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 January 11-17, 2016
1794 – Robert Forsyth, a 40-year-old U.S. Marshal, is killed in Augusta, Georgia, when trying to serve court papers. Forsyth is the first U.S. marshal to die in the line of duty.
1803 – James Monroe and Robert Livingston sail for Paris to buy New Orleans. They end up purchasing Louisiana. Monroe serves as president from 1817 to 1825. Livingston helps draft the Declaration of Independence and administers the presidential oath of office to George Washington in 1789.
1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman in the U.S. to earn a medical degree. She opens an infirmary in 1857 and trains nurses during the Civil War. Blackwell died in 1910 at age 89.
1873 – The Drovers Journal, the first livestock market newspaper, is published in Chicago.
1935 – Amelia Earhart flies non-stop from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Oakland, California.
1953 – J. Edgar Hoover turns down a 6-figure offer to become president of the International Boxing Club.
1964 – The first government report is issued by U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry warning that smoking may be hazardous to one’s health.
1976 – Dorothy Hamill wins her third consecutive national figure skating championship. She also wins a gold medal at the Innsbruck Winter Olympics. Hamill is now 59 years old. Watch Hamill’s short program with brief commentary:
1984 – The Supreme Court reinstates the $10 million award to Karen Silkwood’s family. Silkwood worked at the Kerr-McGee Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site plant near Crescent, Oklahoma and became a safety activist. She died in a suspicious car accident in 1974 at age 28.
1991 – Congress empowers President Bush to use force against Iraq.
2010 – Simon Cowell leaves as a judge on “American Idol.” This is the 15th and final season.
1773 – The first public museum in the U.S. is established in Charlestown, South Carolina.
1896 – Dr. Henry Smith of Davidson, North Carolina, makes the first X-ray photo in the U.S.
1906 – Dow Jones closes above 100 for the first time (100.26).
1921 – Kenesaw Mountain Landis becomes the first commissioner of baseball.
1943 – Hot dogs are replaced by Victory Sausages, a mix of meat and soy meal, due to the shortage of meat during World War II.
1948 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Ada Sipuel in the case of Sipuel vs. Oklahoma State Board of Regents. Two years earlier Ada Sipuel applies for admission to the all-white law school at the University of Oklahoma and is denied because of her race. Future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall argues before the Court while future Justice John Paul Stevens watches from the gallery.
1966 – “Batman” with Adam West and Burt Ward premieres on TV and airs until 1968. West is now 87 years old and Ward is 70 years old. Watch and excerpt from the first episode:
1967 – The Louisville, Kentucky, draft board refuses an exemption for the boxer Muhammad Ali. Ali (born Cassius Clay) is convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to 5 years in prison, fined $10,000, and banned from boxing for three years. He stays out of prison during his appeal and the Supreme Court overturns his conviction in 1971. Ali will be 74 years old next week.
1967 – Dr. James Bedford, who died of kidney cancer at age 73, becomes the first person to be placed in cryonic suspension with the intent of future resuscitation. Bedford’s body is successfully transferred to a new capsule in 1991.
1971 – “All in the Family” premieres on TV and features the first toilet flush on TV. It is the number one TV series from 1971-1976 and airs until 1979. Archie and Edith Bunker’s easy chairs are now on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC.
1990 – Civil Rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton is stabbed in Brooklyn, New York by 27-year-old Michael Riccardi. Riccardi is sentenced to 5-15 years in prison and is released in 2001. Sharpton is now 61 years old.
1995 – Malcolm X’s daughter Qubilah Shabazz is arrested for plotting the murder of Louis Farrakhan, who she believed is responsible for her father’s assassination in 1965.
1995 – The murder trial against OJ Simpson begins in Los Angeles. He is acquitted of murdering his wife and her friend.
1997 – HAL (Heuristic ALgorithmic) becomes operational as the fictional computer in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
2004 – The world’s largest ocean liner, RMS Queen Mary 2, makes its maiden voyage from Southhampton, England, to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
2005 – NASA’s spacecraft Deep Impact launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a Delta 2 rocket on a mission to land on a comet.
1794 – Congress changes the U.S. flag to 15 stars and 15 stripes.
1888 – The National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, DC.
1906 – Telimco advertises the first radio set for $7.50 in Scientific American. It claimed to receive signals up to one mile.
1930 – The first “Mickey Mouse” comic strip appears in print.
1948 – The first country music TV show, Midwestern Hayride, premieres in Cincinnati, Ohio.
1957 – Wham-O Company produces the first Frisbee.
1972 – Former housewife Bernice Gera wins the lawsuit she initiated on March 15, 1971, to become a minor league baseball umpire. Gera becomes the first professional female umpire of a minor league baseball game in June 1972 but later resigns because male umpires refuse to work with her. Gera died in 1992 at age 61.
1979 – The YMCA files a libel suit against The Village People’s “YMCA” song. The lawsuit is later dropped. Watch the original music video at:
1982 – Air Florida flight 90 takes off from Washington, DC in a snowstorm, crashes into the 14th Street Bridge, and falls into the Potomac River, killing 78 people on the plane and the bridge. There are only 5 survivors from the airplane.
1988 – The Supreme Court rules (5-3) that public school officials have broad powers to censor school newspapers, plays, and other expressive activities.
1990 – Douglas Wilder (D-Virginia) is inaugurated making him the first elected black U.S. governor.
1995 – America3 becomes the first all-female crew to win an America’s Cup yacht race.
1699 – Massachusetts holds a day of fasting for wrongly persecuting “witches.”
1784 – The Revolutionary War ends when Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris.
1794 – Dr. Jesse Bennett of Edom, Virginia, performs the first successful Cesarean section operation in the U.S. He performs the surgery on his wife Elizabeth after the family physician refuses to operate. Elizabeth and their daughter both survive.
1914 – Henry Ford introduces the assembly line for Model T Fords.
1938 – The National Society for the Legalization of Euthanasia is founded in New York by Charles Francis Potter. Euthanasia was also referred to as “mercy killing.”
1952 – The “Today Show” premieres on TV with Dave Garroway and Jack Lescoulie. Watch the Today how promo:
1954 – The Hudson Motor Car Company merges with Nash-Kelvinator Corporation forming the American Motors Corporation (AMC).
1954 – Marilyn Monroe and New York Yankee’s baseball star Joe DiMaggio get married. They get a divorce in October 1954, 274 days after they marry.
1963 – George C. Wallace is sworn in as the governor of Alabama for the first of four nonconsecutive terms. In his address he states, “Segregation now; segregation tomorrow; segregation forever!” He is shot and left paralyzed in 1972. Wallace died in 1998 at age 79.
1979 – President Jimmy Carter proposes that Martin Luther King’s birthday be a holiday. President Ronald Reagan signs legislation in 1983 designating the third Monday in January as an annual federal holiday. The first official celebration takes place on January 20, 1986.
1995 – Mexico pledges profits from its state-owned Pemex’s $7-billion-per-year oil revenues in an effort to secure U.S. congressional approval of loan guarantees. President Clinton approves a $20-billion U.S. aid package for Mexico.
2004 – A Lewis and Clark Exhibition opens at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis featuring 500 rare and priceless objects used by the Corps of Discovery.
1762 – Fraunces Tavern opens in New York City. Samuel Fraunces buys an existing house and converts it into a tavern. George Washington bids farewell to his troops in December of 1783.
1870 – A donkey is first used as a symbol of Democratic Party in Harper’s Weekly. The donkey is first associated with Democrat Andrew Jackson’s 1828 presidential campaign. Critics insulted Jackson by calling him a jack—.
1889 – The Coca-Cola Company, then known as the Pemberton Medicine Company, is officially incorporated in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. John Stith Pemberton invents Coca-Cola as a “Delicious and Refreshing” fountain drink. It is first sold at Jacobs’ Pharmacy in Atlanta for 5 cents.
1943 – The world’s largest office building, the Pentagon, is completed near the Potomac River in Northern Virgina.
1947 – The butchered, mutilated corpse of Elizabeth Short (“The Black Dahlia”) is found in Leimert Park, Los Angeles, California. Her murder remains unsolved.
1951 – The Supreme Court rules that “clear and present danger” of incitement to riot is not protected speech and can be a cause for arrest.
1967 – The Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in the first Super Bowl, which is held in Los Angeles, California. The Super Bowl MVP is Green Bay Quarterback Bart Starr.
1976 – Sara Jane Moore is sentenced to life for attempting to assassinate President Gerald Ford in September 1975. Moore is released from prison in 2007. She is now 85 years old.
1988 – Broadcaster Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder makes racist remarks about black athletes. He is fired the following day. Snyder died in 1996 at age 77.
2001 – Wikipedia, a free Wiki content encyclopedia, goes online.
2009 – U.S. Airways Flight 1549, piloted by Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, makes an emergency landing in the Hudson River shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York City. All passengers and crew survive. Watch an amazing computer simulation with actual footage and audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8itHvXd0oM
1847 – John C. Frémont is appointed the Governor of the new California Territory. Frémont is the first presidential candidate of the new Republican Party in 1856.
1868 – The refrigerated railroad boxcar is patented by William Davis, a fish dealer in Detroit, Michigan.
1919 – Prohibition is ratified by three-quarters of the states when Nebraska becomes the 36th state to vote in favor of the prohibition of alcohol. Prohibition is repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1933.
1938 – The first jazz concert is held at Carnegie Hall and features Benny Goodman.
1939 – The comic strip “Superman” debuts.
1951 – The world’s largest gas pipeline opens. It spans from Brownsville, Texas, to New York City.
1964 – “Hello, Dolly!” starring Carol Channing, opens at St. James Theater in New York City for 2,844 performances. Channing will be 95 years old on the 31st.
1970 – Curt Flood files a $1 million civil lawsuit challenging baseball’s reserve clause. The Supreme Court rules in favor of major league baseball in its 1972 decision.
1970 – Buckminster Fuller, author of over 30 books, receives the Gold Medal award from the American Institute of Architects. He is awarded the patent for the geodesic dome, although it is created by Dr. Walther Bauersfeld 30 years earlier. Fuller died in 1983 at age 87. Watch a biography including interviews with Fuller: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYv1fM4-hpM
1974 – The book “Jaws” by Peter Benchley is published. It is made into a movie starring Roy Scheider in 1975.
1976 – The “Donny & Marie” [Osmond] musical variety show premieres on TV and airs until 1978.
1988 – Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder fired from CBS for racial remarks. Watch a news report and his comments at:
1991 – Operation Desert Storm begins when the U.S. and 27 allies attack Iraq for occupying Kuwait. The air war begins at 6:38 PM EST due to an 8-hour time difference, when an Apache helicopter attacks.
2001 – President Bill Clinton awards former President Theodore Roosevelt a posthumous Medal of Honor for his service in the Spanish-American War.
2003 – The Space Shuttle Columbia takes off for mission STS-107 on what would be its final space flight. Columbia disintegrates 16 days later on re-entry.
1916 – Professional Golfer Association (PGA) forms in New York City. Englishman Jim Barnes wins the first PGA Championship at Siwanoy Country Club Bronxville, New York.
1917 – The U.S. pays Denmark $25 million for the Virgin Islands.
1948 – The trial of 11 U.S. Communist Party members begins in New York City, under the Smith Act, a statute that imposes penalties on those who advocate the violent overthrow of the government. All are convicted and sentenced to 5 years in prison. Their convictions are upheld by the Supreme Court in 1951.
1950 – Seven men rob the Brinks office in Boston of $1.2 million cash and $1.5 million in securities. Six years after the robbery one of the conspirators who languished in jail on unrelated charges confesses to the crime and implicates 10 others. Eight of the surviving men are convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Only a small amount of the money and securities is ever recovered.
1954 – Oceanographer Jacques Cousteau’s first U.S. network telecast airs on “Omnibus” on TV. Cousteau died in 1997 at age 87.
1955 – The submarine USS Nautilus begins its first nuclear-powered test voyage.
1969 – Rock band Led Zeppelin releases their debut album in the U.S.
1984 – The Supreme Court rules (5-4) that the private use of home VCRs to tape TV programs for later viewing do not violate federal copyright laws.
1989 – “The Simpsons” premieres on Fox-TV. It is the longest running sitcom in TV history at 27 seasons. Previously, the longest running TV show was “Gunsmoke,” at 20 years. Watch the making of “The Simpsons”:
1995 – The Los Angeles Rams football team announces that they are moving to St. Louis. The Rams started in Cleveland in 1936, moved to Los Angeles in 1946, Anaheim in 1980, then to St. Louis.
2001 – President Bill Clinton posthumously raises Meriwether Lewis’ rank from Lieutenant to Captain.