This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history
is the most important of all the lessons of history.” Aldous Huxley
Week of Jan 20-26, 2020
1778 – The first American military court martial trial begins in Brunswick, New Jersey. General Charles Lee, George Washington’s second in command, was charged and found guilty of disobeying orders, misbehavior before the enemy, and disrespect to the Commander-In-Chief. He was suspended from the Army for one year.
1801 – John Marshall is appointed U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice. Chief Justice Marshall served until his death in 1835 at age 79. Marshall is the longest serving Chief Justice in U.S. history, serving during the administration of six presidents.
1869 – Elizabeth Cady Stanton becomes the first woman to testify before the U.S. Congress. She spoke about woman’s rights and suffrage. Stanton died in 1902 at age 86.
1920 – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is founded. Its primary focus in the early years was defending free speech and anti-war protesters.
1945 – FDR is sworn-in for an unprecedented 4th term as President. FDR died 82 days later at age 63 and was succeeded by Vice President Harry Truman. The 22nd Amendment, limiting the president to two terms, was passed by Congress in 1947 and ratified in 1951.
1961 – Poet Robert Frost recites “Dedication” at JFK’s inauguration. Frost was the first poet to be included in a presidential inauguration. Frost died in 1963 at age 88. Listen to Frost recite his poem:
1980 – President Jimmy Carter announces the U.S. boycott of the Winter Olympics in Moscow following the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. The U.S. was one of 65 countries that did not participate in the Olympics.
1981 – The 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days are freed just moments after President Ronald Reagan is inaugurated. Ronald Reagan became the first President since 1840 to be elected in a year ending in “0” (1980) to leave office alive.
1986 – New footage of the 1931 movie “Frankenstein” is found. The footage was originally deleted because it was considered too shocking. Watch the 19 seconds of unseen footage:
1994 – Shannon Faulkner becomes the first woman to attend classes at The Citadel in South Carolina, breaking the 152-year-old male only tradition. Faulkner formally joined the cadet corps in August 1995 under court order, but she dropped out soon after. Faulkner, now 44, is an English teacher in South Carolina.
1677 – The first medical publication in America is a pamphlet on smallpox. Thomas Thacher’s pamphlet, “A Brief Rule to Guide the Common People of New England how to order themselves and theirs in the Small Pocks, or Measles” was published in Boston.
1789 – The first American novel, W. H. Brown’s “Power of Sympathy” is published. It was subtitled “The Triumph of Nature.”
1908 – The Sullivan Ordinance is passed in New York City. It made smoking in public places by women illegal. The measure was vetoed by Mayor George McClellan, Jr. two weeks later.
1950 – A New York jury finds former State Department official Alger Hiss guilty of perjury. He was convicted of lying about passing state secrets to Whittaker Chambers, a Time magazine editor. He was not charged with espionage because the statute of limitations had run out. Hiss served less than four years of his five year sentence. Hiss died in 1996 at age 92.
1954 – The submarine USS Nautilus is launched in Groton, Connecticut, as the first atomic-powered submarine. First Lady Mamie Eisenhower broke the traditional bottle of champagne across the bow to christen the sub. It began its first nuclear-powered test voyage one year later. The Nautilus was decommissioned in 1980. It is now part of a museum in Connecticut. Watch a brief history of the Nautilus:
1977 – President Carter pardons almost all Vietnam War draft evaders.
1999 – In one of the largest drug busts in American history, the U.S. Coast Guard intercepts a ship with over 9,500 pounds of cocaine on board.
2003 – The Census Bureau announces that estimates show that the Hispanic population has passed the black population for the first time.
1673 – Postal service between New York and Boston is inaugurated.
1814 – The first Knights Templar grand encampment in the U.S. is held in New York City.
1917 – President Wilson pleads for an end to war in Europe, calling for “peace without victory.” America enters the war the following April.
1946 – Congress creates the CIA, Central Intelligence Agency, during the Hoover administration. Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter was its first director.
1950 – Automaker Preston Tucker is found not guilty of mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud after being hounded by the SEC for years. Tucker’s defense attorneys surprised everyone by not calling any witnesses to the stand. Even though Tucker was acquitted, his factory had been closed down and he was deep in debt. Of the 51 Tucker Sedans that were made, 47 are still around, mostly in private collections. He died in 1956 at age 53. Watch a video on the rise and fall of Tucker:
1973 – The U.S. Supreme Court legalizes some abortions in the Roe vs. Wade decision. There have been over 60 million abortions in the U.S. since Roe vs. Wade.
1990 – Robert Tappan Morris, Jr. is convicted of releasing the 1988 Internet worm. He was the first person to be indicted under the new Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Morris was sentenced to three years of probation, 400 hours of community service, and fined $10,050.
2002 – Kmart Corp becomes the largest retailer in U.S. history to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
1855 – The first bridge over the Mississippi River opens in what is now Minneapolis, Minnesota. The bridge today is called the Father Louis Hennepin Bridge.
1862 – Agoston Haraszthy, the first vintner in Sonoma Valley, California, imports 10,000 grapevine cuttings. He introduced more than 300 varieties of European grapes. Haraszthy, a Hungarian immigrant, is called the “Father of Modern Winemaking in California.” He had previously started the second oldest winery in the U.S. in Wisconsin.
1930 – The George Washington Birthplace National Monument is established in Colonial Beach, Virginia.
1968 – The spy ship USS Pueblo and its 83-man crew are seized in Sea of Japan by North Korea. The crew was released 11 months later, but the ship still remains in North Korea. Watch a video by the Council on Foreign Relations:
1986 – The first inductees into Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame are Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, “Fats” Domino, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley. Only Don Everly, age 81, and Jerry Lee Lewis, age 83, are still living.
1993 – New York Newsday reports that Oregon’s Senator Bob Packwood sexually harassed 23 women. Packwood announced his resignation from the Senate on September 7, 1995, after the Senate Ethics Committee unanimously recommended that he be expelled from the Senate for ethical misconduct.
2002 – Reporter Daniel Pearl is kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan. He was subsequently murdered by Al-Quaeda terrorists on live TV. A British national of Pakistani origin was sentenced to death by hanging in Pakistan for the murder. He is still awaiting execution.
2013 – The U.S. armed forces overturn a 1994 ban on women serving in combat.
1848 – James Marshall finds gold in Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California, starting the gold rush.
1922 – Christian K. Nelson gets the patent for the Eskimo Pie, a chocolate covered ice cream bar. It was originally called the “I Scream Bar.”
1925 – Moving pictures of a solar eclipse are taken from a U.S. Navy dirigible over Long Island. Watch the flight from Los Angeles to New York with the eclipse footage (no narration):
1935 – The Krueger Brewing Company sells the first canned beer, “Krueger Cream Ale.” Beer had previously only been sold in bottles.
1964 – The 24th Amendment to the Constitution goes into effect. It states that voting rights cannot be denied due to failure to pay taxes.
1984 – Apple Computer Inc. unveils its revolutionary Macintosh personal computer. Watch Apple’s first Mac commercial:
1989 – Confessed serial killer Ted Bundy is put to death in Florida’s electric chair for the 1978 kidnap-murder of 12-year-old Kimberly Leach.
2003 – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security officially begins operation.
1851 – Sojourner Truth addresses the first Black Women’s Rights Convention, held in Akron, Ohio.
1890 – Nellie Bly beats the fictional Phileas Fogg’s time around world by 8 days. American-born Bly traveled around the world mostly by ship and rail, completing the trip alone in just over 72 days.
1907 – Julia Ward Howe, who penned “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” is the first woman elected to National Institute of Arts & Letters.
1937 – The first broadcast of “Guiding Light” airs on NBC radio. It premiered on TV in 1952 and aired until 2009. It is still the longest running soap opera ever. General Hospital is the longest-running soap opera still in production.
1949 – The first television Emmy Awards is aired. Ventriloquist Shirley Dinsdale and the popular TV show “Pantomime Quiz” won the first Emmy awards.
1957 – The FBI arrests Jack and Myra Soble and charges them with spying for the USSR. Jack was sentenced to 7 years in prison, and Myra 5 1/2 years.
1964 – The Beatles have their first #1 hit in the U.S. with “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”
1971 – Charles Manson and three women followers are convicted of the seven Tate-LaBianca murders. He was sentenced to death but his sentence was changed to life in prison when the death penalty was abolished. He was repeatedly denied parole. Manson died in 2017 at age 83.
1981 – The 52 Americans held hostage by Iran for 444 days arrived back in the U.S. Watch their emotional return:
1996 – Billy Bailey is the last person to be executed by hanging in the U.S. He was convicted of a double murder. Bailey chose to be executed by hanging instead of lethal injection.
2004 – The Mars Exploration Rover “Opportunity” lands on surface of Mars. The 3-month mission lasted 14 years longer than its operating plan, gathering scientific observations and sending reports to Earth. Communication was lost in 2018 after a severe dust storm. Opportunity traveled 28 miles over the surface of Mars.
2016 – The Dow Jones closes above 20,000 for the first time, just 5 days after Donald Trump is inaugurated as president.
1784 – Ben Franklin expresses unhappiness over the eagle as America’s symbol. It was said he preferred the turkey.
1913 – Jim Thorpe relinquishes his 1912 Olympic medals for playing semi-professional baseball. His medals were posthumously returned on January 18, 1983. Thorpe died in 1953 at age 64.
1920 – Former Ford Motor Company executive Henry Leland launches the Lincoln Motor Company, which he later sells to his former employer.
1931 – “Cimarron” premieres in New York and is the first western to win Best Outstanding Production/Picture. It was directed by Wesley Ruggles and starred Richard Dix and Irene Dunne.
1948 – President Truman signs Executive Order 9981, ending segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces.
1954 – Groundbreaking begins on Disneyland in California. The theme park opened on July 17, 1955. Walt Disney was introduced at the opening ceremony by the future California governor and future president Ronald Reagan. Watch Reagan and Disney dedicate Disneyland:
1961 – Dr. Janet G. Travell becomes the first woman “personal physician to the president.” She was President Kennedy’s physician. Travell died in 1997 at the age of 95.
1988 – “The Phantom of the Opera” by Andrew Lloyd Webber makes its U.S. debut at the Majestic Theater in New York City. It is the longest running show in Broadway history, playing 12,500 performances over 30 years.
2009 – The U.S. Senate confirms President Obama’s nominee Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury in spite of the fact that Geithner failed to pay $35,000 in taxes.
2009 – In Houston, Texas, 27-year-old Nadya Suleman gives birth to the only known living set of octuplets. She already had six children, all conceived by In Vitro Fertilization.
Image from: AP