This Week in History: April 22-28, 2019


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 22-28, 2019


April 22

1864 – The United States mints a 2-cent coin. It has the first appearance of “In God We Trust.” On this date in 1955, Congress ordered all U.S. coins to bear the motto “In God We Trust.”

1889 – The Oklahoma land rush officially starts. The name “Sooners” comes from a clause in the Indian Appropriations Act that denied the right to claim land to anyone who arrived sooner than the official opening time.

1931 – James G. Ray lands an autogyro on the lawn of the White House. President Hoover presented pilot Ray and autogyro builder Harold Pitcairn with the National Aeronatic Association’s Collier Trophy, awarded “for the greatest achievement in aviation in America, the value of which has been demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year.” Watch a silent video of the landing:

1970 – The first “Earth Day” is observed by millions of Americans. Twenty million Americans participated in various events coordinated by Denis Hayes. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), the founder of Earth Day, died in 2005 at age 89.

1972 – Apollo 16 astronauts John Young and Charles Duke ride on the moon in the Lunar Roving Vehicle. Apollo 17 in December 1972 was the last manned mission to the moon. Watch the historic moon ride:

2000 – In a pre-dawn raid, federal agents seize six-year-old Elián González from his uncle’s home in Miami, Florida. González is among Cuban boat people rescued on Thanksgiving Day when 12 members of his family die. He was released to his uncle but his father in Cuba demanded custody. Attorney General Janet Reno approved the plan to forcibly remove González from the home. He returned to Cuba on June 28th. González is now 26 years old.

2005 – Zacarias Moussaoui (a French citizen of Moroccan descent) pleads guilty to conspiring with other al-Qaeda members in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He was later sentenced to life in prison and is now serving a life sentence at the Federal ADX Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.

2014 – The Supreme Court rules 6 to 2 in favor of a Michigan ban on affirmative action.

April 23

1635 – The oldest U.S. public institution still in operation, Boston Latin School, is founded.

1908 – President Theodore Roosevelt signs an act creating the U.S. Army Reserve.

1924 – The U.S. Senate passes the Soldiers Bonus Bill for World War I vets. President Coolidge vetoed the bill in May but Congress overrode the presidential veto. President Harding vetoed a similar bill in 1922. Veterans marched on Washington in 1932 to forced Congress to pay the bonuses.

1954 – Hammerin’ Hank Aaron hits the first of his 755 homers. Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record with 715 during a home game for the Atlanta Braves on April 8, 1974. He hit his final home run as a Milwaukee Brewer on July 20, 1976. Aaron is now 84 years old.

1956 – The U.S. Supreme Court ends race segregation on buses.

1969 – Sirhan Sirhan is sentenced to death for killing Bobby Kennedy on June 6, 1968. Three years later Sirhan’s sentence is commuted to life in prison because California deems capital punishment of convicted assassins as cruel and unusual punishment. Sirhan is still in prison and is now 74 years old.

1984 – Researchers announce they discovered and isolated a virus they say is likely to be the primary cause of AIDS.

1985 – The Coca-Cola Company announces that it is changing its 99-year-old secret formula. New Coke was not successful, which resulted in the resumption of the selling the original version. Watch the mea culpa announcement of Coca-Cola returning to the original formula:

1988 – A federal ban on smoking during domestic airline flights of 2 hours or less takes effect.

1992 – Marion Barry, former mayor of Washington, DC, is released from prison following his conviction for drug possession. Barry was reelected mayor of DC in 1994.

1996 – An auction of the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ possessions begins at Sotheby’s in New York City. The sale brought in $34.5 million.

2005 – The first video is uploaded to Watch the first YouTube video with over 30 million views:

2009 – The iTunes Music Store reaches 1 billion applications downloaded.

2010 – Arizona’s governor Jan Brewer signs an immigration bill into law that is seen as one of the toughest in the U.S., despite criticism by President Obama.

April 24

1704 – The “Boston News-Letter” is established. It was the first successful newspaper in the U.S.

1800 – The Library of Congress is established when President John Adams signs a bill that also moves the capital from Philadelphia to Washington, DC. The bill included a $5,000 allocation for a reference library for Congressional use.

1898 – Spain declares war after rejecting the U.S. ultimatum to withdraw from Cuba. The U.S. won the 10-week-long war.

1907 – Hersheypark, founded by Milton S. Hershey for the exclusive use of his employees, is opened to the public.

1908 – Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Murdock become the first people to travel across the U.S. by car. They left Los Angeles and arrived in New York City 32 days, 5 hours, and 25 minutes later.

1917 – The U.S. Congress passes the Liberty Loan Act, authorizing the Treasury to issue a public subscription for $2 billion in bonds for the war.

1962 – MIT sends a TV signal by satellite for the first time. The signal traveled from California to Massachusetts.

1980 – The U.S. military operation Eagle Claw, ordered by President Jimmy Carter to rescue 52 hostages in Iran, fails. Eight servicemen died during a refueling stop in bad weather. All the hostages were released moments after President Reagan completes his inauguration speech on January 20, 1981.

1990 – The space shuttle Discovery blasts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida carrying the $1.5 billion Hubble Space Telescope. It was launched the following day. Watch a brief report on the Hubble and its 1993 repair:

1997 – The U.S. Senate ratifies the Chemical Weapons Convention. The global treaty banned the development, production, storage and use of chemical weapons.

2004 – The U.S. lifts economic sanctions imposed on Libya 18 years earlier.

2015 – Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner announces during a Diane Sawyer interview that he is now a woman. He changed his name to Caitlyn. Watch excerpts from the interview:

April 25

1846 – A military skirmish known as the Thornton Affair begins over the disputed border of Texas, triggering the Mexican-American War.

1901 – New York becomes the first state requiring automobile license plates. They charge a $1 fee.

1928 – Morris Frank becomes the first American to use a guide dog. Buddy, a German shepherd, is the first guide dog. Watch a touching video of Morris, in his own words, and Buddy:

1945 – Delegates from about 50 countries meet in San Francisco to organize the United Nations.

1954 – Bell Laboratories announces the first solar battery made from silicon. It had about 6% efficiency.

1956 – Elvis Presley has his first number one on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart with “Heartbreak Hotel.” It stayed number one for 8 weeks.

1960 – The submarine USS Triton becomes the first submerged vessel to circumnavigate the Earth. The trip took nearly 61 days.

1967 – Colorado Governor John Love signs the first law in the U.S. legalizing abortions. The law was limited to therapeutic abortions when agreed to unanimously by a panel of three physicians.

1984 – David Anthony Kennedy, son of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, is found dead in a hotel room of a drug overdose.

1998 – First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is questioned by Whitewater prosecutors on videotape about her work as a private lawyer for the failed savings and loan at the center of the investigation. Watch a 1998 interview on Good Morning America:

2007 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 13,000 for the first time.

April 26

1607 – The British establish an American colony at Cape Henry near Jamestown, Virginia. It was the first permanent English establishment in the Western Hemisphere.

1859 – New York politician Dan Sickles is acquitted of murdering his wife’s lover on grounds of temporary insanity. It was the first time the insanity defense was used successfully.

1865 – John Wilkes Booth is killed by the U.S. Federal Cavalry at the Garrett Farm in Virginia. Booth assassinated President Lincoln on April 15th at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC..

1907 – The Jamestown Virginia Tercentenary (300th) Exposition opens.

1941 – A tradition of playing organ music during a baseball game begins when the Chicago Cubs use an organ as a one-time gimmick. It was so popular that the Cubs management keeps the instrument. Gary Pressy is in his 32nd year as organist at Wrigley Field. Watch an interview with Pressy:

1954 – A nationwide test of Salk anti-polio vaccine begins.

1962 – NASA’s Ranger 4 spacecraft makes a crash landing on the backside of the moon when its onboard computer fails to deploy the solar panels and navigation system.

1986 – Actor, body builder, and future California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger marries John F. Kennedy’s niece, newscaster Maria Shriver. They separated in 2011 and were later divorced.

1993 – NBC announces that Conan O’Brien will replace David Letterman on late night TV. O’Brien is replaced by Jay Leno. Jimmy Fallon is the current host. Steve Allen was the first.

2000 – Vermont Gov. Howard Dean signs the nation’s first bill allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions. Dean ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004.

2009 – American health officials declare a public health emergency after 20 cases of swine flu (H1N1) have been confirmed.

2012 – Indonesia suspends imports of American beef after a confirmed case of mad cow disease in California.

April 27

1805 – U.S. Marines attack the shores of Tripoli at the port city of Derna in present-day Libya at the end of the First Barbary War. “The Halls of Montezuma” refer to the 1847 Battle of Chapultepec during the Mexican-American War when Marines storm the Chapultepec Castle. Both events were memorialized in the Marine Corps’ official song. The unknown author of the song put the events in reverse chronological order.

1897 – Grant’s Tomb is dedicated. The answer to the age-old question of who’s buried in Grant’s tomb is President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia. It is the largest mausoleum in North America.

1911 – William P. Frye resigns as President Pro Tempore of the Senate. He died before his successor could be named. A compromise was reached to rotate the office of President Pro Tempore between political parties for the next two years.

1938 – Geraldine Apponyi marries King Zog of Albania. She was the first American woman to become a queen.

1953 – The U.S. offers $50,000 and political asylum to any Communist pilot who delivers a MIG jet in Operation Moolah. The plan was not successful.

1956 – Heavyweight champ Rocky Marciano retires undefeated from boxing at the age of 31. He was the only boxer to ever retire undefeated. Marciano died in a plane crash in 1969 at age 45.

1978 – A construction accident at the nuclear reactor at Willow Island, West Virginia, kills 51 workers.

1987 – The U.S. Justice Department bars Austrian President Kurt Waldheim from entering the U.S., claiming he aided in the deportation and execution of thousands of Jews and others as a German Army officer during World War II.

2006 – In New York City, construction begins on the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower on the site of former World Trade Center. Watch an incredible 2-minute time-lapse video of the 9-year construction project:

2011 – President Obama releases his long-form birth certificate from the state of Hawaii in an effort to quell “birther” conspiracy theorists.

April 28

1818 – The U.S. Senate ratifies the Rush-Bagot Pact of 1817, limiting naval forces on the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain except for small patrol vessels. The Convention of 1818 set the boundary between the Missouri Territory and British North America (which becomes Canada) at the 49th parallel.

1919 – Les Irvin makes the first jump from an airplane with a U.S. Army Air Corps parachute (rip-cord type).

1937 – Pan Am makes the first commercial flight across the Pacific Ocean.

1952 – The U.S. occupation of Japan officially ends when a treaty with the U.S. and 47 other countries goes into effect.

1967 – Muhammad Ali refuses induction into the army and is stripped of his boxing title.

1972 – Courts award the 1968 Kentucky Derby prize money to 2nd place winner “Forward Pass” after the winner “Dancer’s Image” is disqualified for being given drugs before the race.

1988 – The roof tears off of Aloha Airlines Boeing 737 while in flight after explosive decompression. One flight attendant was killed (her body is never found) and 65 passengers were injured. The plane landed safely. Listen to the actual aviation voice transmissions with still photos:

1992 – The U.S. Agriculture Department unveils a pyramid-shaped recommended-diet chart. In 2015, the USDA introduced new guidelines that used an image of a segmented plate of food instead of a pyramid.

1994 – Former CIA officer Aldrich Ames and his wife Rosario plead guilty to spying. Aldrich is still serving a life sentence. Rosario was deported back to
Columbia in 1999 after completing her 5-year sentence.

2001 – Millionaire Dennis Tito becomes the world’s first space tourist. He spent eight days in space and visits the International Space Station at an estimated cost of $20 million. Tito is now 77 years old. Watch a report about Tito in space:


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