This Week in History: Oct. 23-29, 2017


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 Oct. 23-29, 2017

October 23

1813 – The Pacific Fur Company trading post in Astoria, Oregon, (named for John Jacob Astor) is sold to their rival, British North West Company, during the War of 1812. The fur trade in the Pacific Northwest is dominated for the next three decades by the United Kingdom until the beaver population dwindles.

1850 – About 900 people attend the first national Woman’s Rights Convention convenes in Worcester, Massachusetts. Speakers included Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, and Frederick Douglass.

1910 – Blanche Stuart Scott becomes the first woman to fly solo in an airplane at a public event when she flies at an air meet in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1912 Scott becomes the first female test pilot.

1956 – NBC broadcasts the first videotaped recording. The tape of comedian Jonathan Winters is seen coast to coast in the U.S. Watch the opening credits:

1973 – President Nixon agrees to turn over his White House tape recordings to Judge Sirica as part of the Watergate investigation.

1981 – The U.S. national debt tops $1 trillion. It now tops $20.3 trillion (about $3 trillion more than this time last year).

2000 – Universal Studios Consumer Products Group (USCPG) and Amblin Entertainment announce an unprecedented and exclusive three-year worldwide merchandising program with Toys “R” Us, Inc. for the rights to exclusive “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” merchandise.

2001 – Apple releases the iPod.

2015 – Singer-songwriter Adele releases her single “Hello,” which becomes the first song with more than a million downloads in its first week.

October 24

1861 – The first transcontinental telegram is sent, ending the Pony Express.

1901 – Annie Taylor becomes the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. The 43-year-old Michigan teacher survives the drop. The next attempt isn’t until 10 years later – by a man. Taylor’s barrel is on display as part of the Daredevil Gallery at the IMAX Theatre in Niagara Falls.

1911 – Orville Wright remains in the air in his glider for 9 minutes and 45 seconds at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, setting a new world record that stands for the next 10 years. Watch a video of the flight in still photos and a glider flight marking the 100th anniversary of the historic flight:

1926 – Harry Houdini’s last performance is at the Garrick Theatre in Detroit, Michigan. Houdini dies a few days later on Halloween at the age of 52.

1946 – A camera on board the V-2 No. 13 rocket launched from White Sands, Mew Mexico, takes the first photograph of earth from outer space.

1971 – Harry Drake of Kansas shoots an arrow a record 2,028 yards. He is an early pioneer in the design of the composite bow. Drake died in 1997 at age 82.

1987 – Robert Bork’s Supreme Court nomination is rejected by the U.S. Senate, mostly along party lines. He is one of only three Supreme Court nominees to ever be opposed by the ACLU. The Supreme Court opening was eventually filled by Anthony Kennedy.

1989 – Televangelist Rev. Jim Bakker is sentenced to 45 years for fraud but serves only 4 years. He is now 77 years old. His wife, Tammy Faye Bakker, died in 2007 at age 65. Watch an interview with the Bakkers:

2002 – Police arrest spree-murderers 42-year-old John Allen Muhammad and 17-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo, ending the Beltway sniper attacks in and around Washington, DC, that kills 10 people and wounds 3 others. Muhammad is sentenced to death and is executed by lethal injection in Virginia in 2009. Malvo receives life without parole, which is overturned on appeal because of his age.

2003 – Concorde makes its last commercial flight from New York City to London. The first Concorde flight was in 1969.

2009 – The First International Day of Climate Action is held. It is organized by, founded by American environmentalist Bill McKibben in 2007. The group’s name comes from their global campaign to address a claimed global warming crisis that works to pressure world leaders to reduce carbon dioxide levels from 400 parts per million to 350 parts per million.

October 25

1870 – Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness Stakes, opens in Baltimore, Maryland. Pimlico, the second jewel in horse racing’s Triple Crown, is the second oldest racetrack in the U.S. behind Saratoga.

1903 – The U.S. Senate begins investigating the Teapot Dome scandal during the Harding administration over bribes for oil reserves in Montana without competitive bidding.

1955 – Tappan sells the first microwave oven. It cost $1,295.

1962 – U.S. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson presents photographic evidence to the United Nations Security Council of Soviet missile bases in Cuba.

1971 – Roy Disney dedicates Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. His brother Walt Disney died in 1966. Watch the dedication:

1978 – Gaylord Perry is the first pitcher to win the Cy Young Award in both leagues (AL – 1972 with the Cleveland Indians; NL – 1978 with the San Diego Padres).

2000 – AT&T Corp. announces that it will restructure into a family of four separately traded companies (consumer, business, broadband and wireless).

2003 – The Florida Marlins defeat the New York Yankees in the 100th World Series 4 games to 2. The Marlins become one of only six wild card teams to win the World Series. (They also did it in 1997.) Watch the final tag out for the Marlins’ World Series win:

2004 – Fidel Castro, Cuba’s President, announces that transactions using the American Dollar will be banned by November 8.

October 26

1787 – The “Federalist Papers” are published calling for the ratification of the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay write the series of 85 articles and essays.

1881 – Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp along with Doc Holliday are involved in a gunfight near the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, against Billy and Ike Clanton along with Tom and Frank McLaury. Billy Clanton and both McLaury brothers are killed. Virgin and Morgan are wounded.

1916 – Margaret Sanger (eugenicist and future Planned Parenthood founder) is arrested for obscenity by advocating birth control.

1919 – President Woodrow Wilson’s veto of the Volstead Act (Prohibition Enforcement Bill) is overridden by the Senate, leading the passage of the 18th Amendment after it is ratified by the states.

1949 – President Harry Truman increases the minimum wage from 40 cents to 75 cents an hour.

1958 – Pan Am flies the first transatlantic jet trip from New York to Paris. Pam Am started in 1927 and filed for bankruptcy in 1991.

1962 – President JFK warns Russia that the U.S. will not allow Soviet missiles to remain in Cuba. Nikita Khrushchev sends note to JFK the following day offering to withdraw his missiles from Cuba if the U.S. closed its bases in Turkey. The offer is rejected.

1977 – The experimental space shuttle Enterprise successfully lands at Edwards Air Force Base in California after separating from a 747. Watch a video of the live separation:

1988 – American and Soviet icebreakers free two whales that had been trapped for nearly 3 weeks in an Arctic ice pack.

2001 – The U.S. passes the USA PATRIOT Act into law.

2003 – The Cedar Fire, now the third-largest fire in California history (after the Rush fire in 2012 and the current fire), kills 15 people, consumes 250,000 acres, and destroys 2,200 homes around San Diego. Watch a report made by a retired fire captain:

2012 – China blocks the New York Times from Internet searches and social media in response to an investigation into Premier Wen Jiabao.

October 27

1795 – The Treaty of San Lorenzo provides for the free navigation of Mississippi River.

1838 – Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs issues the Executive Order 44, which orders all Mormons to leave the state or be exterminated. It is signed in the aftermath of the Battle of Crooked River, a clash between Mormons and a unit of the Missouri State Guard in northern Ray County, Missouri, that resulted in four fatalities.

1871 – Boss Tweed (William Magear Tweed), New York State Senator, U.S. Representative (D-NY), and Tammany Hall leader, is arrested after the New York Times and cartoonist Thomas Nast expose his corruption. Tweed is convicted on 204 of the 220 corruption counts, fined, and sentenced to 12 years in prison (later reduced to one year). After his release, the state of New York filed civil suit to recover $6 million in embezzled funds. Jailed again, Tweed escapes and flees to Spain, is arrested and imprisoned again. Tweed agrees to testify about his corruption ring in exchange for his release, but Gov. Tilden refuses to honor the agreement. Tweed died in prison in 1878 at age 55.

1904 – On the first day of operation of the New York City subway, 350,000 people ride the 9.1-mile track. It is the world’s first subway and the fare is 5 cents. A NYC subway ride now costs $3.

1916 – The first published reference to “jazz” appears in Variety Magazine as a reference to the new style of American music.

1938 – DuPont announces its new synthetic fiber will be called “nylon.” It was patented in 1935. Wallace Carothers, its inventor, died in 1937 at age 41. Nylon stockings go on sale for the first time on October 24, 1939, in Wilmington, Delaware.

1954 – Walt Disney’s first television program, “The Disneyland Story,” premieres on TV. The show is renamed “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” and airs until 1992. Watch the opening credits and a history of Disney:

1969 – Ralph Nader sets up a consumer organization known as Nader’s Raiders. The former presidential candidate (1972, 1992, 1996, and 2000) is 83 years old.

1983 – Larry Flynt, Hustler Magazine publisher, pays a hit man $1 million to kill Hugh Hefner, Bob Guccione, Walter Annenberg, and Frank Sinatra. The alleged hit man, mercenary and former OSS operative Mitchell WerBell III, died soon after of an apparent heart attack. WerBell founded a company in the 1960s that produced firearm suppressors (mistakenly called silencers). Flynt, now age 74, was shot and paralyzed in 1978. The confessed shooter, Joseph Franklin, was never charged.

October 28

1636 – Harvard University is founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts, making it the oldest university in America.

1858 – Macy’s Department store opens in New York City. Rowland Macy opens the store after his first seven business ventures fail. Macy died in 1877 at age 54.

1886 – The Statue of Liberty is dedicated by President Grover Cleveland. The event is celebrated by the first confetti (ticker tape) parade in New York City.

1904 – The St. Louis Police Department is the first to try a new investigation method when they test for fingerprints.

1919 – Congress passes the Volstead Act over President Wilson’s veto, which starts Prohibition.

1962 – New York Giants quarterback Y.A. Tittle passes for a record 7 touchdowns against the Washington Redskins, winning 49-34. He shares that record with seven other quarterbacks, most recently Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints vs. New York Giants on November 1, 2015). Watch a video with an interview with YA:

1965 – The Gateway Arch along the waterfront in St. Louis, Missouri, is completed. It is the world’s tallest arch at 630 feet, and the tallest man-made monument in the Northern Hemisphere.

1974 – Luna 23 is launched and lands on the Moon. The spacecraft is damaged on landing and lunar samples could not be collected. Luna 24 is launched in 1976 and successfully collects and returns lunar samples.

1985 – John A. Walker Jr. and his son Michael Lance Walker plead guilty to charges of spying for the Soviet Union. John A. Walker Jr. was sentenced to life in prison and died in 2014 at age 77. Michael Lance Walker was released from prison in 2000 after serving 15 years of a 25-year sentence.

2005 – Lewis Libby, Vice-president Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, is indicted in the Valerie Plame/CIA case. Libby resigned later that day. Libby, who had nothing to do with the release of Plame’s name as a CIA agent, was convicted of perjury and sentenced to 30 months in prison. President Bush commuted Libby’s sentence, but did not pardon him.

2009 – NASA successfully launches the Ares I-X prototype, the only rocket launched in the soon-cancelled Constellation program.

October 29

1682 – William Penn lands in what will become his name sake, Pennsylvania.

1929 – On what is known as “Black Tuesday” the stock market crashes, triggering “The Great Depression.” (Not to be confused with the “Depression of 1893,” which was caused by the Panic of 1893 after the dramatic drop in wheat prices and the receivership of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad.)

1940 – The first peacetime military draft begins in the U.S.

1960 – Eighteen-year-old Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) wins his first professional fight, beating Tunney Hunsaker by decision in 6 rounds. Watch part of the bout (no sound):

1966 – The National Organization of Women (NOW) is founded by Shirley Chisholm, Betty Friedan, and Muriel Fox.

1998 – The Space Shuttle Discovery blasts off on Mission STS-95 with 77-year old John Glenn on board, making Glenn the oldest person to go into space. Glenn was the first American is space in 1962. Glenn died in 2016 at age 95.

2004 – The Arabic news network Al Jazeera broadcasts an excerpt from a video of Osama bin Laden in which the terrorist leader first admits direct responsibility for the September 11, 2001 attacks and references the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

2012 – Hurricane Sandy makes landfall in New Jersey resulting in 110 deaths, $50 billion in damage, and forcing the New York stock exchange to close. Watch a live CNN report:

2012 – Publishing companies Penguin and Random House merge to form Penguin Random House, the world’s largest publisher.

2015 – Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) is elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, succeeding John Boehner (R-Ohio).