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 Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2017
1493 – Christopher Columbus sets sail with 17 ships on his second voyage to America.
1639 – The first printing press in America begins operating at Harvard in Massachusetts.
1775 – American Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen, who captured Fort Ticonderoga from the British, is arrested and imprisoned in England. He is later released and returns to America.
1789 – Congress adopts the Bill of Rights, which are written largely by George Mason.
1867 – Congress creates Howard University in Washington DC, the first all-black university in America.
1919 – President Woodrow Wilson is paralyzed by a stroke. He serves the rest of his second term (1913-1921). Wilson died in 1924 at age 67.
1933 – “Tom Mix” premiers on the radio and airs until 1950. Tom Mix was a real cowboy and silent screen actor, but his character was played on the radio by Art Dickson. The real Tom Mix died in an auto accident in 1940 at age 60. Watch a biography of Mix:
1957 – 300 U.S. Army troops from the 101st Airborne Division guard 9 black students who return to Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. They had been denied entrance to the school three weeks earlier by Democrat Gov. Orval Faubus.
1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor is sworn in as the first female Supreme Court justice.
1986 – Antonin Scalia is appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Scalia served until his death in February 2016.
1992 – The Mars Observer blasts off on a mission that cost $980 million. Contact with the probe is lost in August 1993, three days before its scheduled Mars orbit. Watch a NASA report on the Mars Observer mission:
1992 – Gregory Kingsley, age 12, is the first American child to win the right to divorce his parents. He sued because of parental neglect and abandonment. He goes to live with his foster parents and changes his name to Shawn Russ.
2001 – Michael Jordan, at age 38, announces he will return to the NBA as a player for the Washington Wizards. Jordan became the president of basketball operations for the team in January 2000.
1789 – Thomas Jefferson is appointed the first U.S. Secretary of State. Jefferson serves as President from March 1801 to March 1809.
1892 – John Philip Sousa’s band makes its first public appearance at Stillman Music Hall in Plainfield, New Jersey. The March King dies in 1932 at the age of 77. In 1987, “The Stars and Stripes Forever” is designated as the national march of the U.S.
1914 – The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is established.
1955 – The New York Stock Exchange suffers its worst decline since 1929 when the word is released concerning President Eisenhower’s heart attack.
1957 – The musical “West Side Story” opens on Broadway. Watch rare footage from the Broadway show:
1960 – The first of four presidential TV debates between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy takes place in Chicago. They are the first televised presidential debates. Kennedy wins the election in 1960. Nixon goes on to become president in 1972.
1973 – Wilt Chamberlain signs with the American Basketball Association’s San Diego Conquistadors as a coach. He is drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959 and ends his playing career with the LA Lakers in 1973. Chamberlain holds an astounding 72 NBA records, including the most number of points scored in a season (4,029). He died in 1999 at the age of 63.
1978 – New York District Court Judge Constance Baker Motley rules that women sportswriters cannot be banned from sports locker rooms.
1985 – Shamu is born at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, and becomes the first killer whale to survive being born in captivity. SeaWorld announced in 2016 that it will end the controversial breeding and public shows of killer whales. Watch the birth of Shamu:
1986 – Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) returns to the TV show “Dallas.” His death is attributed to his wife Pam’s bad dream and erases all of the previous season.
1991 – Four men and four women begin their two-year stay inside the “Biosphere II” in Oracle, Arizona. The project is intended to develop technology for future space colonies. After being plagued with problems, the mission ended prematurely in September 1994. Management of the Biosphere was transferred to Columbia University in 1995, then to the University of Arizona in 2007.
1992 – Jimmy Connors beats Martina Navratilova in 2 sets in another Battle of the Sexes tennis match played in Las Vegas.
1995 – “George” magazine premieres, published by John F. Kennedy Jr. Kennedy dies in a plane crash at the age of 38 along with his wife and sister-in-law in July of 1999.
2000 – The House of Representatives passes the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. The act states that an infant is considered to have been born alive if he or she is completely extracted or expelled from the mother, breathes, has a beating heart, and definite movement of the voluntary muscles.
2006 – Facebook opens to everyone at least 13 years or older with a valid email address.
1779 – John Adams negotiates the Revolutionary War peace terms with England.
1908 – The first Ford Model T automobile is built at the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Michigan.
1909 – President Taft sets aside about 3 million acres of oil-rich public land (including Teapot Dome, Wyoming) for conservation purposes. The Teapot Dome Scandal, bribes for oil leases, takes place in 1921-9122 during the Warren G. Harding administration.
1928 – The U.S. recognizes the Nationalist Chinese government, and vice versa.
1937 – Charles W. Howard, an actor and teacher who portrayed Santa Claus in department stores, opens the first Santa Claus School in Albion, New York. The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School is the oldest continuously-operating Santa Claus school in the world. Howard died in 1966 at age 69.
1954 – Steve Allen’s “Tonight Show” premiers on TV and Allen hosts the show until 1957. Jack Parr hosts the show 1957-1962, Johnny Carson hosts 1962-1992, and Jay Leno hosts 1992-2014 (except for 2009-2010 when Conan O’Brian hosts). Jimmy Fallon is the current host. It is the longest-running talk show in TV history. Watch the opening of the first episode:
1964 – The Warren Commission releases its findings on the Kennedy assassination and determines that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby on November 24, 1963, as police transferred Oswald to another jail. Ruby (Jacob Rubenstein) died in 1967 at age 55 while awaiting a new trial. Kennedy, Oswald, and Ruby all died at Parkland Hospital in Dallas.
1973 – Vice President Spiro Agnew says he will not resign after he pleads “no contest” to a charge of tax evasion. He resigns on October 10th.
1979 – The Department of Education becomes the 13th Cabinet after the final approval from Congress.
1998 – Mark McGwire (St. Louis Cardinals) sets a major league baseball record when he hits his 70th home run of the season. Watch Big Mac attack the ball:
2012 – NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover discovers evidence of a fast-moving streambed in Mars.
1850 – The U.S. Navy abolishes flogging as punishment for sailors.
1904 – A woman is arrested for smoking a cigarette in a car on 5th Avenue in New York City.
1920 – Eight White Sox baseball players, including Shoeless Joe Jackson, are indicted for intentionally losing the 1919 World Series. The only player not indicted is third baseman George “Buck” Weaver, who batted .324 in the series. Although all 8 players are acquitted, baseball Commissioner Landis bans them from baseball for life.
1928 – The first music recording session in Nashville is by Warmack’s Gully Jumpers. Hear the recording at:
1944 – “The Boys from Boise” airs as the first TV musical comedy.
1949 – “My Friend Irma” is the first of twelve movies starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
1967 – President LBJ appoints Walter Washington as the first commissioner of Washington, DC. Washington is elected mayor in 1975-1979.
1974 – First Lady Betty Ford undergoes a radical mastectomy. The former first lady is the co-founder of the Betty Ford Center in California. Ford died in 2011 at age 93.
1997 – Newscaster David Brinkley, 74, retires after 54 years in broadcasting. He hosted the Huntley-Brinkley report with Chet Huntley until 1970. Huntley died in 1974 at age 62. Brinkley died in 2003 at age 82. Goodnight David. Goodnight Chet. Watch the final sign-off in 1970:
2008 – SpaceX launches the first-ever private spacecraft, the Falcon 1, into orbit. The space vehicle was launched a total of five times.
1890 – In the first professional baseball game, the New York Metropolitans beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 in 5 innings at the Polo Grounds in New York City.
1907 – Construction begins on the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. The Cathedral is completed after 83 years of construction and is the tallest structure in DC.
1916 – John D. Rockefeller becomes the world’s first billionaire.
1930 – Lowell Thomas, newscaster, film maker, and author, makes his radio debut. Thomas met and filmed T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia) in 1918. Thomas died in 1981 at age 89.
1943 – President Eisenhower and Italian Marshal Pietro Badoglio sign an armistice during World War II.
1982 – Mary Kellerman, a 12-year-old girl from a suburb of Chicago, dies after being given one extra-strength Tylenol capsule that, unbeknownst to her mother, is laced with the highly poisonous potassium cyanide. The drug-tampering case remains unsolved. James William Lewis is convicted of extortion for sending a letter taking credit for the deaths and demanding $1 million to stop them.
1983 – Congress invokes the War Powers Act for the first time when it authorizes the deployment of 1,600 American Marines in Beirut, Lebanon, for an additional 18 months.
1983 – “A Chorus Line,” with 3,389 performances, becomes the longest running Broadway show. It closed in 1990 and ranks 6th with over 6,000 performances. The Broadway show record is now held by “The Phantom of the Opera,” which opened in 1988, with over 12,000 performances.
1989 – Zsa Zsa Gabor is convicted of slapping a police officer during a traffic stop in Beverly Hills, California. Watch a brief news segment about the event:
1997 – Jury selection begins in the Terry Nichols trial for the Oklahoma City bombing. He is convicted of 161 charges of murder, including 1 unborn child. Nichols is now 62 years old.
2008 – Following the bankruptcies of Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closes down 777.68 points or nearly 7 percent, the largest single-day point loss in its history. Eight of the top 20 greatest point or percentages losses occurred between September and December of 2008. Ironically, 7 of the largest point or percentage gains occurred during the same time period in 2008.
1777 – Congress flees to York, Pennsylvania, as British forces advance during the Revolutionary War.
1864 – Following the Battle of New Market Heights in Virginia, thirteen black soldiers earn the Medal of Honor for their valor in leading the charge against Confederate fortifications after many of their officers are killed or wounded.
1927 – Babe Ruth hits his record setting 60th homerun off pitcher Tom Zachary.
1939 – The first televised college football game is broadcast when the Fordham Rams play the Waynesburg Yellow Jackets at Triborough Stadium in New York City. Fordham wins the game 34–7.
1956 – Chicago White Sox pitcher Jim Derrington, age 16, becomes youngest player to start in a baseball game. He never pitched in another major league game after he turned 17 due to a serious arm injury.
1960 – On Howdy Doody’s last TV show Clarabell the Clown finally speaks saying, “Goodbye Kids.” Hear it for yourself:
1968 – The first Boeing 747 rolls out.
2004 – The AIM-54 Phoenix, the primary missile for the F-14 Tomcat, is retired from service. Two years later the Tomcat, introduced in 1974, retires.
1880 – John Philip Sousa, known as the March King, becomes the new director of the U.S. Marine Corps Band.
1888 – National Geographic magazine is published for the first time.
1890 – Yosemite National Park forms during the Benjamin Harrison administration. In June 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signs a bill ceding the Yosemite Valley area to the state of California with the requirement that it be held as a national public trust “for all time.”
1903 – The first baseball World Series is played between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Pilgrims (now the Red Sox). Boston wins the series 5-3.
1908 – Henry Ford introduces the Model T car. It costs $825.
1919 – The Chicago White Sox are accused of intentionally losing the World Series to satisfy gamblers in what is called the Black Sox Scandal. Eight players are eventually acquitted but they are all kicked out of baseball anyway.
1932 – In the 5th inning of Game 3 of the World Series, Babe Ruth famously points to the outfield and hits a 2-strike pitch into center field bleachers for a home run. Watch the Babe call the shot”
1952 – Mad Magazine debuts with an October-November issue. Its mascot is Alfred E. Neuman.
1957 – “In God We Trust” first appears on U.S. paper currency.
1958 – The U.S. space agency NASA begins operations after incorporating the National Advisory Council on Aeronautics and other agencies.
1962 – Johnny Carson hosts his first Tonight Show. Rudy Vallée, Joan Crawford, Tony Bennett, and Mel Brooks are his first guests. The final Tonight Show airs on May 22, 1992, and Johnny has no guests. Carson died in 2005 at age 79. Watch a rare video of his first show:
1964 – The “Free Speech Movement” is launched at University of California at Berkley. Students demand that the university administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students’ right to free speech and academic freedom.
1971 – Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, opens to the public.
1975 – Muhammad Ali TKOs Joe Frazier in 15 rounds for the heavyweight boxing called the “The Thrilla in Manila.”
1977 – The Department of Energy is established.
1982 – EPCOT Center (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) in Orlando, Florida, opens to the public. Watch a preview video of EPCOT:
2004 – Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki gets his 258th hit of the season, breaking George Sisler’s 84-year-old single-season baseball record. He ends the season with 262 hits, a record that still stands.
2012 – California becomes the first state to ban gay conversion therapy for minors.
2013 – A partial U.S. federal government shutdown occurs as a result of political deadlock over operational spending.