This Week In History, August 5


by Dianne Hermann


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

Week of August 5-11, 2013


August 5

1884 – The cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty is laid on Bedloe’s Island in New York City. The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, is dedicated in 1886.

1914 – The first traffic light in the United States is installed on Euclid Ave & East 105th Street in Cleveland, Ohio. The traffic signal had only red and green lights and a buzzer that was operated by a traffic officer on the corner. British railway signal engineer J.P. Knight invented the traffic light in 1868. Black American inventor Garrett Morgan is credited with adding the amber warning light in 1923.

first traffic light

Photo of the first traffic light

1945 – The United States drops the world’s first atom bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

1954 – The Ring magazine establishes the Boxing Hall of Fame and selects 24 modern and 15 boxing pioneers before it disbands in 1988. The following year the International Boxing Hall of Fame is established in New York and adopts the inductees from The Ring’s Boxing Hall of Fame.

1981 – President Regan fires 11,500 air traffic controllers who walked off the job on strike 2 days previous.

1985 – The establishment of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is announced. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opens in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1995.

official opening of Rock and Roll Hall of fame

Photo of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Celebration at original opening

August 6

1819 – Norwich University is founded in Vermont as the first private military school in the United States.

1854 – Congress passes the Confiscation Act, which authorizes the appropriation of property, including slaves, from southern slaveholders.

1930 – Supreme Court Justice John Force Carter disappears in New York City. He is declared legally dead in 1939. The case is officially closed in 1979 and remains unsolved. A letter found among the effects of a woman who died 2005 claimed her late police-officer husband and cab-diver brother-in-law murdered Carter and buried him under the Coney Island Boardwalk.

1946 – The United States officially submits to the jurisdiction of the World Court by accepting an optional clause in the Court’s statute. It gives the Court compulsory jurisdiction over cases regarding interpretation of treaties, any question of international law and any breach of international obligations.

1965 – President Lyndon B Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act, guaranteeing voting rights for blacks.


August 7

1882 – The Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky begin their infamous feud with the mortal wounding of Elliston Hatfield by 3 McCoy brothers in a dispute over a stolen pig. The families agree to stop fighting in 1891 after 15 people are killed and many more are wounded, but bad feelings continue throughout the 20th Century. The ongoing grudge inspires the TV show, “The Family Feud.”  Descendents of both families appear on the show in 1979 where the show’s producers pay each family the winner’s share to avoid renewing hostilities.


The Hatfield clan poses in April 1897 at a logging camp in southern West Virginia. The most infamous feud in American folklore, the long-running battle between the Hatfields and McCoys, may be partly explained by a rare, disease inherited by the McCoy clan that can lead to hair-trigger rage and violent outbursts. (AP Photo)

1934 – The United States Court of Appeals upholds a lower court ruling striking down government’s attempt to ban the controversial James Joyce novel Ulysses.

1963 – First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy has a daughter Arabella Kennedy, becoming the 1st First Lady since Frances Cleveland in 1893 to give birth while her husband is in office. Tragically, the Kennedy’s daughter is stillborn.

1970 – The first all-computer chess championship is held in New York City. Six programs enter the North American Computer Championships sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

1990 – Operation Desert Shield begins when the United States deploys troops to Saudi Arabia from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.


August 8

1854 – Smith & Wesson patents metal bullet cartridges.

1900 – The first Davis Cup tennis competition, named after Dwight Filley Davis, begins at Longwood Cricket Club in Massachusetts and is won by the United States 2 days later.

1945 – President Harry S. Truman signs the United Nations Charter.

1973 – Vice President Spiro T. Agnew says reports he took kickbacks from government contracts in Maryland are “damned lies,” and he vows not to resign. Agnew resigns on October 10th.

2000 – The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley is raised to the surface after 136 years on the ocean floor off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. It is the first submarine to sink a ship during wartime.  The sinking of the federal warship USS Housatonic also resulted in the sinking of the Hunley due to its close proximity to the explosion. The Housatonic remains on the ocean floor.

HL Hunley

 The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sits in a conservation tank after a steel truss that had surrounded it was removed

August 9

1790 – The three-mast sailing ship Columbia under the command of Captain Robert Gray returns to Boston after a 3-year journey, becoming the first ship to carry the U. S. flag around the world.

1848 – Martin Van Buren is nominated for president in his third attempt to regain the White House. President Van Buren (1836-1840) loses re-election to William Henry Harrison in 1840, is passed over for the nomination in 1844, and tries unsuccessfully for the presidency again in 1848 as a member of the Free Soil Party. Whig Party candidate Zachary Taylor wins the 1848 election.

1910 – Alva Fisher patents the electric washing machine.

1945 – The United States drops its second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan.

1974 – Richard Nixon resigns the presidency. Vice President Gerald Ford becomes the president. Nixon selected Senator Gerald Ford as Vice President in 1973 after Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned. Ford is the only person to serve as both President and Vice President without having been elected to either office.



August 10

1846 – Congress signs a charter establishing the Smithsonian Institution using a $500,000 donation from English scientist James Smithson. Childless, Smithson’s will specifies that if his nephew dies without an heir that his fortune should go “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Smithson dies in 1829 and his nephew dies without an heir in 1935.


image of the courtyard interior of the Smithsonian Museum of Art

1900 – The first Davis Cup tennis match results in the United States beating the British Isles 3-0 in Boston. The Davis Cup is now the world’s largest annual international team sport competition (130 nations enter in 2013).

1948 – Allen Funt’s “Candid Camera” TV show debuts on ABC. Allen Funt hosts or co-hosts almost every TV version of the show until he has a stroke in 1993 from which he never recovers. His son Peter Funt hosts and produces the show until 2004.

1985 – Michael Jackson buys ATV Music (including every Beatle song) for $47 million.


August 11

1860 – The first successful silver mill in the United States begins operating in Virginia City, Nevada.

1866 – The world’s first roller rink opens in Newport, Rhode Island.

1924 – Presidential candidates Calvin Coolidge and John Davis make the first campaign film for public viewing.

coolidge campaign ad

Photo of Coolidge campaign ad

1934 – The first federal prisoners arrive at Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco Bay in California. Sixty special FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, and railway security officials escort the 137 handcuffed prisoners.



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