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 24-30, 2016

October 24

1861 – The first transcontinental telegram is sent, ending the Pony Express.

1901 – Annie Taylor becomes the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. The 43-year-old Michigan teacher survives the drop. The next attempt isn’t until 10 years later – by a man. Taylor’s barrel is on display as part of the Daredevil Gallery at the IMAX Theatre in Niagara Falls.

1911 – Orville Wright remains in the air in his glider for 9 minutes and 45 seconds at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, setting a new world record that stands for 10 years. Watch a video of the flight in still photos and a glider flight marking the 100th anniversary of the historic flight:

1926 – Harry Houdini’s last performance is at the Garrick Theatre in Detroit, Michigan. Houdini dies a few days later on Halloween at the age of 52.

1939 – Nylon stockings go on sale for the first time in Wilmington, Delaware.

1940 – The 40-hour-work week goes into effect as part of the Fair Labor Standards of 1938.

1946 – A camera on board the V-2 No. 13 rocket launched from White Sands, Mew Mexico, takes the first photograph of earth from outer space.

1954 – President Dwight Eisenhower pledges U.S. support to South Vietnam.

1987 – Robert Bork’s Supreme Court nomination is rejected by the U.S. Senate.

1989 – Televangelist Rev. Jim Bakker is sentenced to 45 years for fraud but serves only 4 years. He is now 76 years old. His wife, Tammy Faye Bakker, dies in 2007 at age 65. Watch an interview with the Bakkers:

2002 – Police arrest spree-murderers 42-year-old John Allen Muhammad and 17-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo, ending the Beltway sniper attacks in and around Washington, DC, that kills 10 people and wounds 3 others. Muhammad is sentenced to death and is executed by lethal injection in Virginia in 2009. Malvo receives life without parole because of his age.

2003 – Concorde makes its last commercial flight from New York City to London.

2009 – The First International Day of Climate Action is held. It is organized by, a global campaign to address a claimed global warming crisis, which is founded by American environmentalist Bill McKibben.

October 25

1825 – The Erie Canal opens, linking the Great Lakes and Atlantic Ocean.

1870 – Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness Stakes, opens in Baltimore, Maryland. Pimlico, the second jewel in horse racing’s Triple Crown, is the second oldest racetrack in the U.S. behind Saratoga.

1903 – The U.S. Senate begins investigating the Teapot Dome scandal during the Harding administration over bribes for oil reserves without competitive bidding in Montana.

1924 – The “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip is first published.

1955 – Tappan sells the first microwave oven. It cost $1,295.

1962 – U.S. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson presents photographic evidence to the United Nations Security Council of Soviet missile bases in Cuba.

1971 – Roy Disney dedicates Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Walt Disney died in 1966. Watch the dedication:

1978 – Gaylord Perry is the first pitcher to win the Cy Young Award in both leagues (AL – 1972 with the Cleveland Indians; NL – 1978 with the San Diego Padres).

1983 – The U.S. invades Grenada at President Reagan’s direction, a country 1/2,000 our population, to protect American citizens. (The U.S. wins!)

2000 – AT&T Corp. announces that it will restructure into a family of four separately traded companies (consumer, business, broadband and wireless).

2003 – The Florida Marlins defeat the New York Yankees in the 100th World Series 4 games to 2. Watch the final tag out for the Marlins’ World Series win:

2004 – Fidel Castro, Cuba’s President, announces that transactions using the American Dollar will be banned by November 8.

October 26

1776 – Benjamin Franklin departs America for France on a mission to seek French support for the American Revolution.

1787 – The “Federalist Papers” are published calling for the ratification of the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay write the series of 85 articles and essays.

1825 – The Erie Canal opens between the Hudson River and Lake Erie.

1881 – Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp along with Doc Holliday are involved in a gunfight near the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, against Billy and Ike Clanton along with Tom and Frank McLaury. Billy Clanton and both McLaury brothers are killed. Virgin and Morgan are wounded.

1916 – Margaret Sanger (eugenicist and future Planned Parenthood founder) is arrested for obscenity by advocating birth control.

1919 – President Woodrow Wilson’s veto of the Volstead Act (Prohibition Enforcement Bill) is overridden by the Senate, leading the passage of the 18th Amendment after it is ratified by the states.

1949 – President Harry Truman increases the minimum wage from 40 cents to 75 cents an hour.

1958 – PanAm flies the first transatlantic jet trip from New York to Paris.

1962 – President JFK warns Russia that the U.S. will not allow Soviet missiles to remain in Cuba. Nikita Khrushchev sends note to JFK the following day offering to withdraw his missiles from Cuba if the U.S. closed its bases in Turkey. The offer is rejected.

1970 – “Doonesbury,” the comic strip by Gary Trudeau, premieres in 28 newspapers across the U.S.

1975 – Anwar Sadat became the first Egyptian president to officially visit the U.S.

1977 – The experimental space shuttle Enterprise successfully lands at Edwards Air Force Base in California after separating from a 747. Watch a video of the live separation:

1982 – Steve Carlton became the first pitcher to win 4 Cy Young awards. Roger Clemens has won 7 Cy Young Awards (combined in both leagues).

1988 – American and Soviet icebreakers free two whales that had been trapped for nearly 3 weeks in an Arctic ice pack.

2000 – The New York Yankees defeat the New York Mets 4-1 to win their third straight World Series championship.

2001 – The U.S. passes the USA PATRIOT Act into law.

2003 – The Cedar Fire, the second-largest fire in California history, kills 15 people, consumes 250,000 acres, and destroys 2,200 homes around San Diego. Watch a report made by a retired fire captain:

2005 – The Chicago White Sox defeat the Houston Astros in the World Series 4 games to 0.

2012 – China blocks the New York Times from Internet searches and social media in response to an investigation into Premier Wen Jiabao.

October 27

1795 – The Treaty of San Lorenzo provides for the free navigation of Mississippi.

1838 – Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs issues the Executive Order 44, which orders all Mormons to leave the state or be exterminated. It is signed in the aftermath of the Battle of Crooked River, a clash between Mormons and a unit of the Missouri State Guard in northern Ray County, Missouri.

1871 – Boss Tweed (William Macy Tweed), Democrat leader of Tammany Hall, is arrested after the New York Times exposes his corruption.

1904 – On the first day of operation of the New York City subway, 350,000 people ride the 9.1-mile track. It is the world’s first subway and the fare is 5 cents.

1916 – The first published reference to “jazz” appears in Variety Magazine as a reference to the new style of American music.

1925 – Fred Waller of New York is issued the first patent for water skis. Waller also invents the Cinerama widescreen film format.

1938 – DuPont announces its new synthetic fiber will be called “nylon.” It was patented in 1935. Wallace Carothers, its inventor, died in 1937 at age 41.

1947 – “You Bet Your Life” with Groucho Marx premieres on the radio and moves to TV in 1950. It is renamed “You Bet Your Life with Groucho Marx” and airs until 1961. Marx died in 1977 at age 86.

1954 – Walt Disney’s first television program, “The Disneyland Story,” premieres on TV. The show is renamed “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” and airs until 1992. Watch the opening credits and a history of Disney:

1954 – Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio get divorced. They were married on January 14, 1954.

1969 – Ralph Nader sets up a consumer organization known as Nader’s Raiders. The former Democrat presidential candidate is 82 years old.

1985 – The Kansas City Royals beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series 4 games to 3.

1988 – Larry Flynt, Hustler Magazine publisher, pays a hit man $1 million to kill Hugh Hefner, Bob Guccione, Walter Annenberg, and Frank Sinatra. The alleged hit man, Mitchell Werbell, dies soon after. Flynt, now age 73, is shot and paralyzed in 1978.

2002 – The Anaheim Angels defeat the San Francisco Giants in the World Series 4 games to 3.

2006 – The St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Detroit Tigers in the World Series 4 games to 1.

October 28

1636 – Harvard University is founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts, making it the oldest university in America.

1793 – Eli Whitney applies for a patent on his cotton gin.

1858 – Macy’s Department store opens in New York City. Rowland Macy opens the store after his first seven business ventures fail. Macy died in 1877 at age 54.

1886 – The Statue of Liberty is dedicated by President Grover Cleveland. The event is celebrated by the first confetti (ticker tape) parade in New York City.

1904 – The St. Louis Police Department is the first to try a new investigation method when they test for fingerprints.

1919 – Congress passes the Volstead Act over President Wilson’s veto, which starts Prohibition.

1936 – President FDR rededicates the Statue of Liberty on its 50th anniversary.

1962 – New York Giant quarterback Y.A. Tittle passes for a record 7 touchdowns against the Washington Redskins, winning 49-34. He shares that record with six other quarterbacks, most recently Payton Manning (Denver Broncos vs. Baltimore Ravens on September 5, 2013). Watch a video with an interview with YA:

1965 – The Gateway Arch along the waterfront in St. Louis, Missouri, is completed.

1974 – Luna 23 is launched and lands on the Moon. The spacecraft is damaged on landing and lunar samples could not be collected. Luna 24 is launched in 1976 and successfully collects and returns lunar samples.

1985 – John A. Walker Jr. and his son Michael Lance Walker plead guilty to charges of spying for the Soviet Union.

1986 – The centennial of the Statue of Liberty’s dedication is celebrated in New York Harbor.

1989 – The Oakland A’s sweep the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. A 6.9 earthquake hits the Bay Area at the start of Game 3.

1995 – The Atlanta Braves beat the Cleveland Indians 4 games to 2 in the World Series.

2005 – Lewis Libby, Vice-president Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, is indicted in the Valerie Plame case. Libby resigns later that day.

2007 – The Boston Red Sox defeat the Colorado Rockies in the World Series 4 games to 0.

2009 – NASA successfully launches the Ares I-X mission, the only rocket launch for its later-cancelled Constellation program.

2011 – The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers in the World Series 4 games to 3.

2012 – The San Francisco Giants defeat the Detroit Tigers in the World Series 4 games to 0.

October 29

1682 – William Penn lands in what will become Pennsylvania.

1811 – The first Ohio River steamboat leaves Pittsburgh for New Orleans.

1929 – On “Black Tuesday” the stock market crashes, triggering “The Great Depression.” (Not to be confused with the Depression of 1893.)

1940 – The first peacetime military draft begins in the U.S.

1945 – The first ballpoint pen goes on sale, 57 years after it is patented by John J. Loud. (See Oct. 30, 1888)

1956 – Chet Huntley and David Brinkley of NBC News team up for a nightly broadcast. The last Huntley-Brinkley Report airs in 1970.

1960 – Eighteen-year-old Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) wins his first professional fight, beating Tunney Hunsaker by decision in 6 rounds. Watch part of the bout (no sound):

1966 – The National Organization of Women (NOW) is founded by Shirley Chisholm, Betty Friedan, and Muriel Fox.

1974 – President Gerald Ford signs a new law forbidding discrimination in credit applications on the basis of gender or marital status.

1998 – The Space Shuttle Discovery blasts off on Mission STS-95 with 77-year old John Glenn on board, making Glenn the oldest person to go into space. Glenn is the first American is space in 1962. Glenn is now 95 years old.

2004 – The Arabic news network Al Jazeera broadcasts an excerpt from a video of Osama bin Laden in which the terrorist leader first admits direct responsibility for the September 11, 2001 attacks and references the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

2008 – Delta Air Lines merges with Northwest Airlines, creating the world’s largest airline and reducing the number of U.S. air carriers to 5.

2008 – The Philadelphia Phillies defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series 4 games to 1.

2012 – Hurricane Sandy makes landfall in New Jersey resulting in 110 deaths, $50 billion in damage, and forcing the New York stock exchange to close. Watch a live CNN report:

2012 – Publishing companies Penguin and Random House merge to form the world’s largest publisher.

2014 – The San Francisco Giants beat the Kansas City Royals in the World Series 4 games to 3.

2015 – Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) is elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, succeeding John Boehner (R-Ohio).

October 30

1768 – Wesley Chapel in New York City is initiated as the first Methodist church in the U.S.

1873 – The P. T. Barnum’s circus “The Greatest Show on Earth” debuts in New York City.

1888 – John J. Loud patents the ballpoint pen. (See Oct. 29, 1945)

1900 – The first-ever U.S. auto show opens in Madison Square Garden in New York City.

1938 – Orson Welles creates a national panic with his radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds.”

1945 – Branch Rickey signs Jackie Robinson to the Montreal Royals baseball team to break the major league color barrier.

1954 – The Defense Department announces the elimination of all segregated regiments in the U.S. Armed Forces.

1974 – California Angels pitcher Nolan Ryan throws the fastest recorded baseball pitch at 100.9 MPH. Watch a video of the top 5 fastest pitchers in MLB history:

1989 – Smith Dairy at Orrville, Ohio, makes largest milk shake at 1,575.2 gallons to celebrate the opening of its newest plant.

2012 – Walt Disney purchases Lucasfilm Ltd. and its rights for Star Wars and Indiana Jones for $4.05 billion.

2013 – The Boston Red Sox defeat St Louis Cardinals to win the World Series 4 games to 2.


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