This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall
possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in
need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.” Samuel Adams
August 16-22, 2021
1829 – Conjoined twin brothers Chang and Eng Bunker of Siam arrive in Boston to be exhibited in the circus. The Siamese twins married two sisters in 1843 and had 21 children between them. The twins died on the same day in 1874 at age 62.
1863 – President Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation.
1898 – Edwin Prescott patents the “Loop-the-Loop” roller coaster. The first roller coaster in the U.S., however, is built by L. A. Thompson and opened at Coney Island, New York, in June of 1884. It was based on railway designs.
1920 – Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians is hit in the head by a pitch from New York Yankees pitcher Carl Mays. Chapman died the next day and is the only major league baseball player game fatality.
1949 – During the Truman Administration, U.S. General Omar Bradley becomes the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On September 22, 1950, Congress officially promoted Bradley to General of the Army with five stars. He was the last officer promoted to that rank, and the only one since World War II.
1954 – “Sports Illustrated” publishes its first magazine. Milwaukee Braves baseball player Eddie Mathews was on the cover.
1960 – Joseph Kittinger, Jr. sets the free-fall world record from 19 ½ miles. He fell more than 16 miles (over 102,000 feet) before opening his parachute over New Mexico. In 2012, Kittinger served as the capsule communicator for Felix Baumgartner’s record-setting free-fall from 24 miles. Kittinger is now 92 years old. Watch a news report of Kittinger jump.
2003 – Representative Bill Janklow (R-SD) runs a stop sign and hits and kills a motorcyclist at a rural intersection near Trent, South Dakota. He was eventually convicted of manslaughter and resigned from Congress in January 2004. Janklow died of brain cancer in 2012 at age 72.
1859 – The first airmail flight takes off from Lafayette, Indiana, in a hot air balloon.
1903 – Journalist and publisher Joseph Pulitzer donates $1 million to Columbia University to begin the Pulitzer Prizes. The first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded in 1917 to Herbert Bayard Swope of the New York World newspaper for his articles entitled “Inside the German Empire” and the biography Julia Ward Howe by Laura E. Richards and Maude Howe Elliott. The New York Tribune received an award for an editorial on the first anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania.
1945 – At the end of World War II North and South Korea are divided along the 38th parallel. The U.S. occupied the area south of the 38th parallel and the Soviet Union occupied the area north of the parallel.
1958 – The U.S. attempts to launch the world’s first Moon probe, Thor-Able, which fails when it explodes at T+77 seconds (77 seconds after takeoff).
1960 – The U-2 spy trial of downed American pilot Francis Gary Powers begins in Moscow. Powers pleaded guilty to espionage and was sentenced to three years in prison and seven years hard labor. He served 21 months and was exchanged for convicted KGB spy Rudolph Abel in February 1962, who served 4 years of his 45-year sentence. Watch a report including interviews with Powers.
1992 – Actor Woody Allen admits to being romantically involved with 21-year-old Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, who is Allen’s longtime companion. Allen and Previn were married in 1997 and are still married. Allen is now 85 and Previn is 50 years old.
1996 – Ross Perot is announced as the Reform Party’s first-ever presidential candidate. He garnered 19 percent of the popular vote in the November election. Perot died in 2019 at age 89.
1998 – President Bill Clinton admits in taped testimony that he had an “improper physical relationship” with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. He admitted before the nation that he “misled people” about his relationship with her. Watch Clinton’s public mea culpa.
2017 – The US-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) witnesses the first collision of two neutron stars.
1735 – The Boston Evening Post newspaper begins publishing in Boston, Massachusetts. It is among the oldest newspapers published in America. The last issue is published in April of 1775.
1872 – Aaron Montgomery Ward issues the first mail-order catalog from his Chicago-based company. It offered 163 products. In 1875, Ward announced his products come with “satisfaction guaranteed.” All Montgomery Ward stores were closed by 2001, but it was relaunched as an online business in 2004.
1914 – President Woodrow Wilson issues The “Proclamation of Neutrality.” Wilson declared that the U.S. would remain “impartial in thought as well as in action,” an attempt at keeping the U.S. out of World War I.
1920 – The 19th Amendment is ratified, giving women the right to vote. A women’s suffrage amendment was first introduced in the Senate in 1872 by Aaron Sargent (R-CA).
1956 – Elvis Presley’s double-sided record “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel” reach #1 and #2 on the music charts and stay there for over a year.
1982 – The New York Stock Exchange passes the 100 million mark for the first time when 132.69 million shares are traded.
1997 – Beth Ann Hogan becomes the first female coed in the Virginia Military Institute’s 158-year history. Hogan dropped out of VMI in January 1998.
2000 – A Federal jury finds the EPA guilty of discrimination against Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, later inspiring passage of the No FEAR Act. The No FEAR (Federal Antidiscrimination and Retaliation) Act is intended to reduce the incidence of workplace discrimination within the federal government by making agencies and departments more accountable.
2004 – Donald Trump re-releases his board game (TRUMP the Game) where players bid on real estate, buy big-ticket items, and make billion-dollar business deals. Watch the original 1989 commercial for the game featuring the future president.
1791 – Benjamin Banneker, born a free black in Maryland, publishes his first almanac. He published the Farmer’s Almanac from 1792 to 1797. He was a self-taught astronomer and mathematician.
1812 – The U.S. warship Constitution defeats the British warship Guerriere 400 miles southeast of the British base at Halifax, earning the nickname “Old Ironsides.”
1895 – American frontier murderer and outlaw John Wesley Hardin, age 42, is killed by an off-duty policeman in a saloon in El Paso, Texas. Hardin claimed to have killed 42 men. He served 17 years of a 25-year sentence for one of the murders and obtained a law license after being released from prison in 1894.
1934 – The first All-American Soap Box Derby is held in Dayton, Ohio. The following year the race was moved to Akron because of the central location and hilly terrain. The Derby has run continuously except during World War II. Watch a short film about the first derby.
1940 – The new Civil Aeronautics Administration awards honorary license #1 to 68-year-old Orville Wright.
1984 – Ronald Reagan is nominated for president for a second term at the Republican National Convention in Houston, Texas. He was re-elected in November, winning 49 of the 50 states (all but Walter Mondale’s home state of Minnesota), and the most electoral votes in history (525).
2004 – Google Inc. stock begins selling on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The initial price is set at $85 and ends the day at $100.34 with more than 22 million shares traded. It is now selling for over $1,237 a share.
2011 – The West Memphis Three are released from prison after 18 years when they negotiate Alford plea deals. The Alford plea allows a defendant to admit the prosecution has enough evidence for a conviction without admitting guilt. In 2007, DNA evidence and jury misconduct accusations led to a retrial. Then teenagers Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., and Jason Baldwin were convicted in 1993 of murdering three 2nd grade students. No one else was ever arrested for the crime.
1619 – The first black slaves are brought by the Dutch to the colony of Jamestown, Virginia.
1866 – President Andrew Johnson formally declares that the Civil War is over.
1920 – The American Professional Football Association (APFC) forms when Jim Thorpe and six others meet in Canton, Ohio, to organize a professional football league. Thorpe served as its first president. Canton is the location of the Football Hall of Fame.
1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Economic Opportunity Act, a $1 billion anti-poverty measure.
1977 – NASA launches Voyager 2 toward the outer planets. It explored Jupiter in 1979, Saturn in 1981, Uranus in 1986, and Neptune in 1989. After 40 years, Voyager 2, one of the farthest man-made objects, is still in contact with the Deep Space Network.
1998 – The U.S. military launches cruise missile attacks against alleged al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan and a suspected chemical weapons plant in Sudan in retaliation for the August 7th bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The attack instead destroyed the al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum. The attack occurred during the President Clinton hearings on the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
2000 – Tiger Woods becomes the first golfer since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win three major golf tournaments in a calendar year after winning the PGA Championship, He also won the U.S. Open and British Open.
1831 – The Nat Turner slave revolt kills 55 whites in Southampton County, Virginia. Nat Turner and 55 of his conspirators are captured and executed. Over the next few weeks, white militias and mobs in the area murdered about 120 slaves, most of whom were not involved in the revolt. Watch a short History.com video.
1887 – Mighty Casey struck out in a baseball game with the New York Giants. This is the fictional date of the event written about in Ernest L. Thayer’s poem “Casey at the Bat.” Dan Casey was a composite of several people Thayer knew.
1947 – The first Little League World Series is held. The Maynard Midgets of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, defeated a team from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. The tournament is for baseball players age 11 to 13.
1959 – Hawaii becomes the 50th (and last) U.S. state. In 1778, Captain James Cook was the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii was annexed in 1897 during the McKinley administration.
1993 – NASA loses contact with the Mars Observer, which was launched on September 25, 1992. Attempts to re-establish communication with the spacecraft were unsuccessful.
1997 – Hudson Foods Inc. closes a plant in Nebraska after it recalls 25 million pounds of ground beef that is potentially contaminated with E. coli 01557:H7. It was the largest food recall in U.S. history.
2018 – Paul Manafort is convicted in eight counts of fraud in federal court as part of Robert Meuller’s special investigation. Manafort served only a few months of his 7.5 year sentence, being released to home confinement in May 2020 due to the Coronavirus.
1762 – Ann Franklin is the first female U.S. newspaper editor. She inherited the newspaper “Mercury” from her husband James Franklin, brother of Ben Franklin.
1902 – President Teddy Roosevelt becomes first U.S. chief executive to ride in a car. He rode in a Columbia Electric Victoria Phaeton while on a campaign tour through Connecticut.
1906 – The Victor Talking Machine Company of Camden, New Jersey, begins to manufacture the Victrola. The hand-cranked unit, with horn cabinet, sold for $200.
1921 – J. Edgar Hoover becomes the assistant director of the FBI. He became the director in 1924 and led the FBI for 48 years until his death in 1972 at age 77.
1956 – Elvis Presley begins filming his first movie, “Love Me Tender,” which is released in November. Watch Elvis sing the title song in the movie.
1962 – Savannah, the world’s first nuclear-powered ship, completes her maiden voyage from Yorktown, Virginia, to Savannah, Georgia. She was decommissioned in 1972 and in 1999 the Savannah was moved to the James River Merchant Marine Reserve Fleet near Newport News, Virginia.
1989 – Nolan Ryan becomes the first major league pitcher to strike out 5,000 batters. He finished his 27-year career (longest in baseball history) with 5,714 strikeouts. Ryan, now age 74, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999. Watch Ryan make Rickey Henderson swing at the air.
1992 – An FBI sniper shoots and kills Vicki Weaver, wife of white separatist Randy Weaver, during an 11-day siege at their home at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. She was holding her infant daughter, who was unharmed. Fourteen-year-old Sammy Weaver and a U.S. Marshall were shot to death the day before. President Clinton fired his FBI director on July 19, 1993, one day before Vince Foster “committed suicide.”
2007 – The Texas Rangers rout the Baltimore Orioles 30-3, the most runs scored by a team in modern baseball history.
Image from: washingtonpost.com