This Week In History April 7-13 2014


by Dianne Hermann

“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”
– Winston Churchill

Week of April 7-13, 2014

April 7

1890 – Ellis Island is designated as an immigration station. Prior to this the individual states regulated immigration. A new structure is built and opens in 1892 and operates for 61 years. The original building is now part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.

1923 – The Workers Party of America of New York City officially becomes the communist party.

1933 – Prohibition ends when Utah becomes the 38th state to ratify 21st Amendment. The prohibition on the sale of alcoholic beverages began in 1919.

1940 – Booker T. Washington is the first black person to appear on U.S. postage stamp. He is the founder of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama for the training of black teachers.


1978 – A Gutenberg Bible, made in wood block by John Gensfleisch of Gutenburg, Germany (1398/9-1468), sells for $2 million in New York City. Only 22 copies are known to exist.

1990 – National Security Advisor John Poindexter is found guilty in the Iran-Contra scandal.

2001 – The Mars Odyssey rocket is launched. The mission has been extended five times and has enough propellant to last until 2015.

2003 – U.S. troops capture Baghdad, Iraq. Saddam Hussein’s regime falls two days later. Saddam is captured in December, convicted of mass killings, and hanged in 2006.


April 8

1766 – The first fire escape is patented and uses a wicker basket on a pulley and chain.

1789 – The House of Representatives has its first meeting.

1879 – Milk is sold in glass bottles for the first time.

1913 – The 17th amendment is ratified, requiring the direct election of senators.

1952 – President Harry Truman seizes the steel mills to prevent a strike.

1964 – The unmanned Gemini 1 rocket is launched on the first successful orbit of the earth. It completes three orbits.


1968 – Baseball’s Opening Day is postponed because of Martin Luther King’s assassination.

1969 – The 1st baseball game with a Canadian team is played at Shea Stadium, New York. The Montreal Expos beat the New York Mets. 11-10.

1975 – Frank Robinson debuts as the first black baseball manager. The Cleveland Indians beat New York 5-3.

1986 – Clint Eastwood is elected mayor of Carmel, California. Eastwood is now 83 years old.

1991 – Actor Michael Landon announces that he has inoperable cancer of the pancreas. He dies on July 1st at age 54.


1994 – Smoking is banned in the Pentagon and all U.S. military bases.


April 9

1865 – Confederate General Robert E. Lee and 26,765 troops surrender at Appomattox Court House in Virginia to U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant, ending the Civil War.

1872 – Samuel R. Percy patents dried milk.

1939 – Marian Anderson sings before 75,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday. She is scheduled to appear at Constitution Hall, but the DAR, who manages the Hall, denies her access because of her race. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigns her membership in the DAR in protest and arranges for Anderson to perform at the Lincoln Memorial.


1950 – Bob Hope’s first TV special airs on Easter Sunday. His guests include Douglas Fairbanks and Dinah Shore.

1953 – “TV Guide” publishes its first issue.

1953 – Warner Brothers premieres the first 3-D film, entitled “House of Wax.”

1963 – Winston Churchill becomes the first honorary U.S. citizen. Churchill’s mother, Jennie Jerome of Brooklyn, New York, marries Lord Randolph Churchill of England. Winston is born in England.

1968 – Martin Luther King, Jr. is buried in Atlanta.

2012 – “The Lion King” becomes the highest grossing Broadway show after overtaking “The Phantom of the Opera,” cumulatively grossing over $5 billion.


April 10

1790 – Captain Robert Gray is the first American to circumnavigate the globe. He repeats his trek in 1793. Gray died in 1806 at the age of 51.

1865 – General Robert E. Lee issues his last order at Appomattox Court House, General Order #9, praising his soldiers and ordering them to return home.

1866 – The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is founded in New York City by philanthropist and diplomat Henry Bergh.

1869 – Congress passes the Judiciary Act of 1869, which among other things, increases number of Supreme Court judges from 7 to 9.

1912 – RMS Titanic sets sail for New York City on its first (and only) voyage. The “unsinkable” ship hits an iceberg just before midnight on the 14th and sinks on the morning of the 15th. Titanic’s survivors arrive in New York City aboard the Carpathia on April 18th.


1916 – The Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA) is created in New York City.

1947 – Jackie Robinson becomes the first black player in major league baseball (Brooklyn Dodgers).

1989 – Heinz, Van Camp Seafood, and Bumble Bee Seafood agree they will not buy tuna caught in nets that also trap dolphins.


April 11

1876 – The Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) is organized.

1898 – President McKinley asks for a declaration of War against Spain. Congress passes a resolution on April 20th, giving Spain an ultimatum to relinquish control of Cuba. When they refuse Congress votes to wage war on Spain. The Spanish-American War ends with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10th.

1907 – New York Giant Roger Bresnahan becomes the first catcher to wear protective shin guards.

1921 – The first radio broadcast of a sports event airs on Westinghouse station KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is the broadcast of a 10-round, no-decision boxing match between Johnny Dundee and Johnny Ray at Pittsburgh’s Motor Square Garden.

1951 – President Harry Truman relieves General Douglas MacArthur of his command of U.S. forces in Korea and replaces him with General Matthew Ridgeway.

1956 – Singer Nat “King” Cole is attacked and injured on stage of a Birmingham theater by whites in an apparent kidnapping. All four attackers are convicted.


1961 – Singer Bob Dylan makes his first public appearance at Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village.


1970 – The ill-fated Apollo 13 rocket is launched on a mission to land men on the Moon.

1986 – Halley’s Comet makes its closest approach to Earth on its 76-year trip. The comet is first observed and recorded in 420 BC and is scheduled to return in 2061.


April 12

1811 – The first U.S. colonists on the Pacific coast arrive at Cape Disappointment, Washington.

1861 – Fort Sumter, South Carolina, is shelled by the Confederacy, starting the Civil War. The Union troops surrender the following day after 34 hours of shelling.

1864 – Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest (future Ku Klux Klan founder) captures Fort Pillow, Tennessee, during the Civil War.


1877 – A catcher’s mask is first used in a baseball game.

1892 – George C. Blickensderfer of Erie, Pennsylvania, patents the portable typewriter.


1938 – The first U.S. law requiring medical tests (for syphilis) to obtain marriage licenses is passed in New York.

1954 – Bill Haley & the Comets record “Rock Around Clock.” The song reaches #1 on the Billboard Chart, stays there for 8 weeks, and remains on the Top 40 chart for 24 weeks.


1961 – Douglas MacArthur declines an offer to become the baseball commissioner.

1981 – The first space shuttle (Columbia STS-1) is launched on its maiden voyage. It lands safely on the 14th, having orbited the earth 37 times. John Young and Robert Crippen are the first space shuttle astronauts.

1988 – Sonny Bono is elected mayor of Palm Springs. California. The former Sonny & Cher singer is elected to Congress in 1994. Sonny died in a skiing accident in 1998 at age 62.


April 13

1796 – The first elephant arrives in the U.S. from India. The 2-year-old Asian elephant is bought and transported to the U.S. as a cost of $450. It is taken on tour of the East Coast over the next 12 years and people are charged 25¢ to 50¢ to see it.

1869 – The steam power brake is patented by George Westinghouse.

1883 – Alfred Packer is the first American convicted of cannibalism. He goes on a gold prospecting expedition to Colorado in 1874 with five others and returns alone two months later. He claims self-defense and that he consumed the men to survive. He is sentenced to 40 years but is eventually paroled due to doubt about his guilt.TIS_13_cannibal_Alfred_Packer

1902 – J C Penney opens his first store, called the “Golden Rule Store,” in Kemmerer, Wyoming. The first day’s sales are $33.41.

1934 – The U.S. Congress passes the Johnson Debt Default Act, which prohibits future loans to countries that have preciously defaulted on U.S. loans.

1943 – President FDR dedicates the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC.

1957 – Due to lack of funds Saturday mail delivery in the U.S. is temporarily halted. Saturday mail delivery is restored by the following week when Congress allocates $41 million to the Post Office.

1970 – Apollo 13 announces, “Houston, we’ve got a problem!” as the Beech-built oxygen tank explodes en route to the Moon. The spacecraft and its astronauts return safely to earth on April 17th.

1984 – Pete Rose becomes the first National League baseball player to get 4,000 hits in a career. American League player Ty Cobb, in 1927, is the only other player to get over 4,000 hits.


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