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 May 30-June 5, 2016
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 was 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 Indianapolis 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:
1986 – Bobby Rahal is the first driver to average over 170 mph in the Indianapolis 500.
1987 – North American Philips Company unveils the compact disc video.
1991 – The Supreme Court rules that prosecutors can be sued for legal advice they give police and can also be held accountable.
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 die 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.”
1965 – Jim Clark of Scotland becomes the first foreigner in 49 years to win the Indinapolis 500.
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 TV as “The Seinfeld Chronicles.” The show about nothing airs until 1998. Seinfeld is now 62 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.
2014 – Psy’s music video “Gangnam Style” becomes the first video to reach 2 billion views on YouTube. The addictive video currently has over 2 ½ billion views.
1638 – The first earthquake recorded in the U.S. hits Plymouth, Massachusetts.
1657 – The first Quakers arrive in New Amsterdam (now New York City).
1660 – Mary Dyer is hanged for defying a law banning Quakers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
1789 – The first U.S. congressional act becomes law. The law regulates the time and manner of administering oaths of office.
1813 – Capt. John Lawrence utters the future Navy motto “Don’t give up the ship” after being mortally wounded during a battle between his U.S. Navy vessel Chesapeake and the British gunship Shannon. (Note: After his death, Lawrence’s crew gives up the ship to the British.)
1862 – General Robert E. Lee assumes command of the Confederate forces during the Civil War after Joe Johnston is injured at Seven Pines.
1869 – Thomas A. Edison patents the voting machine.
1880 – The U.S. census exceeds 50 million people (50,155,783).
1890 – The U.S. census exceeds 60 million people (62,622,250). The current population from the U.S. Census Bureau census is about 321 million people.
1905 – The Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition opens in Portland, Oregon.
1908 – John Krohn begins his walk around the perimeter of the U.S. pushing a wheelbarrow. Krohn, starting westbound from Portland, Maine, walks 9,024 miles in 357 days. He wears out 11 pairs of shoes, 112 pairs of socks, and 5 wheels on the wheelbarrow. He writes a book about his experiences called “The Walk of Colonial Jack.”
1925 – Lou Gehrig, replacing Wally Pipp, plays in the first of his record 2,130 consecutive baseball games.
1936 – The Queen Mary arrives in New York, completing its maiden voyage. The ship departed Southampton, England, on May 27th. Watch a silent video of its arrival in New York:
1938 – Superman makes his first appearance in Action Comics #1.
1957 – Don Bowden is the first U.S. runner to break the 4-minute mile.
1963 – Alabama Governor George Wallace vows to defy an injunction that orders the integration of the University of Alabama.
1978 – The U.S. reports finding wiretaps in the American Embassy in Moscow, Russia.
1980 – Ted Turner’s Cable News Network begins broadcasting.
1997 – The 10th Annual Children’s Miracle Network Telethon raises over $5 million.
2007 – Jack Kevorkian is released from prison after serving eight years of his 10-25 year prison term for second-degree murder in the 1998 death of Thomas Youk, 52, of Oakland County, Michigan. Kevorkian died in 2011 at age 83.
2008 – NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander becomes the first spacecraft to scoop up Martian soil. Watch a report and animation of the Mars Lander:
1780 – The Derby horse race is held for the first time in England. The Kentucky Derby is started by Meriwether Clark, grandson of William Clark (of Lewis & Clark Expedition fame), who attended the Derby race in 1872. The first Kentucky Derby race is run in 1875.
1873 – Ground is broken on Clay Street in San Francisco for world’s first cable railroad.
1886 – Grover Cleveland becomes the first president to get married during his presidency. He marries Frances Folsom.
1897 – Mark Twain, at age 61 in responding to rumors that he had died, is quoted by the New York Journal as saying “the report of my death was an exaggeration.” Twain died in 1910 at age 74.
1913 – The first strike settlement is mediated by the U.S. Department of Labor for railroad clerks.
1918 – Velveeta Cheese is created by the Monroe Cheese Company. Velveeta is bought by Kraft in 1927. The processed product is named for its velvety texture.
1924 – U.S. citizenship is granted to all American Indians.
1935 – Babe Ruth, age 40, announces his retirement as a baseball player. His record 714 home runs stands for 39 years until Hank Aaron breaks it.
1957 – Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” airs the first television interview with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.
1964 – The Rolling Stones perform their first U.S. concert in Lynn, Massachusetts.
1966 – U.S. space probe Surveyor 1 lands on the moon and starts sending photographs of the Moon’s surface back to Earth. It is the first soft landing on the Moon. Watch a newsreel report and animation:
1986 – Regular TV coverage of U.S. Senate sessions begins.
1995 – Captain Scott F. O’Grady’s Air Force F-16C is shot down by Bosnian Serbs. He is rescued six days later. Watch Capt. O’Grady talk about his ordeal:
1998 – Voters in California pass Proposition 227. The act abolishes the state’s 30-year-old bilingual education program and requires that all children be taught in English.
2003 – The Supreme Court rules that companies cannot be sued under a trademark law for using information in the public domain without giving credit to the originator. The case originates with 20th Century Fox suing Dastar Corp. over their use of World War II footage.
2004 – Ken Jennings begins his record 74-game winning streak on the game show Jeopardy! where he ultimately wins $2 ½ million. Watch Jennings lose his 75th game:
2015 – Congress passes new legislation to reform National Security Agency procedures, restricting gathering of phone records.
1539 – Hernando de Soto claims what is now Florida for Spain.
1784 – Congress formally creates the U.S. Army to replace the disbanded Continental Army, which is created on June 14, 1775 by the Second Continental Congress.
1800 – John Adams moves to Washington, DC. He is the first president to live in what later becomes the capital of the United States.
1851 – Baseball players wear standardized uniforms for the first time. The New York Knickerbockers wear straw hats, white shirts, and long blue trousers.
1888 – The poem “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Thayer is published in the San Francisco Examiner.
1916 – The ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) is established by Congress.
1943 – A mob of 60 people from the Los Angeles Naval Reserve Armory beat up everyone perceived to be Hispanic, starting the week long Zoot Suit Riots.
1949 – The show “Dragnet” starring Jack Webb as Joe Friday is first broadcast on the radio and airs until 1957. Webb also stars in the TV version of “Dragnet” from 1952 to 1959. Webb revives the iconic character Joe Friday in another TV series from 1967 to 1970 and stars in three “Dragnet” movies. Webb died in 1982 at age 62. Watch a Joe Friday explain what it means to be a cop:
1953 – Alexander Cartwright, not Abner Doubleday, is officially credited as the founder of baseball by Congress.
1957 – Howard Cosell appears on his first TV show. The former lawyer covers a wide variety of sporting events until 1993. Cosell called himself, “Arrogant, pompous, obnoxious, vain, cruel, verbose, and a showoff.” Cosell died in 1995 at age 77.
1959 – The U.S. Air Force Academy holds its first graduation. The Class of 1959 has 207 graduates.
1968 – Valerie Solanas, author of the radical feminist SCUM Manifesto (Society for Cutting Up Men), attempts to assassinate Andy Warhol by shooting him. She is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, but deemed fit to stand trial. She is sentenced to three years in prison with the year she spent in a psychiatric ward counted as time served. Solonas continues to stalk Warhol, is arrested again in 1971, and institutionalized. Warhol died in 1987 at age 58. Solonas died in 1988 at age 52.
1969 – The last episode of Star Trek airs on TV.
1972 – Sally J. Priesand becomes first female U.S. rabbi.
1976 – The U.S. is presented with the oldest known copy of 1215 AD Magna Carta (Latin for Great Charter) by the British for the U.S. bicentennial.
1989 – Sportscasting legend Vin Scully broadcasts 23 innings of baseball in two different cities on one day.
1995 – The first Blockbuster Entertainment Awards is held at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, California.
2012 – Tiger Woods wins his 73rd Professional Golf Association tournament and ties Jack Nicklaus’s record. Woods now has 79 PGA wins, second to Sam Snead with 82 PGA wins.
1794 – Congress passes the Neutrality Act, banning Americans from serving in the armed forces of foreign countries.
1812 – The Louisiana Territory is officially renamed the “Missouri Territory.”
1896 – Henry Ford drives his first Ford automobile through the streets of Detroit, Michigan.
1919 – The Senate passes the Women’s Suffrage bill, granting women the right to vote.
1927 – In the first Ryder Cup golf tournament, the U.S. beats England 9 ½ to 2 ½ at the Worcester Country Club in Worcester, Massachusetts.
1929 – George Eastman demonstrates the first Technicolor movie in Rochester, New York.
1939 – Sylvan Goldman introduces the first shopping cart in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It is actually a folding chair frame mounted on wheels. Watch a brief history of Goldman’s shopping cart:
1947 – The House of Representatives approves the Taft-Hartley Act. Co-sponsored by Senator Robert Taft (son of President William Taft), the Act places restrictions on organized labor unions and survives a veto by President Truman.
1949 – “Cavalcade of Stars” debuts on TV and airs until 1952. Jackie Gleason is made the host in 1950. Watch the 1951 Gleason sketch that will later spawn “The Honeymooners”:
1954 – Arthur Murray flies the X-1A rocket plane to an altitude record of 27,000 miles.
1972 – Angela Davis, a black activist, is acquitted of aggravated kidnapping and first-degree murder in the 1970 death of a court judge and the wounding of a prosecutor and juror during the trial of Jonathon Jackson, even though it is proven that Davis purchased the weapons used in the attack. Davis is now 72 years old.
1973 – A patent for the ATM (Automated Teller Machine) is granted to Don Wetzel, Tom Barnes, and George Chastain.
1985 – The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 ruling on Wallace v. Jaffree, strikes down the Alabama “moment of silence” law citing its purpose is to endorse religion and return voluntary prayer into public schools.
1990 – Greyhound Bus Lines files for bankruptcy during a strike. Greyhound emerges from bankruptcy reorganization for following year and is still in business.
1992 – The U.S. Postal Service announces that in a nationwide vote people prefer the “younger Elvis” stamp design.
2003 – The House of Representatives passes a bill with a 282-139 vote that bans “partial birth” abortions after the fifth month of pregnancy. President Bush signs the bill is into law. The Supreme Court upholds the law in a 5-4 decision in 2007.
1752 – Benjamin Franklin flies a kite for the first time to demonstrate that lightning is a form of electricity.
1851 – Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes the first installment of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in “The National Era.”
1884 – Civil War General William T. Sherman refuses the Republican presidential nomination saying, “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”
1907 – Maytag introduces the automatic washer. It is a wooden-tub washing machine with a flywheel that is manually operated by a rotary handle.
1917 – Ten million U.S. men begin registering for the draft in World War I.
1927 – Johnny Weissmuller (the future Tarzan) sets the 100-yard and 200-yard free-style swim record.
1933 – President Roosevelt signs the bill that takes the U.S. off the gold standard.
1937 – Henry Ford initiates the 32-hour workweek.
1947 – Secretary of State George C. Marshall outlines the “Marshall Plan,” or European Recovery Program, after World War II.
1954 – “Your Show of Shows,” last airs on NBC-TV. It premieres in 1950 and stars Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. Caesar died in 2014 at age 91 and Coca died in 2001 at age 90. Watch the classic birthday sketch:
1967 – The National Hockey League (NHL) awards three new franchises to the Minnesota North Stars (later the Dallas Stars), the California Golden Seals (no longer in existence), and the Los Angeles Kings.
1967 – Murderer Richard Speck is sentenced to death in the electric chair for the murders of eight student nurses in their South Chicago home. He is also a suspect in the murder of many other people, mostly girls and women. His sentence is commuted to 50-100 years when the Supreme Court abolishes the death penalty in 1972. Speck died of a heart attack in prison in 1991 at age 49.
1968 – Robert F. Kennedy, age 42, is assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles after Kennedy wins the California presidential primary.
1977 – The first personal computer, the Apple II designed by Steve Wozniak, goes on sale. By the end of production in 1993 between 5 and 6 million computers had been produced. The Woz is now 65 years old.
1981 – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that five men in Los Angeles are suffering from a rare pneumonia found in patients with weakened immune systems. They are the first recognized cases of what becomes known as AIDS.
1987 – The first Children’s Miracle Network Telethon raises $590,000.
1998 – A strike begins at the General Motors parts factory in Flint, Michigan. The strike spreads to five other assembly plants and lasts seven weeks.
2001 – Senator Jim Jeffords leaves the Republican Party to become an Independent, an act that shifts control of the U.S. Senate from the Republican to the Democrat Party. Jeffords retires from the Senate in 2006.
2001 – Tropical Storm Allison makes landfall on the Texas coastline and dumps large amounts of rain over Houston. The storm causes $5.5 billion in damages, making Allison the costliest tropical storm in U.S. history. Watch a 10th anniversary news report:
2012 – A gubernatorial recall election is held in Wisconsin. Governor Scott Walker wins and becomes the first governor to survive a recall election.