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 5-11, 2017
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.
2013 – The first article based on NSA documents leaked by former CIA employee Edward Snowden are published by the Guardian Newspaper in the U.K. Snowden, now 33 years old, has taken up temporary asylum in Russia.
1664 – New Amsterdam is renamed New York City.
1816 – Ten inches of snow falls in New England during the “year without a summer.” It may have been caused by a series of volcanic eruptions of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815.
1850 – Levi Strauss makes his first pair of blue jeans using rivets at the points of strain. Strauss died in 1902 at age 73 and left an estate estimated at $6 million.
1882 – The electric iron is patented by Henry W. Seely of New York City.
1896 – George Harbo and Frank Samuelson of Norway leave New York harbor and row across the Atlantic Ocean in an 18-foot boat. It takes the pair 55 days to row 3,270 miles.
1925 – Chrysler Corporation is founded Walter Percy Chrysler. Future Chrysler head Lee Iacocca is 8 months old.
1932 – The Revenue Act of 1932 is enacted, creating the first gas tax in the United States, at a rate of 1 cent per gallon sold.
1933 – The first drive-in theater opens in Camden, New Jersey.
1944 – The D-Day invasion of Europe takes place on the beaches of Normandy, France with 400,000 Allied American, British, and Canadian troops.
1960 – The “Steve Allen Show” airs its last broadcast on NBC-TV. It premieres in 1956. Watch the original show introduction by Jerry Lewis:
1966 – Stokely Carmichael launches the “Black Power” movement. He heads the Black Panther Party from 1967-1969. He moves to Africa in 1969 and changes his name to Kwame Ture and espouses anti-American, anti-Semitic, and Pro-Communist ideas. Carmichael died in 1998 at age 57 of prostate cancer, blaming the U.S. government for “infecting” him.
1971 – The “Ed Sullivan Show” airs its last broadcast on CBS-TV. It premiers in 1948 and launches the careers of many famous people and bands. Sullivan died in 1974 at age 73. He had a really good shoe.
1978 – Proposition 13 is approved by voters and cuts California property taxes by 57%. In the wake of the anti-tax vote funding for freeways, higher education, prisons, assistance to needy families, and local government is drastically cut.
1981 – American sculptor and artist Maya Yang Lin wins the competition for the design the Vietnam War Memorial.
1983 – Betty White becomes the first woman to win Outstanding Game Show Host at Daytime Emmy Awards for NBC’s “Just Men!” The show aired for only one season. White is 95 years old.
2005 – The Supreme Court rules that federal authorities can prosecute sick people who smoke marijuana on doctor’s orders. The ruling concludes that state medical marijuana laws do not protect users from the federal ban on the drug.
2015 – American Pharaoh becomes the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown. Watch the 37-year-drought end:
1775 – The United Colonies change their name to the United States.
1776 – Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposes to the Continental Congress a resolution calling for a Declaration of Independence. Watch a brief biography of Lee:
1864 – Abe Lincoln is re-nominated for President by the Republican Party.
1909 – “America’s Sweetheart” Mary Pickford makes her screen debut at the age of 16 in “Mrs. Jones Entertains.” She is one of the 38 original founding members of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences. Pickford died in 1979 at age 87. Watch an excerpt from one of her 1909 films:
1912 – Capt. Charles De Forest Chandler performs U.S. Army tests using the first machine gun mounted on a plane. Pilot Lieutenant Thomas De Witt Milling makes several passes over a Maryland airfield at 50 miles per hour while Chandler fires a “Lewis” gun mounted on a swiveling turret at a cloth target on the ground, scoring hits with 45 out of 50 rounds. The Lewis gun is designed in 1911 by U.S. Army Col. Isaac Newton Lewis.
1930 – The New York Times agrees to capitalize the n in “Negro.”
1932 – Over 7,000 World War I veterans march on Washington, DC demanding their promised bonuses.
1939 – George VI and Elizabeth I are the first king and queen of England to visit the U.S. Watch a report on the royal visit:
1955 – The game show “The $64,000 Question” premieres on CBS-TV and airs until 1958. This and other game shows fail when it is discovered that the games are rigged or the contestants are coached.
1955 – Dwight Eisenhower is the first president to appear on color TV.
1965 – Sony introduces its home video tape recorder, priced at $995.
1968 – Sirhan Sirhan is indicted for the Robert Kennedy assassination.
1969 – Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash perform on a Grand Ole Opry TV special. (The show is taped on May 1st.)
1977 – Anita Bryant leads a successful crusade against Miami gay rights laws. Bryant, a singer, beauty pageant winner, and spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Commission, is an outspoken critic of homosexuality. Bryant is now 77 years old. Watch one of her orange juice commercials:
1982 – President Ronald Reagan meets Pope John Paul II and Queen Elizabeth II during a European trip.
1989 – Wayne Gretzky wins his 9th National Hockey League Hart Trophy (MVP) in 10 years.
1994 – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia declares that the RMS Titanic, Inc. is “Salvor in Possession” of the wreck and the wreck site of the RMS Titanic.
2000 – U.S. Federal Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson orders the breakup of Microsoft Corporation.
1789 – James Madison introduces in the U.S. House of Representatives a proposed the Bill of Rights.
1861 – The U.S. Sanitary Commission is given executive approval by President Lincoln to offer medical care and provide general welfare during the Civil War.
1915 – Three-time presidential candidate and former Senator William Jennings Bryan (D-NE) resigns as Secretary of State over President Wilson’s handling of the sinking of the “Lusitania” in May.
1928 – Sir Charles Kingsford Smith begins the first US-to-Australia flight.
1940 – American scientists Edwin McMillan and Philip Abelson discover element 93 and name it Neptunian after the planet Neptune.
1948 – The “Milton Berle Show” premieres on NBC-TV and airs until 1956. Berle attempts a comeback, but the revived “Milton Berle Show” only airs one season, 1966-1967. He goes on to star in many movies and TV shows. Mr. Television died in 2002 at age 93. Watch the opening credits and introduction:
1968 – James Earl Ray, alleged assassin of Martin Luther King Jr. is captured at a London airport. The two-month manhunt is the largest and most expensive investigation in FBI history. Ray is convicted and sentenced to 99 years in prison. Ray died in prison in 1998 at age 70.
1978 – A Nevada jury rules that the Howard Hughes “Mormon Will” is a forgery. Melvin Earl Dummar claimed he saved Hughes in the desert and was awarded $156 million of Hughes’ estate in his will.
1982 – Ronald Reagan becomes the first president to address a joint session of the British Parliament. Watch part of his historic speech:
1995 – Downed U.S. Air Force pilot Captain Scott O’Grady is rescued by U.S. Marines after evading capture in Bosnia for 6 days. O’Grady transferred from active duty to the Air Force Reserves in 1998 is now 51 years old. Watch Capt. O’Grady’s hero’s welcome: ht
1998 – The National Rifle Association elects Charlton Heston as its president, who serves until 2003.
2004 – Nate Olive and Sarah Jones begin the first known continuous hike of the 1,800-mile trail down the U.S. Pacific Coast. They complete the trek at the U.S.-Mexico border on September 28.
1534 – Jacques Cartier first sails into the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, which connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Great Lakes.
1628 – In the first deportation from what is now the U.S., Thomas Morton is sent away from Massachusetts after he is charged with sedition for being a Royalist agitator.
1772 – The first naval attack of the Revolutionary War takes place in Providence, Rhode Island, against the British Navy’s armed schooner “Gaspee.”
1790 – The first book copyrighted under the constitution is “Philadelphia Spelling Book.”
1860 – The book “Malaeska, the Indian Wife of the White Hunter” by Ms. Ann Stevens is offered for sale for a dime. It is the first published “dime novel.”
1869 – Charles Elmer Hires sells his first root beer in Philadelphia.
1909 – Alice Huyler Ramsey, a 22-year-old housewife and mother from Hackensack, New Jersey, becomes the first woman to drive across the United States. She drives a Maxwell automobile with three female companions (none of whom could drive a car) the 3,800 miles from Manhattan, New York, to San Francisco, California, in 59 days.
1928 – Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith and Charles Ulm are the first to fly across the Pacific when they complete their flight from California to Australia. Both men disappear during different trips while trying to set other distance records.
1931 – Robert Goddard patents the design of the first rocket-powered aircraft. He is considered the father of modern rocketry. Goddard died in 1945 at age 62.
1934 – The first Donald Duck cartoon, “Wise Little Hen,” is released. Watch the cartoon:
1949 – Mrs. Georgia Neese Clark of Kansas becomes the first woman Treasurer of U.S.
1962 – Tony Bennett performs in a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The concert is released as a live album. Bennett is now 90 years old and is currently on tour in the U.S.
1969 – Warren Burger is confirmed as the Supreme Court Chief Justice.
1970 – Harry A. Blackmun is sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice.
1973 – Secretariat wins the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown. The most recent Triple Crown winner is American Pharaoh on June 6, 2015. Watch Secretariat’s record-setting run:
1978 – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) strikes down a 148-year policy of excluding black men from the priesthood.
1985 – Thomas Sutherland, a professor at the American University of Beirut, is kidnapped and held hostage in Lebanon for 2,253 days, making him the 2nd longest held Iranian captive after Terry Anderson. In June 2001, the Sutherland family won a $323 million verdict in a lawsuit against the frozen assets of the Iranian government. He has received $35 million.
2000 – Canada and the United States sign a border security agreement. The agreement calls for the establishment of a border-enforcement team.
2000 – The House of Representatives votes to repeal gift and estate taxes. The bill calls for the taxes to be phased out over 10 years.
2014 – Laverne Cox (born Roderick Laverne Cox) becomes the first transgender person to appear on the cover of “Time” Magazine.
1652 – In Boston, John Hull and Robert Sanderson open the first mint in America.
1760 – New York passes the first effective law regulating the practice of medicine.
1793 – Washington, DC replaces Philadelphia as the U.S. capital.
1848 – The first telegraph line links New York City and Chicago.
1854 – The first class of the United States Naval Academy graduates 50 midshipmen.
1908 – The first flying club, Aeronautical Society of New York, opens.
1924 – The Republican political convention in Cleveland, Ohio, is the first convention to be broadcast on radio.
1935 – Dr. Robert Smith and William Wilson of Akron, Ohio, form Alcoholics Anonymous.
1944 – The youngest player in major league baseball history pitches his first game. Joe Nuxhall is 15 years old (and 10 months and 11 days). Nuxhall died in 2007 at age 79. Watch a news report done in memory of Nuxhall:
1963 – President Kennedy signs a law for equal pay for equal work for men and women.
1977 – James Earl Ray (Martin Luther King Jr.’s killer) escapes from prison. He is recaptured two days later.
1978 – Affirmed wins the Triple Crown at the 110th Belmont Stakes with jockey Steve Cauthen in 2:26.8. The next horse to win the Triple Crown is American Pharaoh on June 6, 2015. Watch Affirmed win the Triple Crown:
1981 – Pete Rose ties Stan Musial’s National League baseball record of 3,630 hits. Rose holds the record for the most hits at 4,256. (Musial is 4th on the all-time hits list.)
1984 – A U.S. missile shoots down an incoming missile in space for the first time.
1985 – Coca Cola announces they will bring back their 99-year-old formula.
1998 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court rules that poor children in Milwaukee can attend religious schools at taxpayer expense.
2003 – The Spirit Rover is launched, beginning NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover mission. The Rover lands on Mars on January 2004 and transmits information until March 2010.
2007 – “The Sopranos” series finale airs on HBO with the infamous “cut to black” ending. Watch the last 5 minutes of the series:
1578 – England grants Sir Humphrey Gilbert a patent to explore and colonize North America.
1742 – Benjamin Franklin invents his namesake Franklin stove.
1776 – The Continental Congress creates a committee (Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston) to draft a Declaration of Independence.
1859 – The Comstock silver lode is discovered near Virginia City, Nevada, by two miners, Peter O’Riley and Patrick McLaughlin.
1895 – The first auto race held in the U.S. and runs from Chicago to Milwaukee between six cars. Charles Duryea’s Motorized Wagon wins the race in about eight hours at an average speed of 7 mph.
1919 – Sir Barton becomes the first horse to win the Triple Crown. There are currently 12 horses that have won the three horse races that make up the Triple Crown.
1927 – Charles A. Lindbergh is presented with the first Distinguished Flying Cross.
1928 – Alfred Hitchcock’s first film, “The Case of Jonathan Drew,” is released in the U.S.
1936 – The Presbyterian Church of America is founded at Philadelphia.
1947 – Sugar rationing started during World War II ends.
1948 – The V-2 Blossom rocket is launched into space from White Sands, New Mexico, carrying Albert the Rhesus monkey. Despite what the video shows, Albert does not survive the flight. Watch Albert’s first flight:
1953 – “Amos ‘n Andy,” a TV comedy show, also broadcast on radio from 1929, last airs on CBS-TV.
1977 – Seattle Slew wins the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown. The previous Triple Crown winner is Secretariat in 1973. The most recent is American Pharaoh on June 6, 2015.
1982 – The movie “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” is released, becoming the highest grossing film at the time.
1984 – The U.S. Supreme Court declares illegally obtained evidence (Exclusionary Rule) may be admitted at trial if it could be proved that it would have been discovered legally.
1990 – The Supreme Court says the law prohibiting desecration of the U.S. flag is unconstitutional.
1993 – “Jurassic Park” opens and sets a box office weekend record of $502 million.
1998 – Mitsubishi of America agrees to pay $34 million to end the largest sexual harassment case filed by the U.S. government. The federal lawsuit claims that hundreds of women at a plant in Normal, Illinois, had endured groping and crude jokes from male workers.
2001 – Timothy McVeigh is executed for his role in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
2002 – “American Idol” created by Simon Fuller with judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson premieres on TV, with 2016 being its final season.
2004 – Ronald Reagan’s funeral is held at the Washington National Cathedral. Former President Reagan died on June 5th at age 93. Watch the solemn procession: