This Week In History
by Dianne Hermann
“While I take inspiration from the past, like most Americans, I live for the future.”
– Ronald Reagan
Week of August 1-7, 2016
1790 – The first U.S. census is taken showing a population of 3,939,214, of which 697,624 are slaves. The current U.S. population is about 316 million.
1855 – Castle Clinton in New York City opens as the first U.S. receiving station for immigrants.
1903 – The first coast-to-coast automobile trip (from San Francisco to New York) is completed.
1907 – The U.S. Army establishes an aeronautical division that later becomes the U.S. Air Force.
1943 – The Navy patrol torpedo boat PT-109 sinks near the Solomon Islands after being attacked by a Japanese destroyer. The boat is under the command of future president Navy Lt. John F. Kennedy. The crew members swim to Naru Island and are rescued on August 7th.
1946 – The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission is established.
1957 – The Bridgers and Paxton Office Building in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the first commercial building to be heated by solar energy. It is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
1958 – The first class postage goes up to 4 cents after having cost 3 cents for 26 years. A first class postage stamp is now 48 cents.
1966 – Charles Whitman, age 25, climbs the University of Texas tower and shoots 12 people dead before being killed by police. Watch live footage (part without sound): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShlbXlfQlkU
1972 – Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward publish their first article exposing the Watergate scandal.
1977 – Francis Gary Powers died when his news helicopter crashes in Los Angeles. Powers was the former U-2 pilot who was shot down over Russia in 1960 and held for two years. Powers was 48 years old.
1981 – MTV (Music TV) airs on TV.
1995 – Westinghouse Electric Corporation announces a deal to buy CBS for $5.4 billion.
2001 – Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has a Ten Commandments monument installed in the judiciary building, leading to a lawsuit to have the monument removed and Moore removed from office. District Court Judge Myron Thompson orders Moore to remove the Ten Commandments from the courthouse rotunda within fifteen days. Moore refuses, but the monument is later moved to a room that is not open for public viewing. On August 23, 2003, a panel of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary unanimously votes to remove Judge Moore from the bench for not renouncing God. In 2012, Moore is re-elected as Alabama’s Chief Justice. Watch part of the trial and the verdict to remove Justice Moore:
1610 – Henry Hudson enters bay later named after him, the Hudson Bay.
1819 – The first parachute jump in United States takes place in New York when Mr. Guilles jumps from a hot air balloon and travels airborne for half an hour over about eight miles before successfully landing in Bushwick.
1865 – Lewis Carroll publishes “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
1873 – A San Francisco cable car travels on Clay Street between Kearny and Jones Streets during its first trial run. Cable cars still traverse the streets of San Francisco.
1921 – A Chicago jury brings back a not guilty verdict against eight Chicago White Sox players for throwing the 1919 baseball World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds win the series 5 games to 3. The trial is dubbed the “Black Sox Scandal.”
1938 – Bright yellow baseballs are used in a major league baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals. It is hoped that the balls would be easier to see.
1939 – President Roosevelt signs the Hatch Act prohibiting civil service employees from taking an active part in political campaigns.
1983 – The House of Representatives approves a law that designates the third Monday of January as the federal holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The law is signed by President Reagan on November 2nd.
1989 – NASA confirms Voyager 2’s discovery of three more moons of Neptune.
1994 – Congressional hearings begin on the Clinton Whitewater scandal. In 1978 in Arkansas, Bill and Hillary enter into a land deal with James and Susan McDougal. As a result of the investigation, James is convicted of 18 counts of fraud, sentenced to five years in prison, and dies in prison in 1998. Susan is convicted of fraud and sentenced to two years in prison. Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker is convicted of mail fraud but serves no jail time. Vince Foster, a friend of the Clinton’s and White House Counsel, “committed suicide” in 1993. Bill and Hillary are implicated in the scandal, but avoid any charges of wrongdoing.
1777 – The first U.S. flag was officially flown during battle during the Siege of Fort Stanwix.
1882 – Congress passes the first law restricting immigration.
1900 – Harvey Firestone starts the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio.
1921 – Baseball Commissioner Judge “Kenesaw Mountain” Landis announces that he will banish from baseball for life the eight White Sox players involved in the 1919 World Series scandal, despite their acquittal, including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.
1923 – Vice President Calvin Coolidge becomes our 30th president after the sudden and unexpected death of President Warren Harding following an apparent heart attack.
1933 – The Mickey Mouse Watch is introduced for the price of $2.75.
1936 – Jesse Owens wins the first of his four Olympic gold medals during the Berlin Olympics.
1949 – The Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League merge to form National Basketball Association (NBA).
1981 – The 13,000 PATCO Union air traffic controllers begin their illegal strike. President Reagan fires them on August 5th.
1984 – Mary Lou Retton wins a gold medal in gymnastics at the Los Angeles Summer Olympics, including a perfect 10 in the vault. Watch Retton’s perfect 10:
2004 – The pedestal of the Statue of Liberty reopens after being closed since the September 11, 2001, attacks. It opens again on July 4, 2013, after being closed for damages sustained when Hurricane Sandy struck in October of 2012.
2004 – NASA launches the spacecraft Messenger. The 6 1/2 year journey is planned to arrive at the planet Mercury in March 2011. On April 30, 2015, Messenger crashes into the surface of Mercury after sending back more than 270,000 pictures.
1821 – The first edition of Saturday Evening Post is published. It ceases publication in 1969 after losing a $3 million defamation lawsuit. The lawsuit arises from an article in the Post alleging that the Georgia Bulldogs football coach Wally Butts and Alabama football head coach Bear Bryant conspired to fix games. The Post returns as a quarterly publication in 1971.
1892 – The bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden are found in their house in Fall River, Massachusetts. Their daughter, Sunday school teacher Lizzie Borden, is arrested for their murders a week later but subsequently acquitted.
1916 – The U.S. agrees to buy the Virgin Islands from Denmark for $25 million.
1922 – AT&T and the Bell Systems recognizes the death of Alexander Graham Bell two days earlier by shutting down all of its switchboards and switching stations. The shutdown affects 13 million phones.
1927 – The Peace Bridge between the U.S. and Canada opens. The 3,580 foot long bridge is located near Buffalo, New York, and crosses the Niagara River.
1958 – Billboard Magazine introduces its “Hot 100” chart, which is a barometer of the movement of potential hits. The first number one song is Ricky Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool.” Listen to Nelson sing it, along with videos of his performances over the years:
1964 – The bodies of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James E. Chaney are discovered in an earthen Mississippi dam. In November the FBI accuses 21 Mississippi men, including a county sheriff, of engineering a conspiracy to injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney. When Mississippi officials refuse to try any of the men for murder they are charged and convicted of civil rights violations. Seven are convicted, but none serve more than 6 years. In 2005, 80-year-old Edgar Ray Killen is tried and convicted of three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to three consecutive terms of 20 years in prison. Killen is now 91 years old and still in prison.
1972 – Arthur Bremer is jailed for shooting Alabama Governor George Wallace. Walace is paralyzed. Bremer is released early on November 9, 2007, for being a “model inmate.” Former Gov. Wallace dies in 1998. Arthur Bremer is now 65 years old.
1977 – President Jimmy Carter establishes the Department of Energy.
1985 – The musical “Dreamgirls” closes at the Imperial Theater in New York City after 1,522 performances. Former American Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson co-stars in the 2006 movie “Dreamgirls” and wins an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Watch Hudson’s American Idol audition:
1987 – The Federal Communications Commission rescinds the Fairness Doctrine. The doctrine requires that radio and TV stations present controversial issues in a balanced fashion.
1988 – Congress votes to award $20,000 to each Japanese-American interned during WW II. President Reagan signs HR #442 on August 10th. Rev. Mamoru Eto of Los Angeles, age 107, is the first to receive a check on October 9, 1990.
2007 – NASA’s Phoenix spacecraft is launched on a space exploration mission to Mars. The Phoenix Lander descends on the surface of Mars on May 25, 2008.
2010 – Judge Vaughn Walker overturns California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative prohibiting same-sex marriage, which is passed by California voters in 2008 in the case of Perry v. (Gov.) Schwarzenegger. The case goes all the way to the Supreme Court and in January 2015 the Court legalizes same-sex marriage.
2015 – Muppets Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog announce on Twitter the end of their relationship. Watch a post-break up interview with the famous Muppets:
1861 – The U.S. levies its first Income Tax (3% of incomes over $800).
1864 – Admiral David Farragut orders, during the Battle of Mobile Bay, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”
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 U.S. is installed on Euclid Ave and East 105th Street in Cleveland, Ohio. The traffic signal has only a red and green light and a buzzer that is operated by a traffic officer on the corner. British railway signal engineer J.P. Knight invents the traffic light in 1868. Black American inventor Garrett Morgan is credited with adding the yellow warning light in 1923.
1921 – The cartoon “On the Road to Moscow” by Rollin Kirby is published in the “New York World.” It is the first cartoon to win a Pulitzer Prize.
1923 – Henry Sullivan is the first American to swim the English Channel.
1924 – The comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” by Harold Gray debuts. Gray died in 1968 at age 64.
1954 – The Ring magazine establishes the Boxing Hall of Fame and selects 24 modern and 15 pioneer boxers 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.
1957 – The comic strip “Andy Capp” by Reg Smythe debuts. Smythe died in 1998 at age 80.
1981 – President Reagan fires 11,500 striking air traffic controllers who walk off the job 2 days earlier.
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. The first inductees include Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, The Everly Brothers, Alan Freed, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, and 10 others. Watch a video montage of the Museum:
1997 – Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of world trade center bombing, goes on trial. He is convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
2002 – The U.S. closes its consulate in Karachi, Pakistan.
2011 – Standard & Poor’s Financial Services lowers the United States’ AAA credit rating by one notch to AA-plus.
2012 – General Motors signs a record breaking $559 million marketing deal with Manchester United soccer team.
1819 – Norwich University is founded in Vermont as the first private military school in the U.S.
1890 – The electric chair is first used in U.S. to execute John Hart in New York, who is convicted of murder.
1890 – Cy Young pitches and wins his first game.
1854 – Congress passes the Confiscation Act, which authorizes the appropriation of property, including slaves, from southern slaveholders.
1926 – Gertrude Ederle of New York becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel. Ederle died in 2003 at age 98.
1930 – Supreme Court Justice Joseph Force Crater 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 Crater and buried him under the Coney Island Boardwalk.
1937 – The U.S. and the USSR sign a trade treaty.
1945 – The U.S. drops the world’s first atom bomb (Little Boy) on Hiroshima, Japan. Watch a documentary of the bombing and aftermath:
1946 – The U.S. officially submits to the jurisdiction of the World Court by accepting an optional clause in the Court’s statute. It gives the World 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. Watch part of Johnson’s remarks after the signing:
1986 – William J. Schroeder dies after living 620 days with the Jarvik-7 man made heart. He is the world’s longest surviving recipient of a permanent artificial heart to date.
1996 – NASA announces the discovery of evidence of primitive life on Mars based on a meteorite found in Antarctica. The meteorite is believed to have come from Mars and contained a fossil.
1998 – Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky spends 8 1/2 hours testifying before a grand jury about her relationship with President Clinton. Lewinsky is now 42 years old.
2011 – A helicopter containing 20 members of Navy SEAL team 6 is shot down in Afghanistan, killing all 31 U.S. specials ops troops and 7 Afghan commandos. The death toll surpasses the worst single day loss of life for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan since the war begins in 2001.
2012 – The Mars rover Curiosity lands on the floor of Gale Crater. The Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity spacecraft is launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on November 26, 2011.
1782 – George Washington creates the Order of the Purple Heart after the Continental Congress forbids Washington from granting soldiers commissions and promotions for merit.
1882 – The Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky begin their infamous feud with the mortal wounding of Elliston Hatfield by three 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. Watch the fifth and final Family Feud game:
1909 – The U.S. issues the first Lincoln penny.
1912 – The Progressive (Bull Moose) Party nominates Theodore Roosevelt for president, who has already served as president 1901-1909. Woodrow Wilson wins the 1912 election.
1928 – The U.S.Treasure Department issues a new bill that was one third smaller than the previous U.S. bills.
1934 – The U.S. Court of Appeals upholds a lower court ruling striking down government’s attempt to ban the controversial James Joyce novel “Ulysses.”
1942 – U.S. forces land at Guadalcanal, marking the start of the first major allied offensive in the Pacific during World War II.
1959 – The new Lincoln Memorial design on the U.S. penny goes into circulation. It replaces the “sheaves of wheat” design.
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.
1964 – Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which gives President Johnson broad powers in dealing with reported North Vietnamese attacks on forces.
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).
1981 – After 128 years of publication “The Washington Star” ceases all operations and files for bankrupcy. The Washington Post buys its land, building, and printing presses.
1990 – Operation Desert Shield begins when the U.S. deploys troops to Saudi Arabia from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.
2003 – Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger announces that he will run for the office of governor of California. He serves as governor 2003-2011.
2007 – Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants breaks baseball great Hank Aaron’s record by hitting his 756th home run. Watch the homer: