This Week In History
by Dianne Hermann
“While I take inspiration from the past, like most Americans,
I live for the future.”
– Ronald Reagan
Week of April 4-10, 2016
1818 – Congress passses a plan that says the U.S. flag will have 13 red and white stripes and 20 stars and that a new star would be added for the each new state.
1914 – The first known serialized moving picture opens in New York City. It is “The Perils of Pauline.” Watch the first episode (black and white with dramatic piano music):
1932 – After five years of research, professor C.G. King of the University of Pittsburgh, isolates Vitamin C.
1841 – President William Henry Harrison, at the age of 68, becomes the first president to die in office. He is sworn in only a month before he died of pneumonia.
1887 – Susanna Madora Salter of Argonia, Kansas, is elected the first woman mayor in the U.S.
1933 – The U.S. dirigible Akron crashes off coast of New Jersey, killing 73 people. There are three survivors.
1949 – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) treaty is signed in Washington, DC.
1967 – Johnny Carson quits “The Tonight Show.” He returns three weeks later after getting a raise of $30,000 a week. Carson retired in 1992 after hosting the show 30 years and died in 2005 at age 79.
1968 – Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, at age 39.
1974 – Hank Aaron ties Babe Ruth’s home-run record by hitting his 714th home run. (See April 8, 1974) Watch #714 go over Pete Rose’s head:
1975 – Microsoft is founded as a partnership between Bill Gates and Paul Allen.
1988 – Eddie Hill becomes the world’s first driver to cover the quarter mile in less than 5 seconds. Watch the trials and record race:
2008 – During a raid on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints owned YFZ Ranch in Texas, 401 children and 133 women are taken into state custody. Several male members of the compound are found guilty or plead no contest to sexual assault.
1869 – Daniel Bakeman, the last surviving soldier of the U.S. Revolutionary War, dies at the age of 109.
1887 – Anne Sullivan teaches the hand sign for “water” to Helen Keller.
1923 – Firestone Tire and Rubber Company begins the first regular production of balloon tires for automobiles.
1933 – The first operation to remove a lung is performed at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.
1951 – Americans Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are sentenced to death for committing espionage for the Soviet Union.
1973 – Pioneer 11 launches on its mission to study Jupiter. NASA loses contact with the spacecraft in 1995 after receiving data for 22 years. Watch the launch and space mission info:
1974 – The world’s tallest building, the World Trade Center, opens in New York City at 110 stories. We will always remember 9-11-01.
1984 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar breaks Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time career scoring record by scoring 31,421.
1987 – The FOX Broadcasting Company launches its nighttime shows with “Married . . . With Children” and “The Tracey Ullman Show.”
1997 – Steve Irwin’s show “The Crocodile Hunter” debuts on TV. Irwin dies in 2006 at age 44 while filming underwater.
1999 – Three of Tammy Wynette’s daughters file a $50 million lawsuit that blame Wynette’s death on negligence by her husband and her doctor. Tammy died in 1998 at age 55.
2009 – The media is allowed to film the return of slain soldiers for the first time when an 18-year ban is lifted.
2010 – An explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, West Virginia, kills 29 miners and leaves several missing, making it the deadliest mining accident in the U.S. in more than 35 years.
1789 – The first U.S. Congress begins regular sessions at Federal Hall in New York City. George Washington is inaugurated there the same month. Built in 1700, the building is demolished in 1812.
1896 – The first modern Olympic games opens in Athens, Greece. American James Connolly is known as the first modern Olympic Champion. He leaves Harvard at age 27 to compete in Athens. Connolly wins a Silver medal in the high jump, a Bronze medal in the long jump, and a Gold medal in the triple jump. Connolly also competes in the 1900 and 1906 Olympics. Connolly died in 1957 at age 88.
1909 – Americans Robert Peary and Matthew Henson reach the North Pole. Frederick Cook claims to have reached the North Pole one year earlier. (See this date 1988)
1916 – Charlie Chaplin becomes the highest-paid film star in the world when he signs a contract with Mutual Film Corporation for $675,000 a year. He is 26 years old. Chaplin died in 1977 at age 88.
1917 – The U.S. declares war on Germany and enters World War I.
1924 – Four Douglas airplanes leave Seattle, Washington, on the first successful around-the-world flight. They travel about 25,000 miles and return to Seattle on September 28th.
1927 – William P. MacCracken, Jr. earns license Number 1 when the Department of Commerce issues the first pilot’s license.
1930 – Hostess Twinkies are invented by bakery executive James Dewar. Twinkies originally have a banana filling.
1938 – Teflon is invented by Roy J. Plunkett.
1947 – The First Tony Awards, formally known as the Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theatre, is held in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Among the winners are José Ferrer in “Cyrano de Bergerac” and Ingrid Bergman in “Joan of Lorraine.”
1954 – The first frozen TV dinner, made by Swanson & Sons, goes on sale. They cost 98 cents and contain turkey, sweet potatoes, peas, and corn bread stuffing. Watch a 1955 Swanson commercial:
1965 – President Lyndon B. Johnson authorizes the use of ground troops in combat operations in Vietnam.
1980 – Post-It Notes are introduced. 3M scientist Dr. Spencer Silver discovers the unique adhesive on accident while trying to invent a strong adhesive.
1983 – The Veteran’s Administration (VA) announces it will give free medical care for conditions traceable to radiation exposure to more than 220,000 veterans who participated in nuclear tests from 1945 to 1962.
1988 – Black North Pole explorer Matthew Henson is buried next to Robert Peary in Arlington National Cemetery. Henson died in 1955 and was originally buried in New York City’s Woodlawn Cemetery.
1998 – Citicorp and Travelers Group announce that they will merge. The new company is the largest financial-services conglomerate in the world called Citigroup.
1998 – The Dow Jones industrial average closes above 9,000 points for the first time.
2009 – President Barack Hussein Obama, during a visit to Turkey, announces that the U.S. is not at war with Islam.
1890 – Ellis Island is designated as an immigration station. Prior to this the individual states regulated immigration. A new structure is built and opens in 1892 and operates for 61 years. The original building is now part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
1922 – President Warren G. Harding’s Interior Secretary, Albert B. Fall, leases the Teapot Dome oil reserves to Harry Sinclair, setting in motion what comes to be known for the next two years as the Teapot Dome Scandal.
1923 – The Workers Party of America of New York City officially becomes the Communist Party.
1933 – Prohibition ends when Utah becomes the 38th state to ratify 21st Amendment. The prohibition on the sale of alcoholic beverages begins in 1919.
1940 – Booker T. Washington is the first black person to appear on U.S. postage stamp. He is the founder of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama for the training of black teachers.
1963 – At the age of 23, Jack Nicklaus becomes the youngest golfer to win the iconic Green Jacket at the Masters Tournament.
1969 – The Supreme Court unanimously strikes down laws prohibiting private possession of obscene material.
1970 – John Wayne wins his first and only Oscar for his role in the movie “True Grit.” He starred in over 200 films. John Wayne died in 1979 at age 72. Watch his Oscar presentation and acceptance speech:
1978 – A Gutenberg Bible, made in wood block by John Gensfleisch of Gutenburg, Germany (1398/9-1468), sells at auction for $2 million in New York City. Only 22 copies are known to exist.
1980 – The U.S. breaks diplomatic relations with Iran and imposes economic sanctions in response to the taking of hostages on November 4, 1979.
1990 – National Security Advisor John Poindexter is found guilty in the Iran-Contra scandal. He is sentenced to six months in prison. The conviction is reversed on appeal in 1991 on the grounds that several witnesses against him were influenced by his testimony, even though Congress gave him immunity for that testimony.
1998 – Mary Bono, the widow of Sonny Bono, wins a special election to serve out the remainder of her husband’s congressional term. Sonny Bono is killed in a skiing accident in January at age 62.
2000 – President Bill Clinton signs the Senior Citizens Freedom to Work Act that reverses a Depression-era law and allows senior citizens to earn money without losing Social Security retirement benefits.
2001 – The Mars Odyssey rocket is launched. The mission has been extended five times and had enough propellant to last until last year. It is considered to be on an extended mission.
2003 – U.S. troops capture Baghdad, Iraq. Saddam Hussein’s regime falls two days later. Saddam is captured in December, convicted of mass killings, and hanged in 2006.
2003 – The Supreme Court rules that, although burning a cross at a Ku Klux Klan rally is protected by the First Amendment, burning a cross as a means of intimidation is not, thus upholding a 50-year-old Virginia law.
1766 – The first fire escape is patented and uses a wicker basket on a pulley and chain.
1879 – Milk is sold in glass bottles for the first time.
1910 – The first race is run at the Los Angeles Motordrome, the first U.S. auto speedway. The roadway is wooden. The racetrack closes in 1913.
1913 – The 17th amendment is ratified, requiring the direct election of senators.
1935 – Congress approves the Works Progress Administration (WPA).
1952 – President Harry Truman seizes U.S. steel mills to prevent a strike. In June the Supreme Court rules the president lacks the authority to seize the steel mills. The 53-day strike ends with union workers accepting the same terms proposed before the strike.
1964 – The unmanned Gemini 1 rocket is launched on America’s first successful orbit of the earth. It completes three orbits.
1968 – Baseball’s Opening Day is postponed because of Martin Luther King’s assassination.
1969 – The first major league baseball game is played in Canada. The Montreal Expos beat the New York Mets 10-9.
1974 – Hank Aaron hits his 715th home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 714. Watch Hank’s record breaking swing and the subsequent pomp and circumstance:
1975 – Cleveland Indians player Frank Robinson debuts as the first black baseball manager. The Indians beat New York 5-3.
1986 – Clint Eastwood is elected mayor of Carmel, California. Eastwood is now 85 years old.
1991 – Actor Michael Landon announces that he has inoperable cancer of the pancreas and liver. He dies on July 1st at age 54. Watch an “ET” special about Landon:
1994 – Smoking is banned in the Pentagon and all U.S. military bases.
1998 – The widow of Martin Luther King Jr. presents new evidence in an appeal for new federal investigation of the assassination of her husband.
2006 – The Senate is not able to approve the compromise bill that is designed for millions of illegal immigrants to become citizens. The bill’s supporters can only muster 38 of the 60 votes that are needed to protect it from amendments that its opponants introduced. Both parties blame each other for the deal’s collapse.
2015 – Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, age 21, is convicted for the Boston Marathon bombing that killed 3 and injured 264 others. He is sentenced to death and is awaiting execution.
1682 – Robert La Salle claims the lower Mississippi River and all lands that touch it for France.
1865 – Confederate General Robert E. Lee and 26,765 Confederate troops surrender at Appomattox Court House in Virginia to U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant, ending the Civil War.
1867 – The Senate ratifies the treaty with Russia (by one vote) that authorizes the purchase of the territory of Alaska.
1872 – Samuel R. Percy patents dried milk.
1928 – Mae West makes her debut on Broadway in the production of “Diamond Lil.” West died in 1980 at age 87.
1933 – President Franklin Roosevelt signs “United States Executive Order 6102” which prohibits the “hoarding” of privately held gold coins and bullion in the U.S. The government requires holders of gold to sell their gold at the prevailing price of $20.67 per ounce. Shortly after this forced sale, the price of gold is raised to $35 an ounce.
1939 – Marian Anderson sings before 75,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday. She is scheduled to appear at Constitution Hall, but the DAR, who manages the Hall, denies her access because of her race. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigns her membership in the DAR in protest and arranges for Anderson to perform at the Lincoln Memorial. Watch a Newsreel story:
1950 – Bob Hope’s first TV special airs on Easter Sunday. His guests include Douglas Fairbanks and Dinah Shore.
1963 – Winston Churchill becomes the first honorary U.S. citizen. Churchill’s mother, Jennie Jerome of Brooklyn, New York, marries Lord Randolph Churchill of England. Winston is born in England.
1968 – Martin Luther King, Jr. is buried in Atlanta, Georgia.
1986 – The TV show “Dallas” announces it will revive Bobby Ewing’s character, who is killed off in the previous season. The entire previous season is (spoiler alert) all part of his wife’s dream. Watch the steamy shower scene:
1992 – Former Panamanian ruler Manuel Noriega is convicted in Miami, Florida, on eight drug and racketeering charges and sentenced to seven years in prison. After his release, the French government orders Noriega’s extradition to France where he is convicted for his crimes. The Panamanian government finds Noriega guilty in absentia in 1995 for murder and sentences him to 20 years in prison. He is transferred to Panama and 82-year-old Noriega is still in prison.
1998 – The National Prisoner of War Museum opens in Andersonville, Georgia, at the site of an infamous Civil War camp.
2012 – “The Lion King” becomes the highest grossing Broadway show after overtaking “The Phantom of the Opera,” cumulatively grossing over $5 billion.
1790 – Captain Robert Gray is the first American to circumnavigate the globe. He repeats his trek in 1793. Gray died in 1806 at the age of 51.
1849 – Walter Hunt patents the safety pin. He sells the rights for $100. Hunt patents many inventions including the fountain pen, streetcar bell, street sweeper, and nail-making machine.
1865 – General Robert E. Lee issues his last order at Appomattox Court House, General Order #9, praising his soldiers and ordering them to return home.
1866 – The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is founded in New York City by philanthropist and diplomat Henry Bergh.
1869 – Congress passes the Judiciary Act of 1869, which among other things, increases number of Supreme Court justices from 7 to 9.
1912 – RMS Titanic sets sail for New York City on its first (and only) voyage. The “unsinkable” ship hits an iceberg just before midnight on the 14th and sinks on the morning of the 15th. Titanic’s survivors arrive in New York City aboard the Carpathia on April 18th. Watch grainy silent footage of survivors aboard the Carpathia in New York:
1916 – The Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA) is created in New York City.
1941 – Ford Motor Company becomes the last major U.S. automaker to recognize the United Auto Workers as the representative for its workers.
1947 – Jackie Robinson becomes the first black player in a major league baseball game (Brooklyn Dodgers).
1953 – Warner Brothers premieres the first 3-D film, entitled “House of Wax.” Watch Vincent Price at his scariest:
1961 – Gary Player of South Africa becomes the first foreign golfer to win the Green Jacket at the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
1971 – The American table tennis team arrives in China. They are the first group of Americans officially allowed into China since the founding of the People Republic in 1949. The team receives the surprise invitation while in Japan for the 31st World Table Tennis Championship.
1989 – Heinz, Van Camp Seafood, and Bumble Bee Seafood agree they will not buy tuna caught in nets that also trap dolphins.
1992 – In Los Angeles, financier Charles Keating Jr. is sentenced to nine years in prison for swindling investors when his Lincoln Savings and Loan collapsed. The convictions are later overturned.
1996 – President Bill Clinton vetoes a bill that would have outlawed a technique used to end pregnancies in their late stages (late term abortions).
2001 – Jane Swift takes office as the first female governor of Massachusetts. She succeeds Paul Cellucci, who resigns to become the U.S. ambassador to Canada.
2012 – Apple Inc. claims a value of $600 billion, making it the largest company (by market capitalization) in the world.