This Week in History


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 Nov. 18-24, 2019



November 18

1820 – U.S. Navy Capt. Nathaniel B. Palmer of Connecticut, age 22, discovers Antarctica.

1872 – American suffragette Susan B. Anthony and 14 other women are arrested after voting on November 5th in Rochester, New York. Anthony was denied a trial by jury and was tried in Federal Court in June of 1873 by newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Ward Hunt. Anthony was not allowed to speak in her own defense until after she was found guilty and ordered to pay a $100 fine. She told the judge she “shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty,” and she never did.

1883 – Standard time zones are formed by the railroads in U.S. and Canada that would provide a uniform schedule for train departures and arrivals. Four times zones were first proposed in 1870 by Charles F. Dowd.

1902 – Brooklyn toymaker Morris Michton names the stuffed bear after President Theodore Roosevelt. The “teddy” bear was nicknamed for the president following a hunting trip in 1902 with Mississippi Governor Andrew H. Longino in which Teddy Roosevelt refused to kill an old bear tied to a tree.

1928 – The first successful sound-synchronized animated cartoon, Walt Disney’s “Steamboat Willie,” starring Mickey Mouse premieres in New York.

1932 – “Flowers & Trees” by Walt Disney Studios receives the first Academy Award for a cartoon. Watch the cartoon at:

1951 – Chuck Connors (Los Angeles Angels) becomes the first baseball player to ask for an exemption to the major league baseball draft. Connors left baseball to become an actor, including being the star of the television show “The Rifleman” (1958-1963).

1961 – President JFK sends 18,000 military advisors to South Vietnam.

1966 – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops did away with the rule against eating meat on Fridays, except during Lent.

1978 – In Jonestown, Guyana (South America), 909 members of the Peoples Temple are murdered or commit suicide under the leadership of American cult leader Jim Jones.

2001 – Phillips Petroleum and Conoco merge into a new company as ‘ConocoPhillips’, the third-largest oil and natural gas company in the U.S.

November 19

1620 – The “Mayflower” reaches Cape Cod and explores the coast. They eventually landed at Plymouth Rock.

1794 – The Jay Treaty is signed with Great Britain. Named for the first Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay, the treaty granted America “Most Favored Nation” status but left many issues from the Revolutionary War unresolved.


1861 – Julia Ward Howe pens “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” as a poem. It was first published in “The Atlantic Monthly” in February 1862. The music was from the song “John Brown’s Body.”

1863 – Abraham Lincoln delivers his famous “Four score and seven years ago…” address in Pennsylvania dedicating the Gettysburg battlefield. Lincoln was asked to deliver the “concluding remarks” at the dedication ceremony, following the lengthy principal address by Massachusetts Senator Edward Everett. Listen to a recitation of the address with Civil War photographs:


1919 – The U.S. Senate rejects the Treaty of Versailles with the League of Nations by a vote of 55-39. The U.S. signed a separate peace treaty with Germany in 1921.

1950 – U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes the supreme commander of NATO in Europe. He is the U.S. president from 1952-1960.

1980 – CBS-TV bans Calvin Klein’s jeans ad featuring 15-year-old Brooke Shields. Watch the provocative ad:

1997 – Bobbi McCaughey of Des Moines, Iowa, gives birth to septuplets (4 boys and 3 girls) in the first known case where all seven babies were born alive and survive infancy. Today they are 22 years old.

1998 – The U. S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee begins impeachment hearings against President Bill Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The House of Representatives impeached Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice but he remained in office. President Andrew Johnson was the only other president to endure impeachments proceedings. The impeachment for “high crimes and misdemeanors” was not upheld and Johnson also remained in office.

2002 – The U.S. government takes over of security at 424 airports nationwide through the TSA following the signing of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act by President George W. Bush.

November 20

1866 – The first national convention of the Civil War Veteran’s organization the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) is held.

1947 – “Meet the Press” makes its network TV debut on NBC. The news program is the longest-running TV show and still airs weekly.

1959 – WABC fires Alan Freed over the “payola” scandal. Freed accepted gratuities and consultation fees from record companies and promoters. When ABC demanded that Freed sign a prepared oath swearing he never received payments for promoting musical recordings on the air, Freed refused and was fired.

1969 – The Nixon administration announces a halt to residential use of the pesticide DDT as part of a total phase-out of the substance.

1982 – Drew Barrymore hosts Saturday Night Live at age 7, making her the youngest host in SNL history. She has hosted SNL six times. Watch the opening skit with little Drew: CLICK HERE

1984 – McDonald’s made its 50 billionth hamburger. They stopped updating their signs after 99 billion were sold in 1994. It is estimated that McDonald’s will sell their 300 billionth hamburger this year. They sell 75 hamburgers every second. McDonald’s estimates that 1 in 8 Americans have worked for the hamburger chain.

1998 – Forty-six states agree to a $206 billion settlement of health claims against the tobacco industry. The industry also agreed to give up billboard advertising of cigarettes.

2014 – Nearly 5 million illegal migrants in the U.S. will have the threat of deportation deferred after President Obama announces sweeping immigration changes.

2017 – Once the world’s largest covered stadium, The Georgia Dome in Atlanta is imploded in 12 seconds 25 years after it was built. Watch the explosions and implosion:


November 21

1871 – Emilio Onra is the first human cannonball.

1959 – Jack Benny (on violin) and Richard Nixon (on piano) play their famed duet during the President’s Ball at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Watch their performance:


1964 – “Verrazano Narrows” opens between Staten Island and Brooklyn as the world’s longest suspension bridge. It was surpassed by the Humber Bridge in England in 1981 and then the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan in 1998.

1974 – Congress passes the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) over President Gerald Ford’s veto. FOIA allows people to request access federal records or information with nine exceptions, such as national security or personnel files.

1980 – It is revealed that Kristin Shepard (played by Mary Crosby) is the person who shot J.R. Ewing (played by Larry Hagman) on the TV show “Dallas.” Several alternate scenes were filmed to keep it secret. Watch the big reveal:

1989 – President George H. W. Bush signs a law banning smoking on most domestic flights.

1995 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 5,000 for first time.

2013 – The Dow Jones closes above 16,000 for the first time.

November 22

1718 – British pirate Edward Teach (“Blackbeard”) is killed off the coast of North Carolina in battle with a boarding party led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard.

1906 – International Radio Telecommunications Company adopts “SOS” as the new Morse code call for help.  . . .  – – –  . . .

1923 – President Calvin Coolidge pardons German spy Lothar Witzke, who was sentenced to death for his role in the sabotage of installations in the San Francisco shipyards and New York Harbors during WW I.

1963 – President John F. Kennedy is assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, et al, in Dallas, Texas. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president the same day.

1977 – The Packet Radio net, SATNET, and ARPANET are connected, sending a message from California to London and back via satellite to Virginia and then the University of Southern California in a demonstration of what would eventually become the Internet.

1984 – Fred Rogers of PBS’ “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” presents a sweater to the Smithsonian Institution. Watch Mr. Rogers don his sweater at the opening of his show:

1985 – In the largest swearing-in ceremonies to date, 38,648 immigrants became citizens of the U.S. after the 12th and final ceremony in two weeks in Los Angeles.

1995 – “Toy Story” is released as the first feature-length film completely created using computer-generated imagery.

1998 – CNN airs a tape of Jack Kevorkian giving lethal drugs in an assisted suicide of a terminally ill patient with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Kevorkian was later sentenced to 25 years in prison for second-degree murder and was paroled in 2005. Kevorkian died from a blood clot and liver cancer in 2011 at age 83.

2008 – YouTube hosts the largest ever live broadcast, YouTube Live.

2016 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 19,000 for the first time, two weeks after Donald Trump is elected president. It closed above 20,000 five days after Trump was inaugurated. The Dow is now over 27,000.

November 23

1783 – Annapolis, Maryland, becomes the capital of the U.S. until June 1784.

1899 – The first jukebox is installed in the Palais Royal Hotel in San Francisco.

1903 – Enrico Caruso makes his U.S. debut at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in Verdi’s “Rigoletto.” Watch a slide show of Caruso and listen to him singing:



1936 – The first issue of “Life,” a picture magazine created by Henry R. Luce, is published. A photograph of Fort Peck Dam was on the cover. The last issue, published in May 2000, had a premature baby on the cover.

1954 – For the first time, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above the peak it reached before the 1929 stock market crash. The Dow closed at 380.33 on August 29, 1929, and at 382.74 on this date.

1960 – Hollywood dedicates its Walk of Fame at Hollywood at Boulevard and Vine Street. Joanne Woodward received the first star. She won an Academy Award in 1957 for “The Three Faces of Eve.” Watch an LA City Tours video advertising the famous street:


1998 – A U.S. federal judge rejects a Virginia county’s effort to block pornography on library computer, calling the attempt unconstitutional.

2014 – Republicans condemn President Obama’s use of executive action to push through immigration reform.

November 24

1835 – The Texas Rangers, a mounted police force, is authorized by the Texas Provisional Government. They are the oldest law enforcement body in North America.

1871 – The National Rifle Association, chartered on November 16th, elects former Civil War General Ambrose Burnside as its first president.

1917 – Nine police officers and two civilians are killed when a bomb explodes at the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, police headquarters building. It remains the second deadliest day in law enforcement history (9-11 is the first). The bomber(s) were never caught.

1932 – The FBI Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory (better known as the FBI Crime Lab) officially opens in Washington, D.C.

1936 – Grace D. Owen of Concord, New Hampshire, applies for her Social Security number and receives the lowest number possible: 001-01-0001.

1947 – The House on Un-American Activities Committee finds the “Hollywood 10” in contempt because of their refusal to reveal whether they were communists. Albert Maltz, Dalton Trumbo, John Howard Lawson, Samuel Ornitz, Ring Lardner, Jr., Lester Cole, Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Edward Dmytryk, and Robert Adrian Scott were charged with contempt of Congress. Movie studio executives met in New York the next day agree to blacklist the “Hollywood 10,” who were cited and jailed for contempt of Congress when they failed to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee.

1954 – Air Force One is christened as the first U.S. Presidential airplane. The presidential call sign was established in 1953 after a commercial aircraft with the same call sign entered the same airspace as the presidential aircraft.

1963 – The first live murder is shown on TV when Jack Ruby shoots Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in a police station. Watch the murder as it happened live:


1971 – Dan “DB” Cooper parachutes from a Northwest Airlines 727 with $200,000 he extorted from the airlines. His body and the money are never found. In 2016, the FBI announced it was suspending active investigation of the DB Cooper case after 45 years.

1979 – The U.S. government finally admits that troops in Vietnam were exposed to the toxic defoliant Agent Orange.

2014 – A 12-year-old boy is shot dead by police in a playground in Cleveland, Ohio, after brandishing what turned out to be a fake gun. The police were responding to a call of a male who kept pointing a gun at people.


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