This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past,
for human events ever resemble those of preceding times.”
Week of June 26-July 2, 2017
1721 – Dr. Zabdiel Boylston of Massachusetts gives the first untested smallpox inoculation in America to his own son.
1797 – Charles Newbold patents the first cast-iron plow. He can’t sell it to farmers because they fear the effects of iron on soil.
1870 – The Christian holiday of Christmas is declared a federal holiday in the U.S.
1900 – U.S. Army physician Dr. Walter Reed begins research that, in 1901, leads to the discovery of how to beat Yellow Fever. His experiments with other doctors in Cuba prove that mosquitoes transmit Yellow Fever.
1919 – The first issue of the New York Daily News is published.
1934 – President FDR signs the Federal Credit Union Act establishing credit unions.
1945 – The UN Charter is signed by 50 nations in San Francisco, California.
1948 – The Berlin Airlift begins as the United States, Britain, and France start ferrying supplies to the isolated western sector of Berlin, Germany.
1959 – President Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth open the St. Lawrence Seaway, allowing ships to travel between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes. Watch a short newsreel:
1959 – CBS journalist Edward R. Murrow interviews Lee Remick, his 500th and final guest on “Person to Person.”
1963 – President Kennedy visits West Berlin and announces, “Ich bin ein Berliner” (“I am a jelly-filled donut”).
1974 – Liz Taylor’s gets divorced for the 5th time. It is her 2nd divorce from Richard Burton.
1974 – The Universal Product Code (UPC) is scanned for the first time to sell a package of Wrigley’s chewing gum at the Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio.
1977 – Elvis Presley sings in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is the last performance of his career. Presley dies on August 16th at age 42. Watch Presley perform the last song he ever sings live:
1979 – Muhammad Ali, at 37 years old, announces that he is retiring as world heavyweight boxing champion. Ali died at age 74 on May 31, 2016.
1981 – Virginia Campbell of Mountain Home, Idaho, takes her coupons and rebates and buys $26,460 worth of groceries. She only pays 67 cents after all the discounts.
1996 – The Supreme Court orders the Virginia Military Institute to admit women or forgo state support.
1997 – In Reno v. ACLU the Supreme Court strikes down the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that makes it illegal to distribute indecent material on the Internet.
2000 – The Human Genome Project and Celera Genomics Corp. jointly announce that they have created a working draft of the human genome.
2008 – In District of Columbia v. Heller the Supreme Court rules that the ban on handguns in the District of Columbia is unconstitutional. Justice Scalia delivers the majority opinion.
2015 – The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, rules that same-sex marriage is a legal across all U.S. states. Justice Kennedy writes the majority opinion and Justice Scalia writes one of the dissenting opinions.
1778 – The Liberty Bell is returned to Philadelphia from Northampton Town (now Allentown) where it is hidden until after the British depart following the Revolutionary War.
1833 – Prudence Crandall, a white woman, is arrested for conducting an academy for black females at Canterbury, Connecticut.
1893 – The New York stock market crashes. By the end of the year 600 banks and 74 railroads have gone out of business. This is why the period of time following the stock market crash of 1929 is called the “Great” Depression.
1922 – The first Newbery Medal for the year’s best children’s book is presented to Hendrik Van Loon for “The Story of Mankind.” The award is named for the eighteenth-century English bookseller John Newbery.
1923 – Capt. Lowell H. Smith and Lt. John P. Richter perform the first ever aerial refueling in a DH-4B biplane.
1940 – Robert Pershing Wadlow’s height is measured at 8′ 11.1″, making him the tallest person in history according to Guinness World Records. He was only 22 at the time of his death on July 15, 1940. Watch a slide show of his life:
1942 – The FBI captures eight Nazi saboteurs from a sub off New York’s Long Island before they carry out any destructive acts against the U.S. All eight men are found guilty. One is sentenced to life in prison, another to 30 years, while six are sentenced to death. They are executed within a few days.
1950 – North Korean troops reach Seoul and the UN asks its members to aid South Korea. Harry Truman orders the U.S. Air Force and Navy into the Korean conflict.
1950 – The U.S. sends 35 military advisers to South Vietnam.
1955 – The first U.S. automobile seat belt legislation is enacted in Illinois.
1966 – The first sci-fi soap opera, “Dark Shadows,” premieres on TV and airs until 1971. Watch a recap with voice over of the first few seasons:
1976 – The first 157 women are admitted to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In October 1975 President Gerald R. Ford signs legislation permitting women to enter the United States service academies.
1979 – The Supreme Court rules employers may use quotas to help minorities.
1983 – Americans Maxie Anderson and Don Ida die during a gas balloon race in France commemorating the 200th anniversary of man’s first flight. After a mechanical malfunction they make an emergency landing to avoid flying into Communist East Germany and crash in a forest. Anderson was 48 and Ida was 49.
1986 – The World Court rules that the U.S. broke international law by aiding Nicaraguan rebels.
1991 – Justice Thurgood Marshall resigns from the Supreme Court. He was appointed in 1967 by President Lyndon Johnson.
2001 – The International Court of Justice finds against the United States in its judgment in the LaGrand Case. The German-born LaGrand brothers are sentenced to death for killing a man in an armed bank robbery in Arizona. The brothers Karl-Heinz and Walter contact the German consulate for assistance under the Vienna Convention. Despite intervention by the German Ambassador and a member of the German Parliament the brothers are executed in 1999.
2002 – The Securities and Exchange Commission requires companies with annual sales of more than $1.2 billion to submit sworn statements backing up the accuracy of their financial reports.
2003 – The U.S. National Do Not Call Registry, formed to combat unwanted telemarketing calls and administered by the Federal Trade Commission, enrolls almost three-quarters of a million phone numbers on its first day.
2008 – Bill Gates steps down as Chairman of Microsoft Corporation to work full time for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
1770 – Quakers open a school for blacks in Philadelphia.
1778 – Mary Ludwig Hayes, aka “Molly Pitcher,” aids American patriots during the Revolutionary War Battle of Monmouth by carrying water to wounded soldiers. Hayes takes over operation of her husband’s cannon after he collapses during the battle. Hayes died in 1832 at age 87.
1820 – Col. Robert Gibbon Johnson from Salem County, New Jersey, eats tomatoes to prove they are not poisonous, as was thought.
1902 – Congress passes the Spooner Bill, authorizing a canal to be built across the Isthmus of Panama.
1938 – Congress creates the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to insure construction loans.
1951 – “Amos ’n’ Andy” (Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll) moves from radio to TV. The TV show airs until 1953 and the radio show is broadcast until 1960. Watch a clip including Kingfisher:
1953 – The first Corvette rolls off the production line in Flint, Michigan.
1956 – The first atomic reactor built for private research begins operation on the Chicago Institute of Technology campus for the Armour Research Foundation.
1960 – Fidel Castro confiscates American-owned oil refineries in Cuba without compensation.
1968 – Daniel Ellsberg is indicted for leaking the Pentagon Papers, copies he made of classified documents that are ultimately published in the New York Times.
1971 – The Supreme Court overturns the draft evasion conviction of Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali).
1978 – The Supreme Court orders University of California Davis Medical School to admit Allan Bakke, a white man and former marine who claims reverse discrimination after his application is twice rejected. Bakke graduated from U.C. Davis medical school in 1982 and worked as an anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic. Bakke is now 77 years old.
1996 – The Citadel votes to admit women, ending a 153-year-old men-only policy at the South Carolina military school. The unanimous vote by the school governing board comes after the Supreme Court declares unconstitutional the all-male admissions policy at the Virginia Military Institute.
1997 – Mike Tyson is disqualified for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear after three rounds of their boxing heavyweight title fight in Las Vegas, Nevada. Watch it happen:
2007 – The American bald eagle is removed from the endangered species list.
2000 – Six-year-old Elián González returns to Cuba with his father. The child had been the center of an international custody dispute.
2007 – The American bald eagle is removed from the endangered species list.
2010 – The Supreme Court rules in a 5-4 decision that Americans have the right to own a gun for self-defense anywhere they live.
1767 – The British pass the Townshend Revenue Act, which levies taxes on the colonists for items such as glass, paint, paper, and tea.
1776 – The Virginia state constitution is adopted and Patrick Henry is made its first governor.
1863 – George Armstrong Custer (age 23) is appointed a Union Brigadier General. Custer graduated last in his class from West Point in 1957.
1891 – The U.S. National Forest Service is organized.
1940 – The U.S. passes the Alien Registration Act, known as the Smith Act, requiring immigrants to register.
1949 – U.S. troops withdraw from Korea after World War II.
1952 – The USS Oriskany is the first aircraft carrier to sail around Cape Horn of South America.
1953 – The Federal Highway Act authorizes the construction of 42,500 miles of freeways from coast to coast.
1954 – The Atomic Energy Commission votes against reinstating Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer’s security clearance.
1956 – President Eisenhower signs the U.S. federal interstate highway system act.
1968 – “Tiptoe Through The Tulips With Me” by Tiny Tim peaks on the music charts at #17. Tiny Tim, born Herbert Khaury, died in 1996 at age 64. Watch Tiny Tim tiptoe:
1972 – The Supreme Court rules that the death penalty could constitute “cruel and unusual punishment.” The ruling prompts states to revise their capital punishment laws.
1979 – The San Diego Chicken (Ted Giannoulas) has a “grand hatching” at baseball’s Jack Murphy Stadium after the local radio station fires the mascot and then loses a lawsuit to keep Giannoulas from making appearances as the Chicken. Ted Giannoulas is originally hired by the radio station in 1974 for $2 an hour to wear a chicken costume for a week to hand out Easter eggs at a zoo. He then volunteers to appear in a chicken costume at the Padres games. He’s been doing it ever since! Watch the Grand Hatching:
1994 – President Clinton reopens the Guantanamo Naval Base to process Haitian refugees.
1995 – George Foreman loses his IBF boxing title for refusing a rematch against Axel Schulz, whom he beat in a majority decision in April.
2002 – Vice President Dick Cheney serves as Acting President for two and a half hours while President George W. Bush undergoes a colonoscopy procedure.
2006 – In Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld the Supreme Court rules that President George W. Bush’s plan to try Guantanamo Bay detainees in military tribunals violates U.S. and international law.
1834 – Congress expands the Indian Territory with the Trade Act to include what is now Oklahoma.
1859 – Charles Blondin is the first person to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Blondin walks the 1,100’ across the falls 160’ above the water before a crowd of 25,000 people without a safety net or harness.
1906 – The Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act are adopted during the Teddy Roosevelt administration.
1927 – The U.S. Assay Office (tests the purity to precious metals like gold and silver) in Deadwood, South Dakota, closes. It opened in 1898.
1933 – The U.S. Assay Offices close in Helena, Montana, Boise, Idaho, and Salt Lake City, Utah. They all opened in 1869.
1938 – Superman first appears in DC Comics’ Action Comics Series issue #1.
1940 – The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service forms.
1942 – The U.S. Mint in New Orleans ceases operation. It opened in 1838.
1952 – The soap opera “Guiding Light” moves from radio to TV and airs until 2009.
1954 – The U.S. Treasury issues its largest internal check for $4,176,969,623.57.
1955 – “Johnny Carson Show” debuts on CBS-TV and airs until 1992. Carson died in 2005 at age 79. Watch a very young Johnny:
1971 – The 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified when Ohio becomes the 38th state to approve it. The amendment lowers the minimum voting age to 18.
1974 – Soviet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov defects to the west. He becomes an American citizen in 1986. Baryshnikov is 69 years old.
1989 – Congressman “Buz” Lukens (R-OH) is found guilty of having sex with a 16-year-old girl. Lukins refuses to resign his seat but loses the 1990 primary to future Speaker of the House John Boehner.
1994 – The U.S. Figure Skating Association strips Tonya Harding of the 1994 national championship and bans her from the organization for life for the attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan.
1998 – Officials confirm that the remains of a Vietnam War serviceman buried in the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery have been identified through DNA tests as those of Air Force pilot Michael J. Blassie. Watch part of the solemn ceremony to exhume Blassie’s body:
2000 – President Clinton signs the E-Signature bill, giving the same legal validity to an electronic signature as a signature in pen and ink.
2013 – Nineteen fire fighters are killed trying to control a wildfire in Yarnell, Arizona.
1836 – President Andrew Jackson announces to Congress the bequest by James Smithson of 100,000 gold sovereigns to found the institution in Washington, DC that bears his name.
1874 – Four-year-old Charles Ross of Germantown, Pennsylvania, is the first U.S. kidnapping victim using a ransom note. He is held for $20,000 and the kidnappers write a total of 23 ransom letters over a five-month period. Two suspects are shot during a robbery attempt and admit to kidnapping Charlie before they die. Charlie is never found although his father and mother search for him until their deaths in 1897 and 1912 respectively.
1874 – The first zoo in the U.S. opens in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1898 – Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War. Roosevelt is elected president in 1901.
1905 – The USDA Forest Service is created within the Department of Agriculture. The agency is given the mission to sustain healthy, diverse, and productive forests and grasslands for present and future generations.
1934 – The first x-ray photo of entire body is taken in Rochester, New York.
1943 – The U.S. Government begins automatically withholding federal income tax from paychecks.
1963 – The U.S. postal service institutes the zip code (Zone Improvement Plan).
1966 – Medicare becomes available as a result of the Medicare Act being signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 31, 1965.
1971 – The cost of building the Golden Gate Bridge, completed in 1933, is paid in full. There still a toll, however, to cross the bridge ($7.50 for cars and motorcycles). Watch a video of the amazing statistics about the bridge:
1979 – Sony introduces the Walkman.
1987 – Robert Bork is nominated to the Supreme Court. The Senate rejects Bork’s nomination in October.
1987 – John Kevin Hill, at age 11, becomes the youngest to fly across the U.S. when he lands at National Airport in Washington, DC.
1996 – Placido Domingo becomes artistic director of Washington (DC) National Opera, a post he holds until 2011.
2015 – The U.S. and Cuba announce an agreement to re-open embassies and establish full diplomatic ties.
1776 – Richard Henry Lee’s resolution that the American colonies “are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States” is adopted by the Continental Congress.
1864 – Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol is established and Congress invites each state to contribute 2 statues of prominent citizens. The first statue is of Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene of Rhode Island, placed in the Hall in 1870. By 1990 all 50 states contributed at least one statue.
1881 – President James A. Garfield is shot by Charles J. Guiteau, a disappointed office-seeker. Garfield dies on September 19th. Vice President Chester Arthur becomes president when Garfield dies. Guiteau is convicted of murder and hanged on June 30, 1882.
1890 – The Sherman Antitrust Act prohibits industrial monopolies.
1926 – The U.S. Army Air Corps is created and Distinguish Flying Cross is authorized. The first recipient of the DFC medal is Charles A. Lindbergh, then a captain in the Army Reserve, on June 11, 1927. The award recognizes his 1927 transatlantic crossing in the Spirit of St. Louis.
1935 – Great Britain boxers beats the U.S. team in the first international Golden Gloves.
1937 – Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan disappear over the Pacific Ocean in their Lockheed 5B Vega in their attempt to fly around the world.
1947 – An unidentified flying object crashes at William “Mack” Brazel’s ranch Roswell, New Mexico. The U.S. Army Air Force insists it is a weather balloon, but eyewitness accounts lead to speculation that it might have been an alien spacecraft. Brazel died in 1963 at age 64.
1962 – Wal-Mart Discount City opens in Rogers, Arkansas. It is the first Walmart store.
1964 – President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act into law. As Senate Majority Leader in 1957, Johnson (D-TX) successfully blocks the civil rights legislation he is forced to sign when he is president! Watch a newsreel that includes a political who’s who:
1967 – Catherine Lacoste becomes the youngest (age 22), the first foreigner (France), and the first amateur to win the U.S. Women’s open golf tournament.
1979 – The Susan B. Anthony dollar is issued. It is the first U.S. coin to honor a woman.
1982 – Larry Walters (“Lawn Chair Larry”) takes flight in his homemade craft that consists of a lawn chair with 45 helium-filled weather balloons attached to it. He stays in flight for about an hour. Watch the flight (begins at 35 seconds):
1986 – The Supreme Court upholds affirmative action in 2 rulings.
1995 – “Forbes” magazine reports that Microsoft’s chairman Bill Gates is worth $12.9 billion, making him the world’s richest man. In 1999, he is worth about $77 billion. It is now almost $90 billion.
2002 – Steve Fossett becomes the first person to fly solo around the world nonstop in a balloon. Fossett disappears in September 2007 while flying an airplane. The crash site is found in September 2008 and his remains are identified in November. He was 63 years old.