This Week in History, Week of July 27-August 2, 2015


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 July 27-August 2, 2015


July 27

1586 – Sir Walter Raleigh brings the first tobacco to England from Virginia.

1775 – Benjamin Rush begins his service as the first Surgeon General of the Continental Army.

1789 – President Washington signs legislation establishing the Department of Foreign Affairs (now called the State Department). Representative and future president James Madison of New York introduces the bill.

1804 – The 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified directing the Electors to vote for a President and for a Vice-President rather than for two choices for President.

1888 – The National Geographic Society organizes in Washington, DC.

1909 – Orville Wright sets a record for the longest airplane flight. He tests the first Army airplane and keeps it in the air for 1 hour 12 minutes and 40 seconds. Watch a silent video of the historic flight:

1918 – The first Tarzan film, “Tarzan of the Apes,” premieres at the Broadway Theater.

1931 – Swarms of grasshoppers in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota, destroying thousands of acres of crops.

1940 – Billboard magazine starts publishing their National List of Best Selling Retail Records.

1940 – The cartoon character Bugs Bunny debuts in “A Wild Hare.” Watch the cartoon:

1953 – The Armistice is signed ending the Korean War. Over 50,000 Americans and millions of Koreans and Chinese are killed during the three-year-long war.

1965 – President Johnson signs the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act requiring cigarette makers print health warnings on all cigarette packages about the effects of smoking.

1977 – Beatle John Lennon is granted a green card for permanent residence in U.S.

1987 – The first salvaging of the Titanic wreckage begins. Robert Ballard locates the wreckage in 1985. The mini-submarine Nautile dives 2.5 miles below the ocean’s surface to retrieve objects not seen since the 1912 sinking.


1995 – The Korean War Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington, DC.

1996 – A bomb explodes at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, killing 1 and injuring 110. Initially, Richard Jewell was falsely named a “person of interest” in the bombing. Eric Rudolph later pleads guilty and is sentenced to three concurrent terms of life imprisonment without parole.

1999 – The Space Shuttle Discovery completes a five-day mission commanded by Air Force Col. Eileen Collins. It is the first shuttle mission to be commanded by a woman.


July 28

1868 – The 14th Amendment is ratified, granting citizenship to ex-slaves.

1900 – Louis Lassing of New Haven, Connecticut, says his diner is the first to put a hamburger on a bun. (He is one of many who make this claim.)

1932 – Two unemployed WWI veterans are killed in a scuffle with police in Washington, DC, during the “Bonus March.” President Hoover calls in federal troops when thousands of “Bonus Marchers” demand the government cash in their bonuses early. They clash with the troops led by General Douglass MacArthur and supported by Major George S. Patton. Watch a video by Historic Films:

1933 – Lucille Lipps, a Western Union operator in New York City, delivers the first singing telegram to Rudy Vallee on his birthday.

1945 – An Army bomber crashes into the 79th floor of New York City’s Empire State Building, 14 people are killed and 26 injured.


1959 – Hawaii’s first U.S. election sends its first Asian Americans to Congress.

1982 – San Francisco, California, becomes the first city in the U.S. to ban private ownership of handguns, but a state court concludes that under California law such decisions are reserved to the state legislature and can’t be made by individual cities.

1983 – Four days after the “pine tar bat” game American League baseball president Lee McPhail announces that even though George Brett’s bat had too much pine tar, only the bat should have been removed from the game, not the batter. He upholds the Kansas City Royals’ protest and says the two teams must resume the game in Yankee Stadium on August 18, with the Royals leading New York, 5-4, and two outs in the ninth. The Royals win the game.

1986 – NASA releases the transcript from the doomed Challenger. Pilot Michael Smith can be heard saying, “Uh-oh!” as Space Shuttle disintegrated on liftoff.

1998 – Monica Lewinsky receives blanket immunity from prosecution to testify before a grand jury about her relationship with President Bill Clinton.


July 29

1858 – The Treaty of Amity and Commerce/Harris Treaty is signed between the U.S. and Japan opening Japanese ports to trade.

1899 – The first motorcycle race in held at Manhattan Beach, New York.

1914 – The first transcontinental telephone service is inaugurated when two people hold a conversation between New York, New York and San Francisco, California.

1920 – The first of three JL-6 aircraft leave New York for San Francisco on the inaugural transcontinental airmail flight. Former WWI flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker is one of the passengers.

1928 – Walt Disney’s “Steamboat Willie” (Mickey Mouse) is released. Watch the primitive cartoon:

1957 – Jack Paar begins hosting the “Tonight” show on NBC-TV. The name of the show is changed to “The Jack Paar Show.” Paar is host for five years.

1958 – President Eisenhower signs into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act (NASA).

1976 – Liz Taylor and Richard Burton divorce for the second time. They divorce for the first time in 1974.

1984 – The Summer Olympics open in Los Angeles, California.

1988 – A judge orders NASA to release the 2-minutes of unedited tape from the Challenger cockpit after the Space Shuttle explodes on takeoff on January 28th.

1988 – The last Playboy Club in the U.S. (Lansing, Michigan) closes. The first Playboy Club is opened by Hugh Hefner in 1960.


1990 – The Boston Red Sox set the major league baseball record with 12 doubles in a single game.


July 30

1619 – The first representative assembly in America convenes in Jamestown, Virginia as the House of Burgesses.

1733 – Eighteen men gather at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern on King Street in Boston and organize the first Masonic Lodge in North America.

1839 – Slaves take over the slave ship Amistad after 60 days at sea and are arrested in New York. The district court judge ruled that the slaves are free men, and orders them released from prison. He also orders that the United States government transport them back to Africa. The Supreme Court upholds the decision.

1898 – Will Kellogg invents the cereal Corn Flakes.

1898 – “Scientific America” carries the first magazine automobile ad. The ad is for the Winton Motor Car Company of Cleveland, Ohio.

1909 – The Wright Brothers deliver the first military plane to the army after meeting strict criteria and are paid $30,000.

1928 – George Eastman shows the first Kodacolor 16-mm color film to friends, including Thomas Edison and General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, at his home in Rochester, New York.

1932 – Walt Disney’s “Flowers and Trees” premiers. It is the first Academy Award winning cartoon and first cartoon short to use Technicolor. Watch the video, which includes sound:

1942 – President FDR signs a bill creating the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).

1956 – The phrase “In God We Trust” is adopted as the U.S. national motto.

1965 – President Johnson signs into law Social Security Act that establishes Medicare and Medicaid. It goes into effect the following year.

1975 – Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa disappears in suburban Detroit. His body is never found.

1988 – Harry Drake of Kansas shoots an arrow a record 2,028 yards. He is an early pioneer in the design of the composite bow. Drake died in 1997 at age 82.


1990 – The first Saturn automobile rolls off the assembly line in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Production is halted in October 2009.


1998 – A group of Ohio machine-shop workers (who call themselves the Lucky 13) win the $295.7 million Powerball jackpot. It is the largest-ever American lottery to date. The largest lottery jackpot in U.S.history is Mega Millions in 2012 at $565 million.


July 31

1792 – The cornerstone is laid for the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, the first United States government building.

1876 – The United States Coast Guard officers’ training school is established in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

1922 – Eighteen-year-old Ralph Samuelson rides world’s first water skis in Minnesota.

1928 – MGM’s Leo the lion roars for the first time. He introduces MGM’s first talking picture, “White Shadows in the South Seas.” Hear Leo roar and wath the movie’s intro:

1953 – The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare is created during the Eisenhower administration. President Harding proposes a department of education and welfare in 1923.

1961 – The first tie in a baseball All-Star Game in major league history is recorded when it is stopped in the 9th inning due to rain at Boston’s Fenway Park.

1970 – Chet Huntley retires from NBC, ending the “Huntley-Brinkley Report.” Huntley died in 1974 at age 62. David Brinkley died in 2003 at age 82. Goodnight, Chet.

1971 – Astronauts ride in a vehicle on the moon for the first time in a lunar rover vehicle (LRV).

1987 – Rockwell International is awarded a contract to build a fifth space shuttle, the Endeavor, to replace the Challenger. Final estimated cost: $1.7 billion.

1989 – The Game Boy handheld video game device is released in the U.S.

1991 – The U.S. Senate votes to allow women to fly combat aircraft. Air Force Colonel Martha McSally is the first woman to fly a combat mission after the 43-year ban is lifted.

1991 – President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev sign the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

1999 – The spacecraft Lunar Prospector crashes into the moon. It is a mission to detect frozen water on the moon’s surface. The craft is launched in January 1998.


2007 – The iTunes Music Store reaches 2 million feature-length films sold.


August 1

1790 – The first U.S. census is taken showing a population of 3,939,214, of which 697,624 are slaves. The current U.S. population is about 316 million.

1855 – Castle Clinton in New York City opens as the first U.S. receiving station for immigrants.

1903 – The first coast-to-coast automobile trip (from San Francisco to New York) is completed.

1943 – The Navy patrol torpedo boat PT-109 sinks near the Solomon Islands after being attacked by a Japanese destroyer. The boat is under the command of future president Navy Lt. John F. Kennedy. The crewmembers swim to Naru Island and are rescued on August 7th.

1946 – The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission is established.

1957 – The Bridgers and Paxton Office Building in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the first commercial building to be heated by solar energy. It is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

1958 – The first class postage goes up to 4 cents after having cost 3 cents for 26 years. A first class postage stamp is now 49 cents.

1966 – Charles Whitman, age 25, climbs the University of Texas tower and shoots 12 people dead before being killed by police. Watch live footage (part without sound):

1972 – Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward publish their first article exposing the Watergate scandal.

1977 – Francis Gary Powers died when his news helicopter crashes in Los Angeles. Powers is the former U-2 pilot who is shot down over Russia in 1960 and held for two years. Powers was 47 years old.

1995 – Westinghouse Electric Corporation announces a deal to buy CBS for $5.4 billion.

2001 – Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has a Ten Commandments monument installed in the judiciary building, leading to a lawsuit to have the monument removed and him removed from office. District Court Judge Myron Thompson orders Moore to remove the Ten Commandments from the courthouse rotunda within fifteen days. Moore refuses, but the monument is later moved to a room that is not open for public viewing. On August 23, 2003, a panel of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary unanimously votes to remove Judge Moore from the bench. In 2012, Moore is re-elected as Alabama’s Chief Justice.


August 2

1610 – Henry Hudson enters bay later named after him, the Hudson Bay.

1819 – The first parachute jump in United States takes place in New York when Mr. Guilles jumps from a hot air balloon and travels airborne for half an hour over about eight miles before successfully landing in Bushwick.

1865 – Lewis Carroll publishes “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

1873 – A San Francisco cable car travels on Clay Street between Kearny and Jones Streets during its first trial run. Cable cars still traverse the streets of San Francisco.

1921 – A Chicago jury brings back a not guilty verdict against eight Chicago White Sox players for throwing the 1919 baseball World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds win the series 5 games to 3. The trial is dubbed the “Black Sox Scandal.”

1938 – Bright yellow baseballs wae used in a major league baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals. It is hoped that the balls would be easier to see.


1939 – President Roosevelt signs the Hatch Act prohibiting civil service employees from taking an active part in political campaigns.

1983 – The House of Representatives approves a law that designates the third Monday of January as the federal holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The law is signed by President Reagan on November 2nd.

1989 – NASA confirms Voyager 2’s discovery of three more moons of Neptune.

1994 – Congressional hearings begin on the Clinton Whitewater scandal. In 1978 in Arkansas, Bill and Hillary enter into a land deal with James and Susan McDougal. As a result of the investigation, James is convicted of 18 counts of fraud, sentenced to five years in prison, and dies in prison in 1998. Susan is convicted of fraud and sentenced to two years in prison. Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker is convicted of mail fraud but serves no jail time. Vince Foster, a friend of the Clinton’s and White House Counsel, “committed suicide” in 1993. Bill and Hillary are implicated in the scandal, but avoid any charges of wrongdoing.