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 March 21-27, 2016
1843 – Preacher William Miller of Massachusetts predicts the world will end on this day. He is an early pioneer of the Seventh Day Adventist movement.
1891 A member of the Hatfield marries a McCoy, ending long and bloody feud in West Virginia that started with an accusation of pig stealing and lasted 20 years.
1924 – Mass Investors Trust becomes the first mutual fund set up in the U.S.
1934 – Female track and field Olympian and future golf legend Babe Didrikson pitches an inning in an A’s-Dodgers exhibition game. The Associated Press declares Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias to be the “Woman Athlete of the Half Century” in 1950. Zaharias died in 1956 at the age of 45. Watch a video bio of her amazing athletic life:
1947 – President Truman signs Executive Order 9835 requiring all federal employees to have allegiance to the U.S.
1961 – Art Modell purchases Cleveland Browns football team for a (then) record $3,925,000.
1965 – Martin Luther King, Jr. begins the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, a distance of about 50 miles. They arrive on March 25th.
1972 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that states can’t require a 1-year residency to vote.
1980 – President Jimmy Carter announces the U.S. will boycott the Moscow Olympics.
1980 – J.R. Ewing is shot on the TV show Dallas, sparking the summer-long question, “Who shot JR?” Spoiler alert – It is revealed in the season premier on November 21st that J.R.’s sister-in-law Kristin Shepard is the one “Who done it” in the highest rated TV show episode at the time. Watch the most-talked-about event:
1983 – All the Time magazines are recalled because of the only known typo on the cover (control is misspelled contol).
1984 – National Football League owners pass the infamous (and short-lived) anti-celebrating rule.
1989 – The first sea test of Trident 2 missile self-destructs over Cape Canaveral. The missile cost $23.7 million.
1994 – Wayne Gretzky ties Gordie Howe’s National Hockey League record of 801 goals on his way to 1.072 goals. Gretzky’s record is considered unbreakable. He is now 54 years old. Watch Gretzky score goals 800 and 801:
1622 – In the first Indian (Powhattan) massacre of whites in Jamestown Virginia, 347 pilgrims are slain.
1765 The Stamp Act is passed. It is the first direct British tax on colonists.
1790 – Thomas Jefferson becomes the first U.S. Secretary of State under President Washington.
1794 – Congress bans U.S. vessels from supplying slaves to other countries.
1871 – William Holden of North Carolina is the first governor removed from office by impeachment. Holden is charged and convicted of declaring martial law, unlawfully raising troops, illegally declaring counties to be in a state of insurrection, illegally arresting citizens, seizing, detaining, imprisoning, and depriving those citizens of their liberty and privileges as freemen, and refusing to obey a writ of habeas corpus.
1882 – The Edmunds Act is adopted by the U.S. to suppress polygamy. About 1,300 men are later imprisoned under the act.
1903 – Niagara Falls runs out of water because of a drought.
1934 – The first Masters golf championship begins in Augusta, Georgia. Horton Smith wins with two under par.
1935 – Blood tests are authorized as evidence in court cases in New York.
1946 – The WAC rocket, the first U.S. rocket to leave the Earth’s atmosphere, travels 50 miles up. Early rockets are named for enlisted ranks in the Army. WAC stands for Women’s Army Corps.
1954 – The first shopping mall opened in Southfield, Michigan.
1972 – The Senate passed the Equal Rights Amendment but it was not ratified by the states.
1980 – People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is founded by British-born Ingrid Newkirk and American-born Alex Pacheco. Watch Newkirk discuss why she thinks there is no “humane meat”:
1981 – U.S. postage rates go from 15-cents to 18-cents an ounce.
1990 – An Anchorage, Alaska, jury finds Capt. Hazelwood innocent of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
2006 – British forces in Baghdad rescue 3 Christian Peacemaker Teams hostages after 118 days captivity. Their colleague, American Tom Fox, is found dead with gunshots through his head and chest.
1775 – Patrick Henry proclaims while urging fellow Virginians to arm in self-defense, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”
1857 – Elisha Otis’ first elevator is installed at 488 Broadway in New York City.
1903 – The Wright brothers obtain an airplane patent.
1920 – Britain denounces the U.S. because of their delay in joining the League of Nations. The U.S. never joins the League of Nations.
1929 – The first telephone is installed in the White House.
1940 – The game show “Truth or Consequences” premiers on radio and airs until 1957. It becomes a daily syndicated TV show from 1966-1978.
1965 – Gemini 3 is launched, sending into space “Molly Brown,” the first 2-man U.S. flight with Gus Grissom and John Young on board. Watch the launch into space:
1972 – Daredevil motorcycle driver Evel Knievel breaks his collarbone after successfully clearing 13 cars in Detroit, Michigan, on his Harley-Davidson XR-750. He holds the Guinness World Record for the most broken bones with over 400 by the end of 1975. Knievel died in 2007 at age 69.
1981 – The Supreme Court rules that states could require, with some exceptions, parental notification when teen-age girls seek abortions.
1983 – U.S. President Ronald Reagan introduces the “Star Wars” plan (SDI).
1983 – Dr. Barney Clark dies after 112 days with a permanent artificial heart.
1987 – The first Soul Train Awards is held in Los Angeles and is hosted by Luther Vandross and Dionne Warwirk. Watch a performance of “That’s What Friends Are For” featuring Dionne and her neice, the late Whitney Houston:
1994 – Joey Buttafuoco is released from jail after serving 4 months and 9 days for statutory rape. He has an affair with then 16-year-old Amy Fisher, who shoots Joey’s wife in the face.
2005 – The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, refuses to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube. Schiavo dies 2 weeks later at age 41 after suffering irreversible brain damage 15 years earlier.
2013 – The Senate approves its first budget in four years by a margin of 50–49. President Obama failed to submit a constitutionally required budget during his first term.
1664 – Roger Williams is granted a charter to colonize Rhode Island.
1765 – Britain enacts the Quartering Act, requiring colonists to provide temporary housing to British soldiers. The Third Amendment of the Constitution restricting the housing of soldiers during peacetime is in direct response to the British Quartering Act.
1832 – Mormon Joseph Smith is beaten, tarred, and feathered in Ohio by a mob led by the brother of then 16-year-old Nancy Miranda. In 1842 Miranda, who is already married, becomes Smith’s 10th wife.
1900 – New York City Mayor Robert Anderson Van Wyck breaks ground for a new underground “Rapid Transit Railroad” that will link Manhattan and Brooklyn.
1935 – Major Bowes’ Original Amateur Hour goes national on the NBC Radio Network. Ted Mack, who supervises the auditions, hosts the TV version in 1955. Listen to the oldest known recording of the show with the Hoboken Four featuring a very young Frank Sinatra:
1947 – John D. Rockefeller, Jr. donates the NYC East River site to the United Nations. The UN is founded in October of 1945. Construction on the headquarters building begins in 1949 and is completed in 1952.
1949 – Walter and John Huston become the first father-and-son team to win Academy Awards in the same year. The movie is “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Walter wins for Best Supporting Actor and John wins for Best Director.
1958 – Elvis Presley joins the army (serial number 53310761).
1960 – A U.S. appeals court rules that the novel “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” by D. H. Lawrence is not obscene and can be sent through the mail.
1964 – The Kennedy half-dollar is issued.
1980 – “Nightline” with Ted Koppel premieres on TV and airs until 2005.
1998 – Two students, Andrew Golden age 11 and Mitchell Johnson age 13, fire on teachers and students at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas, killing five people and wounding ten. Both are found guilty, incarcerated until they are 21 years old, then released. In 2007 Johnson is indicted on federal weapons and drug charges. He is released on parole in July 2015. Golden and Johnson, now 29 and 31 respectively, are the only living mass school shooters who are not incarcerated.
2014 – The U.S. and its allies announce they would exclude Russia from the G8 meeting and boycott a planned summit in Sochi in response to Russia’s takeover of Crimea. The G7 summit is held in Brussels in June with a condemnation of Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.
1851 – Yosemite Valley is discovered in California. Galen Clark is the park’s first guardian.
1863 – The Secretary of War awards the first Army Medal of Honor to six Union Army volunteers.
1911 – 145 women die in a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. The doors were locked so the mostly teenaged, non-English speaking girls could not get out the 4th floor sweatshop.
1931 – The “Scottsboro Boys” are arrested in Alabama. Nine young men are falsely accused of sexually assaulting two women on a train. All but the 12-year-old boy are convicted and sentenced to death. Eventually, the Supreme Court overturns the convictions based on the violation of due process clause and the men are retried. They are still convicted of rape, but are sentenced to varied-lenght prison terms.
1939 – Billboard Magazine introduces hillbilly (now called country) music to the chart.
1947 – John D. Rockefeller III presents a check for $8.5 million to the United Nations for the purchase of land for the future site of the U.N. center.
1958 – Sugar Ray Robinson becomes the first boxing champion to win 5 titles when he defeats Carmen Basilio in 15 rounds by a split decision. Watch the second half of the fight:
1960 – The first guided missile is launched from a nuclear powered sub, the Halibut.
1966 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that a “poll tax” is unconstitutional. In Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections the Court declares that the imposition of a poll tax in state elections violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
1987 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that women and minorities may get jobs if less qualified as part of Affirmative Action.
2004 – The U.S. Senate votes (61-38) on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (H.R. 1997) to make it a separate crime to harm a fetus during the commission of a violent federal crime.
1790 – Congress passes the Naturalization Act, requiring a 2-year residency.
1845 – Joseph Francis patents a corrugated sheet-iron lifeboat.
1872 – Thomas J. Martin patents the fire extinguisher.
1910 – The U.S. forbids immigration of criminals, anarchists, paupers, and the sick.
1917 – The Seattle Metropolitans are the first U.S. hockey team to win the Stanley Cup.
1943 – U.S. army nurse 2nd Lt. Elsie S. Ott is the first woman to receive an Air Medal. Ott is awarded the medal by Brig. Gen. Fred W. Borum for her role in the emergency evacuation of five military personnel from India to the U.S. and her medical information for future rescues.
1953 – Dr. Jonas Salk announces on the radio that the Polio vaccine has been successfully tested.
1969 – The TV movie “Marcus Welby” is seen on TV. It is later turned into a TV series starring Robert Young and airs until 1976.
1982 – Ground-breaking takes place for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. The Wall is completed in November. The $9 million Memorial is paid for completely by private donations.
1997 – Comet Hale-Bopp makes its closest approach to Earth (1.315 AU). It is visible in the Northern Hemisphere for about 16 months. About 40 people who were part of the “Heaven’s Gate” cult in San Diego committed mass suicide as the comet came close to Earth. Watch news footage featuring a former member:
1999 – A jury in Michigan finds Dr. Jack Kevorkian guilty of second-degree murder for administering a lethal injection to a terminally ill man during a “physician-assisted suicide.”
2007 – The U.S. Postal Service unveils the design for the “Forever Stamp.” There is no price printed on the stamp so, once purchased, it can be used by customers even if the price of a postage stamp increases.
1794 – The U.S. Government establishes a permanent navy and authorizes the building of six frigates.
1860 – M. L. Byrn patents the “covered gimlet screw with a ‘T’ handle” (a.k.a. corkscrew).
1884 – The first long-distance telephone call is made from Boston to New York.
1912 – The first cherry blossom trees are planted in Washington, DC. The trees are a gift from Japan.
1917 – The Seattle Metropolitans, of the Pacific Coast League of Canada, defeats the Montreal Canadiens to become the first U.S. hockey team to win the Stanley Cup.
1956 – The U.S. seizes U.S. communist newspaper “Daily Worker” for non-payment of taxes. The newspaper is founded in 1924 by the American Communist Party. The last issue is published in January 1958.
1964 – An earthquake, 9.2 on the Richter scale, strikes Alaska, killing 118. It is the strongest earthquake to hit the U.S. In fact, nine of the top ten strongest earthquakes in the U.S. have hit Alaska. Watch amateur film footage of the aftermath:
1979 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules 8-1 that police can’t randomly stop cars because it violates the 4th Amendment protection from illegal search and seizure.
1989 – The first African American soap opera “Generations” premieres on TV.
1997 – Martin Luther King’s son Dexter meets with his father’s killer James Earl Ray. Ray died the following year at age 70. Dexter is now 55 years old. Watch the meeting and a news report:
1998 – The U.S. FDA approves the prescription drug Viagra. It is the first pill for male impotence.
2007 – National Football League owners vote to make the instant replay a permanent officiating tool.