This Week In History
by Dianne Hermann
“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”
– Winston Churchill
Week of September 8-14, 2014
1565 – St Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in the United States, is established.
1883 – Northern Pacific Railroad drives in the last spike at Independence Creek, Montana.
1892 – The “Pledge of Allegiance” first appears in print in The Youth’s Companion. Baptist minister Francis Bellamy is the author.
1900 – Over 6,000 people are killed when a hurricane and tidal wave destroy Galveston, Texas. It is the most deadly hurricane in U.S. history.
1921 – The first Miss America, 16-year-old Margaret Gorman of Washington, D.C, is crowned in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Fall Frolic, held a year earlier as a way to keep tourists in Atlantic City, is the precursor to the pageant. The longest serving Miss America Pageant host is Bert Parks (1955-1979).
1951 – Japan signs a treaty of peace in San Francisco with 48 countries following the end of World War II.
1966 – “Star Trek” premieres on NBC-TV. It lasts only three seasons but spawns several movies and two TV spin-offs.
1971 – The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts opens in Washington, DC.
1974 – President Gerald Ford pardons former President Richard Nixon of all federal crimes related to the Watergate scandal.
1994 – The MTV awards feature newlyweds Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley. They file for divorce in 1996.
1999 – United States Attorney General Janet Reno names former Senator John Danforth to head an independent investigation of the 1993 fire at the Branch Davidian church near Waco, Texas.
1675 – The New England colonies declare war on the Wampanoag Indians, who live in what is now Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It is believed that Thanksgiving is based on the interaction between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians.
1776 – The Continental Congress renames the “United Colonies” the “United States.”
1830 – Charles Durant, the first U.S. aeronaut, flies a hot air balloon from Castle Garden in New York City to Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
1861 – Sally Tompkins becomes the only female Confederate Army commissioned officer during the Civil War. Captain Tompkins, called “The Angel of the Confederacy,” founded and directed Robertson Hospital in Richmond, Virginia.
1926 – The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is created by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA).
1945 – Grace Hopper discovers the first “bug” in a computer while working with her associates at Harvard. A moth is removed from a relay with tweezers.
1955 – Elvis Presley makes his first of three appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. Actor Charles Laughton hosts for Ed, who is recovering from a serious car accident.
1957 – President Eisenhower signs the first civil rights bill since Reconstruction.
1963 – Alabama Gov. George Wallace is served with a federal injunction to stop his orders that state police bar black students from enrolling in white schools.
1985 – President Reagan orders sanctions against South Africa.
1987 – Democrat presidential candidate Gary Hart admits on “Nightline” to cheating on his wife.
1990 – American President George Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev meet in Helsinki, Finland, to urge Iraq to leave Kuwait.
1608 – John Smith is elected president of the Colony Council in Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent British colony in North America.
1776 – Nathan Hale volunteers after George Washington asks for a spy. (See September 12, 1776)
1846 – Elias Howe patents his sewing machine.
1858 – John Holden hits the first recorded home run during a baseball game between the Brooklyn Eckfords and the New York Mutuals.
1913 – The Lincoln Highway opens as the first paved coast-to-coast highway.
1924 – Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb are found guilty of murdering Bobby Franks, a 14-year-old acquaintance. Their lawyer is Clarence Darrow. Leopold and Loeb, teenagers at the time of the murder, are sentenced to life in prison. Loeb is killed in prison in 1936. In 1958, after thirty-four years of confinement, Leopold is released from prison. He moves to Puerto Rico, where he dies in 1971 at the age of 65.
1953 – Swanson sells its first “TV dinner.”
1955 – “Gunsmoke” premieres on CBS TV. The final episode airs in 1975.
1984 – Sean O’Keefe, age 11, becomes the youngest person to cycle across the U.S. It takes Sean 24 days.
1992 – Lucy in the Peanuts comics raises her Psychiatric Help from 5 cents to 47 cents.
1997 – Mark McGwire joins Babe Ruth as only baseball players to hit 50 homeruns in 2 consecutive years.
1997 – Discovery buys the Travel Channel for $20 million.
1941 – Construction begins of the Pentagon. It is completed on January 15, 1943. The Pentagon is actually located in Northern Virginia just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC
2001 – Two passenger planes hijacked by terrorists crash into New York City’s World Trade Center Towers, causing the collapse of both buildings and killing of 2,752 people. Terrorists hijack another passenger plane and crash it into the Pentagon, killing of 125 people. A fourth hijacked airplane crashes in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers and crew attempt to regain control of the aircraft. All 64 people on board are killed. Let’s roll!
2002 – The Pentagon is rededicated after repairs are completed, exactly one year after the terrorist attack on the building.
2011 – The Memorial Plaza at the National September 11th Memorial opens for the first time during a ceremony at the World Trade Center site.
1776 – Nathan Hale, recruited by George Washington, slips behind enemy lines on Long Island, New York, on a spy mission. Hale is arrested by the British on September 21st and hanged the following day. He is 21 years old. Hale is credited with saying, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” (See September 10th).
1910 – Alice Stebbins Wells is appointed the world’s first female cop by the Los Angeles Police Department.
1935 – Millionaire Howard Hughes sets a speed record of 352.46 mph in the H-1 Racer, an airplane of his own design. He goes on to design and build the largest aircraft ever flown, the Spruce Goose, in 1947.
1959 – “Bonanza” premieres on NBC-TV. The final episode airs in 1973.
1970 – University professor and activist Timothy Leary escapes from a California jail. He had been convicted following his 1968 arrest for marijuana possession.
1983 – Security guard Victor Gerena robs a Wells Fargo armored car facility of $7 million. He is placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list in 1984 but is never captured. Gerena holds the distinction of being on the Most Wanted List for the longest period of time. There is still a $1 million reward for info leading to his capture.
1990 – The U.S., England, France, USSR, East Germany and West Germany sign agreements allowing the two Germanys to merge.
1994 – Frank Eugene Corder steals a Cessna airplane and crashes it into White House lawn. Corder, age 38, is killed in the crash.
2001 – Article V of the NATO agreement is invoked for the first and only time in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks against the U.S. Article V states that an attack against one NATO member country is an attack against them all and allows for the use of armed force.
1788 – New York City becomes the capital of the United States. Washington, DC becomes our nation’s capital in 1790.
1842 – Tom McCoy becomes the first recorded U.S. boxing fatality. His opponent, Christopher Lilly flees to England to avoid prosecution, but 18 others are arrested and convicted of fourth-degree manslaughter. Lilly returns to the U.S., escapes to Honduras, and is executed in 1857.
1934 – Baseball Commissioner Judge Landis sells the World Series broadcast rights (for the first time) to the Ford Motor Company for $100,000.
1939 – Igor Sikorsky makes the first (tethered) flight of the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300, one of the first viable American helicopters.
1948 – Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) is elected senator, becoming the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress.
1963 – “The Outer Limits” TV show premiers and airs until 1965.
1970 – Gary Muhrcke wins the first New York City Marathon in 2 hours 31 minutes 38 seconds.
1977 – The first TV “viewer discretion” warning is issued before the airing of Soap, a sitcom featuring Billy Crystal as a gay ventriloquist.
1977 – General Motors introduces the Oldsmobile 88, the first diesel automobile in the United States.
1983 – The U.S. mint strikes its first gold coin in 50 years. It is the Olympic Eagle.
2001 – Civilian aircraft traffic resumes in the U.S. after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
1752 – Britain and the American colonies adopt Gregorian calendar. There is no September 3 – September 13.
1807 – Former Vice President Aaron Burr is acquitted of treason and misdemeanor charges for trying to “raise and levy war” against the U.S. Burr is also acquitted of murdering Alexander Hamilton in an 1804 duel.
1814 – Francis Scott Key is inspired to write the poem “Defense of Fort McHenry” while he is a prisoner on board a ship near Fort McHenry outside Baltimore, Maryland. The poem is renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and put to music written by English composer John Stafford Smith. The song becomes our national anthem in 1931. That original flag, now restored, is on display of the Museum of American History in Washington, DC.
1872 – Britain pays the United States $15½ million for damages done to Union ships during Civil War by ships build by the British for the Confederacy.
1899 – Henry Bliss becomes the first automobile fatality in the United States. He is struck and killed by a taxi when he steps off a streetcar in New York City. Manslaughter charges against the taxi driver are dropped.
1901 – Theodore Roosevelt is sworn in as president after William McKinley dies, becoming the youngest man to serve as U.S. President. McKinley dies after Leon Czolgosz shoots him on September 6th in Buffalo, New York.
1948 – The groundbreaking ceremony for the United Nations world headquarters building is held in New York City. The building is completed in 1952. Representatives from 50 member countries sign the U.N. Charter in June of 1945.
1963 – Mary Ann Fischer of Aberdeen, South Dakota, gives birth to America’s first surviving quintuplets, 4 girls and a boy. Mary Ann Fischer dies in December 2012 at the age of 79.
1964 – Walt Disney is awarded Medal of Freedom at the White House by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
1975 – Pope Paul VI canonizes Mother Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton as the first U.S.-born saint.
1983 – The U.S. House of Representatives votes 416 to 0 in favor of a resolution condemning Russia for shooting down Korean jetliner flight 007 on September 1st.
1984 – Bette Midler and Dan Aykroyd host the first MTV awards (now called the VMAs) at Radio City Music Hall. Michael Jackson takes home 3 awards for “Thriller.”