This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“No problem of human making is too great to be overcome by
human ingenuity, human energy, and the untiring hope of the human spirit.”
President George H. W. Bush
Week of April 1-7, 2019
1778 – New Orleans businessman Oliver Pollock creates the “$” (dollar) symbol.
1866 – Congress rejects a veto by President Andrew Johnson (D-TN) giving equal rights to all people in the U.S. It was the first major piece of legislation passed over a presidential veto.
1889 – The first dishwashing machine is marketed in Chicago, Illinois. Josephine Cochrane patents her invention in 1886. A wealthy socialite, Cochrane designed the dishwasher because she was tired of her best china being chipped by the hired help. Cochrane’s dishwashing machine company eventually became KitchenAid. Cochrane died in 1913 at age 74.
1891 – The Wrigley Company is founded in Chicago, Illinois. At the age of 29 William Wrigley, Jr. left his home in Philadelphia with $32 and started selling his father’s soap in Chicago. In 1893, after giving away chewing gum as a promotion, he introduced a new gum called “Juicy Fruit.” Wrigley died in 1932 at age 70.
1934 – Bonnie and Clyde kill two police officers near Grapevine, Texas. On May 23rd, law enforcement officers killed Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow near Sailes, Louisiana. Bonnie was 23 and Clyde was 25.
1938 – The Baseball Hall of Fame opens in Cooperstown, New York. The first inductees were Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, and Babe Ruth.
1946 – Weight Watchers is formed by overweight housewife Jean Nidetch in her apartment in Queens, New York. Nidetch died in 2015 at age 91. Watch a brief history of Weight Watchers:
1948 – Ralph Alpher (American), Hans Bethe, and George Gamow propose the Big Bang Theory in Physical Review, a publication organized in 1893 at Cornell University.
1954 – The U.S. Air Force Academy is formed in Colorado.
1991 – The U.S. minimum wage goes from $3.80 to $4.25 per hour.
1992 – The battleship USS Missouri (on which Japan surrendered ending World War II) is decommissioned. It is now a memorial museum at Pearl Harbor. The USS Missouri was used in the 2012 movie “Battleship.” The extras in the movie were actual WWII veterans from the USS Missouri.
2004 – Google introduces Gmail. The launch is met with skepticism because of the launch date.
2009 – President Obama bows when meeting King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Watch the greeting:
1792 – The Coinage Act is passed establishing the United States Mint.
1870 – Victoria Woodhull is the first woman to be nominated for the U.S. presidency. She ran on the Equal Right Party ticket. Woodhull died in 1927 at age 88.
1917 – President Woodrow Wilson asks Congress to declare war against Germany. Congress declared war on the German Empire on April 6th.
1932 – Charles Lindbergh turns over $50,000 as ransom for his kidnapped son. In April 1936, Richard Bruno Hauptmann was executed for the kidnapping and death of the Lindbergh’s son. Watch a short report about the “crime of the century”:
1978 – The TV show “Dallas” premieres on CBS and airs until 1991. The Southfork Ranch is actually located in Parker, Texas, about 25 miles north of Dallas. “Dallas” launched its new series in 2012. Larry Hagman (JR Ewing) died in 2012 at age 81 after filming just 17 new episodes.
1987 – The speed limit on U.S. interstate highways is increased to 65 miles per hour in limited areas. Speed limits mow vary from state to state.
2014 – The Supreme Court rules (5-4 decision) in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission that limits on the total amount of money individuals can give political candidates and political action committees is unconstitutional.
1513 – Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon lands at what is now Florida.
1860 – The first Pony Express riders leave St. Joseph, Missouri, for Sacramento, California, on a trip across the country that takes about a week. The Pony Express, which advertises for “Young, skinny, wiry fellows, not over 18, must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily, orphans preferred,” only lasts about a year and a half. Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok are among the riders. Watch a brief history of the Pony Express:
1882 – The outlaw Jesse James is shot in the back and killed by Robert Ford. Jesse James was 34 years old.
1949 – Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis debut on radio on the “Martin and Lewis Show”. The NBC radio program ran until 1953. Martin and Lewis go on to star in a variety of TV shows and movies. Martin died in 1995 at age 78. Lewis died in 2017 at age 91.
1953 – “TV Guide” is published for the first time. Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s son Desi Arnaz, Jr. is on the cover. Little Desi is now 66 years old.
1991 – Football player Bo Jackson signs a 1-year contract with the Chicago White Sox baseball team. Jackson was the first athlete to play in an All-Star game in two different sports. In 2013, ESPN named Jackson the “Greatest Athlete of All Time.” Watch ESPN’s interview with Bo:
1996 – Unabomber suspect Theodore Kaczynski is arrested. He pleaded guilty in January 1998 to five Unabomber attacks in exchange for a life sentence without the chance of parole. Kaczynski is now 76 years old.
2010 – The first Apple iPad is released.
1818 – Congress passes a plan that says the U.S. flag will have 13 red and white stripes and 20 stars. It had 15 stripes to represent 15 states, but Congress realized it would be impractical to keep adding stripes. The plan allowed that a new star would be added for the each new state.
1841 – President William Henry Harrison, at the age of 68, becomes the first president to die in office. He took the oath of office only a month before he died of pneumonia. He delivered a 2-hour inaugural address on a cold, wet day without wearing a coat or hat.
1914 – The first known serialized moving picture opens in New York City. It was “The Perils of Pauline.” Watch the first episode (black and white with dramatic piano music):
1949 – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) treaty is signed in Washington, DC.
1968 – Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, at age 39.
1974 – Hank Aaron ties Babe Ruth’s home-run record by hitting his 714th home run. Watch #714 go over Pete Rose’s head:
1975 – Microsoft is founded as a partnership between Bill Gates and Paul Allen.
2008 – During a raid on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints owned YFZ Ranch in Texas, 401 children and 133 women are taken into state custody. Several male members of the compound were found guilty or plead no contest to sexual assault.
1792 – President George Washington casts the first presidential veto. He determined that the apportionment bill passed by Congress violated the constitutional guidelines that determined the number of delegates in the House of
1869 – Daniel Bakeman, the last surviving soldier of the U.S. Revolutionary War, dies at the age of 109.
1951 – Americans Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are sentenced to death for committing espionage for the Soviet Union.
1973 – Pioneer 11 launches on its mission to study Jupiter. NASA lost contact with the spacecraft in 1995 after receiving data for 22 years. Watch a video of the space mission:
1974 – The world’s tallest building, the World Trade Center, opens in New York City at 110 stories. We will always remember 9-11-2001.
2009 – The media is allowed to film the return of slain soldiers for the first time when an 18-year ban is lifted. President George H.W. Bush placed the ban on photos and President Obama lifted the ban.
2015 – Rolling Stone Magazine retracts the “Rape on Campus” story it published in 2014 about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia. In 2016, the university won a defamation lawsuit against the magazine for the fake news story.
2016 – PayPal announces it is cancelling a $3.6 million investment in North Carolina after the state passes anti-gay legislation, although PayPal continues to do business in communist China.
1789 – The first U.S. Congress begins regular sessions at Federal Hall in New York City. George Washington was inaugurated there the same month. Built in 1700, the building was demolished in 1812.
1896 – The first modern Olympic games opens in Athens, Greece. American James Connolly is known as the first modern Olympic Champion. He left Harvard at age 27 to compete in Athens. Connolly won a Silver medal in the high jump, a Bronze medal in the long jump, and a Gold medal in the triple jump. Connolly also competed in the 1900 and 1906 Olympics. Connolly died in 1957 at age 88.
1909 – Americans Robert Peary and Matthew Henson reach the North Pole. Frederick Cook claimed to have reached the North Pole one year earlier. In 1988, Matthew Henson was buried next to Robert Peary in Arlington National Cemetery. Henson died in 1955 and was originally buried in New York City’s Woodlawn Cemetery.
1924 – Four Douglas airplanes leave Seattle, Washington, on the first successful around-the-world flight. They traveled about 25,000 miles and returned to Seattle on September 28th.
1927 – William P. MacCracken, Jr. earns license Number 1 when the Department of Commerce issues the first pilot’s license.
1947 – The First Tony Awards, formally known as the Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theatre, is held in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Among the winners were José Ferrer in “Cyrano de Bergerac” and Ingrid Bergman in “Joan of Lorraine.” Antoinette “Tony” Perry was a stage actress and director in the early 1900s. She also co-founded the American Theatre Wing, which operated the Stage Door Canteens during WWII. Perry died in 1946 and the first awards were given out in 1947.
1954 – The first frozen TV dinner, made by Swanson & Sons, goes on sale. They cost 98 cents and contained turkey, sweet potatoes, peas, and corn bread stuffing. Watch a 1955 Swanson commercial:
1965 – President Lyndon B. Johnson authorizes the use of ground troops in combat operations in Vietnam. The last U.S. troops withdrew from Vietnam in March 1973, making it America’s longest war.
1980 – Post-It Notes are introduced. 3M scientist Dr. Spencer Silver discovered the unique adhesive on accident while trying to invent a strong adhesive.
1983 – The Veteran’s Administration (VA) announces it will give free medical care for conditions traceable to radiation exposure to more than 220,000 veterans who participated in nuclear tests from 1945 to 1962.
2009 – President Barack Hussein Obama, during a visit to Turkey, announces that the U.S. is not, and never will be, at war with Islam. Watch his claim:
1890 – Ellis Island is designated as an immigration station. Prior to this the individual states regulated immigration. A new structure was built and opened in 1892 and operated for 61 years. The original building is now part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
1922 – President Warren G. Harding’s Interior Secretary, Albert B. Fall, leases the Teapot Dome oil reserves to Harry Sinclair without competitive bidding, setting in motion what became known as the Teapot Dome Scandal.
1933 – Prohibition ends when Utah becomes the 38th state to ratify 21st Amendment. The prohibition on the sale of alcoholic beverages began in 1919.
1966 – The U.S. recovers an H-bomb from the floor of the Mediterranean Sea after a 2 ½ month search. Four H-bombs were released, with two detonating, when a B-52 bomber and a KC-135 tanker collided in air while refueling, killing 7 of the 11 crew members on board the two aircraft. Both aircraft were destroyed and the other three bombs were found on land in southern Spain. Watch a report of the mission and crash, with actual recovery footage:
1970 – John Wayne wins his first and only Oscar for his role in the movie “True Grit.” He starred in over 200 films. John Wayne died in 1979 at age 72. Watch his Oscar presentation and acceptance speech:
2001 – The Mars Odyssey rocket is launched. The mission has been extended five times and had enough propellant to last until 2025. It is the longest-surviving continually active spacecraft in orbit around a planet (other than Earth).
2003 – U.S. troops capture Baghdad, Iraq. Saddam Hussein’s regime falls two days later. Saddam was captured in December, convicted of mass killings, and hanged in 2006.
2003 – The Supreme Court rules that, although burning a cross at a Ku Klux Klan rally is protected by the First Amendment, burning a cross as a means of intimidation is not, thus upholding a 50-year-old Virginia law.
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