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. 30-Nov. 5, 2017
1768 – Wesley Chapel in New York City is initiated as the first Methodist church in the U.S.
1873 – The P. T. Barnum’s circus debuts in New York City. In 1919, the Barnum & Bailey Circus merged with Ringling Brothers to become “The Greatest Show on Earth”. The circus closed in May 2017 citing lower attendance and higher operating costs. Watch a CBS This Morning report on the end of an American institution:
1888 – John J. Loud patents the ballpoint pen. On October 29, 1945, the first ballpoint pen goes on sale, 57 years after it was patented.
1900 – The first-ever major U.S. auto show opens in Madison Square Garden in New York City. It has been held annually in New York ever since. The cars ranged in price from $280 to $4,000. None of the 66 automakers whose cars were on display exist today, including the Electric Vehicle Company, Columbia Automobile Company, Winton Motor Carriage Company, Stanley Motor Carriage Company, Locomobile Company of America, and Oldsmobile.
1938 – Orson Welles creates a national panic with his radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds.” The radio drama was an adaptation of the 1897 novel “The War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells. Announcements were made four times during the broadcast that it was an adaptation of a work of fiction. Orson Welles and H.G. Wells met in October 1940 for a radio interview two years after the broadcast. H.G. Wells died in 1946 at age 79 and Orson Welles died in 1985 at age 70.
1945 – Branch Rickey signs Jackie Robinson to the Montreal Royals baseball team to break the major league color barrier.
1974 – California Angels pitcher Nolan Ryan throws the fastest recorded baseball pitch at 100.9 MPH. On September 24, 2010, San Diego Padres pitcher Aroldis Chapman bested that by throwing a 105.1 MPH pitch. Watch a video of the top 5 fastest throwing pitchers in MLB history:
2012 – Walt Disney purchases Lucasfilm Ltd. and its rights for Star Wars and Indiana Jones for $4.05 billion.
1846 – The Donner party, unable to cross the Sierra Nevada pass, constructs a winter camp. Only 48 of the 90 people who left Illinois arrive in California the following spring after three rescue attempts. Some of them resorted to cannibalism to survive.
1913 – The first U.S. paved coast-to-coast highway, the Lincoln Highway, is dedicated. It runs from Lincoln Park, California, to New York City, New York.
1926 – Magician Harry Houdini dies of gangrene and peritonitis resulting from a ruptured appendix. His appendix had been damaged twelve days earlier when a student unexpectedly punches Houdini in the stomach. Houdini was 52 years old.
1938 – In an effort to try to restore investor confidence after the Great Depression, the New York Stock Exchange unveils a fifteen-point program aimed at upgrading protection for the investing public.
1941 – Mount Rushmore in South Dakota is declared complete after 14 years of work showing the 60-foot busts of U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
1950 – Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola of Puerto Rico attempt to kill President Truman at his Blair House residence in Washington, DC. Torresola shoots and mortally wounds police guard Leslie Coffelt, but not before the officer shoots and kills Torresola. Collazo is captured, tried, and sentenced to death. His sentence is later commuted to life in prison. In 1979 President Carter reduces his sentence to time served (27 years) and Collazo is released. He died in Puerto Rico in 1994 at age 80.
1959 – Lee Harvey Oswald announces from Moscow that he will never return to the U.S. Oswald return to the U.S. and then assassinates President Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
1968 – President Lyndon B. Johnson orders a halt to all U.S. bombing of North Vietnam, which started in June of 1965.
1988 – The first Monday Night National Football League game is played. The Indianapolis Colts beat the Denver Broncos 55-23.
2002 – A federal grand jury in Houston, Texas, formally indicts former Enron Corp. chief financial officer Andrew Fastow on 78 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice related to the collapse of his company Enron. In 2006, Fastow is sentenced to only 6 years in prison and is released in 2011. Fastow is now 55 years old.
2003 – Bethany Hamilton, age 13, has her arm bitten off by a shark while surfing in Hawaii. Her story is the basis for the inspirational 2011 movie “Soul Surfer.” Hamilton is now 27 years old. Watch Bethany tell her own story:
1765 – The Stamp Act goes into effect in the American colonies. The law passed by the British Parliament was a new tax on every piece of printed paper used by the American colonists.
1776 – Mission San Juan Capistrano is founded in California. Swallows return to the mission on March 19th every year.
1800 – John Adams becomes the first president to live in the White House. Construction began in October of 1792.
1870 – The U.S. Weather Bureau makes its first meteorological observations using 24 locations that provided reports via telegraph.
1924 – The Boston Bruins are the first U.S. National Hockey League franchise.
1938 – Seabiscuit beats War Admiral in a match race at Pimlico horse racing track. President FDR paused a cabinet meeting to listen to the race on the radio. Watch the original footage of the exciting race:
1964 – George Blanda of the Houston Oilers throws a National Football League record 37 passes in 68 attempts. (Drew Bledsoe breaks the record with 70 in 1994.) Blanda also holds the record as the oldest player to start a game at age 48 and the longest career with 26 seasons. Blanda died in 2010 at age 83. Watch 46-year-old Blanda complete a 28-yard pass for a touchdown:
1968 – The movie rating system of G, M, R, X, PG-13 and NC-17 goes into effect.
1982 – Honda becomes the first Asian automobile company to produce cars in the U.S. when its factory opens in Marysville, Ohio.
1994 – The Amazon.com domain name is registered.
2012 – American scientists detect evidence of light from the universe’s first stars, predicted to have formed 500 million years after the Big Bang.
2012 – Google’s Gmail becomes the world’s most popular email service.
1783 – General George Washington bids farewell to his troops at Fraunces Tavern in New York City after winning the American Revolutionary War. He orders the Continental Army disbanded the following day. Washington is elected president in 1789.
1898 – Cheerleading is started at the University of Minnesota when Johnny Campbell leads the crowd in cheering on the football team.
1947 – Howard Hughes flies his H-4 Hercules “Spruce Goose,” a large wooden flying boat aircraft of his own design, on its first and only flight. Only one was ever built by Hughes and it was made of birch, not spruce. Watch the silent video of the flight:
1948 – President Harry Truman is re-elected in an upset over Republican Thomas Dewey. Newspapers had already been printed with “Dewey defeats Truman” as the headline.
1954 – Strom Thurmond (D-SC) is the first Senator elected by write-in vote. State Democrat leaders blocked him from receiving the party’s nomination. Thurmond switched to the Republican Party in 1964. At age 100 he was the oldest person to serve in Congress. Thurmond died in 2003 at age 100.
1959 – Contestant Charles Van Doren confesses that the popular TV quiz show “21” is fixed. Van Doren is now 91 years old. Watch a short newsreel film:
1976 – New Jersey voters approve gambling in Atlantic City. There are now over 14,000 slot machines between the seven largest casinos.
1984 – Velma Barfield becomes the first woman executed in the U.S. since 1962 after her conviction of murder. She is convicted for one murder but admits to six. She is the first woman executed by lethal injection. Since the Supreme Court lifted the moratorium on capital punishment in 1976, sixteen women have been executed.
2000 – The first crew arrives at the International Space Station. One American and two Russians stay on board the ISS for 136 days.
1883 – Charles Bowes, known as “Black Bart the poet” is wounded and leaves incriminating clues at his last stagecoach robbery that eventually leads to his capture. Bowes robbed his first stagecoach in 1875. Wells Fargo only pressed charges on the last robbery. Bowes served four years of a six-year sentence. Bowes was shadowed by Wells Fargo after his release and disappeared in February of 1888. He was never seen again.
1917 – The first class stamp goes up to 3 cents.
1952 – Clarence Birdseye markets frozen peas using his invention for the flash freezing process of foods. Birdseye died in 1956 at age 69. Watch a “Sunday Morning” report on his life:
1988 – Talk-show host Geraldo Rivera’s nose is broken as Roy Innis brawls with skinheads during the taping of his TV show. Watch the incident:
1994 – Susan Smith, who claimed her two sons were carjacked, is arrested for their murder after her car was found in John D. Long Lake with her children still strapped in their seats. Smith, now 46, is serving a sentence of life in prison after confessing to their murder. She will be eligible for parole in 2024.
2014 – New York’s 104-story One World Trade Center officially opens 13 years after the September 11 attacks.
2016 – Collins Dictionary names “Brexit” the word of the year. It defines the noun as “the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.”
1646 – Massachusetts uses the death penalty as punishment for people denying that the Holy Bible is God’s word.
1845 – The first nationally observed uniform Election Day is held in the United States. Election Day is now the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
1862 – Dr. Richard Gatling of Indianapolis, Indiana, patents the Gatling machine gun. It could fire 200+ rounds per minute with 6-10 rotating barrels using a manually operated hand crank. In contrast, the modern Gatling gun fires thousands of rounds per minute.
1879 – James Ritty patents the first cash register to combat stealing by bartenders in his Dayton, Ohio saloon. It registered the time and amount of the sale, but it had no cash drawer.
1960 – “The Misfits” premieres as the final movie for both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. Gable died less than two weeks later on November 16 at age 59, and Monroe died in August of 1962 at age 36. (Monroe starts filming “Something’s Got To Give” in 1962, but she is fired before its completion.) Watch the official “Misfits” trailer:
1970 – Genie Wiley, a 13-year-old feral child is found in Los Angeles, California, after having been locked in her bedroom, strapped to a bed, isolated, and malnourished for most of her life. She was institutionalized and treated by various hospitals, then placed in a number of foster homes. Wiley, now 60 years old, is a ward of the state of California and living in an undisclosed location.
1981 – Dr. George Nichopoulos is acquitted of overprescribing addictive drugs to Elvis Presley and 13 other patients. In 1993, Nichopoulos had his license permanently revoked after it was revealed he had been overprescribing medications to patients for years.
1991 – Ronald Reagan opens his presidential library in Simi Valley, California. The dedication ceremony is attended by President H.W. Bush and three former presidents – Jimmy Carter, Gerald R. Ford, and Richard M. Nixon. It is the first time five presidents (former and current) had ever met together. Take a tour of the library with actor Gary Sinese:
2003 – Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy becomes the first person indicted under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was passed to protect investors from fraudulent accounting activities. He was eventually acquitted. Four months later Scrushy was indicted on charges of political corruption, money laundering, obstruction, racketeering, and bribery. He was found guilty and sentenced to 82 months in prison, which was later reduced to 70 months. Scrushy, now 65, was released from prison in 2012.
2008 – Barack Obama becomes the first bi-racial person to be elected President of the U.S.
1639 – The first post office in the colonies is set up in Massachusetts. Ben Franklin was the first Postmaster General.
1781 – John Hanson is elected the first “President of the U.S. in Congress assembled” (Continental Congress).
1895 – George B. Selden is granted the first U.S. patent for an internal-combustion gasoline fueled automobile.
1917 – The Supreme Court decision of Buchanan v Warley strikes down a Louisville, Kentucky, ordinance requiring backs and whites to live in separate areas.
1940 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D-NY) wins an unprecedented third term by beating Wendell Willkie (R). He is elected to a fourth term on November 7, 1944 by defeating Thomas Dewey, but FDR dies in April of 1945 at age 63. Vice President Harry S. Truman succeeded FDR.
1956 – Nat King Cole launches a weekly TV show making him the first black person to host his own show on a major national TV network. Cole died in 1965 at age 45. Watch Cole sing on his show:
1994 – George Foreman, at age 45, becomes boxing’s oldest heavyweight champion when he knocks out Michael Moorer in the 10th round of their WBA fight in Las Vegas, Nevada. Foreman is now 68 years old. Watch the final round:
2009 – U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan kills 13 and wounds 43 at Fort Hood, Texas, in the largest mass shooting ever at a U.S. military installation. He is convicted and sentenced to death by a military jury in August 2013. He is still awaiting execution.
2015 – Collins Dictionary names “binge-watch” the word of the year. It defines the verb binge-watch as “watching a large number of TV programs in succession.” The 2014 word of the year was “photobomb.”