This Week in History, August 19-25, 2013


by Dianne Hermann

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

         – Winston Churchill           


Week of August 19-25, 2013



August 19

1791 – Benjamin Banneker, born a free black in Maryland, publishes his first Almanac. He is a self-taught astronomer and mathematician.


Photo of Benjamin Banneker

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 is killed by an off-duty policeman in a saloon in El Paso, Texas.

1934 – The first All-American Soap Box Derby is held in Dayton, Ohio. The following year the race is moved to Akron because of the central location and hilly terrain. The Derby has run continuously except during World War II.

soap box derby

Photo of the all-American soap box derby

1984 – Ronald Reagan is nominated for a second term as president at the Republican National Convention in Houston, Texas. He is re-elected in November, winning 49 of the 50 states (all but Walter Mondale’s home state of Minnesota).

1995 – After five days Shannon Faulkner quits as the first woman admitted to the Citadel, the all-male Military College of South Carolina. She won her battle for admission in a Supreme Court decision. The Citadel drops its gender requirements for admission in July 1996 and admits four women in August 1996.


August 20

1619 – The Dutch bring the first black slaves to the colony of Jamestown, Virginia.

1741 – Danish explorer Vitus Bering discovers Alaska.


Photo of Vitus Bering

1866 – President Andrew Johnson formally declares that the Civil War is over.

1920 – The first U.S. commercial radio station, WWJ am 950 in Detroit, Michigan, begins daily broadcasting. WWJ News-radio still broadcasts from Detroit.

1998 – The United States military, under orders from President Clinton, launches cruise missile attacks against alleged al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan and a suspected chemical plant in Sudan in retaliation for the August 7th bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum is destroyed in the attack.


August 21

1831 – The Nat Turner slave revolt kills 55 whites in Southampton County, Virginia. Nat Turner and 16 of his conspirators are captured and executed.

Nat Turner

Photo of Nat Turner

1858 – The first of seven Lincoln-Douglas debates is held in Illinois.

1947 – The first Little League World Series is held. The Maynard Midgets of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, defeat a team from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.

1959 – Hawaii becomes the 50th (and last) U.S. state.

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.

2000 – Tiger Woods wins golf’s PGA Championship to become the first golfer since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win three major tournaments in a calendar year. Woods also wins the U.S. Open and British Open.


August 22

1902 – President Teddy Roosevelt becomes the first U.S. chief executive to ride in a car. He rides in a Columbia Electric Victoria Phaeton while on a campaign tour through Connecticut.


Photo of Theodore getting into the car

He was also the first president to ride in a plane October 11, 1910.


1921 – J. Edgar Hoover becomes assistant director of the FBI. He becomes the director in 1924 and leads the FBI for 48 years until his death in 1972.

1945 – The Vietnam conflict begins when Ho Chi Minh leads a successful coup against Emperor Bao Dai.

1962 – Savannah, the world’s first nuclear-powered ship, completes her maiden voyage from Yorktown, Virginia, to Savannah, Georgia. She is decommissioned in 1972 and in 1999 the Savannah is moved to the James River Merchant Marine Reserve Fleet near Newport News, Virginia.


August 23

1869 – The first carload of freight (boots & shoes) arrives in San Francisco from Boston after a 16-day rail trip.

1966 – Lunar Orbiter 1 takes the first photographs of Earth from the Moon.


Photo of Lunar Orbiter I

1990 – The United States begins to call up of 46,000 reservists to serve in the Persian Gulf.


August 24

1814 – British forces capture Washington, DC and burn down many landmarks, including the U.S. Capitol and the President’s Mansion. The Library of Congress, housed in the Capitol building, suffers extensive damage.

1853 – Chef George Crum of Moon’s Lake House Restaurant in Saratoga Springs, New York, prepares the first potato chips after a customer complains his fried potatoes are too thick.

1891 – Thomas Edison patents the motion picture camera.

Thomas Edison with his first motion picture

Photo of Tomas Edison with his first motion picture

1932 – Amelia Earhart makes the first transcontinental non-stop flight by a woman. She also set the women’s record for fastest non-stop transcontinental flight twice (1932 and 1933).

video of the first movies

1954 – President Eisenhower signs the Communist Control Act, outlawing the Communist Party in the U.S.

1956 – The first non-stop transcontinental helicopter flight arrives in Washington, DC. The H-21 Shawnee helicopter lands after a 31-hour flight from San Diego, California. It is also the first in-flight refueling of a helicopter.

1989 – Pete Rose is suspended from baseball for life for gambling. He retired from baseball in 1986 and became the Cincinnati Reds manager in 1987. The ban makes Rose ineligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.


August 25

1829 – President Jackson makes an offer to buy Texas, but the Mexican government refuses. President John Q. Adams offered to buy Mexico for $1 million two years earlier. His offer was also rejected.

1920 – Ethelda Bleibtrey becomes the first U.S. woman to win a medal in the Olympics (swimming). She wins three gold medals and sets three world records in Olympic swimming competitions in Antwerp, Belgium. Bleibtrey started swimming as therapy to overcome the effects of polio.

Nuoto - Campioni Ethelda Bleibtrey

Photo of Ethelda Bleibtrey

1968 – Arthur Ashe becomes the first black to win the U.S. singles tennis championship.

arthur ashe

Photo of Arthur Ashe

1989 – After a 12-year, 4-billion-mile journey, Voyager 2 flies over the cloud tops of the planet Neptune and its moon Triton, sending back photographs.