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. 6-12, 2017
1789 – Pope Pius VI appoints Father John Carroll as the first Catholic bishop in the U.S.
1861 – Jefferson Davis is elected to a 6-year term as Confederate president. Davis graduated from West Point in 1828. Col. Davis was a hero of the Mexican-American War in 1847. He served as a U.S. Senator from Mississippi (1847-1851 and 1857-1861) and the U.S. Secretary of War (1853-1857). He died in 1889 at the age of 81.
1938 – The three DiMaggio brothers (Vince, Joe, and Dominic) play baseball together in a west coast charity game. They are the only trio of brothers to have been All-Stars. Over 350 sets of brothers (including sets of twins) have played major league baseball.
1947 – NBC’s “Meet the Press” debuts and is now the longest running TV show in the U.S.
1952 – The first hydrogen bomb is exploded at Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.
1967 – Phil Donahue begins a TV talk show in Dayton, Ohio, that airs for 29 years. Watch the famous show in 1977 with Marlo Thomas that leads to matrimony. They are still married:
1986 – Reagan signs a landmark immigration reform bill. It made it illegal to knowingly hire illegal immigrants and legalized illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. before January 1, 1982 under strict conditions. The INS estimated that about four million illegal immigrants would apply and about half would be eligible.
1990 – A fire destroys some of Universal Studios stages. The fire caused $25 million in damage and was started by a security guard who was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to arson. Watch a report on the fire:
2012 – The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico votes in favor of becoming a U.S. state. It was the fourth statehood referendum, but the first in which a majority voted for statehood.
1805 – Lewis and Clark first view the Pacific Ocean. The Corps of Discovery left Missouri in May of 1804.
1872 – The cargo ship Mary Celeste sails from New York to Italy. It is mysteriously found abandoned in the Bermuda Triangle four weeks later with all the crew’s effects, cargo, and 6-month’s food supply intact. The crew was never found, although a lifeboat was missing. The Mary Celeste was sold several times and made Atlantic voyages over the next 12 years, until it was deliberately run aground for the insurance. The wreck has never been found.
1874 – Thomas Nast creates the first cartoon depicting an elephant as the symbol for the Republican Party. He also creates the modern version of Santa Claus.
1910 – The first air freight shipment is undertaken by the Wright Brothers and department store owner Max Morehouse. A Wright brother’s pilot flew 200 pounds of silk worth $800 from Dayton to Columbus, Ohio. Philip Parmelee flew the 65-mile route in 66 minutes at an altitude of 2,000 to 3,000 feet in freezing temperatures by following railroad tracks. Parmelee was killed at an airshow two years later. He was 25.
1932 – “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” is broadcast as the first science fiction program on the radio. It aired until 1936, but ess revived several times. It debuted as a comic strip in 1929. An 8-minute Buck Rogers film was made for the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair. Buck Rogers was a 12-part movie serial starring Buster Crabbe starting in 1939 and a short-lived TV series in 1950-51. Most recently it aired as a TV show starring Gil Gerard from 1979 to 1981.
1940 – The Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Galloping Gertie) collapses in Washington four months after it opened to traffic. Watch actual footage of the bridge collapse, filmed by Barney Elliott, a local camera shop owner:
1973 – Congress over-rides President Nixon’s veto of the War Powers Act, which limits a chief executive’s power to wage war without congressional approval.
1991 – Magic Johnson announces he has the HIV virus and retires from the LA Lakers basketball team. Johnson is now 58 years old. Watch his announcement:
1999 – Tiger Woods becomes the first golfer since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win four straight tournaments. Woods is now 41 years old.
2000 – The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration discovers an LSD lab inside a converted military missile silo in Wamego, Kansas. William Leonard Pickard, now 72, is serving two life sentences following his conviction in the largest LSD manufacturing case in U.S. history. He continues to conduct research, write, and advocate for psychedelics. His partner, Clyde Apperson, now 62, was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
1731 – Benjamin Franklin opens the first U.S. library in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1933 – The Civil Works Administration is created by executive order by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The organization was designed to create jobs for more than four million unemployed people in the U.S. during the Great Depression.
1956 – After turning down 18,000 names, the Ford Motor Company decides to name their new car the “Edsel,” after Henry Ford’s only son.
1966 – Movie actor Ronald Reagan is elected governor of California. He first appeared in a movie in 1937 and finished his acting career in 1965 in the TV series Death Valley Days. He was elected president in 1980 and 1984. He died in 2004 at age 93. Watch Reagan in Death Valley Days:
1988 – George H. W. Bush is the first vice president since Martin Van Buren (1837) to be elected president of the U.S.
1990 – Gina Marie Tolleson of the U.S., age 21, is crowned the 40th Miss World. Only two other American women have been crowned Miss World – Marjorie Wallace in 1973 and Alexandria Mills in 2010. Watch Tolleson’s farewell speech at the 1991 crowning:
2000 – Waco special counsel John C. Danforth releases his final report that absolves the government of wrongdoing in the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Texas that ended in the death of 76 people, including 25 children.
2000 – A statewide recount begins in Florida to decide the winner of the U.S. presidential election. George Bush beat Al Gore by a hanging chad.
1857 – The Atlantic magazine is first published, billing itself as a “journal of literature, politics, science, and the arts.” It is the second-oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S., after Scientific American (founded 1845).
1906 – Teddy Roosevelt is the first President to visit other countries when he travels to Puerto Rico and Panama.
1935 – The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) labor union forms. The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was formed in 1886. The two unions merged in 1955 as the AFL-CIO.
1961 – The X-15 rocket plane sets a world record speed of 4,093 mph (Mach 6.04) and reaches an altitude of 101,600 feet after being launched from under the wing of a B-52. Watch a video with a description of the launch, flight, and landing:
1982 – Sugar Ray Leonard retires from boxing for the first time. He retired again in 1984. He came out of retirement in 1987 to defeat Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Sugar Ray retired again in 1991 only to return to the ring in 1997 at age 40. He retired for the last time in 1997 following a TKO and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame later that same year. Sugar Ray is now 61 years old.
1984 – “The Three Servicemen” Memorial is completed in Washington, DC. It was designed and created to complement the controversial design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
2015 – San Diego’s SeaWorld announces it will overhaul its killer whale show after controversy over the treatment of its whales. Watch a news report on the announcement:
1775 – Congress forms the U.S. Marine Corps. Major Samuel Nicholas is the first Commandant (1775-1783).
1891 – Granville T. Woods patents the electric railway. Known as the “Black Edison,” Woods receives close to 60 patents, 15 for inventions or improvements for electric railroads.
1940 – Walt Disney begins serving as an informer for the Los Angeles office of the FBI. Disney’s job was to report back to the FBI any information on Hollywood political subversives until his death in 1966.
1969 – “Sesame Street” premieres on PBS TV. The show is still on the air and is the longest running children’s show. Its creators include Muppets creators Jim Henson and Frank Oz. Watch the opening of the show:
1982 – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial opens in Washington, DC. The design of 21-year-old Chinese-American Ohio-born Maya Ying Lin was chosen from more than 1,400 submissions.
1993 – The House of Representatives passes the Brady Bill, which calls for a background check and five-day waiting period for handgun purchases. The bill, introduced by Rep. Charles Schumer (D-NY), is named for James Brady, who was wounded in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan. The bill is signed into law on November 30th by President Bill Clinton.
1997 – The 1960s pop art icon Peter Max pleads guilty to tax fraud with time served. Max is now 80 years old. Watch a Larry King Live and The Early Show interviews with Peter Max and his artwork:
2016 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average sets a new all-time high record of 18,791 just two days after Donald Trump is elected president.
November 11 – Thanks to our Veterans!
1750 – The F.H.C. Society, also known as the Flat Hat Club, is formed at Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia. It is the first college fraternity.
1865 – Mary Edwards Walker, the first female Army surgeon, becomes the first woman to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
1918 – World War I ends at 11 AM with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. President Wilson proclaims November 11 a national holiday as Armistice Day in 1919. The holiday is renamed Veteran’s Day after WWII. In 1954 President Eisenhower makes the first Veterans Day proclamation.
1921 – President Harding dedicates the Tomb of Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. The Tomb of the Unknowns has been guarded continuously 24/7/365 since 1937, including during hurricanes when Honor Guards refused to stand down. Guards are volunteers of the elite 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard,” at Fort Meyer, Virginia. Over 600 Tomb Guard Identification Badges have been awarded since they started counting in 1958.
1926 – U.S. Route 66 is established and, when completed, winds from Chicago to LA, more than two thousand miles all the way. Get your kicks on Route 66. The song of the same name is first recorded by Nat King Cole in 1946.
1939 – Kate Smith makes her first public performance of “God Bless America,” written by Russian-born immigrant Irving Berlin in 1918. Watch the quintessential performance of the patriotic song:
1972 – The Dow Jones Index goes above 1,000 for the first time.
1992 – Russian President Boris Yeltsin tells U.S. senators in a letter that Americans had been held in prison camps after World War II. Some were “summarily executed,” but others were still living in his country voluntarily.
1993 – The Vietnam Women’s Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC, to honor the more than 11,000 women who served in the Vietnam War.
1998 – Jay Cochrane sets a record for the longest blindfolded skywalk. He walks on a tightrope between the towers of the Flamingo Hilton in Las Vegas, which are 600 feet apart. Watch the death-defying walk:
2002 – Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates pledges $100 million to fight AIDS in India.
1910 – A man jumps into Hudson River from a burning balloon for the first movie stunt.
1920 – District Court Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis is elected as the first baseball commissioner and is still the longest-serving commissioner. He served until his death in 1944 at age 78.
1926 – The first recorded aerial bombing on U.S. soil took place in Williamson County, Illinois, during a feud between rival bootlegger gangs, the Shelton brothers and the Charlie Birger gang. Members of each gang used trucks converted into armored vehicles and bombed their rival’s buildings. Binger was arrested for ordering the murder of Joe Adams, a local mayor. He was convicted and hanged in April of 1928. Two of the Shelton brothers were murdered by another rival gang. Earl, the last surviving brother, died in 1986 at age 96.
1954 – Ellis Island, the immigration station in New York Harbor, closes. It opened in 1892. Over 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island.
1966 – An 18-year-old high school student kills four women and a 3-year-old child in a beauty school to get fame and so people would remember his name. He is convicted of the murders and sentenced to death. His sentenced is reduced to two 99-year sentences plus four life sentences. The here unnamed mass murderer is now 57 years old and still in prison.
1969 – The U.S. Army announces it is investigating Lt. William Calley for an alleged March 19th massacre of civilians in the Vietnamese village of My Lai. He was convicted on 22 counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison. President Nixon ordered Calley transferred to house arrest in Fort Benning, Georgia, where he remained for 3 ½ years. Calley is now 74 years old.
1975 – Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas retires after 36 years on the bench. He is still the longest-ever serving Supreme Court Justice. Douglas died in 1980 at age 81.
1981 – Double Eagle V completes the first balloon crossing of Pacific Ocean from Japan to Baja California in 84 ½ hours. It sets a new distance record of 5,768 miles. Watch a brief report on the historic flight:
1997 – Ramzi Yousef is found guilty of masterminding the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Yousef is sentenced to life plus 240 years to be served in solitary confinement.
2015 – “Out” Magazine names Barack Obama “Ally of the Year,” making him the first sitting U.S. President to pose for cover of a gay magazine. Watch a Pravda (Russian news) report: