This Week In History, July 21


by Dianne Hermann


“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see. 

~ Winston Churchill           


Week of July 22-28, 2013


July 22

1775 – George Washington, at the age of 43, becomes Commander-In-Chief of America’s revolutionary army.

1893 – Katharine Lee Bates writes the poem, “America the Beautiful” after being inspired during a visit to Pike’s Peak in Colorado. She doesn’t publish it for two years, when it is then set to the music by composer S. A. Ward’s “Materna,” the tune to which we sing it today.

1934 – “Public Enemy No. 1” John Dillinger is mortally wounded by FBI agents outside Chicago’s Biograph Theatre.

1963 – Sonny Liston KOs Floyd Patterson in the first round during their second fight for the heavyweight boxing title.


Photo of Sonny’s KO

1994 – OJ Simpson pleads “Absolutely 100 percent not guilty” of murdering his ex-wife and her friend. He is found not guilty on October 3, 1995. One of OJ’s lawyers was Robert “Keeping Up With The” Kardashian.


July 23

1880 – The first application of hydropower electricity generation within an industrial setting in the United States is when the Wolverine Chair Factory in Grand Rapids, Michigan, powers 16 brush-arc lamps using a water turbine. The world’s first commercial hydroelectric power plant built to provide electricity to buildings outside the plant opens in September 30, 1882, on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin.

1904 – The Library of Congress recognizes Charles E. Menches as the creator of the ice cream cone during the St. Louis World’s Fair. (He is one of many who make this claim.)

1956 – The Bell X-2 rocket plane sets a world aircraft speed record of 1,895 miles per hour. The X-15 currently holds the official world record for the fastest speed ever reached by a manned aircraft at 4,520 mph.


Photo of Bell X-2 rocket plane

1984 – Vanessa Williams (Miss New York), the first black Miss America, resigns after it is revealed she posed nude for Penthouse Magazine. First runner-up Suzette Charles (Miss New Jersey) takes over the crown for the rest of the year.


July 24

1824 – A Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, newspaper publishes the results of the first public opinion poll showing a clear lead for presidential candidate Andrew Jackson in a four-candidate race for the presidency. Jackson receives a plurality of votes and loses when the House of Representatives settles the contested election by selecting John Quincy Adams, who actually receives fewer popular and electoral votes. It’s the only election when this ever happened. Four years later, Jackson handily wins the White House by defeating incumbent John Quincy Adams.

Andew Jackson

Photo of Andrew Jackson

1901 – Author O. Henry (pen name of William Sydney Porter) is released from prison in Austin, Texas, after serving three years for embezzlement from a bank. Henry publishes a dozen stories from prison to help support his daughter after his wife dies of TB.

1938 – Nestlé creates instant coffee under the name Nescafé.

75 years of Nescafe

Photo of one of the first instant coffee ads by Nescafe

1974 – The Supreme Court unanimously rules that President Nixon must turn over his Watergate tapes.


July 25

1832 – The first fatal railroad accident in United States is on the Granite Railway in Quincy, Massachusetts. A Cuban tourist dies and three other passengers are injured when a cable snaps, throwing the passengers down a 35-foot cliff.

1850 – Gold is discovered in Oregon on the Rogue River.

1861 – Congress passes the Crittenden-Johnson Resolution stating that “the present deplorable civil war… is not waged upon our part in any spirit of oppression” but is to be “fought to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and to preserve the Union.”

1946 – Micheline Bernardini models the first bikini at a Paris fashion show. Mechanical engineer Louis Réard and fashion designer Jacques Heim invent the bikini using 30-square-inches of cloth. Réard names the bombshell swimsuit after the Bikini Atoll where atomic testing took place.

Micheline Bernardini in the first bikini

Photo of Micheline Bernardini in the first bikini

1969 – Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy pleads guilty to leaving the scene of an accident a week after the Chappaquiddick car accident that kills 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne.


July 26

1790 – The House of Representatives narrowly passes the Assumption bill, making the federal government responsible for state debts.

1908 – United States Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte issues an order to staff the Office of the Chief Examiner (later renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation).

1947 – President Harry Truman signs the National Security Act (establishing the Central Intelligence Agency).

1952 – Mickey Mantle hits his first grand slam home run at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Michigan. During his career, The Mick hits 9 grand slams and 536 home runs.

Mickey Mantle

Photo of Mickey Mantle and the Grand Slam ball

1990 – President H. W. Bush signs the Americans With Disabilities Act.


July 27

1789 – President Washington signs legislation establishing the Department of Foreign Affairs (now called the State Department). Then-Representative James Madison of New York introduced the bill.

1940 – Billboard magazine starts publishing their National List of Best Selling Retail Records.


Photo of Music Popularity Chart

1987 – The first salvaging of the Titanic wreckage begins. The mini-submarine Nautile dives 2.5 miles below the ocean’s surface to retrieve objects not seen since the 1912 sinking.

1996 – A bomb explodes at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, killing 1 and injuring 110. Initially, Richard Jewell was falsely named a “person of interest” in the bombing. Eric Rudolph later pleads guilty and is sentenced to three concurrent terms of life imprisonment without parole.


July 28

1868 – The 14th Amendment is ratified, granting citizenship to ex-slaves.

1900 – Louis Lassing of New Haven, Connecticut, says his diner is the first to put a hamburger on a bun. (He is one of many who make this claim.)

1932 – Two unemployed WWI veterans are killed in a scuffle with police in Washington, DC, during the “Bonus March.” President Hoover calls in federal troops when thousands of “Bonus Marchers” demand the government cash in their bonuses early. They clash with the troops led by General Douglass MacArthur and supported by Major George S. Patton.

1933 – Lucille Lipps, a Western Union operator in New York City, delivers the first singing telegram to Rudy Vallee for his birthday.

Rudy Vallee

Photo of Rudy Vallee

1983 – Four days after the “pine tar bat” game American League baseball president Lee McPhail announces that even though George Brett’s bat had too much pine tar, only the bat should have been removed from the game, not the batter. He upholds the Kansas City Royals’ protest and says the two teams must resume the game in Yankee Stadium on August 18, with the Royals leading New York, 5-4, and two outs in the ninth. The Royals win the game.