This Week in History: Aug. 31-Sept 6, 2020

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This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history
is the most important of all the lessons of history.” Aldous Huxley

Aug. 31-Sept 6, 2020




August 31

1910 – President Theodore Roosevelt makes a speech in Kansas advocating a “square deal” in which property shall be “the servant and not the master of the commonwealth.”

1920 – John Lloyd Wright is issued a patent for “Toy-Cabin Construction,” which are better known as Lincoln Logs. His father was architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Watch the history of Lincoln Logs and John Lloyd Wright:



1955 – William Cobb of General Motors demonstrates the first sun-powered automobile, the 15-inch-long “Sun Mobile,” at the GM Powerama in Chicago, Illinois.

1964 – California officially becomes (and remains) the most populated state in America. California has a current population of almost 40 million people, while Wyoming has the least with less than 600,000 people.

1978 – Emily and William Harris (of the Symbionese Liberation Army) plead guilty to the 1974 kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst. The Harris’ were released from prison in 1983. They were never charged with the murder of Myrna Opsahl, whom they shot during the bank robbery, until 2002. They, and two others, were convicted of Opsahl’s murder in 2003 and sentenced from 6 to 8 years. Patty Hearst had served only 22 months in jail for the bank robbery when Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence. Hearst is now 66 years old.

2012 – Apple Computers loses its patent dispute with Samsung of Tokyo, Japan. It was one of many patent infringement rulings from cases filed in courts around the world starting in 2011. It wasn’t until the middle of 2018 that the patent dispute trials were resolved in favor of Apple.


September 1

1752 – The Liberty Bell arrives in Philadelphia from France. The Pennsylvania Assembly ordered the Bell in 1751 to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of William Penn’s 1701 Charter of Privileges, Pennsylvania’s original Constitution. The cause of the bell’s famous crack is unknown.

1807 – Former Vice President Aaron Burr is found innocent of treason. He was accused of leading a cabal whose goal was to create an independent country in present day Texas. President Thomas Jefferson, then in his second term, ordered Burr arrested. In the election of 1800, Jefferson and Burr tied in the number of electoral votes. The tie was broken by a vote in the House of Representatives due to the influence of Alexander Hamilton. Burr served as Jefferson’s vice president. Vice President Burr killed Hamilton in a duel in 1804.

1897 – The Boston subway opens, becoming the first underground rapid transit system in North America.

1914 – The passenger pigeon becomes extinct when a female pigeon named Martha dies in captivity in the Cincinnati Zoo. The passenger pigeon was once the most common bird in the U.S., numbering in the billions. Its demise is the result of overhunting, habitat loss, and disease. A Smithsonian taxidermist mounts Martha’s skin and she is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

1942 – A Federal judge upholds the detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

1979 – A Los Angeles Court orders that actor Clayton Moore stop wearing the Lone Ranger mask in public appearances after Jack Wrather, who owned the rights to the character, files a restraining order. Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger) changed his mask slightly and in 1985 won the right to wear his mask. Moore, who started his career as a child circus star, died in 1999 at age 85.

1985 – A U.S.-French expedition led by Robert Ballard locates the wreckage of the Titanic off the coast of Newfoundland. On this date in 1998, the movie “Titanic” went on sale in the U.S.

1995 – The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame building, designed by I. M. Pei, opens in Cleveland, Ohio. The foundation was established in 1983. Cleveland is the home of Alan Freed, the disc jockey credited with coining the term “rock and roll.”

2005 – Seven members and former members of the AFL-CIO form a new trade union organization called the Change to Win Federation as an alternative to the AFL-CIO. Its president is James P. Hoffa, son of the late Jimmy Hoffa.


September 2

1789 – Congress establishes the U.S. Treasury Department.

1901 – Vice President Theodore Roosevelt advises, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

1919 – The Communist Party of America organizes in Chicago, Illinois, as a result of a split in the Socialist Party of America. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed legislation outlawing the Communist Party in the U.S. Its current membership is about 5,000 people.

1945 – V-J Day (Victory in Japan) is when World War II ends after the formal surrender of Japan aboard the battleship USS Missouri.

1963 – Gov. George C. Wallace (D-AL) prevents the integration of Tuskegee High School by shutting down the school. In June 1963, Governor Wallace blocked the entrance to the University of Alabama as a symbolic attempt to keep his campaign promise, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” Watch his speech.



1969 – The first automatic teller machine (ATM) in the U.S. is installed in Rockville Center, New York.

1987 – Donald Trump spends almost $100,000 on a full page New York Times ad criticizing the U.S. trade policies with countries like Japan.

1992 – The U.S. and Russia agree to a joint venture to build a space station. The first module was launched in 1998. The first crew arrived in 2000. By 2011, 159 components had been added. The ISS has an estimated cost of $150 billion.


September 3

1752 – The United Kingdom and its American colonies (now the U.S.) adopt the Gregorian calendar and September 3rd becomes September 14th. Pope Gregory XIII replaced the Julian calendar with the Gregorian calendar in 1582 and the change took effect in most Catholic states.

1783 – The Treaty of Paris is signed, ending the U.S. Revolutionary War of Independence.

1895 – The first professional football game is played. Quarterback John Brallier was paid $10 per game plus expenses. His team Latrobe won that first game 12-0 over Jeannette in Indiana.

1925 – The dirigible “USS Shenandoah” crashes during a storm near Caldwell Ohio, killing all 14 passengers and crew on board. It was its 57th flight. Watch the crash (no sound).



1954 – The final episode of “The Lone Ranger” is heard on radio after 2,956 episodes over a period of 21 years. The Lone Ranger also aired on TV from 1949 to 1957. The theme song was the “William Tell Overture” by Gioachino Rossini. Watch the opening of The Lone Ranger show.



1995 – eBay is founded by Pierre Omidyar, the French-born, American-educated son of Iranian immigrants. eBay was originally called “Auction Web.”

2019 – Walmart announces it will stop selling handguns and certain kinds of ammunition in response to the shooting in El Paso, Texas, that killed 23 people and wounded 23 others. They also asked customers not to carry weapons into their stores.


September 4

1813 – The “Religious Remembrancer Christian Observer” is the first religious newspaper published in the U.S. It was started at the Presbyterian Publishing Center of Philadelphia.

1886 – Apache Chief Geronimo surrenders, ending last major U.S.-Indian war. He died at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1909 at the age of 79.

1950 – For the first time a helicopter is used to rescue an American soldier behind enemy lines. Captain Robert E. Wayne was rescued after his aircraft was shot down over Korea. H-5 helicopter pilot First Lieutenant Paul van Boven was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action.

1951 – The first live, coast-to-coast TV broadcast in the U.S. takes place in San Francisco, California, from the Japanese Peace Treaty Conference. It was seen also seen in New York City.

1957 – The Arkansas National Guard is ordered by Democrat Governor Orval Faubus to keep nine black students from going into Little Rock’s Central High School. President Eisenhower subsequently issued an executive order federalizing the Arkansas National Guard and ordering them to protect the students.

1966 – The first Muscular Dystrophy telethon hosted by Jerry Lewis is held over this Labor Day weekend. Jerry Lewis started local and regional MD events in 1952. The first telethon raises $15,000. The telethons have raised over $2 billion in 50 years. Lewis last hosted the telethon in 2011 and died in 2017 at age 91. The last telethon aired in 2014, but is being revived in 2020. Watch an early telethon clip.



1967 – Michigan Gov. George Romney, who was a presidential candidate for the 1968 republican nomination, said during a TV interview that he had undergone “brainwashing” by U.S. officials while visiting Vietnam in 1965. Romney dropped out of the presidential race in February 1968.

1972 – U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz becomes the first athlete to win 7 Olympic gold medals (in swimming) while competing in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. Michael Phelps holds the record for the most gold medals won in Olympic history, 23 medals total in 2004, 2008, and 2012 also for swimming. Spitz is now 69 years old. Watch Spitz swim for his 7 gold medals.



1998 – Google is incorporated by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, students at Stanford University in California. The domain name was registered on September 15, 1997.

2018 – Nike announces that Colin Kaepernick will be the face of their 30th anniversary “Just Do It” advertising campaign. Kaepernick knelt during the National Anthem before football games. He announced his free agency in March 2017, but still has not been picked up by any football team.

2019 – YouTube is fined $170 million by the Federal Trade Commission for illegally collecting data on the viewing habits of children.


September 5

1774- The Continental Congress assembles for the first time in Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia with 56 delegates from 12 colonies (Georgia is not represented).

1906 – Saint Louis University football player Bradbury Robinson makes the first legal forward pass in football to teammate Jack Schneider.

1939 – President FDR declares U.S. neutrality at the start of World War II in Europe.

1945 – Iva Toguri D’Aquino is arrested for being the wartime radio propagandist “Tokyo Rose.” She served six years in prison and is later pardoned by President Gerald Ford. D’Aquino died in 2006 at age 90.

1960 – Wilma Rudolph, called the world’s fastest woman, wins her second of three gold medals in track and field at the Olympic Games in Rome, Italy. Wilma suffered from polio as a child and overcame numerous childhood health issues and racial barriers to compete in the Olympics. After the 1960 Olympics, she became a teacher and track coach. Wilma died of brain cancer in November 1994 at age 54.

1960 – Cassius Clay (later Mohamed Ali) captures the light heavyweight boxing gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rome. Watch a report with actual fight footage.



1975 – Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme attempts to assassinate President Gerald Ford in Sacramento, California. Fromme was sentenced to life in prison, but was released on parole in 2009. She is now 71 years old.

1978 – Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and U.S. President Jimmy Carter start a peace conference at Camp David, Maryland. Sadat and Begin shared the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize.

2018 – An anonymous senior White House official published the opinion article in the New York Times “I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration.”


September 6

1716 – The first lighthouse in the U.S., The Boston Light, is built in Boston, Massachusetts.

1899 – Carnation evaporated milk (called Carnation Sterilized Cream) is processed for the first time at a plant in Kent, Washington. The company later changed its name to Carnation Milk Company.

1901 – President William McKinley is shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. When he died 8 days later, Vice President Teddy Roosevelt became president.

1909 – Word reaches civilization that Admiral Robert Peary successfully traveled to the North Pole 5 months earlier. The New York Times printed the story on the 7th, but Dr. Frederick A. Cook claimed to have reached the pole in April 1908, one year before Peary.

1954 – The Alan Freed Show premiers at WINS radio in New York City and he begins playing what he calls “Rock ‘n Roll” music. In 1962, Freed plead guilty during the “payola” scandal to two charges of commercial bribery, was fined, and received a suspended sentence. Freed, who died in 1965 at the age of 43, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. In 2014, Freed’s ashes were removed from the Hall of Fame and placed in a Cleveland cemetery.

1995 – Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles breaks Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game record when he plays in 2,131 consecutive baseball games. Ripken stretches the record to 2,632 consecutive games over his 16-year career. Watch him homer in the game.



2000 – The U.N. Millennium Summit begins in New York. It was the largest gathering of world leaders in history with more than 150 dignitaries attending.

2002 – Congress convenes at Federal Hall in New York City for a rare special session to express the nation’s mourning for the loss on September 11, 2001, and express unity in the war against terrorism.



Image from: baltimoresun.com

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