This Week In History, May 12-18 2014


by Dianne Hermann

“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”
– Winston Churchill

Week of May 12-18, 2014


May 12

1777 – The first advertisement for ice cream appears in the New York Gazette.

1932 – The decomposed body of Charles Lindbergh’s son, kidnapped on March 1st, is found in the woods near the Lindbergh’s New Jersey home. It is believed the baby has been dead since the night of the kidnapping.

1949 – Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit of India is the first foreign woman ambassador to be received in the U.S. She is also the first female president of the UN General Assembly.


1967 – H. Rap Brown replaces Stokely Carmichael as chairman of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and is a prominent figure in the Black Panther Party.

1970 – Harry A. Blackmun is confirmed by the Senate as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. He authors the Roe v Wade decision in 1973 and on the court serves until 1994. Blackmun died in 1999 at age 90.


1978 – The Commerce Department says hurricane names will no longer be only female names.

1980 – Maxie Anderson and his son Kris complete the first nonstop crossing of U.S. via balloon. Maxie dies in 1983 at age 48 in a balloon accident.

1985 – Amy Eilberg is ordained in New York as the first woman Conservative rabbi.

1986 – Fred Markham, unpaced and unaided by wind, is the first person to pedal 65 mph on a level course in Big Sand Flat, California. He wins the $18,000 DuPont Prize


1993 – The last broadcast of “Cheers” airs on NBC-TV after 10 seasons.

2003 – Fifty-nine Democrat lawmakers flee the Texas Legislature and go into hiding to prevent a quorum in a dispute over a Republican congressional redistricting plan. The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the plan.


May 13

1828 – The U.S. passes the Tariff of Abominations, so called by Southerners because of the adverse effects it has on their economy. The Tariff of 1828 is designed to protect northern industries from low priced imported goods.

1846 – The U.S. declares war on Mexico, 2 months after fighting begins.

1946 – The U.S. convicts 58 camp guards of the Mauthausen concentration camp to death as part of the Nuremberg trials following World War II.

1950 – Diner’s Club issues its first credit cards. In 1949, businessman Frank McNamara forgets his wallet while dining out at a New York City restaurant. He starts the restaurant credit card company with his partner Ralph Schneider.

1960 – The first launch of Delta satellite vehicle fails to reach orbit.

1983 – Reggie Jackson becomes the first major league baseball player to strike out 2,000 times.

1992 – Three astronauts simultaneously walk in space for the first time. Richard Hieb, Pierre Thuot, and Thomas Akers conduct an 8 ½-hour space walk outside Space Shuttle Endeavor.



May 14

1804 – Lewis and Clark set out from St. Louis for Pacific Coast.

1853 – Gail Borden patents her process for condensed milk.

1878 – Vaseline is first sold as a registered trademark for petroleum jelly.

1921 – Florence Allen is the first woman judge to sentence a man to death. She sentences gangster Frank Motto to die in the electric chair for the murder of two men.

1942 – The U.S. Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) forms after Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts introduces a bill in Congress. The Corps becomes a permanent part of the Army from 1948 until 1978, when women are assimilated into all but the combat branches of the Army.

1948 – The U.S. grants Israel de facto recognition by President Harry Truman after Israel’s proclamation of independence.

1949 – Harry Truman signs a bill establishing a rocket test range at Cape Canaveral.

1951 – Ernie Kovacs TV Variety Show debuts on NBC.


1973 – Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In last airs on NBC-TV. It premiers in 1967 and is hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. Dan Rowan died in 1987 at age 65 and Dick Martin died in 2008 at age 86.


1973 – The U.S. Supreme Court approves equal rights to females in military.

1976 – Lowell Thomas ends his 46-year career as radio network reporter.

1980 – The Department of Health & Human Services begins operation.

1998 – The last episode of Seinfeld, which premiers in 1989, airs on NBC. Commercials cost $2 million for 30 seconds.


May 15

1817 – The Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason (now Friends Hospital) opens in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the first private mental health hospital in the U.S.

1869 – The National Woman Suffrage Association forms. Elizabeth Cady Stanton serves as its first president.


1911 – The Supreme Court dissolves Standard Oil Company using the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which is passed by Congress to combat monopolies.

1928 – Mickey Mouse makes his first appearance in the cartoon short “Plane Crazy.”


1933 – The first voice amplification system is used in the U.S. Senate.

1934 – The Department of Justice offers a $25,000 reward for John Dillinger, dead or alive. Dillinger is shot and killed by FBI agents on July 22nd in Chicago.

1940 – Nylon stockings go on sale for the first time in the U.S.

1941 – Joe DiMaggio starts his 56-game hitting streak.

1942 – Gasoline is first rationed in 17 eastern states.

1944 – Eisenhower, Montgomery, Churchill and King George VI meet to discuss D-Day planned for June 6th.

1951 – AT&T becomes the first corporation to have one million stockholders.

1963 – Peter, Paul & Mary win their first Grammy for “If I Had a Hammer.”

1972 – Presidential candidate and former Governor George Wallace is shot and left paralyzed by Arthur Bremer in Laurel, Maryland. Bremer is convicted and sentenced to 63 years in prison. He is paroled in 2007 when he is 57 years old after serving 35 years. Gov. Wallace died in 1998 at age 79.


May 16

1866 – Congress authorizes nickel 5¢ piece (replaces the silver half-dime).

1868 – President Andrew Johnson is acquitted during a Senate impeachment by 1 vote.

1925 – The Kentucky Derby is first aired during a network radiocast.


1927 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that bootleggers must pay income tax.

1929 – The first Academy Awards is held in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. “Wings” wins for Best Picture and Emil Jennings wins for Best Actor (“The Way of All Flesh”) and Janet Gaynor wins for Best Actress (“7th Heaven,” “Street Angel,” and “Tempest”).

1939 – Food stamps are first issued.

1948 – CBS news correspondent George Polk’s body is found in Greece while he is covering the Greek civil war. Gregoris Staktopoulos, a Greek journalist, is jailed for 10 years for Polk’s murder.

1965 – Spaghetti-O’s is first sold under the Franco-American brand by Campbell Soup.

1985 – Michael Jordan named the National Basketball Association Rookie of the Year.


1988 – Surgeon General C. Everett Koop reports that nicotine is as addictive as heroin.

1991 – Queen Elizabeth becomes the first British monarch to address the U.S. Congress.



May 17

1733 – England passes the Molasses Act, putting high tariffs on rum and molasses imported to the colonies from a country other than British possessions.

1792 – The New York Stock Exchange is formed when 24 merchants sign the Buttonwood Agreement at 68 Wall Street.

1875 – In the first Kentucky Derby horse race Oliver Lewis aboard Aristides wins in 2:37.75.

1883 – Buffalo Bill Cody’s first wild-west show premieres in Omaha.

1884 – Alaska becomes a U.S. territory following its purchase from Russia called Seward’s Folly.

1939 – The first-ever televised baseball game is played between Princeton and Columbia. Princeton beats Columbia 2–1.

1954 – The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rules on Brown v Topeka Board of Education that racial segregation of children in public schools violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, reversing the 1896 “separate but equal” Plessy v Ferguson decision. (See May 18, 1896)

1957 – The Supreme Court rules in Brown v Board of Education against school desegregation laws that, “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

1961 – Castro offers to exchange the Bay of Pigs prisoners for 500 bulldozers.

1975 – NBC pays $5 million for rights to show “Gone with the Wind” one time.

2004 – Massachusetts becomes the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage.


May 18

1652 – Rhode Island enacts the first law declaring slavery illegal.

1860 – The Republican Party nominates Abraham Lincoln for president at its convention in Chicago.

1896 – The U.S. Supreme Court affirms race separation in Plessy v Ferguson. Homer Plessy is arrested in New Orleans for sitting in a “whites only” railroad car. The Supreme Court rules that separate facilities are constitutional as long as they are equal. Justice John Harlan is the lone dissenter on the Court.

1918 – A TNT explosion in a chemical factory in Oakdale, Pennsylvania, kills 200 people.

1926 – Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson vanishes while swimming near Venice, California. She shows up a month later in Senora, Mexico, saying she had been kidnapped.


1927 – Andrew Kehoe blows up Bath Consolidated School in Michigan, killing 38 children and 2 teachers after killing his wife and setting their home on fire. Kehoe dies in a second bombing later that day aimed at the school’s superintendant. He is 55 years old.


1933 – Tennessee Valley Act (TVA) Act is signed by FDR to build dams.

1933 – The first major league baseball All-Star Game is announced for July 6 at Comiskey Park. The game is played as part of the Chicago World’s Fair.

1934 – Gossip columnist Sidney Skolsky is the first to call the Academy Award the “Oscar” in print.

1953 – Jacqueline Cochran is the first woman to break the sound barrier flying an F-86 Sabre fighter plane. She sets more than 200 aviation records. Cochran died in 1980 at age 74.


1967 – Tennessee Gov. Ellington repeals the “Monkey Law,” upheld in 1925 Scopes Trial.

1982 – Unification Church founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon is convicted of tax evasion, is fined $15,000, and serves 13 months of his 18-month sentence. Moon died in 2012 at age 92.

1992 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that states could not force mentally unstable criminal defendants to take anti-psychotic drugs.

1998 – The U.S. Department of Justice and 20 U.S. states file an anti-trust case against Microsoft. Microsoft and the DOJ reach a settlement in 2001.