This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past,
for human events ever resemble those of preceding times.”
Week of August 21-27, 2017
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.
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 is a composite of several people Thayer knew.
1947 – The first Little League World Series is held. The Maynard Midgets of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, defeat 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.
1977 – Donna Patterson Brice sets a water skiing speed record at 111 mph. Australian Christopher Massey set the water skiing record of 143 mph in 1983. Watch Massey set the record:
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 is 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 wins 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 rides 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, sells for $200.
1921 – J. Edgar Hoover becomes the assistant director of the FBI. He becomes the director in 1924 and leads 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 is decommissioned in 1972 and in 1999 the Savannah is 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 70, 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 is holding her infant daughter, who is unharmed. Fourteen-year-old Sammy Weaver and a U.S. Marshall are shot to death the day before. President Clinton fired his FBI director on July 19, 1993, one day before Vince Foster “committed suicide.”
2003 – Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is suspended after refusing to comply with a federal court order to remove a monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments from the lobby of the Alabama Supreme Court building. Moore is now running for the U.S. Senate seat from Alabama that was vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
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 causes 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 is transformed from a tourist site into a hotel resort and a conference/ event center.
1990 – The U.S. begins to call up 46,000 reservists to serve in the Persian Gulf.
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. Watch a trailer for the show “Miracle in the Desert” about his ordeal:
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, suffers extensive damage. Thomas Jefferson sells 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 are 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 lands after a 31-hour flight from San Diego, California. It is 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. Chapman is now 62 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 makes Rose ineligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. “Charlie Hustle” is now 76 years old.
2001 – The remains of nine American servicemen killed in the Korean War are returned to the U.S. Their bodies are found about 60 miles north of Pyongyang. Some 7,789 U.S. troops still remain unaccounted for in the Korean War. Watch a similar return of four servicemen:
2006 – The International Astronomical Union (IAU) redefines the term “planet” so that Pluto is now considered a Dwarf Planet. Astronomers are 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 33 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 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. Bleibtrey died in 1978 at the age of 76.
1940 – The first parachute wedding takes place at the World’s Fair in New York City. The bride and groom, minister, best man and maid of honor, and four musicians are suspended in parachutes.
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 87 percent of Americans use the Internet.
2012 – NASA’s Voyager 1, launched in 1977, becomes the first spacecraft to enter interstellar space. Voyager 1 is now 13 billion miles from Earth and is still sending back information. Voyager 2, also launched in 1977, is almost 11 billion miles from Earth. Both space probes carry a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images from Earth.
1839 – The slave ship Amistad is captured off Long Island, New York, after a mutiny. The slaves are tried and acquitted because it is deemed they are not property, but had been kidnapped. Donations help repatriate the freed slaved to Sierra Leone.
1843 – Charles Thurber of Worcester, Massachusetts, patents the typewriter. Thurber’s machine is never manufactured and the only model in existence is in a Worcester museum.
1895 – George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla build America’s first hydroelectric power plant at Niagara Falls. Electric Central at Niagara Falls gives off steam using hydroelectricity for the first time.
1920 – The 19th amendment passes, granting women’s suffrage (right to vote). In 1870, the 15th Amendment is passed, giving blacks the right to vote.
1957 – The first Edsel made by the Ford Motor Company rolls of the assembly line. The car is produced for only 3 years. The Edsel was named after Henry Ford’s son. Watch a commercial for the 1958 Edsel:
1973 – Ten-year-old Mary Etta Boitano is the first female to win 6.8-mile Dipsea Race in Marin County, California, beating a field of 1,500 runners. (The finish time of participants is adjusted using an age and gender handicapping system.) The Dipsea Race is the oldest cross-county trail running event in the U.S., which started in 1905. Boitano is now 54 years old.
1987 – The Fuller Brush Company announces plans to open two retail stores in Dallas, Texas. The company was started by Arthur C. Fuller in 1906 and sold its products door to door for 81 years.
2011 – Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner receives certification from the FAA. It flies at 600 miles per hour at a range of nearly 10,000 miles with up to 335 passengers.
2015 – TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward are fatally shot on live TV by an ex-colleague in Moneta, Virginia. The gunman shot himself during a car chase by police and died in the hospital. Watch the murders live as it was seen by TV viewers:
1667 – The earliest recorded hurricane in the U.S. strikes Jamestown, Virginia.
1859 – Edwin Drake drills the first successful oil well in the U.S. near Titusville, Pennsylvania.
1894 – Congress passes the Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act, which includes a graduated income tax. The Supreme Court strikes it down in 1895 as unconstitutional. The 16th Amendments is ratified in 1913 allowing Congress to levy personal income taxes.
1928 – The U.S. is one of 15 countries to sign the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which outlaws war. Forty-seven other countries later sign the Pact, named for Secretary of State Frank Kellogg and French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand. The Senate ratifies it 85-1. The signatories promised not to use war to resolve “disputes or conflicts.” Although often violated, the Pact remains in effect.
1955 – The first “Guinness Book of World Records” is published in London. The first issue is 197 pages. The following year it is published in the U.S. and sells 70,000 copies. It is published every October.
1976 – Transsexual Renee Richards, born Richard Raskind, is barred from competing in U.S. Tennis Open. The New York Supreme Court rules in her favor and Richards plays in the 1977 U.S. Open. She and her tennis partner lose the doubles match to Martina Navratilova and her partner. Richards is now 82 years old.
1996 – California Governor Pete Wilson signs an order that would halt illegal immigrants from using non-emergency health care, public education, and other state services. During her 1994 Senate campaign, incumbent Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) ran on tough policies against illegal immigration.
2001 – Work begins on the future site of a World War II memorial on the U.S. capital’s historic National Mall. The memorial opened in April 2004. The site is located between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
2012 – The first interplanetary human voice recording is broadcast from the Mars Rover Curiosity. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden makes the 169-word recording. Listen to it: