This Week In History
by Dianne Hermann
“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people.
They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
– Thomas Jefferson
Week of August 3-9, 2015
1777 – The first U.S. flag was officially flown during battle during the Siege of Fort Stanwix.
1882 – Congress passes the first law restricting immigration.
1900 – Harvey Firestone starts the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio.
1921 – Baseball Commissioner Judge “Kenesaw Mountain” Landis announces that he will banish from baseball for life the eight White Sox players involved in the 1919 World Series scandal, despite their acquittal, including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.
1923 – Vice President Calvin Coolidge becomes our 30th president after the sudden and unexpected death of President Warren Harding following an apparent heart attack.
1933 – The Mickey Mouse Watch is introduced for the price of $2.75.
1936 – Jesse Owens wins the first of his four Olympic gold medals during the Berlin Olympics.
1949 – The Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League merge to form National Basketball Association (NBA).
1981 – The 13,000 PATCO Union air traffic controllers begin their illegal strike. President Reagan fires them on August 5th.
1984 – Mary Lou Retton wins a gold medal in gymnastics at the Los Angeles Summer Olympics, including a perfect 10 in the vault. Watch Retton’s perfect 10:
2004 – The pedestal of the Statue of Liberty reopens after being closed since the September 11, 2001, attacks. It opens again on July 4, 2013, after being closed for damages sustained when Hurricane Sandy struck in October of 2012.
2004 – NASA launches the spacecraft Messenger. The 6 1/2 year journey is planned to arrive at the planet Mercury in March 2011. On April 30, 2015, Messenger crashes into the surface of Mercury after sending back more than 270,000 pictures.
1821 – The first edition of Saturday Evening Post is published. It ceases publication in 1969 after losing a $3 million defamation lawsuit. The lawsuit arises from an article in the Post alleging that the Georgia Bulldogs football coach Wally Butts and Alabama football head coach Bear Bryant conspired to fix games. The Post returns as a quarterly publication in 1971.
1892 – The bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden are found in their house in Fall River, Massachusetts. Their daughter, Sunday school teacher Lizzie Borden, is arrested for their murders a week later but subsequently acquitted.
1916 – The U.S. agrees to buy the Virgin Islands from Denmark for $25 million.
1922 – AT&T and the Bell Systems recognizes the death of Alexander Graham Bell two days earlier by shutting down all of its switchboards and switching stations. The shutdown affects 13 million phones.
1927 – The Peace Bridge between the U.S. and Canada opens. The 3,580 foot long bridge is located near Buffalo, New York, and crosses the Niagara River.
1958 – Billboard Magazine introduces its “Hot 100” chart, which is a barometer of the movement of potential hits. The first number one song is Ricky Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool.” Watch Nelson perform it live:
1964 – The bodies of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James E. Chaney are discovered in an earthen Mississippi dam. In November the FBI accuses 21 Mississippi men, including a county sheriff, of engineering a conspiracy to injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney. When Mississippi officials refuse to try any of the men for murder they are charged and convicted of civil rights violations. Seven are convicted, but none serve more than 6 years. In 2005, 80-year-old Edgar Ray Killen is tried and convicted of three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to three consecutive terms of 20 years in prison. Killen is now 90 years old and still in prison.
1972 – Arthur Bremer is jailed for shooting Alabama Governor George Wallace. Walace is paralyzed. Bremer is released early on November 9, 2007, for being a “model inmate.” Former Gov. Wallace dies in 1998. Arthur Bremer is now 64 years old.
1977 – President Jimmy Carter establishes the Department of Energy.
1985 – The musical “Dreamgirls” closes at the Imperial Theater in New York City after 1,522 performances. Former American Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson co-stars in the 2006 movie “Dreamgirls.” Hudson wins an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
1987 – The Federal Communications Commission rescinds the Fairness Doctrine. The doctrine requires that radio and TV stations present controversial issues in a balanced fashion.
1988 – Congress votes to award $20,000 to each Japanese-American interned during WW II. President Reagan signs HR #442 on August 10th. Rev. Mamoru Eto of Los Angeles, age 107, is the first to receive a check on October 9, 1990.
2007 – NASA’s Phoenix spacecraft is launched on a space exploration mission to Mars. The Phoenix Lander descends on the surface of Mars on May 25, 2008.
2010 – Judge Vaughn Walker overturns California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative prohibiting same-sex marriage, which is passed by California voters in 2008 in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger. The case goes all the way to the Supreme Court and in January 2015 the Court legalizes same-sex marriage.
1861 – The U.S. levies its first Income Tax (3% of incomes over $800).
1864 – Admiral David Farragut orders, during the Battle of Mobile Bay, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”
1884 – The cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty is laid on Bedloe’s Island in New York City. The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, is dedicated in 1886.
1914 – The first traffic light in the U.S. is installed on Euclid Ave and East 105th Street in Cleveland, Ohio. The traffic signal has only a red and green light and a buzzer that is operated by a traffic officer on the corner. British railway signal engineer J.P. Knight invents the traffic light in 1868. Black American inventor Garrett Morgan is credited with adding the yellow warning light in 1923.
1921 – The cartoon “On the Road to Moscow” by Rollin Kirby is published in the “New York World”. It is the first cartoon to win a Pulitzer Prize.
1923 – Henry Sullivan is the first American to swim the English Channel.
1924 – The comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” by Harold Gray debuts. Gray died in 1968 at age 64.
1945 – The U.S. drops the world’s first atom bomb (Little Boy) on Hiroshima, Japan. Watch a British news report of the bombing and aftermath:
1954 – The Ring magazine establishes the Boxing Hall of Fame and selects 24 modern and 15 pioneer boxers before it disbands in 1988. The following year the International Boxing Hall of Fame is established in New York and adopts the inductees from The Ring’s Boxing Hall of Fame.
1957 – The comic strip “Andy Capp” by Reg Smythe debuts. Smythe died in 1998 at age 80.
1981 – President Reagan fires 11,500 striking air traffic controllers who walk off the job 2 days earlier.
1985 – The establishment of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is announced. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opens in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1995. The first inductees include Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, The Everly Brothers, Alan Freed, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, and 10 others.
1997 – Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of world trade center bombing, goes on trial. He is convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
2011 – Standard & Poor’s Financial Services lowers the United States’ AAA credit rating by one notch to AA-plus.
2012 – General Motors signs a record breaking $559 million marketing deal with Manchester United soccer team.
1819 – Norwich University is founded in Vermont as the first private military school in the U.S.
1890 – The electric chair is first used in U.S. to execute John Hart in New York, who is convicted of murder.
1890 – Cy Young pitches and wins his first game.
1854 – Congress passes the Confiscation Act, which authorizes the appropriation of property, including slaves, from southern slaveholders.
1926 – Gertrude Ederle of New York becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel. Ederle died in 2003 at age 98.
1930 – Supreme Court Justice Joseph Force Crater disappears in New York City. He is declared legally dead in 1939. The case is officially closed in 1979 and remains unsolved. A letter found among the effects of a woman who died 2005 claimed her late police-officer husband and cab-diver brother-in-law murdered Crater and buried him under the Coney Island Boardwalk.
1946 – The U.S. officially submits to the jurisdiction of the World Court by accepting an optional clause in the Court’s statute. It gives the World Court compulsory jurisdiction over cases regarding interpretation of treaties, any question of international law, and any breach of international obligations.
1965 – President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act, guaranteeing voting rights for blacks.
1986 – William J. Schroeder dies after living 620 days with the Jarvik-7 man made heart. He is the world’s longest surviving recipient of a permanent artificial heart to date.
1998 – Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky spends 8 1/2 hours testifying before a grand jury about her relationship with President Clinton. Lewinsky is now 42 years old.
2011 – A helicopter containing 20 members of Navy SEAL team 6 is shot down in Afghanistan, killing all 31 U.S. specials ops troops and 7 Afghan commandos. The death toll surpasses the worst single day loss of life for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan since the war begins in 2001.
2012 – The Mars rover Curiosity lands on the floor of Gale Crater. The Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity spacecraft is launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on November 26, 2011.
1782 – George Washington creates the Order of the Purple Heart after the Continental Congress forbids Washington from granting soldiers commissions and promotions for merit.
1882 – The Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky begin their infamous feud with the mortal wounding of Elliston Hatfield by three McCoy brothers in a dispute over a stolen pig. The families agree to stop fighting in 1891 after 15 people are killed and many more are wounded, but bad feelings continue throughout the 20th Century. The ongoing grudge inspires the TV show “The Family Feud.” Descendents of both families appear on the show in 1979 where the show’s producers pay each family the winner’s share to avoid renewing hostilities.
1909 – The U.S. issues the first Lincoln penny.
1912 – The Progressive (Bull Moose) Party nominates Theodore Roosevelt for president, who has already served as president 1901-1909. Woodrow Wilson wins the 1912 election.
1928 – The U.S.Treasure Department issues a new bill that was one third smaller than the previous U.S. bills.
1934 – The U.S. Court of Appeals upholds a lower court ruling striking down government’s attempt to ban the controversial James Joyce novel “Ulysses.”
1942 – U.S. forces land at Guadalcanal, marking the start of the first major allied offensive in the Pacific during World War II.
1959 – The new Lincoln Memorial design on the U.S. penny goes into circulation. It replaces the “sheaves of wheat” design.
1963 – First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy has a daughter Arabella Kennedy, becoming the 1st First Lady since Frances Cleveland in 1893 to give birth while her husband is in office. Tragically, the Kennedy’s daughter is stillborn.
1964 – Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which gives President Johnson broad powers in dealing with reported North Vietnamese attacks on forces.
1970 – The first all-computer chess championship is held in New York City. Six programs enter the North American Computer Championships sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).
1981 – After 128 years of publication “The Washington Star” ceases all operations and files for bankrupcy. The Washington Post buys its land, building, and printing presses.
1990 – Operation Desert Shield begins when the U.S. deploys troops to Saudi Arabia from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.
2003 – Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger announces that he will run for the office of governor of California. He serves as governor 2003-2011.
2007 – Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants breaks baseball great Hank Aaron’s record by hitting his 756th home run. Watch the homer:
1844 – Brigham Young is chosen as the Mormon Church leader following the death of Joseph Smith.
1854 – Smith & Wesson patents metal bullet cartridges.
1900 – The first Davis Cup tennis competition, named after Dwight Filley Davis, begins at Longwood Cricket Club in Massachusetts and is won by the United States two days later.
1911 – Public Law 62-5 sets the number of representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives at 435. The law goes into effect in 1913.
1918 – Alvin York is given command of troops when six U.S. soldiers are surrounded by Germans in France during WWI. Sgt. York shoots 20 Germans and captures 132 more. York is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and eight other American and European awards. York died in 1964 at age 76.
1945 – President Harry S. Truman signs the United Nations Charter.
1973 – Vice President Spiro T. Agnew says the reports that he took kickbacks from government contracts in Maryland are “damned lies” and he vows not to resign. Agnew resigns on October 10th.
1974 – President Richard M. Nixon announces he will resign his office 12 PM on August 9th as a result of the Watergate scandal.
1992 – The “Dream Team” clinches the gold medal in basketball at the Barcelona Summer Olympics when the U.S. team beats Croatia 117-85. The Dream Team is elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. Watch a video of the 10 top U.S. plays at the Olympics:
2000 – The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley is raised to the surface after 136 years on the ocean floor off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. It is the first submarine to sink a ship during wartime. The sinking of the Federal warship USS Housatonic also results in the sinking of the Hunley due to its close proximity to the explosion. The Housatonic remains on the ocean floor.
1790 – The three-masted sailing ship Columbia under the command of Captain Robert Gray returns to Boston after a 3-year journey, becoming the first ship to carry the U. S. flag around the world.
1848 – Martin Van Buren is nominated for president in his third attempt to regain the White House. President Van Buren (1836-1840) loses re-election to William Henry Harrison in 1840, is passed over for the nomination in 1844, and tries unsuccessfully for the presidency again in 1848 as a member of the Free Soil Party. Whig Party candidate Zachary Taylor wins the 1848 election.
1910 – Alva Fisher patents the electric washing machine.
1930 – Betty Boop debutes in Max Fleischer’s animated cartoon “Dizzy Dishes.” Watch the animated film:
1936 – Jesse Owens wins his 4th gold medal at the Berlin Summer Olympics. President Roosevelt never invites Owens to the White House because FDR is running for re-election.
1944 – The Forest Service and Wartime Advertising Council create “Smokey the Bear” to curb forest fires and conserve resources. A bear cub is rescued during a 1950 New Mexico fire, sent to the National Zoo in Washington, and becomes the living symbol of Smokey the Bear. Smokey died in 1976 and is buried in New Mexico.
1945 – The U.S. drops its second atomic bomb (Fat Man) on Nagasaki, Japan. Japan signs the surrender on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2nd.
1969 – The Manson family commits the Tate-LaBianca murders. Charles Manson’s followers murder pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in her home and then Leno and Rosemary LaBianca the next day. Manson and four of his followers are convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The sentences are commuted to life in prison by the California Supreme Court’s 1972 ruling in People vs. Anderson. Manson is now 80 years old.
1972 – Rockwell receives the NASA contract to construct the Space Shuttles.
1974 – Richard Nixon resigns the presidency. Vice President Gerald Ford becomes the president. Nixon selected Senator Gerald Ford as Vice President in 1973 after Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned. Ford is the only person to serve as both President and Vice President without having been elected to either office.
1975 – The New Orleans Superdome is officially opened when the Saints play the Houston Oilers in an exhibition football game. The Superdome costs $163 million to build.
1985 – Arthur J. Walker, a retired Navy officer, is found guilty of seven counts of spying for the Soviet Union.
1988 – The Edmonton Oilers trade ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky to the LA Kings for $15 million and three future draft picks.
2004 – Trump Hotel and Casion Resorts announce plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.