This Week in History: Feb. 26-March 4, 2018


This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann

“The most effective way to destroy people is to
deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
George Orwell

Week of Feb. 26-March 4, 2018

February 26

1732 – The first Catholic mass celebrated in a church in the U.S. is in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia.

1891 – The first two buffalo are purchased for the Golden Gate Park. A bison cow and bull are transported to the park. A buffalo herd can still be seen in the park’s Buffalo Paddock.

1907 – The members of Congress raise their own salaries to $7,500. Congressional salaries are currently $174,000 with a pay freeze since 2015.

1916 – Mutual Film signs Charlie Chaplin to a film contract. In the largest salary deal extended to a motion picture star to date, $670,000 for a single year’s work, Chaplin was to make 12 two-reel comedies for the Mutual Film Corporation.

1930 – The first red and green traffic lights in the U.S. are installed in Manhattan, New York.

1940 – The U.S. Air Defense Command is established at Mitchell Field, Long Island New York.

1954 – Michigan representative Ruth Thompson (R) introduces legislation to ban the mailing “obscene, lewd, lascivious, or filthy” phonograph (rock & roll) records.

1977 – The first flight of a Space Shuttle atop a specially modified Boeing 747 takes off headed for the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

1983 – Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album goes to #1 and stays #1 for 37 weeks. Watch the short version of the video:

1984 – Reverend Jesse Jackson, a Democrat presidential candidate, acknowledges after repeated denials that he called Jews “Hymies” and New York City “Hymietown” while at Washington National Airport a month earlier.

1993 – The New York City World Trade Center is bombed and 7 people die.

2009 – The Pentagon reverses its 18-year policy of not allowing the media to cover returning war dead. The reversal allows some media coverage with family approval.

February 27

1813 – Congress authorizes the use of steamboats to transport mail.

1922 – The Supreme Court unanimously upholds the 19th amendment guaranteeing a woman’s right to vote. The 19th Amendment was passed by Congress in June 1919 and ratified in August 1920.

1940 – Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben discover carbon-14, which is used to date ancient organic objects.

1951 – The 22nd amendment is ratified, limiting a president to two terms (8 years).

1991 – The Gulf War ends after Iraqi troops retreat and Kuwait is re-taken by the U.S.

February 28

1794 – Swiss-born Abraham Gallatin’s election to the U.S. Senate is voided because he did not meet the citizenship requirement of 9 years. Gallatin was elected to the House of Representatives in 1795, where he became the House Majority Leader. He was also the founder of New York University.

1827 – The Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) is chartered as the first commercial railroad in the U.S.

1883 – The first U.S. vaudeville theater opens in Boston.

1914 – Construction begins on Tower of Jewels in San Francisco for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition at the 1915 World’s Fair. The Tower was 435 feet tall and decorated with 102,000 glass jewels. The temporary building was demolished after the World’s Fair ended.

1953 – In a Cambridge University laboratory, American scientist James D. Watson and British scientist Francis H.C. Crick discover the double-helix structure of DNA. Crick died in 2004 at age 88. Watson is now 89 years old.

1983 – The final episode of the TV show “M*A*S*H” airs on CBS with a record 125 million viewers. The show lasted three times longer than the Korean War it depicted. Watch the end of the final episode:

1993 – A gun battle erupts between the FBI and the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas. The standoff lasted 51 days. Seventy-six men, women, and children, including 33-year-old founder David Koresh, died after the FBI launched an assault in the compound.

1997 – Two heavily armed men wearing body armor are involved in the North Hollywood shootout after a failed Bank of America robbery attempt. The bank robbers fired over 1,100 rounds of ammunition before being killed by law enforcement officers. Eighteen officers and civilians were wounded. Watch actual news footage:

March 1

1692 – The “Salem witch hunt” begins when authorities interrogate Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and an Indian slave, Tituba, to determine if they practiced witchcraft. In all, more than 150 people were jailed and 14 women and 5 men were executed. Many of those in jail died while incarcerated.

1790 – The first U.S. census is authorized. The U.S. population was almost 4 million.

1792 – The U.S. Presidential Succession Act is passed as the first law establishing the line of succession. It established the President pro tempore of the Senate next in line after the vice president, followed by the Speaker of the House.

1872 – Yellowstone is established as the world’s first national park.

1875 – Congress passes a Civil Rights Act forbidding discrimination in hotels, trains, and public spaces, but the Supreme Court invalidates it in 1883.

1932 – Charles Lindbergh, Jr. (20 months old) is kidnapped in New Jersey. The Lindbergh baby was found dead May 12. Bruno Hauptmann was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering the Lindbergh baby and was executed in 1936. Watch a short British Movietone newsreel:

1936 – The Hoover Dam is completed. Construction began in 1931. The concrete arch-gravity dam sits on the border of Arizona and Nevada. Ninety-six workers died during the dam’s construction.

1961 – President Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps.

1962 – The first K-Mart store opens in Garden City, Michigan. Sebastian S. Kresge founded the S.S. Kresge Company and opened the first store in Detroit in 1899. The “K” in K-Mart stands for Kresge. Attention K-Mart shoppers, watch the history of S. S. Kresge and K-Mart:

1967 – The House of Representatives excludes (refuses to allow to seat) Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. on a 307 to 116 vote. He was accused of mismanaging his committee’s budget in the previous Congress, excessive absenteeism, and misuse of public funds. The only other Representative who was excluded was Brigham Henry Roberts (D-UT), who was denied his seat for practicing polygamy.

1981 – The first Golden Raspberry Awards ceremony is held in John Wilson’s living room to recognize the worst movies of the previous year. The winner (or loser) was “Can’t Stop the Music.” It wasn’t until the 4th Razzies that the event was televised.

2002 – The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Operation Anaconda, begins in eastern Afghanistan.

2004 – Terry Nichols is convicted of state murder charges and being an accomplice to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. Nichols was sentenced to 161 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole (160 people plus 1 unborn child were killed). Nichols is incarcerated in Colorado and is now 62 years old.

March 2

1819 – The U.S. passes its first immigration law.

1877 – Rutherford B. Hayes (R) is declared president despite Samuel J. Tilden (D) winning the popular vote, but Tilden is 1 electoral vote short of victory. The other presidents who received fewer popular votes but more electoral votes, thus becoming president, are John Quincy Adams (over Andrew Jackson), Benjamin Harrison (over Grover Cleveland), George W. Bush (over Al Gore), and Donald Trump (over Hillary Clinton).

1939 – The Massachusetts Legislature votes to ratify the Bill of Rights – 147 years late.

1942 – The Stage Door Canteen opens on West 44th Street in New York City. The canteen provided dancing and entertainment for WWII servicemen. The first canteen could accommodate 500 people. Other canteens opened later in Boston, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Newark. Watch the history of the Stage Door Canteen:

1962 – Wilt Chamberlain, with the Philadelphia Warriors, scores an incredible 100 points in a National Basketball Association game against the New York Nicks. The record still stands. Chamberlain also holds the record for the most games scoring 60 or more points (32 games). Chamberlain died in 1999 at age 63. Watch Wilt “The Stilt” score the 100 points:

1977 – Bette Davis is the first woman to receive the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award. Davis died in 1989 at age 81. Watch Davis accept the award:

1994 – Representative William Natcher (D-KY) casts his 18,401st (and last) consecutive vote. He still holds the longest uninterrupted voting record. Natcher died while in office on March 29, 1994 at age 84.

2016 – U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko return to earth after nearly a year (340 days) in space, setting an International Space Station record.

March 3

1791 – Congress establishes the U.S. Mint.

1812 – The U.S. Congress passes the first foreign aid bill to aid Venezuela earthquake victims.

1837 – Congress increases the Supreme Court membership from 7 to 9 justices.

1845 – The U.S. Senate overrides a presidential veto for the first time. President Tyler vetoes a Congressional bill that would have denied him the power to appropriate federal funds to build ships without Congressional approval.

1887 – Anne Sullivan begins teaching 6-year-old blind and deaf Helen Keller. Sullivan died in 1936 at age 70. Author and lecturer Helen Keller died in 1968 at age 87. Watch the actual newsreel with Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller when Anne explains how she taught Helen to speak:

1915 – The National Advisory Committee Aeronautics is founded, which is the predecessor of NASA.

1931 – The “Star Spangled Banner” officially becomes the U.S. national anthem. Francis Scott Key wrote it as a poem while being held prisoner on a ship near Fort McHenry, Maryland, during the War of 1812.

1934 – John Dillinger breaks out of jail using a wooden pistol. Dillinger took part in a robbery on March 6th in South Dakota, on March 13th in Iowa, and on June 30th in Indiana. After spending time with family and friends Dillinger was shot and killed by federal agents on July 22, 1934 outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago. He was 31 years old. His body was put on display for 2 days for the public to view.

1972 – Sculpted figures of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson are completed on Stone Mountain in Georgia.

1985 – Women Against Pornography awards its ‘Pig Award’ to Huggies Diapers, claiming that the TV ads for diapers had “crossed the line between eye-catching and porn.”

1991 – The Los Angeles Police severely beat motorist Rodney King, which is captured on amateur video. Four LAPD police officers are indicted for assault and using excessive force. Their acquittal results in riots where more than 50 people are killed. King is arrested several more times for various offenses. King died in 2012 at age 47. He drowned in his pool after using drugs and alcohol. Watch a short 1992 ABC news report:

1999 – Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones begin their attempt to circumnavigate the Earth in a hot air balloon non-stop. They succeed on March 20th.

2005 – Steve Fossett becomes the first person to fly an airplane solo around the world without any stops and without refueling. The journey of 25,000 miles began and ended in Kansas and was completed in 67 hours and 2 minutes. The first non-stop flight around the world was completed by the team of Dick Rutan and Jeanna Yeager in 1986. Watch a video about Fossett and the flight:

2013 – A 2-year-old U.S. girl becomes the first child born with HIV to be cured.

March 4

1789 – The House of Representatives has its first meeting in New York City.

1801 – Thomas Jefferson is the first president inaugurated in Washington, DC.

1841 – William Henry Harrison delivers the longest inauguration speech in history (8,443 words). He died after serving only 32 days in office, making him the president with the shortest term in office.

1849 – The U.S. has no president for one day. James Polk’s term ended at noon on Sunday, but Zachary Taylor refused to be sworn in on Sunday. Senator David Atchison (D-MO), the President Pro Tem, was sworn in for one day and Taylor was sworn in on Monday.

1861 – Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated as the sixteenth president. For the first time the U.S. has five living former presidents: Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan. There are currently five living former presidents: Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush (#41), Bill Clinton, George W. Bush (#43), and Barack Hussain Obama.

1917 – Representative Jeannette Rankin (R-MT) becomes the first female member of Congress. She is the only member of Congress to vote against declaring war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Rankin died in 1973 at age 92.

1924 – The song “Happy Birthday To You” is published by Claydon Sunny.

1934 – The Easter Cross located on Mt. Davidson (San Francisco) is dedicated. In 1991, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Jewish Congress, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State sued the city over its ownership of the cross. The city lost and in 1997 auctioned the .38-acre and cross to the highest bidder. The Council of Armenian American Organization purchased the cross for $26,000. Watch an aerial view of the cross and surrounding area:

1993 – The first ESPY Awards (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) are held. The awards recognize individual and team athletic achievement. Michael Jordan and Monica Seles won for Best Male and Female Athletes. The Dallas Cowboys won for Outstanding Team. Coach Jim Valvano received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Watch Valvano’s touching speech:

1998 – The Supreme Court rules in Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services that federal laws banning on-the-job sexual harassment also apply when both parties are the same gender.

2006 – The final attempted contact with Pioneer 10 by the Deep Space Network is unsuccessful when no response is received. Pioneer was launched on 1972 and was over 6 billion miles from earth.


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