This Week in History, November 30 – December 6, 2015


This Week In History

by Dianne Hermann


“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people.

They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

– Thomas Jefferson




Week of November 30-December 6, 2015




November 30


1782 – The U.S. and Britain sign the preliminary peace articles in Paris, ending the Revolutionary War.


1804 – Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase goes on trial accused of political bias and is later acquitted by the Senate.


1866 – Work begins on the first U.S. underwater highway tunnel in Chicago. The Winston Tunnel is built by hand and takes twenty-three years and $500,000 for workers to complete the 1,500-foot tunnel beneath the Chicago River. It is abandoned in 1972.


1924 – The first photo facsimile (fax) is transmitted across the Atlantic by radio from London to New York City.


1940 – Lucille Ball and Cuban musician Desi Arnaz get married.


1956 – CBS replays the program “Douglas Edward and the News” three hours after it is received on the West Coast. It is the world’s first broadcast via videotape.


1967 – Julie Nixon and David Eisenhower announce their engagement. Julie is the daughter of the president and David is the grandson of the former president. They are married on December 22, 1968. Watch their wedding at:


1988 – Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co. buys RJR Nabisco for $25 billion.


1993 – President Bill Clinton signs the Brady Gun Control bill.


2004 – Longtime “Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings of Salt Lake City, Utah, finally loses, leaving him with $2,520,700, television’s all-time biggest game show haul.


2007 – Leeland Eisenberg enters the presidential campaign office of Hillary Clinton in Rochester, New Hampshire, with a device suspected of being a bomb and holds three people hostage for 5 hours.



December 1


1878 – The first White House telephone is installed during the Rutherford B. Hayes administration.


1891 – James Naismith of Springfield, Massachusetts, creates the game of basketball as a way to motivate and inspire young men that “should be of a recreative nature, something that would appeal to their play instincts.” Two peach baskets are nailed to each end of the lower balcony of the gymnasium at Springfield College and Naismith writes the 13 original rules for the game.


1903 – “The Great Train Robbery”, the first Western film, is released. Watch is at:


1913 – Henry Ford introduces the continuous moving assembly line, producing a car every 2 hours and 38 minutes.


1917 – Boys Town is founded by Father Edward Flanagan near Omaha, Nebraska. The first five boys to live there are homeless and are sent by the courts on December 12th.


1922 – The first skywriting flight over the U.S. is flown by Captain Cyril Turner of the RAF and says “Hello USA.”


1929 – Toymaker Edwin S. Lowe invents the game of Bingo when he is 18 years old. Lowe also creates the game Yahtzee. Lowe died in 1986 at age 75.


1936 – John D. Sweeney, Jr., age 23 of New Rochelle, New York, is issued the first Social Security card.


1941 – The U.S. Civil Air Patrol (CAP) organizes. After the Pearl Harbor attack the following week, thousands of CAP civilian volunteers log more than 500,000 hours performing critical wartime missions.


1943 – President FDR, Winston Churchill, and Josef Stalin agree to Operation Overlord (D-Day).


1955 – Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to move to the back of the bus. (See Dec. 5, 1955)


1957 – Buddy Holly and the Crickets debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. Buddy Holly died in a plane crash in 1959 at age 22. Watch their performance at:


1969 – The U.S. government holds its first draft lottery since WW II. The first number drawn is 258 (matching the birth date of September 14) so all men born between 1944 and 1950 who share that birth date are called to serve at once.


1981 – The AIDS virus (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is officially recognized. The cause is later discovered to be a human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV.


1982 – Dentist Barney B. Clark receives the first artificial heart. He lives for 112 days.


1987 – NASA announces four companies (Boeing Aerospace, G. E.’s Astro-Space Division, McDonnell Douglas Aeronautics, and Rocketdyne Division of Rockwell International) have been given contracts to help build a space station.


1998 – Exxon announces that it will buy Mobil for $73.7 billion creating the largest company in the world to date.


2001 – The 76 years of TWA airline operations ends when Captain Bill Compton lands Trans World Airlines Flight 220, an MD-83, into St. Louis International Airport. American Airlines purchases TWA.



December 2


1816 – The first savings bank in the U.S. opens as the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society (PFSF). By the late 1910s, PSFS has the most depositors of any savings bank in the United States.


1823 – President James Monroe declares his “Monroe Doctrine.” Monroe stated during a message to Congress that, “The American continents … are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.”


1845 – U.S. President James K. Polk announces to Congress that the United States should aggressively expand into the West in what becomes known as “Manifest Destiny.”


1867 – In a New York City theater, British author Charles Dickens gives the first of many public readings of his works in the United States.


1927 – The first Model A Fords sells for $385.


1933 – Fred Astaire’s film debut, “Dancing Lady,” is released. It stars Joan Crawford and Clark Gable. Watch all three stars at:

1942 – Dr. Enrico Fermi and his staff at the University of Chicago demonstrates a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.


1954 – The U.S. Senate censures Senator Joe McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) for “conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.” McCarthy claims that communists have infiltrated the U.S. State Department. He becomes chair of the Senate’s subcommittee on investigations. He continues to serve in the Senate until his death in May of 1957 at age 48.


1969 – The Boeing 747 jumbo jet has its fist public preview.


1970 – The Environmental Protection Agency begins with William Ruckelshaus as its first Director.


1982 – The first permanent artificial heart is successfully implanted in retired dentist Barney Clark. He lives 112 days with the Jarvic-7 heart.


1994 – A jury finds “Hollywood Madam” Heidi Fleiss guilty of pandering by running a call girl ring. She is sentenced to 3 years in prison. Fleiss is now 49 years old.


2001 – Enron files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York.


2014 – Stephen Hawking claims that Artificial Intelligence could be a “threat to mankind” and spell the end of the human race.



December 3


1847 – Former slave Frederick Douglass publishes the first issue of his abolitionist newspaper North Star. In June of 1851 the paper merges with the Liberty Party Paper of Syracuse, New York, and is renamed Frederick Douglass’ Paper. It is in circulation under this new name until 1860.


1868 – The first blacks are selected to serve on a U.S. jury for the trial of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.


1923 – The first Congressional open session is broadcast via radio from Washington, DC.


1931 – Alka-Seltzer goes on sale. Maurice Treener, the head chemist at Miles Medicine Company in Elkhart, Indiana, develops it. The trademark effervescence is produced when the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and citric acid react to form sodium citrate and carbon dioxide gas. Watch a 1960s commercial at:


1947 – Tennessee Williams’ play “A Streetcar Named Desire” premieres in New York City.


1950 – Paul Harvey begins his national radio broadcast. Harvey starts his radio career with a local broadcast in Chicago in 1944. He is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. His final broadcast is on February 7, 2009. Harvey died on February 28th at age 90. Good day!


1968 – The rules committee of Major League Baseball announces that in 1969 the pitcher’s mound would be lowered from 15 to 10 inches.


1971 – President Nixon commutes Jimmy Hoffa’s 13-year jail term after 5 years. Hoffa disappears in 1975 and is never found.


1984 – America’s oldest groom, 103-year-old Harry Stevens, weds 83-year-old Thelma Lucas in Wisconsin.


2012 – The Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched in 1977, reaches the end of our solar system and enters interstellar space.


2014 – Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot dead unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, resigns.


2014 – Protests erupt in cities across the U.S. after a grand jury decides not to charge the New York police officer who killed Eric Garner with a choke-hold.



December 4


1674 – Father Marquette, a French Jesuit priest sent to convert Indians in the Midwest, builds the first dwelling in what is now Chicago.


1783 – Gen. George Washington bids farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York.


1812 – Peter Gaillard of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, patents a horse-drawn mower.


1867 – Former Minnesota farmer Oliver Hudson Kelley founds The Order of the Patrons of Husbandry (known today as the Grange) to promote the economic and political well being of the agricultural community.


1875 – William Marcy Tweed, the “Boss” of New York City’s Tammany Hall political organization, escapes from jail and flees from the U.S.


1918 – President Wilson sails for the Versailles Peace Conference in France at the end of World War I, becoming the first chief executive to travel outside U.S. while in office.


1920 – In the first pro football playoff game, the Buffalo All-Americans beats the Canton Bulldogs 7-3 at the Polo Grounds. The undefeated Akron Pros go one to beat Buffalo.


1927 – Duke Ellington opens at the Cotton Club in Harlem.


1943 – Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis announces that any team is free to employ black players.


1954 – The first Burger King restaurant opens in Miami, Florida. Burger King now operates more than 12,000 restaurants in every state and 73 countries.


1961 – The Museum of Modern Art in New York City hangs Henri Matisse’s painting Le Bateau upside down for 47 days.


1964 – Baseball approves a free-agent draft. Rick Monday is the first pick in the first free agent draft on June 8, 1965.


1978 – Dianne Feinstein becomes San Francisco’s first woman mayor when she is named to replace George Moscone, who had been murdered.


1991 – The mother-daughter duo “The Judds” perform their final concert after Naomi (mother) is diagnosed with Hepatitis C. They have twenty top-10 country music hit songs and earn 8 consecutive awards at all three major county music award shows.  


1997 – The National Basketball Association suspends Latrell Sprewell of the Golden State Warriors for one year for choking and threatening to kill his coach, P.J. Carlesimo.



December 5


1792 – George Washington is re-elected President with John Adams as his Vice-President.


1804 – Thomas Jefferson is re-elected President with George Clinton as his Vice-President.


1848 – President Polk triggers the Gold Rush of ’49 when he confirms the discovery of gold in California.


1854 – Aaron Allen of Boston patents folding theater chair.


1908 – Numerals are first used on football uniforms worn by college football players at the University of Pittsburgh.


1933 – The 21st Amendment is ratified as the only amendment adopted to repeal an earlier amendment (18th Amendment – Prohibition).


1935 – National Council of Negro Women is formed by Mary McLeod Bethune in New York City.


1945 – The “Lost Squadron” disappears east of Florida in the Bermuda Triangle. Five bombers of Flight 19 report problems with their instruments. The search aircraft also disappears for a total loss of 27 men.


1946 – President Truman creates Committee on Civil Rights by Executive Order #9808.


1955 – The AFL and CIO unions merge, with George Meany as its first president.


1955 – The historic bus boycott begins in Montgomery, Alabama, after Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white person.


1964 – Captain Roger Donlon is awarded the first Medal of Honor of the Vietnam War for his heroism in battle earlier in the year.


1978 – Baseball free agent Pete Rose signs a 4-year, $32 million contract with the Phillies, becoming the highest paid player. Giancarlo Stanton becomes the highest paid athlete in any sport when he signs a $325 million 13-year contract with the Miami Marlins in November.


1985 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average rises above 1,500 for the first time.


1993 – Space Shuttle Atlantis astronauts begin repair of Hubble telescope in space.


1998 – James P. Hoffa becomes the head of the Teamsters union, 23 years after his father, Jimmy Hoffa, was the head of the Teamsters. His father disappeared in 1975 and is presumed dead.


2008 – OJ Simpson is sentenced to 33 years in prison for kidnapping and armed robbery.



December 6


1790 – Congress convenes in Philadelphia, the new temporary U.S. capital, after leaving New York City. Washington, DC becomes the permanent capital of the U.S. in 1800.


1849 – Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery in Maryland for the second and final time.


1865 – The 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery, is ratified.


1877 – Thomas Edison makes the first sound recording.


1884 – The construction of the Washington Monument was completed. The project takes 34 years and is interrupted by the Civil War.


1902 – Martha Washington is the first American woman to appear on a U.S. postage stamp.


1907 – A coal mine explosion in Monongah, West Virginia, kills 361 miners in the worst mine disaster in U.S. history.


1923 – President Calvin Coolidge makes the first presidential address on the radio. The broadcast to a joint session of Congress is the first of what is now known as the State of the Union Address.


1933 – The ban on James Joyce’s “Ulysses” in lifted in the U.S. The book is banned for being obscene, but a judge rules that, “(W)hilst in many places the effect of Ulysses on the reader undoubtedly is somewhat emetic, nowhere does it tend to be an aphrodisiac.”


1955 – New York psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers wins the “$64,000 Question” on a boxing question. Brothers wins the show again in 1957. Brothers died in 2013 at age 85.


1957 – The first U.S. attempt to launch a satellite fails when the Vanguard rocket blows up.


1957 – The AFL-CIO votes to expel the Teamsters. The Teamsters are readmitted in October 1987.


1960 – Western movie star Gene Autry and Bob Reynolds wae granted the Los Angeles Angels baseball franchise by the American League.


1964 – “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” a stop-action animation movie, airs for the first time on TV (and every year since). The title song is written by country music legend Gene Autry. Listen to the song with images from the movie at:


1969 – About 300,000 people attend the Altamont rock concert in California, featuring the Rolling Stones.


1973 – Gerald Ford is sworn in as the first unelected Vice President when he succeeds Spiro T. Agnew, who resigns amid a scandal.


1992 – San Francisco 49er Jerry Rice catches an NFL record 101 touchdowns. Rice still holds the record with 197 touchdowns. Watch one of Rice’s amazing TD catches at:


1994 – Orange County, California, files for bankruptcy protection, becoming the largest municipality to file for bankruptcy.


1994 – The Maltese Falcon is auctioned for $398,590. In 2013 it sells at auction for over $4 million, becoming one of the most expensive movie props ever.


1998 – Astronauts aboard the space shuttle Endeavour connect the first two building blocks of the international space station in the shuttle cargo bay.


2006 – NASA announces that photographs taken by Mars Global Surveyor suggests the presence of liquid water on Mars.