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 26-Sept. 1, 2019
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 help 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.
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 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. Watch a CBS report on the murders:
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 in 1895 as unconstitutional. The 16th Amendments 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 lose the doubles match to Martina Navratilova and her partner. Richards is now 84 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 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 16 million packages daily. It delivers about 28 million packages on its busiest delivery day before Christmas.
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 giving 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: https://
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: https://
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.
1885 – The first heavyweight boxing prizefight under the Marquess of Queensberry Rules is held in Cincinnati, Ohio. John L. Sullivan defeated Dominick McCaffrey in six rounds and was the first American athlete to earn over $1 million in his career. Current boxing rules are based on The Queensberry Rules.
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.
1884 – Jack “Nonpareil” Dempsey (born John Edward Kelly) wins the middleweight boxing title in the first fight with boxing gloves. Over his 12-year professional career, Dempsey was defeated only three times in 68 bouts. He died of TB in 1895 at the age of 32.
1963 – A hotline communications link begins between the Pentagon near Washington, D.C. and the Kremlin in Moscow.
1983 – The First Miss Teen USA pageant is held. It is an annual event for girls aged 14-19. Watch the first crowning ceremony: https://
1990 – The Seattle Mariners become the first baseball team to have father-son teammates when Ken Griffey, Sr. (age 40) and son Ken Griffey, Jr. (age 20) play a game together.
1997 – In the first Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Championship game the Houston Comets beat the New York Liberty. There are currently 12 teams, six in the Eastern Conference and six in the Western.
2015 – Rap artist Kanye West announces at the MTV Video Music Awards that he will run for President in 2020. He recently revised his announcement to 2024.
1910 – President Theodore Roosevelt makes a speech in Kansas advocating a “square deal” in which property shall be “the servant and not the master of the commonwealth.”
1920 – John Lloyd Wright is issued a patent for “Toy-Cabin Construction,” which are better known as Lincoln Logs. His father was architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Watch the history of Lincoln Logs and John Lloyd Wright:
1955 – William Cobb of General Motors demonstrates the first sun-powered automobile, the 15-inch-long “Sun Mobile,” at the GM Powerama in Chicago, Illinois.
1964 – California officially becomes (and remains) the most populated state in America. California has a current population of almost 40 million people, while Wyoming has the least with less than 600,000 people.
1978 – Emily and William Harris (of the Symbionese Liberation Army) plead guilty to the 1974 kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst. The Harris’ were released from prison in 1983. They were never charged with the murder of Myrna Opsahl, whom they shot during the bank robbery, until 2002. They, and two others, were convicted of Opsahl’s murder in 2003 and sentenced from 6 to 8 years. Patty Hearst had served only 22 months in jail for the bank robbery when Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence. Hearst is now 65 years old.
2012 – Apple Computers loses its patent dispute with Samsung of Tokyo, Japan. It was one of many patent infringement rulings from cases filed in courts around the world starting in 2011. It wasn’t until the middle of 2018 that the patent dispute trials were resolved in favor of Apple.
1752 – The Liberty Bell arrives in Philadelphia from France. The Pennsylvania Assembly ordered the Bell in 1751 to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of William Penn’s 1701 Charter of Privileges, Pennsylvania’s original Constitution. The cause of the bell’s famous crack is unknown.
1807 – Former Vice President Aaron Burr is found innocent of treason. He was accused of leading a cabal whose goal was to create an independent country in present day Texas. President Thomas Jefferson, then in his second term, ordered Burr arrested. In the election of 1800, Jefferson and Burr tied in the number of electoral votes. The tie was broken by a vote in the House of Representatives due to the influence of Alexander Hamilton. Burr served as Jefferson’s vice president. Vice President Burr killed Hamilton in a duel in 1804.
1862 – Federal tax is levied on tobacco for the first time. Taxes were also levied on such items as feathers, telegrams, pianos, yachts, billiard tables, drugs, and whiskey to help pay for the Civil War.
1897 – The Boston subway opens, becoming the first underground rapid transit system in North America.
1914 – The passenger pigeon becomes extinct when a female pigeon named Martha dies in captivity in the Cincinnati Zoo. The passenger pigeon was once the most common bird in the U.S., numbering in the billions. Its demise is the result of overhunting, habitat loss, and disease. A Smithsonian taxidermist mounts Martha’s skin and she is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
1942 – A Federal judge upholds the detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
1975 – The TV show “Gunsmoke” goes off the air. It premiered in 1955. “Gunsmoke” is the longest running live-action TV show in history, with Law & Order: SVU close behind. The animated show “The Simpsons” is longest running TV show of any genre in the U.S. Watch the first (1955) and final (1975) opening credits:
1979 – A Los Angeles Court orders that actor Clayton Moore stop wearing the Lone Ranger mask in public appearances after Jack Wrather, who owned the rights to the character, files a restraining order. Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger) changed his mask slightly and in 1985 won the right to wear his mask. Moore, who started his career as a child circus star, died in 1999 at age 85.
1985 – A U.S.-French expedition led by Robert Ballard locates the wreckage of the Titanic off the coast of Newfoundland. On this date in 1998, the movie “Titanic” went on sale in the U.S.
1995 – The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame building, designed by I. M. Pei, opens in Cleveland, Ohio. The foundation was established in 1983. Cleveland is the home of Alan Freed, the disc jockey credited with coining the term “rock and roll.”
2005 – Seven members and former members of the AFL-CIO form a new trade union organization called the Change to Win Federation as an alternative to the AFL-CIO. Its president is James P. Hoffa, son of the late Jimmy Hoffa.
Image from roadandtrack.com