This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“No problem of human making is too great to be overcome by
human ingenuity, human energy, and the untiring hope of the human spirit.”
President George H. W. Bush
Week of August 19-25, 2019
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.
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.
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. Tiger also won the U.S. Open and British Open.
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 72, 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.
1923 – Capt. Lowell Smith and Lt. John P. Richter perform the first mid-air refueling. Their flight in a De Havilland DH-4B set an endurance flight record of 37 hours.
1947 – President Truman’s daughter Margaret makes her first public singing concert. A poor review after her third performance in 1950 caused the president to write a threatening letter to the Washington Post’s music critic. Listen to a 1950 audio recording of Margaret and judge for yourself:
1966 – Lunar Orbiter 1 takes the first photographs of Earth while orbiting the Moon.
1984 – Southfork Ranch in Parker, Texas, home of the fictitious Ewing clan of the TV show “Dallas” is sold. The ranch was transformed from a tourist site into a hotel resort and a conference/ event center.
1999 – American Robert Bogucki is rescued after getting lost on July 11 while bicycling in the Great Sandy Desert of Australia. During his 43-day ordeal Bogucki lost 44 pounds.
1814 – British forces capture Washington, DC, during the War of 1812 and burn down many landmarks, including the U.S. Capitol and the President’s Mansion. The Library of Congress, housed in the Capitol building, suffered extensive damage. Thomas Jefferson sold 6,487 volumes of his private book collection to the Library of Congress in 1815 for $23,950.
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 were too thick.
1912 – New York City holds a ticker tape parade for Jim Thorpe and other victorious U.S. Olympians from the Stockholm Sweden Summer Olympics. He was stripped of his Olympic medals in 1913 because he violated the amateur rules by being paid to play baseball in 1909 and 1910. Thorpe’s medals were returned in 1972, almost 20 years after his death.
1932 – Amelia Earhart starts the first transcontinental non-stop flight by a woman, completing her flight of over 2,400 miles in 19 hours. She also set the women’s record for fastest non-stop transcontinental flight (twice, 1932 and 1933).
1954 – President Eisenhower signs 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 landed after a 31-hour flight from San Diego, California. It was also the first in-flight refueling of a helicopter. Watch that refueling (no sound):
1981 – Mark David Chapman is sentenced to 20 years to life for John Lennon’s murder in December 1980. Chapman was denied parole for the 9th time in 2016 from the Wende Correctional Facility in New York even though he became eligible in 2000. Chapman is now 64 years old.
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 made Rose ineligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. “Charlie Hustle” is now 78 years old.
2001 – The remains of nine American servicemen killed in the Korean War are returned to the U.S. Their bodies were found about 60 miles north of Pyongyang. Some 7,789 U.S. troops still remain unaccounted for in the Korean War. The remains of another 55 servicemen were returned by North Korea in July 2018. Watch a report on their return:
2006 – The International Astronomical Union (IAU) redefines the term “planet” so that Pluto is now considered a Dwarf Planet. Astronomers were considering returning it to planet status. American astronomer Clyde William Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930.
2011 – Tim Cook succeeds Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple Inc. due to Jobs’ illness. Jobs died in October 2011 at age 56.
2015 – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces that for the first time 1 billion people logged into Facebook. In 2004, Harvard students Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra accused Zuckerberg of misleading them and using their ideas to develop Facebook. In 2008, Facebook settled the case for 1.2 million shares and $20 million in cash. Facebook is now worth $500 billion. Zuckerburg is now 35 years old.
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. President Polk annexed Texas in 1845.
1916 – The National Park Service is established as part of the Department of the Interior during the Woodrow Wilson administration. Yellowstone (in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho) was named the first public park in 1872 during the Ulysses S. Grant administration.
1920 – Ethelda Bleibtrey becomes the first U.S. woman to win a medal in the Olympics (swimming). She won three gold medals and set three world records in Olympic swimming competitions in Antwerp, Belgium. Bleibtrey started swimming as therapy to overcome the effects of polio. Bleibtrey died in 1978 at the age of 76.
1968 – Arthur Ashe becomes the first black man to win the U.S. men’s singles tennis championship. Ashe contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion and died in 1993 at age 49. Watch a report about his championship win and career:
1989 – After a 12-year, 4-billion-mile journey, NASA’s Voyager 2 flies over the cloud tops of the planet Neptune and its moon Triton, sending back photographs.
1998 – A survey says that 33 percent of Americans use the Internet. Estimates now indicate that 78 percent of Americans use the Internet daily.
2012 – NASA’s Voyager 1, launched in 1977, becomes the first spacecraft to enter interstellar space. Voyager 1 is now 12 billion miles from Earth and is still sending back information. It is headed toward a star called AC+79 3888, which is 17.6 light years from Earth. Voyager 2, also launched in 1977, is almost 10 billion miles from Earth. Both space probes carry a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images from Earth.
Image from history.com