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. 9-15, 2017
1635 – Dissident Roger Williams is banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his religious beliefs. In 1636, he purchases land from the Narragansett Indians and founds the colony of Rhode Island.
1855 – Joshua Stoddard of Worcester, Massachusetts, patents the first calliope. The musical instrument is used to attract attention for circuses and arriving steamboats.
1872 – Aaron Montgomery Ward starts his mail-order business. His first catalog contained 163 products. Ward died in 1913 at age 69.
1888 – The Washington Monument opens for public admittance. Construction began in 1848 but the completion was delayed by the Civil War. It is still the tallest stone structure in the world at 555 feet.
1930 – Aviator Laura Ingalls lands in Glendale, California, to complete the first solo transcontinental flight across the U.S. by a woman. Amelia Earhart completes the flight non-stop in 1932.
1960 – Cowboy quarterback Eddie LeBaron throws the shortest touchdown pass in football history (2 inches). LeBaron died in 2015 at age 85. Watch a brief tribute:
1973 – Elvis and Priscilla Presley divorce after 6 years of marriage. They have one daughter, Lisa Marie, who is now 49 years old.
1986 – The Senate impeaches U.S. District Judge Harry E. Claiborne after he is convicted in a Nevada court of tax evasion in 1984. The Senate started impeachment hearings because Claiborne did not resign and continued to receive his salary when he began serving two years in prison in March of 1986.
2009 – President Obama is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize nine months after taking office. Obama is nominated by the Nobel Committee, in part, for calling for “a new start to relations between the Muslim world and the West based on common interests and mutual understanding and respect.” Watch Obama’s short acceptance speech:
1845 – The Naval School (now the U.S. Naval Academy) opens in Annapolis, Maryland. It is the second oldest military academy in the U.S. The Military Academy at West Point was founded in 1802.
1913 – President Woodrow Wilson triggers the explosion of the Gamboa Dike that ends the construction of the Panama Canal. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed the Panama Canal Treaty, giving control of the canal to Panama in 2000.
1933 – Dreft, the first synthetic detergent, goes on sale. It is produced by Proctor & Gamble and is still available.
1963 – The U.S., U.K., and U.S.S.R. sign a treaty banning atmospheric nuclear tests.
1973 – Vice President Spiro T. Agnew pleads no contest to tax evasion and resigns. President Nixon nominates Gerald Ford as Vice President on October 12th to replace Spiro Agnew. Gerald Ford becomes president when Nixon resigns in 1974 amid the Watergate scandal.
1975 – Liz Taylor gets married for the 6th time when she re-marries Richard Burton. They were divorced in 1974. Watch a slide show of Taylor and Burton on and off the screen:
1978 – Congress approves the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin. It is minted from 1979 to 1981 and again in 1999. About 900 million coins were minted in all. The 11-sided coin was not well received, due in large part to its confusion with the size of the quarter. Women’s suffragette Susan B. Anthony was the first woman to be honored by having her likeness appear on a circulating U. S. coin.
1983 – NBC premieres the true life drama “Adam,” based on the 1981 murder of John Walsh’s son. Walsh launched “America’s Most Wanted” in 1988. Watch an A&E story about Adam (Note: parts of this video are disturbing):
1991 – Greyhound emerges from bankruptcy reorganization after filing for Chapter 11 protection in 1990. The company names Frank Schmeider as its new CEO. Dave Leach has been the CEO since 2007.
1809 – Explorer Meriwether Lewis dies at age 35 under mysterious circumstances at an inn called Grinder’s Stand along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee. He was shot multiple times and his death remains an unsolved mystery.
1869 – Thomas Edison files for a patent on his first invention. It was an electric machine used for counting votes in Congress, however Congress did not buy it.
1890 – The Daughters of American Revolution (DAR) is founded. It is a lineage-based service organization for women who are directly descended from someone who fought in the Revolutionary War.
1911 – Ty Cobb (American League) and Frank Schulte (National League) are baseball’s first MVPs. They each receive a new car.
1929 – JC Penney opens store #1252 in Milford, Delaware, making it a nationwide company with stores in all lower 48 states. James Cash Penney died in 1971 at age 95.
1936 – The radio show “Professor Quiz” premiers as the first true quiz program and airs until 1948. The Professor was Arthur Earl Baird, who used the name Dr. Craig Earl. Contestants posed a question to Professor Quiz, and if he could not answer the question, the contestant won $25.
1950 – The Federal Communications Commission issues the first license to broadcast television in color to CBS.
1958 – The U.S. launches the lunar probe Pioneer 1. The probe does not reach its destination and falls back to Earth, burning up in the atmosphere.
1968 – Apollo 7 is launched as the first manned Apollo mission in which live television broadcasts are received from orbit.
1975 – “Saturday Night Live” premieres with George Carlin as its guest host. Carlin died in 2008 at age 71. Watch the first show with Carlin’s monologue about football and baseball:
1983 – The last hand-cranked telephones in the U.S. go out of service when 440 telephone customers in Bryant Pond, Maine, are switched over to direct-dial.
1984 – Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan is the first American woman to walk in space. She flew on three Space Shuttle missions and logs 532 hours in space. Sullivan is now the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction and the Deputy Administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Watch a brief lecture about how Buzz Aldrin inspired her to become an astronaut:
1984 – Vice Presidential candidates Geraldine Ferraro (D) & George H. W. Bush (R) participate in a debate. Ferraro was the first woman from a major political party to be nominated as Vice President.
1994 – The Colorado Supreme Court declares that the anti-gay rights measure in the state is unconstitutional.
2006 – “30 Rock” starring Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, and Tracy Morgan debuts on TV and airs until 2013. In June of 2014, Morgan was involved in a near-fatal crash on the New Jersey turnpike.
1692 – The Massachusetts Bay Colony discontinues the witch trials in Salem. A total of 20 “witches” were executed, including eight women who were hanged on September 22nd.
1773 – America’s first insane asylum opens in Williamsburg, Virginia, for “Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds.” The building is destroyed in an 1885 fire. The grounds were excavated in 1972, the building was reconstructed, and it opened as a museum in 1985.
1792 – The first monument honoring Christopher Columbus is dedicated in Baltimore, Maryland. In August 2017, the monument was vandalized. Watch a video made by the vandals:
1850 – The Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania opens as the first women’s medical school in the world.
1892 – The original version of the Pledge of Allegiance is first recited in public schools in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Columbus landing. The pledge is written by Francis Bellamy.
1915 – Ford Motor Company manufactures its 1 millionth Model T automobile.
1920 – Man O’War runs his last race and wins. He retires and sires 379 foals, including future Triple Crown winner War Admiral (1937).
1928 – The iron lung, invented by Philip Drinker and Louis Shaw, is first used at the Boston Children’s Hospital. It is used to successfully treat a girl suffering from polio.
1961 – The first video memoirs by a U.S. president are made when Walter Cronkite interviews Dwight D. Eisenhower. Watch one of the video memoirs – on the 20th anniversary of D-Day:
1977 – The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the “reverse discrimination” case of Allan Bakke, a white student twice denied admission to the University of California Medical School. In June 1978 the Supreme Court rules that affirmative action is constitutional, but it invalidates the use of racial quotas. Bakke eventually graduates from medical school and becomes an anesthesiologist.
2000 – The USS Cole is badly damaged in Yemen by two suicide bombers, killing 17 crew and wounding at least 39.
2001 – A special episode of the TV show America’s Most Wanted airs at the request of President George W. Bush and focuses on 22 wanted terrorists.
1775 – The Continental Congress creates the U.S. Navy. The U.S. Army is created on June 14, 1775.
1792 – Robert B. Thomas publishes “The Farmer’s Almanac.” The word “Old” is added to the title after 39 years. It is the oldest continuously published periodical in America.
1792 – George Washington lays the cornerstone of the Executive Mansion. President Teddy Roosevelt renames the presidential residence the White House on October 12, 1901.
1947 – “Kukla, Fran & Ollie” premieres on TV and airs until 1947. Kukla (a clown) and Ollie (a dragon) are puppets with Fran Allison as the hostess. Burr Tillstrom is the show’s creator and puppeteer. Burr died in 1985 at age 68 and Fran died in 1989 at age 81. Watch part of a very early episode:
1982 – The International Olympic Committee Executive Committee approves the reinstatement of Jim Thorpe’s gold medals from the 1912 Olympics. Thorpe is stripped of his medals after his amateur status is nullified. Thorpe died in 1953 at age 64.
1987 – The U.S. Navy first uses trained dolphins for military purposes in the Persian Gulf. The dolphins detect and mark underwater mines. The Navy uses over 100 dolphins as part of the program. Watch a report about the training:
1998 – The National Basketball Association (NBA) cancels its regular season games, due to work stoppage, for first time in its 52-year history.
1999 – The U.S. Senate rejects ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
1773 – The United Kingdom’s East India Company ship’s cargo of tea on the ship Peggy Stewart is burned at Annapolis, Maryland. The Boston Tea Party was December 16th.
1912 – Presidential candidate Teddy Roosevelt is shot while campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The bullet struck Roosevelt’s metal eyeglasses case before entering his chest. He delivers his 90-minute speech before going to the hospital. The would-be assassin John Schrank was deemed insane and confined for life to an asylum. Woodrow Wilson wins the 1912 election.
1947 – Chuck Yeager, in a Bell XS-1, makes the first supersonic flight at Mach 1.015, becoming the first person to break the sound barrier. Watch a short report on the flight:
1952 – The UN General Assembly has its first meeting at their new headquarters in New York City.
1960 – Senator John F. Kennedy first suggests creating the Peace Corps while campaigning at the University of Michigan. Newly elected President Kennedy signs Executive Order 10924 establishing the Peace Corps in March of 1961.
1962 – U.S. U-2 espionage planes locate Soviet-supplied missile launchers in Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis starts when Cuban anti-aircraft gunners open fire on the U.S. reconnaissance planes on October 27th. Khrushchev in Russia blinks first.
1964 – Martin Luther King Jr. wins the Nobel Peace Prize. He is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.
1968 – The first live telecast from space to Earth is made from the manned U.S. spacecraft Apollo 7.
1978 – “Rescue from Gilligan’s Island” becomes the first TV movie made from a TV series. Watch a TV ad for CHIPS and the Gilligan’s Island TV movie:
1996 – Dow Jones closes over 6,000 for first time (6,010).
2001 – Toys “R” Us introduces the new version of Geoffrey the giraffe as a life-like giraffe. The toy store redesigns the character again in 2007 as a cartoon giraffe.
2003 – Baseball fan Steve Bartman deflects the ball away from Chicago Cubs outfielder Moises Alou. Bartman was escorted from the stadium under police protection. The Cubs, who were leading in the game, gave up eight runs in the inning and lose to the Florida Marlins 8-3. The Bartman incident is seen as the turning point in the National League Championship Series. Watch the incident:
1878 – The Edison Electric Light Company is incorporated.
1883 – The Supreme Court declares unconstitutional the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which guarantees equal treatment in public accommodations and transportation.
1924 – President Calvin Coolidge declares the Statue of Liberty a national monument. The statue, built by Gusave Eiffel, was dedicated in October 28, 1886.
1949 – Billy Graham begins his ministry with a crusade in Los Angeles, California. Graham will be 99 years old on November 7th. Watch an ABC report on the final sermon by America’s pastor:
1951 – “I Love Lucy” starring real-life married couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz debuts on TV and airs until 1957. Lucille Ball also starred in The Lucy Show, 1962-1968, and Here’s Lucy, 1968-1974. Ball and Arnaz divorced in 1960.
1965 – The Senate passes the Freedom of Information Act. President LBJ signs it into law on July 4, 1966.
1966 – Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale create the Black Panther Party. Seale is one of the Chicago 7 who protested the 1968 Democrat National Convention.
1989 – Wayne Gretzky passes Gordie Howe as the National Hockey League’s all-time top scorer with 1,851 points. Gretsky retires with a total of 2,857 points, a record that is deemed untouchable. Gretzky is now 56 years old.
1997 – Former U.S. Representative Dan Rostenkowski is released from prison after serving 15 months of a 17-month sentence for mail fraud. The fraud case is led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Rostenkowski died in 2010 at age 82.
2011 – Legoland Florida (the world’s largest Legoland theme park) opens in Winter Haven, Florida. Watch a slow-motion video tour of the park: