This Week In History Week of May 25-31, 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 May 25-31, 2015


May 25

1787 – The Constitutional Convention opens in Philadelphia with George Washington presiding.

1793 – Father Stephen Theodore Badin is the first Roman Catholic priest ordained in the U.S.


1844 – The first telegraphed news dispatch is published in the Baltimore Patriot.

1927 – Henry Ford stops producing Model T car and begins producing the Model A.

1928 – Amelia Earhart (as a passenger) is the first woman to fly across Atlantic Ocean.

1935 – Babe Ruth hits his final homerun, his 714th, and sets a record that would stand for 39 years.

1961 – President J. F. Kennedy sets the goal of putting a man on Moon before the end of decade. Watch Kennedy’s speech at Rice University:

The U.S. Supreme Court rules that closing schools to avoid desegregation is unconstitutional.

1964 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that closing schools to avoid desegregation is unconstitutional.

1977 – The original “Star Wars” movie is released, taking in $1.5 million on the opening weekend.

1983 – “Return of the Jedi” movie (Star Wars 3) is released. It sets a new opening weekend box office record of over $23 million.

1986 – In Hands Across America, 7 million people hold hands across 4,152 miles from Long Beach, California, to Battery Park in New York to raise money for local charities. Watch the official video:

1992 – Jay Leno becomes the permanent host of “The Tonight Show.”

1999 – The U.S. House of Representatives releases the Cox Report, which details the People’s Republic of China’s nuclear espionage against the U.S. over the prior two decades.

2001 – Erik Weihenmayer, age 32 of Colorado, becomes the first blind person and Sherman Bull, age 64 of Connecticut, becomes the oldest climber to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

2006 – In Houston, former Enron Corp. chiefs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling are convicted of conspiracy and fraud for the downfall of Enron.

2011 – Oprah Winfrey airs her last show, ending her twenty-five year run of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”


May 26

1637 – The battle between the Pequot Indians and a military force of settlers at Mystic, Connecticut, kills 500 Indians. Many other members of the Indian tribe are captured and sold as slaves in the West Indies, destroying the Pequot Nation.

1647 – Alse Young becomes the first person executed as a witch in the American colonies when she is hanged in Hartford, Connecticut.

1781 – The Bank of North America incorporates in Philadelphia.

1857 – The U.S. slave Dred Scott and his family are freed by owner Henry Taylor Blow three months after the U.S. Supreme Court rules against Dred Scott’s bid for freedom. Scott died the following year at age 63.


1896 – Dow Jones begins an index of 12 industrial stocks. It closes is 40.94.

1911 – The first Indianapolis 500 auto race is run. Ray Harroun wins the inaugural race in 6 hours and 42 minutes. Watch the original footage:

1924 – President Calvin Coolidge signs an immigration law restricting immigration.

1938 – The House Committee on Un-American Activities begins its work of searching for subversives in the U.S.

1941 – The American Flag House (Betsy Ross’ Home) is given to the city of Philadelphia.

1946 – Manhattan Project scientists Klaus Fuchs and John von Neumann file for a secret patent in the U.S. for the H-Bomb.

1959 – The word “Frisbee” becomes a registered trademark of Wham-O.

1972 – President Nixon and Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev sign the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) accord.

1977 – George H. Willig “The Human Fly” is arrested after he scales the South Tower of New York’s World Trade Center. It takes him 3 1/2 hours. Watch two news reports of the iconic climb:

1978 – The first legal gambling casino opens in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

1994 – Michael Jackson, age 35, marries Elvis’ daughter Lisa Marie Presley, age 26. They are divorced in 1996.


2004 – The New York Times publishes an admission of journalistic failings, claiming that its flawed reporting and lack of skepticism towards sources during the buildup to the 2003 war in Iraq helped promote the belief that Iraq possessed large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

2004 – The U.S. Army veteran Terry Nichols is found guilty of 161 state murder charges for helping carry out the Oklahoma City bombing.


May 27

1692 – The Court of Oyer and Terminer is established by the Governor of Massachusetts to hear the excessive amount of accusations of witchcraft.

1813 – Americans capture Fort George, Canada, near Niagara-on-the-Lake during the War of 1812.

1844 – Samuel F.B. Morse completes the first telegraph line.

1873 – The first Preakness Stakes race is won by Survivor by 10 lengths in 2:43. Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore is the second oldest trace track in the U.S. behind Saratoga in New York.

1930 – The 1,046-foot Chrysler Building in New York City, the tallest man-made structure at the time, opens to the public. Watch a short documentary about the building:

1930 – Richard Drew invents Scotch tape. Five years earlier he invents masking tape.

1935 – The Supreme Court declares FDR’s National Recovery Act unconstitutional.

1937 – San Francisco Bay’s Golden Gate Bridge opens to pedestrian traffic. It opens to vehicular traffic the following day.

1958 – Ernest Green, one of the Little Rock Nine, and 600 white students graduate from Little Rock’s Central High School.

1969 – Construction begins on Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The theme park opens in October 1971.

1981 – John Hinckley, Jr. attempts suicide by overdosing on Tylenol while awaiting trial for his assassination attempt on President Reagan.

1988 – The U.S. Senate ratifies a treaty eliminating medium-range nuclear missiles.

1995 – Actor Christopher Reeve is paralyzed from the neck down after falling from his horse in a riding competition in Culpeper, Virginia. Reeve died in 2004 at age 52. Watch a news report about Reeves (starts at 21 seconds):

1998 – Michael Fortier is sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $200,000 for failing to warn authorities about the Oklahoma City bombing terrorist plot.

2010 – Universal Studios reopens its back lot that had been destroyed by a fire two years before.



May 28

1539 – Hernando de Soto lands in what is now Florida.

1664 – The first Baptist Church is organized in Boston.

1774 – The first Continental Congress convenes in Virginia.

1863 – The first black regiment (54th Massachusetts) leaves Boston to fight in the Civil War.

1892 – The Sierra Club is organized in San Francisco, California.

1915 – John B. Gruelle, a political cartoonist, develops and patents the Raggedy Ann doll.


1928 – Dodge Brothers Inc. is sold to the Chrysler Corporation. Both founding Dodge brothers, John and Horace, die in 1920. Their widows sold the company to Dillon, Reed & Company in 1925 for $146 million, the largest cash transaction in history to date.

1929 – Warner Brothers debut “On With The Show” in New York City. It is the first all-color talking picture.

1952 – The Memphis Kiddie Park opens in Brooklyn, Ohio. The park’s Little Dipper roller coaster is the oldest steel roller coaster operating in the same location in North America. Watch kids enjoy the less than thrilling ride:

1956 – President Eisenhower signs a farm bill that allows the government to store agricultural surplus.

1957 – National League baseball club owners vote to allow the Brooklyn Dodgers to move to Los Angeles and the New York Giants to move to San Francisco.

1972 – White House “plumbers” break into the Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel during the Nixon administration. The scandal eventually leads to President Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

1974 – The first Daytime Emmy Award presentations are held at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Barbara Walters and Peter Marshall host the Emmys. Watch part of the outdoor event:

1996 – U.S. President Bill Clinton’s former business partners in the Whitewater land deal, James and Susan McDougal, and Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker, are convicted of fraud.

1997 – Linda Finch completes Amelia Earhart’s attempted around-the-world flight in a restored 1930s Electra 10E. Watch a video about the historic flight recreation:


May 29

1677 – The Treaty of Middle Plantation establishes peace between the Virginia colonists and the local Indians.

1765 – Patrick Henry delivers his historic speech against the Stamp Act, answering a cry of “Treason!” with, “If this be treason, make the most of it!”

1790 – Rhode Island becomes the last of original 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution.

1851 – Sojourner Truth addresses the first Black Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

1900 – The trademark “Escalator” is registered by Otis Elevator Company.

1916 – The official flag of the U.S. president is adopted after President Woodrow Wilson signs Executive Order #2390.


1922 – The Supreme Court rules that organized baseball is a sport and not a business and thus not subject to antitrust laws.

1942 – Bing Crosby records the song “White Christmas,” the greatest selling record of all time.

1977 – Janet Guthrie becomes the first woman to drive in the Indianapolis 500. AJ Foyt wins it for a record fourth time. Watch a video and biography about Guthrie:

1987 – “Twilight Zone” director John Landis is found innocent in the 1983 deaths of actor Vic Morrow and two child actors. The actors are killed on the set by a falling helicopter during filming.

1999 – The Space Shuttle Discovery completes the first docking with the International Space Station.

2001 – The Supreme Court rules that disabled golfer Casey Martin could use a cart to ride in tournaments. Watch a news report:


May 30

1806 – Future president Andrew Jackson kills Charles Dickinson in a duel after Dickinson accuses Jackson of cheating on a horse race and then insulting his wife.

1822 – Two slaves betray fellow slave Denmark Vesey in a slave revolt conspiracy. Charleston, South Carolina, authorities charged 131 men with conspiracy. In total, 67 men are convicted and 35 are hanged, including Denmark Vesey.

1848 – Mexico ratifies the treaty giving the United States (what is now) New Mexico, California, and parts of Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado in return for $15 million.

1868 – Decoration Day (now Memorial Day) is first observed when two women in Columbus, Mississippi, place flowers on both Confederate and Union graves.

1879 – Gilmore Garden in New York is renamed Madison Square Garden after President James Madison.

1896 – The first automobile accident occurs when Henry Wells hits a bicyclist in New York City.

1922 – The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC is dedicated and opens to the public. A commission to plan a monument is first proposed in 1867, shortly after Lincoln’s death. Construction begins in 1914.

1933 – Sally Rand introduces her exotic and erotic fan dance to audiences at Chicago’s World’s Fair. Watch her dance (not a feather out of place):

1937 – In the Memorial Day Massacre, Chicago police shoot on union marchers at the Republic Steel Plant, killing 10 marchers.

1942 – The U.S. aircraft carrier Yorktown leaves Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on its way to participate in the Battle of Midway during World War II.

1958 – The remains of unidentified soldiers killed in World War II and the Korean War are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier sarcophagus is placed above the grave of World War I soldiers that is built in 1921.


1970 – Baseball All-Star Game voting is returned to the fans. From 1958 to 1969 baseball mangers, players, and coaches made the All-Star selections.

1971 – The U.S. Mariner 9 rocket is launched on a mission as the first satellite to orbit Mars. The spacecraft runs out of attitude control gas in 1972, after nearly a year in the Mars orbit.

1976 – Bobby Unser sets a record for the fastest Indy 500 pit stop at 4 seconds.

1982 – In the closest Indianapolis 500 finish, Gordon Johncock beats Rick Mears by 0.16 seconds. Watch the nail-biting finish:


May 31 

1634 – The U.S. colony Massachusetts Bay annexes the Maine colony.

1790 – U.S. copyright law is enacted.

1821 – The Cathedral of Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary, the first U.S. Catholic cathedral, is dedicated in Baltimore.

1868 – The first Memorial Day parade is held in Ironton, Ohio.

1884 – Dr. John Harvey Kellogg patents “flaked cereal.” The cereal is created by accident by the doctor and his brother at a sanitarium.

1889 – More than 2,200 people died after the South Fork Dam in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, collapses.

1893 – Whitcomb Judson of Chicago patents a hookless fastener (aka – zipper).

1917 – “Darktown Strutters Ball,” written by Shelton Brooks and recorded by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, is released as the first jazz record. See still photos and listen to the original recording:

1927 – Ford Motor Company produces the last “Tin Lizzie” in order to begin production of the Model A.

1935 – Babe Ruth grounds out in his final at bat. When he retires Ruth holds the record for the most home runs and the most strikeouts.

1941 – The first issue of “Parade: The Weekly Picture Newspaper” goes on sale.

1955 – The Supreme Court orders that all states must end racial segregation “with all deliberate speed.”

1979 – Radio City Music Hall in New York City reopens after a $70 million renovation.

1989 – The Speaker of the House of Representatives Jim Wright (D-TX) resigns. He is the first Speaker of the House to resign because of a scandal. Wright is accused of ethics violations for using the bulk sale of his book “Reflections of a Public Man” to circumvent the maximum limit on annual outside earned income.

1990 – The TV show “Seinfeld” starring Jerry Seinfeld debuts on NBC as the Seinfeld Chronicles. The show about nothing airs until 1998. Seinfeld is now 61 years old. Watch the ending monologue of the first episode:

1994 – The U.S. announces it is no longer aiming long-range nuclear missiles at targets in the former Soviet Union.

2003 – Eric Robert Rudolph is captured in North Carolina. He has been on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list for five years for several bombings, including the 1996 Olympic bombing.