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 23-29, 2021
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.
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.
2004 – The U.S. sweeps the 400 meter medals and wins gold in softball in the Athens Olympics. The U.S. ranked first in the medal count with 101 medals.
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 the Communist Control Act, outlawing the Communist Party in the U.S.
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 66 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 80 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. 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 $527 billion. Zuckerburg is now 37 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 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 (launched in 1977) flies over the cloud tops of the planet Neptune and its moon Triton, sending back photographs.
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 9.5 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 were tried and acquitted because it was deemed they were not property but had been kidnapped. Donations helped repatriate the freed slaved to Sierra Leone.
1895 – George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla build America’s first hydroelectric power plant at Niagara Falls. Electric Central at Niagara Falls gave off steam using hydroelectricity for the first time.
1957 – The first Edsel made by the Ford Motor Company rolls of the assembly line. The car was produced for only 3 years. The Edsel was named after Henry Ford’s son. Watch a commercial for the 1958 Edsel.
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. The company is still in business.
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.
1667 – The earliest recorded hurricane in the U.S. strikes Jamestown, Virginia.
1894 – Congress passes the Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act, which includes a graduated income tax. The Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional in 1895. The 16th Amendment was 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 signed the Pact, named for Secretary of State Frank Kellogg and French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand. The Senate ratified it 85-1. The signatories promised not to use war to resolve “disputes or conflicts.” Although often violated, the Pact remains in effect.
1976 – Transsexual Renee Richards, born Richard Raskind, is barred from competing in U.S. Tennis Open. The New York Supreme Court ruled in her favor and Richards played in the 1977 U.S. Open. She and her tennis partner lost the doubles match to Martina Navratilova and her partner. Richards is now 86 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 World War II memorial on the U.S. capital’s historic National Mall, located between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The memorial opened in April 2004.
2012 – The first interplanetary human voice recording is broadcast from the Mars Rover Curiosity. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden made the 169-word recording. Listen to it.
1830 – The first steam locomotive train built in the U.S., “Tom Thumb,” runs from Baltimore to Ellicott’s Mill, Maryland, carrying the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad directors. It hauled passengers until 1831 but was never put into regular service. “Tom Thumb” was salvaged for parts in 1834.
1907 – The United Parcel Service (UPS) is founded by teenagers James E. Casey and Claude Ryan in Seattle, Washington, as the American Messenger Company with a $100 investment. The company started making deliveries in a Model T Ford in 1913. UPS, now headquartered near Atlanta, Georgia, is the largest package delivery company in the world, delivering nearly 22 million packages daily.
1917 – Ten suffragists are arrested as they picket in front of the White House. They had been picketing every day since January. Ninety-seven of the suffragettes who were arrested between June and November 1907 spent time in either a workhouse or jail. Many of the women went a hunger strike and were force fed through a nasogastric tube (a tube inserted through the nose into the stomach). It was another three years before the 19th Amendment was passed granting women the right to vote. The 15th Amendment, giving blacks the right to vote, was passed by Congress in 1869 and ratified in 1870.
1957 – Democrat Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina begins a 24-hour 18-minute filibuster against the Civil Rights Bill. He still holds the record for the longest filibuster in Congress. The bill was a watered-down version of the original House bill after Senate Majority Leader (and future president Lyndon Johnson) led the fight against the protection provisions in the bill. The bill passed less than 2 hours after Thurmond ends his filibuster. Every Republican voted for the bill, while nearly 40 percent of Democrats voted against it. Thurmond died in 2003 at age 100.
1963 – Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Dr. King was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. Listen to the entire speech.
1981 – The National Centers for Disease Control announces a high incidence of Pneumocystis and Kaposi’s sarcoma in gay men. Both diseases were later linked to HIV and AIDS.
2014 – Google announces Project Wing, aimed at delivering products across a city using unmanned flying vehicles (drones). Watch the Project Wing test flight video.
1758 – The New Jersey Legislature forms the first Indian reservation in the U.S. for the Lenni-Lenape Indians in Burlington County.
1862 – The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing begins operation, with Salmon P. Chase as the Treasury Secretary, by printing $1 and $2 bills. Salmon P. Chase appears on the $10,000 bill. He is one of only three men who appear on currency who were not presidents. Benjamin Franklin is on the $100 bill and Alexander Hamilton is on the $10 bill.
1904 – The first Olympics ever held in the U.S. opens in St. Louis, Missouri, with 651 athletes (645 men and 6 women) representing 12 participating countries.
1909 – American aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss wins the world’s first air race in his airplane “The June Bug.” The race was held in Rheims, France, over a 20-kilometer course. Curtiss flew the course at 46.5 miles per hour in less than 16 minutes. Curtiss died in 1930 at age 52 from complications following an appendectomy.
1958 – The Air Force Academy opens in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
1966 – The Beatles perform their last public concert. They performed at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. Their first public concert in the U.S. was February 1964 in Washington, DC.
2005 – Hurricane Katrina makes landfall as a Category 3 hurricane devastating much of the U.S. Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida Panhandle, killing 1,833 people and causing over $115 billion in damage. Watch a brief day-by-day report.
2007 – An Air Force nuclear weapons incident takes place at Minot Air Force Base and Barksdale Air Force Base when nuclear warheads are not removed before the missiles were transported.
Image from: biography.com