This Week in History


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 October 17-23, 2016

October 17

1871 – President Grant suspends the writ of habeas corpus in South Carolina where the Ku Klux Klan is active.

1885 – Baseball sets all player’s salaries at $1,000-$2,000 for 1885 season.

1888 – The first issue of “National Geographic Magazine” is released at newsstands.

1919 – Radio Corporation of America (RCA) is created.

1931 – Al Capone is convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years in prison. He died January 25, 1947, after a stroke at the age of 48, having suffered from syphilis for many years.

1933 – “News-Week” appears for the first time at newsstands. The name is later changed to “Newsweek.”

1933 – Albert Einstein arrives in the U.S. as a refugee from Nazi Germany.

1955 – Former Miss America Lee Meriwether joins the Today Show panel. Meriwether stars as Catwoman in the original 1966 “Batman” movie. Meriwether is now 80 years old. Watch an interview with Meriwether in her Catwoman costume:

1961 – The New York Museum of Modern Art hangs Henri Matisse’s painting “Le Bateau” upside-down. The error isn’t corrected until December 3.

1967 – The controversial musical “Hair” premieres off Broadway at the Joseph Papp’s Public Theater. “Hair” opens on Broadway in April 1968 for 1,750 performances.

1978 – President Jimmy Carter signs a bill restoring citizenship to former Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

1979 – President Jimmy Carter signs legislation creating the Department of Education.

1986 – The U.S. Senate approves an immigration bill prohibiting the hiring of illegal aliens and offers amnesty to illegal aliens who entered prior to 1982.

1989 – An earthquake in San Francisco (6.9 on the Richter scale) kills 67 people and leads to the cancellation of game 3 of the World Series. Watch earthquake footage and interviews:

2005 – The Colbert Report premiers with satirical newscaster Stephen Colbert and airs until 2014.

2006 – The U.S. population reaches 300 million. The current population is over 321 million.

2007 – Exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama receives the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal from President Bush.

October 18

1648 – Boston shoemakers form the first U.S. labor organization.

1767 – Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon complete their surveying and draw a line between Maryland and Pennsylvania to resolve a dispute between the British colonies and Colonial America. The Mason-Dixon boundary is agreed upon.

1867 – The U.S. takes formal possession of Alaska after purchasing it from Russia for $7.2 million on March 30th.

1892 – The first commercial long-distance phone line opens from Chicago to New York.

1943 – “Perry Mason” is first heard on the radio and is broadcast until 1955. The TV show premiers in 1957 and airs until 1966.

1944 – President Eisenhower confers with Generals Omar Bradley and Bernard Montgomery in Brussels.

1950 – Connie Mack (Cornelius McGillicuddy) retires as manager of Philadelphia Athletics after 50 years, making him the longest serving manager in baseball history.

1954 – Texas Instruments introduces the first transistor radio.

1955 – Track & Field magazine names Jesse Owens the best all-time track athlete.

1962 – Dr. Watson (U.S.) and Drs. Crick and Wilkins (Britain) win the Nobel Prize for Medicine for work in determining structure of DNA. Wilkins’s colleague Rosalind Franklin died of cancer in 1958 at the age of 37 and could not be honored. Crick and Wilkins both died in 2004. Watson is now 88 years old.

1969 – The Federal government bans the use of cyclamates in artificial sweeteners such as Sweet ‘N Low.

1977 – Reggie Jackson (Mr. October) hits 3 consecutive home runs, tying Babe Ruth’s World Series record. The Yankees beat the Dodgers 4 games to 2. Jackson is named MVP for the Series. He is now 70 years old. Watch Jackson’s third homer:

1978 – First daughter Susan Ford announces her engagement to Charles F. Vance. They marry in 1979 and divorce in 1988. Ford is now 59 years old.

1997 – The Women in Military Service for America Memorial honoring U.S. servicewomen, past and present, is dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery.

2009 – Quarterback Tom Brady throws five touchdowns in the 2nd quarter against the Tennessee Titans, setting a National Football League record for the most touchdown passes in one quarter.

2012 – Trading of Google stock is suspended after a premature release of a quarterly report indicates a 20 percent drop in profits and a 9 percent fall in share price.

2015 – US Airways merges with American Airlines.

October 19

1781 – The Revolutionary War ends when General Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, Virginia.

1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman in the U.S. to receive a medical degree.

1870 – The first blacks are elected to the House of Representatives. Four men are elected.

1914 – The U.S. post office first uses an automobile to collect and deliver mail.

1919 – Salvation Army commander Evangeline Booth is the first woman awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by President Woodrow Wilson. Watch her 1934 acceptance speech on being selected to head the International Salvation Army:

1951 – President Harry Truman formally ends the state of war with Germany.

1960 – Martin Luther King Jr. is arrested at an Atlanta sit-in.

1970 – John Frazier of the “People of the Free Universe” declares that World War 3 will begin and then he murders Dr. Ohta and his family in Santa Cruz, California. Frazier’s death sentence is changed to life in prison after California’s death penalty is ruled unconstitutional in 1972. He commits suicide in prison in 2009 at age 62 by hanging himself.

1977 – The ban on the Supersonic Concorde jets landing in the U.S is lifted. The first Concorde lands in New York on November 22nd. Only 20 Concorde jets are built in France and all the Concorde jets are bought by British Airways in 1983. The fleet of jets is retired in 2003.

1983 – The Senate establishes the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday. The first King holiday is celebrated on January 20, 1986.

1987 – The Dow Jones Index sees the second-largest one-day drop of a record 508.32 points (22 percent) on “Black Monday.”

1988 – The Senate passes a bill curbing ads during children’s TV shows.

2005 – Hurricane Wilma becomes the most intense Atlantic hurricane on record with a lowest pressure reading of 882 mb.

2014 – U.S. scientists generate a working human intestine in a laboratory from stem cells.

October 20

1818 – The 49th parallel forms as the border between the United States and Canada.

1864 – President Lincoln formally establishes Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

1873 – P. T. Barnum’s Hippodrome opens in New York City featuring “The Greatest Show on Earth.” It is destroyed in a fire on December 23, 1873.

1902 – Marian Nolan, the California Venus, is shot to death by Edward Marshuts, who then kills himself. Nolan at age 16 won a beauty contest as the most beautiful girl in California and has a statue made of her likeness.

1910 – A baseball with a cork center is used in a World Series game for the first time.

1930 – “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” debuts on NBC radio.

1945 – Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Lawrence opens the Nuremberg Nazi war crime trials.

1949 – Eugenie Anderson becomes the first woman U.S. ambassador (to Denmark). She died in 1997 at the age of 87.

1957 – Walter Cronkite begins hosting his weekly documentary “The Twentieth Century.” It airs until 1966.

1967 – Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin film a purported sighting of a Bigfoot. Watch the famous footage (no sound):

1968 – Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy marries Aristotle Onassis.

1973 – President Nixon proclaims Olympic gold medalist Jim Thorpe the greatest athlete of the first half of the 20th century.

1973 – President Nixon fires Watergate accuser Archibald Cox.

1975 – The Supreme Court rules teachers could spank their pupils after a warning.

1988 – Los Angeles is the first city to have both baseball and basketball championship teams as the LA Dodgers beat the Oakland A’s 4 games to 1 in the World Series. The LA Lakers beat the Detroit Pistons 4 games to 3 in the NBA finals in June.

1992 – The first World Series game outside of the U.S. is played when the Toronto Blue Jays host the Atlanta Braves. Toronto wins the game, and the World Series 4 games to 2.

1993 – The highest scoring World Series game is played. The final score is Blue Jays 15, Phillies 14, in the 4 hour and 14 minute game.

2003 – Kirk Jones, a 40-year-old unemployed salesman, goes over Niagara Falls without safety devices in a suicide attempt and survives. He is charged with illegally performing a stunt and fined $3,000.

October 21

1774 – The first display of the word “Liberty” is on a flag raised by colonists in Taunton, Massachusetts, in defiance of British rule in Colonial America.

1797 – The U.S. Navy frigate Constitution, nicknames Old Ironsides, launches from Boston.

1918 – Margaret Owen sets the world typing speed record at 170 words per minute. She won four world speed typing championships, including three consecutive titles from 1915 to 1917.

1925 – The U.S. Treasury Department announces that it has fined 29,620 people for prohibition (of alcohol) violations.

1959 – The Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, opens in New York City.

1960 – JFK and Richard Nixon clash in their 4th and final presidential debate.

1971 – President Nixon nominates William H. Rehnquist and Lewis F. Powell to the U.S. Supreme Court following the resignations of Justices Hugo Black and John Harlan.

1979 – Ozzie Newsome (Cleveland Browns) begins his National Football League streak of catching a pass in 150 consecutive games. Jerry Rice (Oakland Raiders) now holds the record at 274 consecutive games with a reception.

1991 – U.S. hostage Jesse Turner is released after almost five years in captivity in Beirut, Lebanon. Nearly 100 people were kidnapped during the 10-year period from 1982-1992. Turner’s daughter is born five months after his kidnapping by Pro-Iranian terrorists.

1998 – The New York Yankees set a major league baseball record of 125 victories for the regular and postseason combined.

2001 – “United We Stand” benefit concert for September 11, 2001, terrorist attack victims is held at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The event is organized and headlined by Michael Jackson and features pop stars Aerosmith, Mariah Carey, and The Backstreet Boys. Watch a star-studded group sing-along:

2015 – This is the date when Marty McFly (aka Michael J. Fox) arrives in the future in the movie “Back to the Future, Part II.”

October 22

1746 – Princeton University in New Jersey receives its charter, making it the fourth oldest university in the U.S. after Harvard, William & Mary, and Yale.

1836 – Sam Houston is inaugurated as the first elected president of the Republic of Texas.

1861 – The first telegraph line linking the West and East coast is completed.

1907 – Ringling Brothers “Greatest Show on Earth” buys Barnum & Bailey circus. They tour separately until the first combined performance in 1919 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

1938 – Chester Carlson demonstrates his invention of the Xerox copying machine.

1939 – The first televised NFL game features the Eagles vs the Dodgers. Watch excerpts from the 1939 football championship game (no sound):

1962 – President JFK imposes a naval blockade on Cuba, beginning the Cuban Missile Crisis.

1975 – The World Football League disbands after Week 12 of their second season.

1976 – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration bans Red Dye No. 4 is after it is discovered that it causes tumors in the bladders of dogs.

1979 – Walt Disney World admits its 100-millionth guest.

1981 – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the artificial sweetener aspartame for tabletop use.

1994 – A 70-foot-tall statue of Sam Houston is unveiled in Texas.

2010 – The International Space Station sets the record (3,641 days) for the longest continuous human occupation of space. It had been continuously inhabited since November 2, 2000.

October 23

1813 – The Pacific Fur Company trading post in Astoria, Oregon, (named for John Jacob Astor) is sold to their rival, British North West Company, during the War of 1812. The fur trade in the Pacific Northwest is dominated for the next three decades by the United Kingdom until the beaver population dwindles.

1910 – Blanche Stuart Scott becomes the first woman to fly solo in an airplane at a public event when she flies at an air meet in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1912 Scott becomes the first female test pilot.

1930 – J.K. Scott wins the first miniature golf tournament. The event is held in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

1932 – The “Fred Allen Show” premieres on the radio.

1956 – NBC broadcasts the first videotape recording. The tape of comedian Jonathan Winters is seen coast to coast in the U.S. Watch the opening credits:

1973 – President Nixon agrees to turn over his White House tape recordings to Judge Sirica as part of the Watergate investigation.

1981 – The U.S. national debt tops $1 trillion. It now tops $17.8 trillion (more than $3 trillion more than this time last year).

1991 – Clarence Thomas is sworn in as the first black Supreme Court Justice. Justice Thomas is 68 years old.

2000 – Universal Studios Consumer Products Group (USCPG) and Amblin Entertainment announce an unprecedented and exclusive three-year worldwide merchandising program with Toys “R” Us, Inc. for the rights to exclusive “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” merchandise.

2001 – Apple releases the iPod.

2015 – Singer-songwriter Adele releases her single “Hello,” which becomes the first song with more than a million downloads in its first week.


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