This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“The most effective way to destroy people is to
deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
Week of April 9-15, 2018
1682 – Robert La Salle claims the lower Mississippi River and all lands that touch it for France.
1865 – Confederate General Robert E. Lee and 26,765 Confederate troops surrender at Appomattox Court House in Virginia to U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant, ending the Civil War. The following day Lee issued his last order at Appomattox General Order #9, praising his soldiers and ordering them to return home.
1933 – President Franklin Roosevelt signs “United States Executive Order 6102” which prohibits the “hoarding” of privately held gold coins and bullion in the U.S. The government requires holders of gold to sell their gold at the prevailing price of $20.67 per ounce. Shortly after this forced sale, the price of gold is raised to $35 an ounce.
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 helps arrange for Anderson to perform at the Lincoln Memorial. Watch a Newsreel story:
1963 – Winston Churchill becomes the first honorary U.S. citizen. Churchill’s mother, Jennie Jerome of Brooklyn, New York, married Lord Randolph Churchill of England. Winston was born in England.
1992 – Former Panamanian ruler Manuel Noriega is convicted in Miami, Florida, on eight drug and racketeering charges and sentenced to seven years in prison. After his release, the French government ordered Noriega’s extradition to France where he was convicted for his crimes. The Panamanian government found Noriega guilty in absentia in 1995 for murder and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. He was transferred to Panama in 2011, where he died in 2017 at age 83.
2001 – The Securities and Exchange Commission orders all U.S. stock markets to switch to the decimal system. Prior to that, stock prices were reported in fractions (sixteenths of a dollar, and eighths before that).
2012 – “The Lion King” becomes the highest grossing Broadway show after overtaking “The Phantom of the Opera,” cumulatively grossing over $5 billion. “The Phantom of the Opera” is the longest running Broadway show.
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.
1849 – Walter Hunt patents the safety pin. He sells the rights for $100. Hunt patents many inventions including the fountain pen, streetcar bell, street sweeper, and nail-making machine.
1869 – Congress passes the Judiciary Act of 1869, which among other things, increases the number of Supreme Court justices from 7 to 9.
1912 – RMS Titanic sets sail for New York City on its first (and only) voyage. The “unsinkable” ship hit an iceberg just before midnight on the 14th and sank on the morning of the 15th. Titanic’s survivors arrived in New York City aboard the Carpathia on April 18th. Watch grainy silent footage of survivors aboard the Carpathia in New York:
1953 – Warner Brothers premieres the first 3-D film, entitled “House of Wax.” Watch Vincent Price at his scariest:
1971 – The American table tennis team arrives in China. They are the first group of Americans officially allowed into China since the founding of the People Republic in 1949. The team received the surprise invitation while in Japan for the 31st World Table Tennis Championship.
1992 – In Los Angeles, financier Charles Keating Jr. is sentenced to nine years in prison for swindling investors when his Lincoln Savings and Loan collapsed. The convictions are later overturned.
1996 – President Bill Clinton vetoes a bill that would have outlawed a technique used to end pregnancies in their late stages (late term abortions).
2012 – Apple Inc. claims a value of $600 billion, making it the largest company (by market capitalization) in the world.
1783 – After receiving a copy of the provisional treaty on March 13th, the U.S. Congress proclaims a formal end to hostilities with Great Britain (aka The Revolutionary War).
1898 – President McKinley asks for a declaration of War against Spain. Congress passed a resolution on April 20th, giving Spain an ultimatum to relinquish control of Cuba. When they refused, Congress voted to wage war on Spain. The Spanish-American War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10th.
1921 – The first radio broadcast of a sports event airs on Westinghouse station KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was the broadcast of a 10-round, no-decision boxing match between Johnny Dundee and Johnny Ray at Pittsburgh’s Motor Square Garden.
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.
1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In 1957, then Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson (D-TX) opposed the bill because of fears it would divide his party. Southern Democrats fought against the bill’s passage.
1970 – The ill-fated Apollo 13 rocket is launched on an unsuccessful mission to land men on the Moon. On April 13th, Apollo 13 astronauts calmly announce, “Houston, we’ve had a problem,” after the Beech-built oxygen tank explodes en route to the Moon. The spacecraft and its astronauts return safely to earth on April 17th. The events of the mission were recounted in the 1995 movie “Apollo 13” starring Tom Hanks.
1976 – The Apple I computer, created by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, is released. The Woz is 68 years old.
1996 – Seven-year-old Jessica Dubroff is killed with her father and flight instructor when her plane crashes after takeoff from Cheyenne, Wyoming, during poor weather conditions. Jessica hoped to become the youngest person to fly cross-country. In October, President Clinton signs into law the “Child Pilot Safety Act.” Watch a breaking new story of the crash:
2015 – President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro meet in Panama. It is the first meeting of U.S. and Cuban heads of state since the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
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 surrendered the following day after 34 hours of shelling.
1892 – George C. Blickensderfer of Erie, Pennsylvania, patents the portable typewriter. No examples of the typewriter are known to exist.
1945 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies in Warm Spring, Georgia, of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 63 just weeks into his 4th term. Vice President Harry S. Truman became president.
1954 – Bill Haley & the Comets record “Rock Around The Clock.” The song reached #1 on the Billboard Chart, stays there for 8 weeks, and remained on the Top 40 chart for 24 weeks. Watch the band rock on Dick Clark’s Bandstand in 1960:
1961 – Five-star general Douglas MacArthur declines an offer to become the baseball commissioner. MacArthur was relieved of his command in 1951 by Harry Truman after criticizing the president’s policies.
1981 – The first space shuttle (Columbia STS-1) is launched on its maiden voyage. It landed safely on the 14th after orbited the earth 37 times. John Young and Robert Crippen were the first space shuttle astronauts. Watch the NASA launch:
1992 – Trump Shuttle Airlines, started in 1989, becomes US Air Shuttle.
2009 – The U.S. Navy rescues Richard Phillips, captain of the Maersk Alabama, killing three Somali hijackers and capturing a fourth.
2015 – Hillary Clinton announces that she will run for the Democrat nomination for President for the second time. She lost the 2008 Democrat nomination to Barack Hussein Obama.
1796 – The first elephant arrives in the U.S. from India. The 2-year-old Asian elephant was bought and transported to the U.S. at a cost of $450. It was taken on tour on the East Coast over the next 12 years and people were charged 25¢ to 50¢ to see it.
1860 – The first Pony Express reaches Sacramento, California, in just under 10 days. The Pony Express originated in St. Joseph, Missouri, and used a relay of young riders. The Pony Express lasted about a year and a half.
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 was sentenced to 40 years but was eventually paroled due to doubt about his guilt.
1902 – J. C. Penney opens his first store, called the “Golden Rule Store,” in Kemmerer, Wyoming. The first day’s sales were $33.41.
1911 – The House of Representatives votes to institute the direct elections of Senators to Congress. Prior to the 17th Amendment, which was ratified in 1913, state legislators elected Senators to Congress.
1934 – Congress passes the Johnson Debt Default Act, which prohibits future loans to countries that have preciously defaulted on U.S. loans.
1957 – Due to lack of funds Saturday mail delivery in the U.S. is temporarily halted. Saturday mail delivery was restored the following week when Congress allocated $41 million to the Post Office.
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, was the only other player to get over 4,000 hits. Watch 42-year-old Charlie Hustle get his 4,000th hit:
2004 – Barry Bonds hits his 661st career home run, passing Willie Mays on the all-time home run list. Bonds ended his career with 762 home runs.
2011 – Former baseball player Barry Bonds is found guilty of obstruction of justice after a trial about his steroid use. Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s home run record in 2007, but his accomplishment is overshadowed by steroid use accusations.
1775 – The first abolitionist society in the U.S. organizes in Philadelphia.
1818 – The U.S. Medical Corps forms when physicians are recruited by the Medical Department of the Army, which is created by the Continental Congress.
1828 – Noah Webster registers his copyright for the publication of the first American dictionary.
1865 – President Abraham Lincoln is shot and mortally wounded by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater during the play “Our American Cousin” in Washington, DC after a plan to kidnap the president fails. Lincoln died 9 hours later. Booth escaped, but he was killed when the barn where he was hiding was set on fire and burned down.
1935 – The worst sandstorm in the U.S., known as Black Sunday, ravages the Midwest and creates the Dust Bowl. The drought and sandstorms continued until 1939. Watch a report with photographs of the sandstorm:
1971 – The Supreme Court upholds busing as a means of achieving racial desegregation.
1981 – The first Space Shuttle, Columbia STS-1, returns to Earth. Watch the historic landing:
2000 – The Nasdaq sets a one-day record when it loses 355.49 points to close at 3,321.17.
2003 – The Human Genome Project is completed with 99% of the human genome sequenced to an accuracy of 99.99% with support from the U.S. Department of Energy. The project was started in 1987.
2009 – Georgetown University covers up its religious symbols at the request of the Obama administration before President Obama speaks at the university.
1817 – Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet opens the first American school for the deaf in Hartford, Connecticut.
1910 – President William Howard Taft begins the tradition of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on baseball’s opening day at Griffith Stadium in Washington, DC. Every president since Taft has done this.
1955 – Ray Kroc starts the McDonald’s chain of fast food restaurants in Des Plaines, Illinois. There are now more than 35,000 McDonald restaurants in over 100 countries. Kroc died in 1984 at age 81. Watch a 10-minute bio of Krok and the history of McDonald’s:
1964 – The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, connecting Virginia and Maryland, opens as the world’s longest bridge-tunnel complex at 23 miles.
1967 – Richard Speck is found guilty of murdering eight student nurses in their Chicago home. Although Speck is sentenced to death, his sentence is commuted to 50-100 years after the Supreme Court abolishes capital punishment. Speck is never tried for multiple other murders he is suspected of committing. Speck died in prison in 1991 at age 49, having served just 19 years.
1981 – Janet Cooke says her Pulitzer award story called “Jimmy’s World” about an 8-year-old heroin addict is a lie. The Washington Post relinquishes the Pulitzer Prize on the fabricated story. Cooke resigns from the Post.
2012 – The U.S. Secret Service’s inappropriate conduct scandal begins when at least 11 agents implicated. The 11 agents were placed on leave after an investigation into inappropriate conduct in Columbia prior to a summit attended by President Obama. Three more agents were sent home for inappropriate conduct prior to President Obama’s trip to Holland in March 2014.
2013 – Three people are killed and 183 injured after two terrorist bombs explode near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Watch an ABC News report:
Photo from npr.org