New Jersey. Svetlana died in 2011 at age 85. Watch her 1967 press conference:
1973 – President Richard Nixon imposes price controls on oil and gas.
1981 – Walter Cronkite signs off for the final time on the “CBS Evening News.” Watch it:
1980 – At the 7th Daytime Emmy Awards presentation, nominee Susan Lucci loses for the 1st of 18 times. Lucci finally wins an Emmy in 1999.
1982 – In the NBA’s highest scoring game to date, the San Antonio Spurs beat the Milwaukee Bucks 171-166 (337 points) in triple overtime. The current record is 370 points when the Detroit Pistons beat the Denver Nuggets 186-184 in triple overtime in December 1993.
1985 – Yul Brynner appears in his 4,500th stage performance of “The King & I.” He stars in 4,633 performances, the last one just four months before his death. He also stars in the movie of the same name. Brynner wins a Tony in 1952 and an Oscar in 1956 for the musical and movie, respectively.
1991 – Following Iraq’s capitulation in the Persian Gulf conflict, President Bush tells Congress that, “Aggression is defeated. The war is over.”
2007 – Former White House aide Lewis Libby, Jr. is found guilty on four of five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice trial.
2015 – The U.S. State Department charges 2 Vietnamese and 1 Canadian citizen with cyber fraud for stealing 1 billion email addresses for spam
1644 – Massachusetts establishes the first 2-chamber (bicameral) legislature in the colonies.
1876 – Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone.
1908 – Cincinnati Mayor Mark Breith stands before the city council and announces that, “Women are not physically fit to operate automobiles.”
1918 – President Wilson authorizes the U.S. Army’s Distinguished Service Medal and is principally awarded to general officers.
1917 – The first jazz record “Dixie Jazz Band One Step” is recorded by Nick LaRocca’s Original Dixieland Jazz Band and released by RCA Victor in Camden, New Jersey. Listen to the original recording:
1926 – The first transatlantic telephone call is made from London to New York.
1942 – The first cadets graduate from flying school at Tuskegee, Alabama. The Tuskegee Airmen, the first black pilots in the U.S. armed forces, distinguish themselves during World War II.
1955 – “Peter Pan” starring Mary Martin is televised. Watch a clip from her original TV performance:
1959 – Melvin C. Garlow is the first aviator to fly a million miles in a jet.
1967 – Teamster Union president Jimmy Hoffa begins an 8-year jail sentence for defrauding the union and jury tampering. His sentence is commuted on December 23, 1971. Hoffa disappears in July 1975. His disappearance is never solved and his body is never found.
1975 – The Senate revises the filibuster rule allowing 60 senators to limit debate instead of the previous two-thirds.
1993 – Former “Diff’rent Strokes” child actor Todd Bridges is arrested for stabbing a tenant. It is later determined Bridges acted in self-defense. He is now 51 years old.
2002 – A federal judge awards former Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith more than $88 million in damages. The ruling is the latest in a legal battle over the estate of Smith’s late billionaire husband, J. Howard Marshall II, who died in 1995 at age 90. Anna Nicole died in 2007 at age 39.
2016 – Peyton Manning announces his retirement from the Denver Broncos and the National Football League after 18 years as a quarterback.
1884 – Susan B. Anthony addresses the U.S. House Judiciary Committee arguing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote. Anthony’s argument came 16 years after legislators had first introduced a federal women’s suffrage amendment. The 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote is not passed until 1919 and is ratified in 1920. The 15th Amendment giving black men the right to vote is ratified in 1870. Anthony died in 1906 at age 86.
1894 – The state of New York enacts the nation’s first dog-licensing law.
1913 – The Internal Revenue Service begins to levy and collect income taxes.
1924 – A coal mine explosion at Castle Gate, Utah kills 171 miners.
1930 – Babe Ruth signs a 2-year contract for $160,000 with the New York Yankees. GM Ed Barrow wrongly predicts “No one will ever be paid more than Ruth.”
1948 – The Supreme Court rules 8-1 in McCollum v Illinois Board of
Education that religious instruction in public schools is unconstitutional.
1953 – The U.S. Census Bureau indicates that 239,000 farmers gave up farming in the previous 2 years.
1958 – Nobel Prize winning author William Faulkner says U.S. schools have “degenerated to become babysitters.”
1965 – The U.S. lands about 3,500 Marines in South Vietnam. They are the first U.S. combat troops to land in Vietnam.
1973 – The Eisenhower Tunnel in Colorado opens. It is the world’s highest vehicle tunnel at 11,155 feet.
1983 – IBM releases PC DOS version 2.0.
1985 – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reports that 407,700 Americans are millionaires. That is more than double the total from just five years before.
1983 – President Ronald Reagan calls the USSR an “Evil Empire.” While in Berlin in 1987 Reagan tells Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” The Berlin Wall is torn down in 1989 and the empire falls in 1991. Watch excerpts of Reagan’s speech:
1994 – The U.S. Defense Department announces a smoking ban in its workplaces.
1776 – The book on economics “The Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith is published.
1820 – President and Mrs. James Monroe’s daughter Maria marries Samuel Lawrence Gouverneur (Mrs. Monroe’s nephew) in the White House.
1862 – The battle of the “Monitor” (Union) and the “Merrimack” (Confederate) takes place in Hampton Roads, Virginia. It is the first battle between ironclads (submarines).
1864 – Ulysses S. Grant is appointed commander of the Union Army. Grant serves as president from 1869 to 1873.
1933 – Congress is called into special session by President FDR and begins its “100 days.” In all, Roosevelt pushed 15 major bills through Congress in his first 100 days in office.
1954 – The first local color TV commercial airs in New York City for Castro Decorators. The ad is for a convertible sofa.
1954 – Edward R. Murrow criticizes Senator Joseph McCarthy on his show “See It Now.” Watch Murrow’s commentary:
1964 – The first Ford Mustang is produced. Introduced mid-year, it is known as the 1964 ½ Mustang. Over one million Mustangs are sold in the first two years of production.
1976 – The first female cadets are accepted to West Point Military Academy. Of the first 119 female cadets, 62 of them graduate.
1979 – Commissioner Bowie Kuhn orders baseball to give equal access to female reporters.
1986 – NASA announces that searchers have found the remains of the Space Shuttle Challenger astronauts following the January 28th explosion on takeoff.
2007 – The U.S. Justice Department releases an internal audit that finds that the Federal Bureau of Investigation acted illegally in its use of the USA Patriot Act to secretly obtain personal information about U.S. citizens.
2011 – The Space Shuttle Discovery makes its final landing after 39 flights. The last Space Shuttle flight is the Atlantis in July 2011. There are a total of 135 Space Shuttle missions. Watch the Discovery’s landing from space to touchdown:
2015 – President Barack Obama signs an executive order declaring Venezuela a national security threat to the U.S.
1849 – Abraham Lincoln applies for and receives (on May 22nd) a patent for his invention of a device to lift boats over shoals. Although his device is never manufactured, Lincoln is the only U.S. president to hold a patent.
1862 – The U.S. issues the first paper money ($5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, and $1000 bills).
1876 – Alexander Graham Bell makes the first telephone call. The call is to his assistant Thomas Watson.
1924 – The Supreme Court upholds a New York state law forbidding late-night work for women.
1933 – Nevada becomes the first U.S. state to regulate narcotics.
1951 – FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover declines the job of baseball commissioner. Ford Frick becomes baseball commissioner. Hoover remains FBI director until his death in 1972 at age 77.
1964 – A U.S. reconnaissance plane is shot down over East Germany.
1969 – James Earl Ray pleads guilty of the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. Ray died in prison in 1998 at age 70.
1971 – The U. S. Senate approves the 26th Amendment lowering the voting age from 21 to 18.
1980 – Willard Scott becomes the weather forecaster on the “Today Show.” He is also the first Ronald McDonald. Scott is 82 years old. Watch Scott in a 1987 weather forecast:
1982 – President Reagan proclaims economic sanctions against Libya.
1994 – White House officials began testifying before a federal grand jury about the Clinton Whitewater controversy.
1996 – New York City Mayor Giuliani visits Israel.
1998 – U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf begin receiving the first vaccinations against anthrax.
2015 – The estate of the late singer Marvin Gaye (1939-1984) wins a record $7.3 million lawsuit for music copyright infringement against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams.
1789 – Benjamin Banneker, the son of a freed slave, and Pierre L’Enfant, who came from France to fight in the Revolutionary War, begin laying out the plans for Washington, DC.
1823 – Concord Academy of Concord, Vermont opens as the first normal school (training school for teachers) in the U.S. It is founded by Samuel Read Hall. It is now a college-prep high school.
1841 – The first continuous filibuster in the U.S. Senate, which begins on February 18th, ends. It starts over Senator Henry Clay’s bill to charter the Second Bank of the United States. The word “filibuster” is derived from the French word meaning “pirate.”
1897 – A meteorite enters the earth’s atmosphere and explodes over New Martinsville, West Virginia. The debris causes damage, but no human injuries are reported.
1918 – The first confirmed cases of the Spanish Flu are observed at Fort Riley, Kansas, starting the 3-year global flu pandemic that kills 3 to 5 percent of the world’s population.
1927 – The first Golden Gloves tournament is held. The tournament is started and named by Paul Gallico.
1941 – FDR signs the Lend-Lease Bill to provide aid to Britain and other foreign nations during World War II.
1953 – An American B-47 aircraft accidentally drops a nuclear bomb on Mars Bluff, South Carolina. The bomb doesn’t detonate, but the hole it made is still visible.
1958 – Herb Stempel finally loses on the TV game show “Twenty-One.” It is later revealed that the show’s producers provided competitor Charles Van Doren with the correct answer and told his Herb Stempel to give the wrong answer, resulting in one of the biggest game show scandals. Watch the full episode:
1968 – Otis Redding posthumously receives a gold record for “Dock of the Bay.” Redding died December 10th in a plane crash, before the record was released. Watch a montage of the video: htt
1982 – Senator Harrison Williams (D-NJ) resigns rather than face expulsion following his 1981 conviction for taking bribes in the ABSCAM sting.
1982 – Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat sign a peace treaty in Washington, DC during the Carter administration.
1986 – The National Football League adopts the instant replay rule.
1997 – The ashes of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry are launched into space on the Voyager Memorial Spaceflight Service arranged by the Houston-based firm Celestis, Inc. The ashes of his wife are also launched into space after her 2012 death.
2002 – Two columns of light are pointed skyward from ground zero in New York as a temporary memorial to the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
1664 – The first naturalization act is passed in American colonies. The first Oaths of Allegiance are also taken.
1789 – The U.S. Post Office is established.
1894 – Coca-Cola is sold in bottles for the first time.
1912 – Juliette Gordon Low forms the Girl Scouts in Savannah, Georgia.
1933 – FDR conducts his first “fireside chat” on the radio. Listen to the chat:
1947 – President Truman establishes the “Truman Doctrine” to help Greece and Turkey resist Communism.
1956 – The Dow Jones closes above 500 for the first time (500.24).
1974 – “Wonder Woman” debuts on TV and airs until 1979. Watch the introduction from each season:
1980 – A jury finds John Wayne Gacy guilty of murdering 33 men and boys in Chicago. Gacy is executed by lethal injection in 1994 at age 52.
1986 – Susan Butcher wins the first of her four 1,158-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Races (1986, 1987, 1988, and 1990). She runs the race 18 times. Only Rick Swenson has won more Iditarod races (5). The first Iditarod race is run in 1973. Butcher died of leukemia in 2006 at age 51. Watch a brief bio of Butcher:
1989 – About 2,500 veterans and supporters march at the Art Institute of Chicago to demand that officials remove an American flag placed on the floor as part of an exhibit. The exhibit is closed for only a short period of time then reopens.
2003 – Elizabeth Smart is found after having been missing for 9 months. She is kidnapped from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah, by Brian David Mitchell. He is sentenced to life in prison in 2011. Smart is now 29 years old.
2003 – The U.S. Air Force announces that it will resume reconnaissance flights off the coast of North Korea. The flights stop on March 2 after an encounter with four armed North Korean jets.