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 Nov. 13-19, 2017
1789 – Ben Franklin writes, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.”
1927 – The New York-New Jersey Holland Tunnel, the first twin-tube underwater auto tunnel, opens to traffic. Chief Engineer Clifford Holland died before its completion. Watch a documentary on the building of the tunnel:
1942 – The minimum military draft age is lowered from 21 to 18.
1946 – The first artificial snow is produced from a natural cloud in Mount Greylock, Massachusetts. An airplane flies over Mount Greylock and seeds the clouds with super-cooled ice crystals.
2001 – In the first such act since World War II, President George W. Bush signs an executive order allowing military tribunals against foreigners suspected of connections to terrorist acts or planned acts on the U.S.
2006 – A deal is finalized for Google Inc. to acquire YouTube for $1.65 million in Google stock.
2009 – NASA announces that water has been discovered on the moon. The discovery came from the planned impact on the moon of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS). Watch an AP report of the announcement, with animation:
1832 – The first horse-drawn streetcar (designed by John Stephenson) debuts in New York City. The fare is 12 cents to ride on 4th Avenue between Prince and 14th Streets.
1889 – New York World reporter Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochrane) begins her attempt to surpass the fictitious journey of Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg by traveling around world in less than 80 days. She succeeds by finishing the trip in January in 72 days and 6 hours, setting a real world record. In 1887, Bly feigned insanity to have herself committed to the women’s mental institution in New York City. She wrote “Ten Days in a Mad-House” is expose the brutality and neglect at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island. The asylum was closed in 1894.
1910 – The first airplane launches from the deck of a ship. Eugene Ely took off from the USS Birmingham at Hampton Roads, Virginia, and landed at the Willoughby Spit peninsula in Norfolk after a 5-minute flight. In January 1911, Ely became the first pilot to land on a ship when he took off from the Tanforan Racetrack and landed on the USS Pennsylvania anchored in the San Francisco Bay. Ely was killed in October 1911 while flying at an exhibition in Georgia. He was 24 years old.
1965 – The U.S. government sends 90,000 soldiers to Vietnam.
1972 – Dow Jones closes above 1,000 for first time (1003.16). It took another 15 years to close above 2,000 (in 1987).
1993 – Don Shula becomes (and remains) the winningest coach in NFL history with his 325th victory with the Miami Dolphins in his 31-year career. He passes Coach George Halas’ record of 324 wins during his 40-year career with the Chicago Bears. Shula is now 87 years old. Watch an interview with Shula on his coaching career:
1997 – Disney’s “Lion King” sets a Broadway record of $2,700,000 one day sales. It is also the highest grossing Broadway show at $1.3 billion and counting.
2001 – The House of Representatives votes not to create an independent commission to investigate the September 11 attacks.
1763 – Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon begin surveying the “Mason-Dixon Line” to resolve a border dispute among Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The official report that was issued in 1768 did not even mention their names.
1939 – The Social Security Administration approves the first unemployment check.
1957 – The U.S. sentences Soviet spy Rudolf Ivanovich Abel to 30 years in prison and fines him $3,000. He smuggled coded messages in hollow nickels. He served four years in prison before being exchanged for captured U-2 spy plane pilot Gary Powers. Abel died in 1971 at age 68.
1959 – Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Smith murder four members of the Clutter Family at their farm outside Holcomb, Kansas. The murders became the subject of Truman Capote’s book “In Cold Blood.”
1986 – Ivan F. Boesky, reputed to be the highest-paid person on Wall Street, faced penalties of $100 million for insider stock trading. He served 2 years of a 4-year sentence. It is the highest penalty ever imposed by the SEC. In a 1991 divorce, he was reportedly awarded a settlement from his wife of a $20 million lump payment plus $2 million a year for life, about half of what he was seeking. Boesky is now 80 years old.
1990 – Music producers confirm that singing duo Milli Vanilli didn’t sing on their album. Their Grammy Award is withdrawn when it is revealed the duo lip-synched their album. Watch them perform (sort of) at the Grammys:
1995 – Atlantis becomes the first Space Shuttle to dock with the orbiting Russian space station “Mir.” Watch space cameras capture the docking:
2012 – BP settles for $4.5 billion in the Deep Horizon Oil Spill.
2016 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 19,000 for the first time, two weeks after Donald Trump is elected president. It closes about 20,000 five days after Trump is inaugurated.
1676 – The first colonial prison is organized in Nantucket, Massachusetts.
1914 – The Federal Reserve System formally opens. The “Fed” is created by Congress during the Wilson administration as the central bank of the U.S. to influence monetary policy and regulate banks. The “Fed” has never been audited.
1952 – In the Peanuts comic strip, Lucy first holds a football for Charlie Brown.
1963 – The touch-tone telephone is introduced.
1965 – Walt Disney launches Epcot Center (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). Walt Disney dies the following year and Epcot opens in 1982. Watch an animated ride on the EPCOT People Mover with electronic voiceover:
1973 – President Nixon authorizes construction of the Alaskan pipeline. The pipeline was built between 1974 and 1977.
1981 – Luke and Laura finally get married on the soap opera “General Hospital.” It is the longest running American soap opera still in production (since 1963), and the second longest running in history after Guiding Light (1952-2009). Watch the long-awaited wedding ceremony:
2012 – “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” grosses $500 million in the first 24 hours to become the biggest entertainment launch of all time – until “Grand Theft Auto V” pulled in $800 million in the first 24 hours in 2013. It took in $1 billion in just 3 days.
1800 – Congress holds its first session in the incomplete Capitol building Washington, DC. The building is completed in 1826.
1894 – The “Daily Racing Form” for Thoroughbred horse racing is founded. It is launched in Chicago and is the only U.S. newspaper dedicated to a single sport. It is published daily except for Christmas Day.
1936 – Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy become an overnight success on radio. The Edgar Bergen/ Charlie McCarthy Show aired until 1956. Edgar Bergen died in 1978 at age 75. Charlie is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, DC.
1967 – Surveyor 6 becomes the first man-made object to lift off from the Moon.
1968 – NBC cuts to the movie “Heidi,” missing the Oakland Raider’s rally in the final two minutes of the football game. The Raiders score two touchdowns in 9 seconds of play to beat the New York Jets, 43-32 in the “Heidi Bowl.” Watch the news broadcast and the last minute of the game never seen at on TV:
1992 – Dateline NBC airs a demonstration showing a General Motors truck blowing up on impact. It is later revealed NBC rigged the test. Watch the test and Dateline NBC’s mea culpa:
1993 – The U.S. House of Representatives approves the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
2004 – Kmart Corp. announces it is buying Sears, Roebuck and Co. for $11 billion and naming the newly merged company Sears Holdings Corporation.
1820 – U.S. Navy Capt. Nathaniel B. Palmer of Connecticut, age 22, discovers Antarctica.
1872 – American suffragette Susan B. Anthony and 14 other women are arrested after voting on November 5th in Rochester, New York. Anthony was denied a trial by jury and was tried in Federal Court in June of 1873 by newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Ward Hunt. Anthony was not allowed to speak in her own defense until after she was found guilty and ordered to pay a $100 fine. She told the judge she “shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty,” and she never did.
1883 – Standard time zones are formed by the railroads in U.S. and Canada that would provide a uniform schedule for train departures and arrivals. Four times zones were first proposed in 1870 by Charles F. Dowd.
1902 – Brooklyn toymaker Morris Michton names the stuffed bear after President Theodore Roosevelt. The “teddy” bear is nicknamed for the president following a hunting trip in 1902 with Mississippi Governor Andrew H. Longino in which Teddy Roosevelt refused to kill an old bear tied to a tree.
1928 – The first successful sound-synchronized animated cartoon, Walt Disney’s “Steamboat Willie,” starring Mickey Mouse premieres in New York.
1932 – “Flowers & Trees” by Walt Disney Studios receives the first Academy Award for a cartoon. Watch the cartoon at:
1951 – Chuck Connors (Los Angeles Angels) becomes the first baseball player to ask for an exemption the major league baseball draft. Connors left baseball to become an actor, including the star of the television show “The Rifleman” (1958-1963).
1961 – President JFK sends 18,000 military advisors to South Vietnam.
1966 – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops did away with the rule against eating meat on Fridays, except during Lent.
1978 – In Jonestown, Guyana (South America), 909 members of the Peoples Temple are murdered or commit suicide under the leadership of American cult leader Jim Jones.
2001 – Phillips Petroleum and Conoco merge into a new company as ‘ConocoPhillips’, the third-largest oil and natural gas company in the U.S.
1620 – The “Mayflower” reaches Cape Cod and explores the coast. They eventually land at Plymouth Rock.
1794 – The Jay Treaty is signed with Great Britain. Named for the first Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay, the treaty grants America “Most Favored Nation” status but leaves many issues from the Revolutionary War unresolved.
1861 – Julia Ward Howe pens “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” as a poem. It is first published in “The Atlantic Monthly” in February 1862. The music is from the song “John Brown’s Body.”
1863 – Abraham Lincoln delivers his famous “Four score and seven years ago…” address in Pennsylvania dedicating the Gettysburg battlefield. Lincoln is asked to deliver the “concluding remarks” at the dedication ceremony, following the lengthy principal address by Massachusetts Senator Edward Everett. Listen to a recitation of the address with Civil War photographs:
1919 – The U.S. Senate rejects the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations by a vote of 55-39.
1950 – U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes the supreme commander of NATO in Europe. He is the U.S. president from 1952-1960.
1980 – CBS-TV bans Calvin Klein’s jeans ad featuring 15-year-old Brooke Shields. Watch the provocative ad at:
1997 – Bobbi McCaughey of Des Moines, Iowa, gives birth to septuplets (4 boys and 3 girls) in the first known case where all seven babies were born alive and survive infancy. They are now 20 years old.
1998 – The U. S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee begins impeachment hearings against President Bill Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The House of Representatives impeaches Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice but he remains in office. President Andrew Johnson is the only other president to endure impeachments proceedings. The impeachment for “high crimes and misdemeanors” is not upheld and Johnson also remains in office.
2002 – The U.S. government takes over of security at 424 airports nationwide through the TSA following the signing of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act by President George W. Bush.