This Week In History – December 16th – 22nd


by Dianne Hermann

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

Week of December 16-22, 2013

December 16

1773 – The Sons of Liberty, dressed as Indians, toss crates of tea sent by the East India Company into the Boston Harbor in what becomes known as the Boston Tea Party.

1811 – An earthquake hits New Madrid, Missouri, causing widespread damage. The earthquake is estimated by the U.S. Geological Society to have been three times stronger than the 1964 Alaska earthquake.

1903 – The Majestic Theater in New York City becomes the first theater in the U.S. to employ women ushers.

1905 – Variety magazine, covering all phases of the entertainment business, is first published.

1953 – The first White House Press Conference is held when President Eisenhower talks to 161 reporters.


December 17

1777 – France recognizes the independence of the English colonies in America.

1900 – The new Ellis Island Immigration Station is completed at a cost of $1.5 million.

1965 – The first concert at the Houston Texas Astrodome features The Supremes opening for Judy Garland. The first exhibition baseball game is played on April 9th. The Astros beat the New York Yankees 2-1. In November voters rejected a $217 million bond plan to renovate the Astrodome, so it may be demolished.


1975 – John Paul Stevens is appointed to the Supreme Court. Justice Stevens retired from the Supreme Court in June of 2010 at the age of 90.

1989 – The Simpsons animated TV show makes its debut. It is now the longest-running American sitcom.


December 18

1799 – George Washington’s body is interred at Mount Vernon in Virginia.

1878 – John Kehoe, a coal miner, is executed in Pennsylvania. He is the last of the Molly Maguires, a secret society of Irish-born and Irish-American coal miners.


1936 – Su-Lin, the first giant panda to come to U.S. from China, arrives in San Francisco. Su-Lin died two years later. The body of Su-Lin is on display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.


1956 – To Tell the Truth debuts on CBS-TV and lasts until 1968. The show goes into syndication in 1969. Four celebrity panelists try to correctly identify the person from among three contestants who has an unusual occupation or experience.


1966 – Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas airs for the first time on CBS-TV.

1979 – Stanley Barrett becomes the first person to exceed the land sonic speed (739.666 MPH) and breaks the sound barrier.


1991 – General Motors announces the closing of 21 automobile plants.

1996 – The Oakland, California, school board passes a resolution officially declaring “Ebonics” a language or dialect. It is described as African-American Vernacular English.


December 19

1732 – Benjamin Franklin, under the pseudonym of Richard Saunders, begins publication of Poor Richard’s Almanack. It is published until 1758.

1776 – Thomas Paine published his first “American Crisis” essay, in which he writes, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”


1823 – Georgia is the first U.S. state to pass a birth registration law.

1907 – In the worst mining disaster in Pennsylvania, 239 workers died in a coal mine explosion in Jacobs Creek.

1918 – Robert Ripley begins his “Believe It or Not” column in the New York Globe.


1972 – Apollo 17 returns to Earth. It is the last spacecraft to land on the moon. Astronaut Gene Cernan is the last person to walk on the moon.

2007 – The Lakotah people, a Native American tribe, proclaim independence and withdraw all their treaties with the United States. They then proceed to establish the Republic of Lakotah, with an ongoing process of international recognition as a separate country.


December 20

1803 – Louisiana Purchase formally transfers land from France to the U.S. for $27 million.

1920 – Bob Hope becomes an American citizen. He is born in England and immigrates to the U.S with his family in 1907 at age 4. Bob Hope died in 2003 at age 100.

1921 – The American League votes to return to best-of-7 baseball World Series, while the National League votes for the best-of-9 games. Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis casts deciding vote for best-of-7 games.

1957 – Elvis Presley receives a draft notice from the U.S. Army. He serves from March 1958 to March 1960. He was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, and in Germany.


1962 – The Osmond Brothers, including Donnie Osmond, debut on the Andy Williams Show.


2012 – Intercontinental Exchange purchases the New York Stock Exchange, the largest in the world, for $8 billion.


December 21

1891 – Eighteen students play the first basketball game at Springfield College. (See Dec. 1, 1891)

1913 – The first crossword puzzle (with 32 clues) is printed in NY World.

1932 – Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appear in their first movie together. (Flying Down to Rio)

1959 – Tom Landry accepts the coaching job with football’s Dallas Cowboys. He coaches the Cowboys until 1988. Landry died in 2000 at age 75.


1969 – Diana Ross makes her last of 17 TV appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show as a Supreme.


1969 – Vince Lombardi coaches the Washington Redskins in his last football game. As head coach and general manager of the Green Bay Packers, Lombardi led the team to three NFL championships and to victories in the first two Super Bowls (1967 and 1968). Lombardi died of colon cancer in 1970 at age 57.


1988 – New York bound Pan Am Flight 103 is destroyed by a bomb, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew over Lockerbie, Scotland.

2012 – Gangman Style becomes the first video to reach one billion views on YouTube.



December 22

1882 – Thomas Edison created the first string of Christmas tree lights.

1894 – The United States Golf Association (USGA) forms in New York City.

1941 – Winston Churchill arrives in Washington, DC for a wartime conference with President FDR. In 1963 Churchill is made an honorary U.S. citizen. Barack Obama sends the bust of Churchill back to the British embassy when he takes over the White House. Churchill’s bust is returned to Washington thanks to the efforts of Speaker of the House John Boehner. The bust is dedicated on October 30th, 2013.


1964 – Comedian Lenny Bruce is convicted of obscenity and sentenced to “four months in the workhouse.” He had already been charged with narcotics possession and obscenity several times. While awaiting an appeal Bruce dies of a heroin overdose on August 3, 1966. He is 40 years old.


1964 – The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, with test pilot Bob Gilliland, makes its first flight at Plant #42 in Palmdale, California.


2001 – Richard Reid attempts to destroy a passenger airliner by igniting explosives hidden in his shoes aboard American Airlines Flight 63.

2010 – President Barack Obama signs into law the repeal of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, the 17-year-old policy banning homosexuals from serving openly in the United States military.


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