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 May 1-7, 2017
1751 – The first American cricket match is played.
1841 – The first emigrant wagon train leaves Independence, Missouri, headed for California.
1873 – The first U.S. post card is issued.
1883 – “Buffalo Bill” Cody puts on his first Wild West Show. Cody died in 1917 at age 70.
1898 – U.S. Admiral George Dewey gives the famous command, “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.” He sank or captured the entire Spanish fleet at Manila Bay. Dewey is the only person in U.S. history to achieve the rank of Admiral of the Navy.
1931 – The Empire State Building opens in New York City as the tallest building in the world at 103 stories.
1935 – The Boulder Dam is completed. It is 726’ high and 1,244’ long.
1937 – President Franklin Roosevelt signs an act of neutrality to keep the U.S. out of World War II.
1940 – The 1940 Tokyo Summer Olympics are cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II. The 1940 Winter Olympics and 1944 Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics are also cancelled. (Note: The 1916 Summer Olympics were cancelled due to World War I.)
1941 – General Mills introduces Cheerios cereal.
1943 – Food rationing begins in the U.S. during World War II.
1960 – Russia shoots down U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers in his U-2 spy plane 15 days before President Eisenhower is scheduled to attend an East-West Summit in Paris. Powers pleads guilty and is convicted of espionage in August and sentenced to three years imprisonment and seven years of hard labor. He serves one year and nine months of the sentence before being exchanged for Rudolf Abel in February of 1962. Powers died in 1977 at age 47 in a helicopter accident.
1961 – The first U.S. airplane is hijacked to Cuba. A National Airlines plane is hijacked from Miami to Cuba by Antulio Ramirez Ortiz.
1962 – The first Kmart department store opens in Garden City, Michigan, selling a range of clothes, shoes, housewares, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and electronics.
1963 – James Whittaker becomes the first American to conquer Mount Everest.
1967 – Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu get married in Las Vegas. They are divorced in 1973. They have one daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, born in 1968.
1971 – Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corp.) begins operation.
1989 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that employees have the legal burden to prove non-discriminatory reasons for not hiring or promoting.
1991 – Oakland A’s Rickey Henderson, in a baseball game against the Yankees, breaks Lou Brocks record by stealing a record 939 bases. He goes on to steal 1,406 bases in his career. Watch the record-breaking steal on the same day as Nolan Ryan’s 7th no-hitter:
1999 – On Mount Everest, a group of U.S. mountain climbers discover the body of George Mallory. Mallory died in June of 1924 while trying to become the first person to reach the summit of Everest. At the time of the discovery it was unclear whether or not Mallory had actually reached the summit.
2003 – In what becomes known as the “Mission Accomplished” speech, President George W. Bush, on board the USS Abraham Lincoln off the coast of California declares that, “major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” Watch part of the speech:
2011 – President Barack Obama announces that U.S. soldiers killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
2012 – Occupy Wall Street protesters gather across the U.S. to stage a day of protest for International Workers’ Day. Thousands of people march in New York, Oakland, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Chicago in protest. The protest ends up lasting for weeks.
1865 – President Johnson offers a $100,000 reward for capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
1876 – Ross Barnes hits the first home run in the National League.
1885 – “Good Housekeeping” magazine is first published.
1902 – “A Trip to the Moon,” the first science fiction film, is released. It is created by and stars French director George Melies. It is released in the U.S. in October. Watch the silent movie:
1908 – The song “Take me out to the Ball Game” is registered for copyright.
1916 – President Woodrow Wilson signs Harrison Drug Act, which regulates and taxes the production and distribution of opium and cocaine products.
1918 – General Motors (GM) acquires the Chevrolet Motor Company.
1927 – The Supreme Court rules 8-1 in Buck v. Bell that forced sterilizations of various “unfit” people by state authorities for eugenic reasons does not violate the 14th Amendment right to due process. The Supreme Court decision has never been overturned. Adolph Hitler uses this law as a model for his “Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring.”
1932 – Jack Benny’s first radio show premieres on NBC. Benny starts as a Vaudeville actor and stars in many TV shows and movies. Benny, always 39, died in 1974 at age 80.
1932 – Pearl S. Buck is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for “The Good Earth.”
1939 – Lou Gehrig ends his 2,130 consecutive games streak. He died of ALS (now called Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 1941 at age 37.
1941 – The Federal Communications Commission agrees to allow the scheduling of TV broadcasts by commercial TV stations beginning on July 1, 1941. This is the start of network television.
1949 – Arthur Miller is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for “Death of a Salesman.”
1955 – Tennessee Williams is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for “Cat on Hot Tin Roof.”
1969 – The British ship Queen Elizabeth II leaves on its maiden voyage to New York.
1970 – Diane Crump is the first woman jockey to race in the Kentucky Derby. Watch an interview with Crump about the future of thoroughbreds:
1974 – Former Vice President Spiro Agnew is disbarred by the Maryland Court of Appeals.
1984 – The U.S. performs nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site.
1985 – The U.S. performs nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site.
2011 – Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the September 11 attacks and the FBI’s most wanted man, is killed by U.S. Special Forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
2012 – Edvard Munch’s famous painting ‘The Scream” sells at auction in New York City for a record $119,922,500.
1802 – Washington, D.C. is incorporated as a city.
1919 – America’s first passenger flight takes off from New York City and lands in Atlantic City.
1921 – West Virginia imposes the first state sales tax.
1923 – The first nonstop transcontinental flight (New York to San Diego) is completed.
1933 – The first female director of the U.S. Mint, Nellie T. Ross, takes office.
1937 – Margaret Mitchell is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for “Gone With The Wind.”
1944 – Meat rationing ends in the U.S. after World War I.
1948 – The Pulitzer Prize is awarded to James Michener for “South Pacific” and to Tennessee Williams for “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
1952 – The first airplane, flown by U.S. Air Force pilots Joseph O. Fletcher and William P. Benedict, lands at the geographic North Pole.
1966 – The new party game “Twister” is featured on the “Tonight Show.” Johnny Carson plays it with Eva Gabor. Watch an early Twister commercial:
1971 – National Public Radio (NPR) broadcasts for the first time.
1986 – Bill Shoemaker becomes the oldest jockey (age 54) to win the Kentucky Derby.
1997 – Garry Kasparov begins a 6-game chess rematch with the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in Pennsylvania, winning 3 ½ to 2 ½. Watch a diagram and a move by move explanation of the game:
1999 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 11,000 for the first time.
2001 – The U.S. loses its seat on the U.N. Human Rights Commission for the first time since the commission was formed in 1947.
2006 – Al-Quaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui is given a sentence of life in prison for his role in the terrorist attack on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. Moussaoui is currently serving his sentence in a maximum-security penitentiary in Colorado.
1780 – The American Academy of Arts & Science is founded in Massachusetts when 62 people sign the charter, including John Adams, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock.
1893 – Cowboy Bob Pickett, the son of former slaves, invents the rodeo sport of bulldogging. Pickett died in 1932 at age 69 after being kicked in the head by a horse.
1904 – Construction on the Panama Canal is taken over by the United States from France, who started the project in 1881. The 48-mile-long canal is completed in 1914.
1919 – The first legal Sunday baseball game is played in New York City. The Phillies beat the Giants 4-3.
1932 – Al Capone, convicted of income tax evasion, enters the Atlanta Penitentiary. He is paroled in 1939. Capone died in 1947 at age 48.
1953 – The Pulitzer Prize is awarded to Ernest Hemingway for “The Old Man and The Sea.”
1957 – Alan Freed hosts the “Rock n’ Roll Show,” the first primetime network TV rock music show.
1959 – The first Grammy Awards are held. Perry Como and Ella Fitzgerald win as best male and female vocalists. Henry Mancini wins album of the year for “The Theme From Peter Gunn.”
1961 – American Navy pilots Malcolm Ross and Victor Prather set a balloon altitude record of 113,740 feet to test the Navy’s 22-pound neoprene pressurized space suit. The balloon flight altitude record still stands.
1964 – Soap operas “Another World” and “As the World Turns” premiere on TV.
1967 – Lunar Orbiter 4 is launched by the U.S. and begins orbiting the Moon on May 7.
1975 – Houston Astros’ Bob Watson scores baseball’s one-millionth run of all time. He is awarded $10,000 and 1 million Tootsie Rolls. Watson served as Major League Baseball’s vice president in charge of discipline and vice president of rules and on-field operations until 2010. Watch a report on the big hit:
1987 – Live models are used for the first time in Playtex bra TV ads.
1998 – A federal judge in Sacramento, California, gives “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski four life sentences plus 30 years after Kaczynski accepts a plea agreement sparing him from the death penalty.
2003 – Idaho Gem, the first member of the horse family to be cloned, is born. Watch him gets his legs under him:
2013 – Harper Lee files a lawsuit against her literary agent over the copyright of her Pulitzer Prize winning book “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Rights to the book are returned to Lee, who died in 2016 at age 89.
1809 – Mary Kies is the first woman issued a U.S. patent. It is for a technique of weaving straw with silk and thread in making hats.
1816 – The American Bible Society is organized in New York. Elias Boudinot, former president of the Continental Congress, serves as its first president.
1865 – About one dozen men tear up tracks in the first U.S. train robbery. Over 100 passengers are robbed near North Bend, Ohio. The robbers are never caught.
1891 – Andrew Carnegie’s Music Hall (later named Carnegie Hall) opens in New York City with Ilyich Tchaikovsky as the guest conductor.
1893 – In the wake of the Panic of 1893 the New York Stock Exchange crashes, leading to the Depression of 1893. This is why the subsequent stock market crash of 1929 is called the Great Depression.
1904 – Cy Young of Boston pitches the first perfect baseball game against the Philadelphia A’s, winning 3-0.
1925 – John T. Scopes is arrested for teaching evolution in Tennessee. Scopes is tried, convicted, and fined $100. His conviction is overturned on a technicality by the Tennessee Supreme Court.
1926 – Sinclair Lewis refuses the 1925 Pulitzer Prize for his book “Arrowsmith.” He states in a letter to the committee that the terms of the prize (for the American novel published during the year which shall best present the wholesome atmosphere of American life, and the highest standard of American manners and manhood) means “anything whatsoever, would appear to mean that the appraisal of the novels shall be made not according to their actual literary merit but in obedience to whatever code of Good Form may chance to be popular at the moment.”
1942 – The U.S. begins rationing sugar during World War II.
1943 – Postmaster General Frank C. Walker develops the Postal Delivery Zone System.
1956 – Jim Bailey of Australia becomes the first runner to break the four-minute mile in the U.S. He is clocked at 3:58.5.
1961 – Alan Shepard becomes the first American in space when he is launched aboard Freedom 7. (John Glenn is the first American to orbit the Earth.) Shepard goes to the moon on Apollo 14 in 1971. Shepard died in 1998 at age 74. Watch a 10-minute biography:
1965 – U.S. Army ground units arrive in South Vietnam for the first large-scale mission.
1979 – Voyager 1 passes Jupiter. It is launched by NASA in September 1977. In 2012 Voyager I passed into interstellar space.
1987 – Congress begins the Iran-Contra hearings.
1997 – The final episode of “Married with Children” airs on Fox TV after 11 seasons. Watch the 25th anniversary reunion:
1833 – Blacksmith and inventor John Deere makes its first steel plow. His company is founded in 1837.
1853 – In the first major U.S. rail disaster, 46 people are killed in Norwalk, Connecticut, when a train engineers misses an open drawbridge signal and the cars plunge into the Norwalk River.
1861 – Jefferson Davis approves a bill declaring War between the United States and the Confederacy.
1877 – Indian Chief Crazy Horse surrenders to U.S. troops in Nebraska.
1882 – Congress passes the Chinese Exclusion Act. The act bars Chinese immigrants from the U.S. for 10 years.
1915 – Babe Ruth hits his first major league home run while playing for the Boston Red Sox.
1929 – The New York to San Francisco footrace, dubbed The Bunion Derby, begins. The promised $60,000 prize is never paid out.
1937 – The Dirigible Hindenburg explodes in flames at Lakehurst, New Jersey, killing 36. Watch a newsreel of the historic tragedy:
1941 – Bob Hope performs in his first USO show at California’s March Field. Hope headlines a total of 57 tours during every war from World War II to Operation Desert Shield in 1991. Hope died in 2003 at age 100.
1957 – Senator John F. Kennedy is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for book “Profiles in Courage.”
1978 – Affirmed wins the 104th Kentucky Derby on his way to the Triple Crown. Steve Cauthen is the jockey.
1981 – A jury of international architects and sculptors unanimously selects Maya Ying Lin’s entry for the design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. It is the second most visited monument in Washington, after the Lincoln Memorial. Watch a 2008 talk by Lin about the memorial:
1994 – Former Arkansas state worker Paula Jones files suit against President Bill Clinton alleging that he sexually harassed her in 1991.
1996 – The body of former CIA director William Colby is found washed up on a riverbank in southern Maryland, eight days after he disappears in an apparent boating accident. He was 46 years old.
2002 – “Spider-Man” becomes the first movie to make more than $100 million in its first weekend.
2013 – Wal-Mart becomes the largest company by revenue on the Fortune 500 list.
1789 – The first inaugural ball is held after George Washington is sworn in as president in New York City.
1847 – The American Medical Association (AMA) organizes in Philadelphia.
1888 – George Eastman patents the “Kodak box camera.”
1912 – Columbia University approves plans for awarding the Pulitzer Prize in several categories. The award is established by Joseph Pulitzer as part of his will. The first prize is awarded in 1917.
1914 – The U.S. Congress establishes Mother’s Day.
1915 – The Lusitania ocean liner is sunk by a German submarine on its way from New York to England and about 1,200 lives are lost.
1926 – A U.S. report shows that one-third of the nation’s exports wae motor vehicles.
1942 – In the Battle of the Coral Sea, American and Japanese navies attack each other with carrier planes. It is the first time in the history of naval warfare where two enemy fleets fight without seeing each other.
1954 – The United States and the United Kingdom reject the Soviet Union’s bid to join NATO.
1975 – President Ford declares an end to the “Vietnam Era.”
1977 – Seattle Slew wins the Kentucky Derby, the first of his Triple Crown victories. Watch Seattle Slew win the first jewel:
1984 – A $180 million out-of-court settlement is announced in the Agent Orange class-action lawsuit brought by Vietnam veterans who claim they suffered injuries from exposure to the defoliant while serving in the armed forces.
1982 – IBM releases PC-DOS version 1.1.
1992 – A Constitutional amendment barring mid-term congressional raises is ratified. James Madison proposes in 1789 what becomes the 27th Amendment.
1992 – The U.S. Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-49) launches on its maiden voyage. It is built to replace the Challenger, destroyed in a launch accident in January 1986.
1998 – Mercedes-Benz buys Chrysler for $40 billion and forms Daimler/Chrysler in the largest industrial merger in history.
1999 – A jury finds “The Jenny Jones Show” and Warner Brothers liable in the shooting death of Scott Amedure after the show purposely deceives Jonathan Schmitz into appearing on a secret same-sex crush episode. Schmitz kills Amedure days after the show’s taping. A jury awards Amedure’s family $25 million. Schmitz is sentenced to 25-50 years in prison. Watch the never-aired episode and interviews:
2013 – The Dow Jones industrial average closes over 15,000 for the first time.