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 31-November 6, 2016
1846 – The Donner party, unable to cross the Sierra Nevada pass, constructs a winter camp. Only half of the 90 people who left Illinois arrive in California the following spring. They resorted to cannibalism to survive.
1892 – Arthur Conan Doyle publishes “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.”
1913 – The first U.S. paved coast-to-coast highway, the Lincoln Highway, is dedicated.
1926 – Magician Harry Houdini dies of gangrene and peritonitis resulting from a ruptured appendix. His appendix had been damaged twelve days earlier when a student unexpectedly punches Houdini in the stomach. Houdini was 52 years old.
1938 – In an effort to try restore investor confidence after the Great Depression, the New York Stock Exchange unveils a fifteen-point program aimed to upgrade protection for the investing public.
1941 – Mount Rushmore is declared complete after 14 years of work showing the 60-foot busts of U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
1950 – Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola of Puerto Rico attempt to kill President Truman at his Blair House residence in Washington, DC. Torresola shoots and mortally wounds police guard Leslie Coffelt, but not before the officer shoots and kills Torresola. Collazo is captured, tried, and sentenced to death. His sentence is later commuted to life in prison. In 1979 President Carter reduces his sentence to time served (27 years) and Collazo is released. He died in Puerto Rico in 1994 at age 80.
1959 – Lee Harvey Oswald announces from Moscow that he will never return to the U.S. Oswald return to the U.S. and assassinates President Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
1968 – President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered a halt to all U.S. bombing of North Vietnam.
1974 – One of Ted Bundy’s 30+ victims, Laura Aime, disappears in Utah. Her body is found November 27th. Bundy is executed in the electric chair in 1989.
1988 – The first Monday Night National Football League game is played. The Indianapolis Colts beat the Denver Broncos 55-23.
2002 – A federal grand jury in Houston, Texas, formally indicts former Enron Corp. chief financial officer Andrew Fastow on 78 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice related to the collapse of his company Enron. In 2006 Fastow is sentenced to only 6 years in prison and is released in 2011. Fastow is now 54 years old.
2003 – Bethany Hamilton, age 13, has her arm bitten of by a shark while surfing in Hawaii. Her story is the basis for the inspirational 2011 movie “Soul Surfer.” Hamilton is now 26 years old. Watch Bethany tell her own story:
2012 – The New York stock exchange opens after being closed for two days following Hurricane Sandy.
1765 – The Stamp Act goes into effect in the American colonies.
1776 – Mission San Juan Capistrano is founded in California. Swallows return to the mission on March 19th every year.
1800 – John Adams becomes the first president to live in the White House.
1870 – The U.S. Weather Bureau makes its first meteorological observations using 24 locations that provided reports via telegraph.
1917 – The first U.S. soldiers are killed in combat n WW I.
1924 – The Boston Bruins are the first U.S. National Hockey League franchise.
1936 – The Rodeo Cowboys Association is founded.
1938 – Seabiscuit beats War Admiral in a match race at Pimlico horse racing track. Watch the original footage of the exciting race:
1951 – Jet magazine founded by John H. Johnson.
1959 – Jacques Plante is the first National Hockey League goalie to wear a hockey mask.
1964 – George Blanda of the Houston Oilers throws a National Football League record 37 passes in 68 attempts. (Drew Bledsoe breaks the record with 70 in 1994.) Blanda also holds the record as the oldest player to start a game at age 48 and the longest career with 26 seasons. Blanda died in 2010 at age 83. Watch 46-year-old Blanda complete a 28-yard pass:
1968 – The movie rating system of G, M, R, X, PG-13 and NC-17 goes into effect.
1971 – The Eisenhower dollar goes into circulation.
1973 – Leon Jaworski is appointed the new Watergate special prosecutor in the Watergate case.
1981 – The U.S. Postal Service raises the first-class letter rate to 20 cents.
1982 – Honda becomes the first Asian automobile company to produce cars in the U.S. when the factory opens in Marysville, Ohio.
1994 – The Amazon.com domain name is registered.
2012 – American scientists detect evidence of light from the universe’s first stars, predicted to have formed 500 million years after the big bang.
2012 – Google’s Gmail becomes the world’s most popular email service.
1783 – General George Washington, later the first American President, bids farewell to his army at Fraunces Tavern after winning the American Revolutionary War.
1898 – Cheerleading is started at the University of Minnesota when Johnny Campbell leads the crowd in cheering on the football team.
1917 – The first U.S. soldiers killed in combat in World War I.
1947 – Howard Hughes flies the “Spruce Goose,” a large wooden airplane of his own design. Watch the silent film of the flight:
1948 – President Harry Truman is re-elected in an upset over Republican Thomas Dewey.
1954 – Strom Thurmond (D-SC) is the first Senator elected by write-in vote. He switches to the Republican Party in 1964. At age 100 he is the oldest person to serve in Congress. Thurmond died in 2003 at age 100.
1959 – Contestant Charles Van Doren confesses that the popular TV quiz show “21” is fixed. Watch a short newsreel film:
1976 – New Jersey voters approve gambling in Atlantic City.
1983 – President Ronald Reagan signs the bill establishing the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
1984 – Velma Barfield becomes the first woman executed in the U.S. since 1962 after her conviction of murder. She is convicted for one murder but admits to six. She is the first woman executed by lethal injection.
2000 – The first crew arrives at the International Space Station.
1783 – George Washington orders the Continental Army disbanded.
1883 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that Native Americans can’t be American citizens.
1883 – Self-described “Black Bart the poet” leaves an incriminating clue at his last stagecoach robbery that eventually leads to his capture.
1896 – Martha Hughes Cannon of Utah is elected the first female state senator.
1917 – The first class stamp goes up to 3 cents.
1930 – The first vehicular tunnel to a foreign country opens connecting Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Canada.
1952 – Clarence Birdseye markets frozen peas using his invention for the flash freezing process of foods. Watch a “Sunday Morning” report on his life: Clarence Birdseye
1956 – The movie “Wizard of Oz” is first shown on TV.
1962 – NBA’s Wilt Chamberlain of the San Francisco Warriors scores 72 points against the Los Angeles Lakers.
1975 – “Good Morning America” premieres on TV with hosts David Hartman and Nancy Dussault. Hartman leaves GMA in 1987.
1988 – Talk-show host Geraldo Rivera’s nose is broken as Roy Innis brawls with skinheads during the taping of his TV show. Watch the incident:
1994 – Susan Smith, who claimed her two sons were carjacked, is arrested for murder after her car was found in John D. Long Lake with her children still strapped in their seats. Smith is now serving a sentence of life in prison after confessing to their murder. She will be eligible for parole in 2024.
2014 – New York’s 104-storey One World Trade Center officially opens 13 years after the September 11 attacks.
1646 – Massachusetts uses the death penalty as punishment for denying that the Holy Bible is God’s word.
1845 – The first nationally observed uniform Election Day is held in the United States. Election Day is now the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
1862 – Dr. Richard Gatling of Indianapolis, Indiana, patents the Gatling machine gun. It could fire 200+ rounds per minute with 6-10 rotating barrels using a manually operated hand crank. In contrast, the modern Gatling gun fires thousands of rounds per minute.
1879 – James Ritty patents the first cash register to combat stealing by bartenders in his Dayton, Ohio saloon. It registered the time and amount of the sale but had no cash drawer.
1924 – Nellie Tayloe Ross (D-Wyoming) is elected as the first female governor in the U.S.
1939 – The first air-conditioned automobile (Packard) is exhibited in Chicago, Illinois.
1960 – “Misfits” premieres as the final movie for both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. Gable dies less than two weeks later on November 16 at age 59, and Monroe dies in August of 1962 at age 36. (Monroe starts filming “Something’s Got To Give” in 1962, but she is fired before its completion.) Watch the official “Misfits” trailer:
1970 – Genie Wiley, a 13-year-old feral child is found in Los Angeles, California, after having been locked in her bedroom for most of her life.
1980 – Ronald Reagan (R) defeats incumbent presidential candidate Jimmy Carter (D) by a landslide. Reagan wins 49 states.
1981 – Dr. George Nichopoulas is acquitted of overprescribing addictive drugs for Elvis Presley.
1986 – Democrats gain control of the U.S. Senate six years into the Reagan presidency.
1991 – Ronald Reagan opens his presidential library in Simi Valley, California. The dedication ceremony is attended by President Bush and 3 former U.S. presidents – Jimmy Carter, Gerald R. Ford, and Richard M. Nixon. It is the first time 5 presidents (former and current) met. Take a tour of the library with actor Gary Sinese:
2003 – Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy becomes the first person indicted under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. He was eventually acquitted.
2008 – Barack Obama becomes the first bi-racial person to be elected President of the U.S.
1639 – The first post office in the colonies is set up in Massachusetts.
1781 – John Hanson is elected the first “President of the U.S. in Congress assembled” (Continental Congress).
1895 – George B. Selden is granted the first U.S. patent for an internal-combustion gasoline fueled automobile.
1917 – The Supreme Court decision of Buchanan v Warley strikes down a Louisville, Kentucky, ordinance requiring backs and whites to live in separate areas.
1935 – Parker Brothers launches the game of Monopoly.
1940 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) wins an unprecedented third term by beating Wendell Willkie (R). He is elected to a fourth term on November 7, 1944 by defeating Thomas Dewey but FDR dies in April of 1945 at age 63. Vice President Harry S. Truman succeeds FDR.
1956 – Nat King Cole launches a weekly TV show making him the first black person to host his own show on a major national TV network. Cole died in 1965 at age 45. Watch Cole sing on his own show:
1967 – The spacecraft ATS-3 is launched by the U.S. and takes the first pictures of the full Earth.
1974 – Ella T. Grasso was elected governor of Connecticut. She is the first woman in the U.S. to win a governorship without succeeding her husband.
1979 – Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini declares that the U.S. is “The Great Satan.” He dies in 1989.
1994 – George Foreman, at age 45, becomes boxing’s oldest heavyweight champion when he knocks out Michael Moorer in the 10th round of their WBA fight in Las Vegas, Nevada. Foreman is now 67 years old. Watch the final round:
2009 – U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan kills 13 and wounds 43 at Fort Hood, Texas, in the largest mass shooting ever at a U.S. military installation. He is convicted and sentenced to death by a military jury in August 2013. He is awaiting execution.
2015 – Collins Dictionary names “binge-watch” the word of the year. It defines the verb binge-watch as watching a large number of TV programs in succession.
1789 – Pope Pius VI appoints Father John Carroll as the first Catholic bishop in the U.S.
1861 – Jefferson Davis is elected to a 6-year term as Confederate president. He died in 1889 at the age of 81.
1923 – Jacob Schick is granted a patent for the electric shaver.
1938 – The three DiMaggio brothers (Vince, Joe, and Dominic) play baseball together in a west coast charity game. They are the only trio of brothers to have been All-Stars. Over 350 sets of brothers (including sets of twins) have played major league baseball.
1947 – NBC’s “Meet the Press” debuts and is now the longest running TV show in the U.S.
1952 – The first hydrogen bomb is exploded at Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.
1966 – For the first time the entire TV lineup is televised in color on NBC.
1967 – Phil Donahue begins a TV talk show in Dayton, Ohio, that airs for 29 years. Watch the famous show in 1977 with Marlo Thomas that leads to matrimony. They are still married:
1984 – The New York Stock Exchange remains open during a presidential election day for the first time in 193 years.
1986 – Reagan signs a landmark immigration reform bill.
1990 – A fire destroys some of Universal Studios stages. The fire causes $25 million in damage and is started by a security guard who is sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to arson. Watch a report on the fire:
2012 – The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico votes in favor of becoming a US state.