This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“No problem of human making is too great to be overcome by
human ingenuity, human energy, and the untiring hope of the human spirit.”
President George H. W. Bush
Week of June 17-23, 2019
1579 – Sir Francis Drake lands on the northern coast of California and names it “New Albion,” claiming it for England.
1885 – The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York City aboard French ship “Isere.” The metal framework was built by Gustave Eiffel. The pedestal was completed in April 1886, after which the statue was assembled on the pedestal, and dedicated in October 1886. The plaque which starts, “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,” comes from a poem written by Emma Lazarus that was auctioned to raise money for the pedestal construction and was added after the dedication.
1915 – The League to Enforce Peace is organized at Independence Hall in Philadelphia with former president William Howard Taft as its president. The LEP program eventually supported the League of Nations.
1928 – Amelia Earhart leaves Newfoundland to become the first woman passenger to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. The plane was piloted by Wilmer Stultz.
1932 – During the Bonus Army March about a thousand World War I veterans amass at the United States Capitol as the U.S. Senate considers a bill that would give them certain benefits. Watch a report using actual photos:
1950 – The first kidney transplant in the U.S. is performed on 44-year-old Ruth Tucker. Although Tucker’s body rejected the kidney, she lived for five more years with one functioning kidney.
1963 – The Supreme Court bans the required reading of the Lord’s Prayer and Bible reading in public schools.
1972 – Five White House “plumbers” are apprehended after the second burglary of the Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate Hotel.
1988 – Stella Nickell is sentenced to 90 years in prison in the first product tampering murder case after the Chicago Tylenol murders. Nickell was convicted of killing her husband and a woman by poisoning bottles of Extra-Strength Excedrin. Nickell was eligible for parole in 2018, but is still incarcerated. She is 75 years old.
1994 – Murder suspect OJ Simpson leads Los Angeles police on a chase in his Ford Bronco for 1 and 1/2 hours. The slow motion car chase was seen live on TV. Watch a CNN report on the chase and hear the conversation between OJ and a helicopter pilot:
2015 – Nine people are shot and killed inside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, by a 21-year-old gunman. As a result of this event, Confederate flags were banned in many public buildings. The trial of Dylann Roof is scheduled for November.
2015 – The U.S. Treasury announces that the image of Alexander Hamilton would be replaced on the $10 bill by an image of a woman. In 2017, that idea was scrapped after the popularity of the Broadway musical “Hamilton.”
1873 – Susan B. Anthony is fined $100 for voting for president.
1898 – The first amusement park, Steel Pier, opens in Atlantic City, New Jersey. A fire severely damaged the park in 1924, but it was rebuilt, sold several times, and is still in operation.
1912 – The Chicago national Republican Convention splits between President Taft and former president Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909). After Taft is nominated, Roosevelt and progressive elements of the Party form the Progressive Party (also known as the Bull Moose Party).
1928 – Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean as she completes a flight from Newfoundland to Wales.
1959 – A Federal Court annuls the Arkansas law allowing school closings to prevent integration.
1977 – The Space Shuttle test model “Enterprise” carries a crew aloft for the first time. It is fixed atop a modified Boeing 747. The Enterprise never flew into space. Watch the stacked crafts takeoff:
1979 – President Jimmy Carter and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev sign the SALT II treaty limiting nuclear weapons. Six months later the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, so the treaty was never ratified by the Senate.
1983 – The Challenger Space Shuttle launches with Sally Ride on board as the first American woman in space. Ride died in 2012 at age 61. Watch an interview with Sally Ride:
2003 – Google launches AdSense, a program that enables website publishers to serve ads targeted to the specific content of their individual web pages.
1846 – The New York Knickerbocker Club plays the New York Club in the first baseball game at the Elysian Field in Hoboken, New Jersey. It was the first organized baseball game.
1934 – Congress establishes the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate radio and (later) TV broadcasting.
1951 – President Harry S. Truman signs the Universal Military Training and Service Act, which extends Selective Service until July 1, 1955 and lowers the draft age to 18.
1956 – Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin end their partnership after starring together in 16 films. Jerry Lewis died in 2017 at age 91. Dean Martin died in 1995 at age 78.
1961 – The Supreme Court strikes down a provision in Maryland’s constitution requiring state office holders to believe in God.
1964 – The Civil Rights Act of 1964 passes by a vote of 73-27, with a majority of Republicans voting in favor of the act.
1981 – “Superman II” sets the (then) all-time, one-day record for theater box-office receipts when it takes in $5.5 million. Watch the movie trailer:
1987 – The Supreme Court strikes down the Louisiana law that requires that schools teach creationism.
2000 – The Supreme Court rules that a group prayer led by students at public school football games violates the First Amendment’s principle that called for the separation of church and state.
1782 – Congress approves the Great Seal of the U.S. and the eagle as its symbol.
1871 – The Ku Klux Klan trial begins in federal court in Oxford, Mississippi, following the Meridian Race Riot. No one was ever convicted in the deaths resulting from the riots.
1893 – Lizzie Borden is acquitted in the axe murders of her father and stepmother in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Lizzie died in 1927 at age 66.
1911 – The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) incorporates in New York.
1944 – Congress charters the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
1948 – “Toast of the Town” hosted by Ed Sullivan premieres on TV and airs until 1971. Sullivan died in 1974 at age 73. Watch part of one of Ed’s shows:
1955 – The AFL and CIO unions agree to combine their names and a merge into a single group.
1967 – Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) is convicted of refusing induction into the armed services. Ali was sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000, and banned from boxing for three years. He stayed out of prison while his case was appealed and returned to boxing in 1970. Ali died in 2016 at age 74.
1977 – Oil enters the Trans-Alaska pipeline and exits 38 days later at Valdez. The pipeline carries an estimated 700,000 barrels of oil per day.
1990 – Nelson Mandela lands in New York City to begin a tour of eight U.S. cities. Mandela died in 2013 at age 95. Watch a news report on his visit:
1997 – The tobacco industry agrees to a massive settlement in exchange for major relief from mounting lawsuits and legal bills.
2011 – The first Critics’ Choice Television Awards are held. “Modern Family” wins best comedy series and “Mad Men” wins for best drama series.
2015 – Surfers in Huntington Beach, California, set the Guinness world record for the most surfers to ride on a single board. Sixty-six surfers ride a single 43-foot-long 1,300-pound board for 15 seconds.
1684 – King Charles II revokes the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s charter due to insubordination for violating the terms of the charter.
1788 – The U.S. Constitution goes into effect when New Hampshire becomes the 9th state to ratify it.
1879 – F. W. Woolworth opens his first store in Utica, New York, but it fails the following year. He opened a new store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1881 and within a few years Woolworth was a millionaire. Woolworth died in 1919 at age 66.
1893 – The first Ferris wheel premieres at Chicago’s Columbian Exposition. It was designed and built by George Washington Gale Ferris. Ferris died of TB in 1896 at age 37.
1939 – The New York Yankees announce Lou Gehrig’s retirement after doctors reveal he has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Gehrig made his farewell speech on July 4th:
1964 – Bryon de la Beckwith is arrested for the murder of Medgar Evers. Two trials in 1964 ended in hung juries with all white jurors. Beckwith was found guilty 30 years later based on new evidence. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole and died in prison in 2001 at age 80.
1964 – Three civil rights workers, Michael H. Schwerner Andrew Goodman, and James E. Chaney, disappear after their release from a Mississippi jail. Their remains were found six weeks later buried in an earthen dam. In December 19 men, including the county’s Deputy, were arrested and tried for federal civil rights violations. An all-white jury convicts seven, acquited nine, and was deadlocked on three others. In 2005, 80-year-old Edgar Ray Killen was convicted on three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 60 years in prison. Killen is now 93 years old.
1982 – John Hinckley, Jr. is found not guilty by reason of insanity for the 1981 assassination attempt of President Reagan. He was released from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, DC, in 2016. Hinckley is now 63 years old.
1989 – The Supreme Court rules that burning the American flag as a form of political protest is protected by the First Amendment.
2004 – SpaceShipOne, designed by Burt Rutan and piloted by Mike Melvill, reaches 328,491 feet above Earth in a 90-minute flight. The height is about 400 feet above the distance scientists consider to be the boundary of space. It wins the $10 million Ansari X Prize for being the first non-governmental manned spacecraft to go into space twice within two weeks. Watch the flights:
1611 – Mutineers from his ship Discovery set Henry Hudson, his son, and seven supporters adrift in the Hudson Bay. They were never seen again. The mutineers sailed back to England and were arrested.
1847 – Elizabeth Gregory creates the doughnut when she makes a large batch for her son’s voyage. She gave the recipe to Captain Gregory’s cook so he could make doughnuts for him and his crew.
1870 – Congress creates the Department of Justice.
1922 – Striking coal miners of the United Mine Workers massacred 19 non-union strikebreakers during after they had peacefully left the mine in Herrin, Illinois. Not one of the striking coal miners was ever convicted of the murders.
1941 – President Franklin Roosevelt signs the “GI Bill of Rights.”
1946 – President Truman sets up the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
1970 – President Nixon signs the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age to 18.
1981 – Mark David Chapman pleads guilty to killing John Lennon in December 1980. Chapman changed his plea from not guilty by reason of insanity to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life with mandatory psychiatric treatment. Chapman is now 64 years old.
1983 – The Space Shuttle Discovery is the first spacecraft to retrieve a satellite from orbit and return it to Earth. Discovery has also flown in space more (38 trips) and carried more crew (246) than any other spacecraft. Watch recovery with audio description:
1992 – The Supreme Court rules that “hate crime” laws violate free-speech rights.
1998 – The Supreme Court rules that evidence illegally obtained by authorities can be used at revocation hearings for a convicted criminal’s parole.
2015 – Former Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley calls for the removal of the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds in the wake of murders of 9 people in a Charleston church. The Confederate flag was removed from the statehouse grounds on July 10th and placed in a museum. Watch her press conference:
1683 – William Penn signs a friendship treaty with the Lenni Lenape Indians, the Six Nations (Mengwes), the Shawanese Nation, the Gawanese, and the Conestogas (Mingoes) in Pennsylvania. It was said that an exchange of wampum belts took place, but in 1782 Chief Killbuck lost the historic wampum that contained the treaty that had been made with Penn one hundred years earlier.
1784 – The first manned balloon ascension in the U.S. takes place when 13-year-old Edward Warren goes aloft in a tethered hot air balloon at Bladensburg, Maryland.
1810 – John Jacob Astor organizes the Pacific Fur Company in Astoria, Oregon. His great-grandson, John Jacob Astor IV, died on the Titanic in 1912.
1860 – The U.S. Secret Service is created to combat counterfeiting of U.S. currency. Congress requested that the Secret Service provide protection for presidents after the assassination of William McKinley in 1901.
1888 – Frederick Douglass is the first African-American nominated for president when he received one vote from the Kentucky Delegation at the Republican Convention in Chicago.
1931 – Wiley Post and Harold Gatty take off for a record-setting flight around the world. Their trip took 8 days.
1938 – Marineland opens in Florida as “Marine Studios.” It was known as the World’s First Oceanarium.
1967 – The Senate censures Thomas J. Dodd (D-CT) for misusing campaign funds. It was only the 7th time in the Senate’s history that it censured one of its own members. He was the father of former Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT).
1972 – President Nixon signs Title IX of the Education Amendments, barring sex discrimination in college sports.
1986 – Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill refuses to let President Reagan address House before its critical vote on funding for the anti-communist “Contra” rebels in Nicaragua.
2003 – Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants steals second base against the Los Angeles Dodgers, becoming the first player in MLB history to have 500 career home runs and 500 career stolen bases. Bonds still holds the record for most home runs at 762. Rickey Henderson holds the stolen base record with 1,406.
2013 – Aerialist Nik Wallenda completes a quarter mile tightrope walk over the Little Colorado River Gorge in Arizona. Watch and listen to Nik talk to his crew as he walks across the gorge:
Image from New York Daily News