This Week In History, December 2nd


by Dianne Hermann

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

Week of December 2-8, 2013

December 2

1816 – The first savings bank in the U.S. opens as the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society (PFSF). By the late 1910s, PSFS has the most depositors of any savings bank in the United States.

1823 – President James Monroe declares his “Monroe Doctrine.” Monroe stated during a message to Congress that, “The American continents … are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.”

1845 – U.S. President James K. Polk announces to Congress that the United States should aggressively expand into the West in what became known as “Manifest Destiny.”

1867 – In a New York City theater, British author Charles Dickens gives the first of many public readings of his works in the United States.


1933 – Fred Astaire’s film debut, “Dancing Lady,” is released. It stars Joan Crawford and Clark Gable.


1954 – The U.S. Senate censures Senator Joe McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) for “conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.” McCarthy claims that communists have infiltrated the U.S. State Department. He becomes chair of the Senate’s subcommittee on investigations. He continues to serve in the Senate until his death in May of 1957 at age 48.



December 3

1847 – Former slave Frederick Douglass publishes the first issue of his abolitionist newspaper North Star. In June of 1851 the paper merges with the Liberty Party Paper of Syracuse, New York, and is renamed Frederick Douglass’ Paper. It is in circulation under this new name until 1860.

1868 – The first blacks are selected to serve on a U.S. jury for the trial of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.


1931 – Alka-Seltzer goes on sale. Maurice Treener, the head chemist at Miles Medicine Company in Elkhart, Indiana, develops it. The trademark effervescence is produced when the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and citric acid react to form sodium citrate and carbon dioxide gas.

1950 – Paul Harvey begins his national radio broadcast. Harvey starts his radio career with a local broadcast in Chicago in 1944. He is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. His final broadcast is on February 7, 2009. He died three weeks later on February 28th at age 90. Good day!


2012 – The Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched in 1977, reaches the end of our solar system and enters interstellar space.


December 4

1674 – Father Marquette, a French Jesuit priest sent to convert Indians in the Midwest, builds the first dwelling in what is now Chicago.

1812 – Peter Gaillard of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, patents a horse-drawn mower.


1867 – Former Minnesota farmer Oliver Hudson Kelley founds The Order of the Patrons of Husbandry (known today as the Grange) to promote the economic and political well being of the agricultural community.

1918 – President Wilson sails for the Versailles Peace Conference in France at the end of World War I, becoming the first chief executive to travel outside U.S. while in office.

1954 – The first Burger King restaurant opens in Miami, Florida. Burger King now operates more than 12,000 restaurants in every state and 73 countries.

1961 – The Museum of Modern Art in New York City hangs Henri Matisse’s painting Le Bateau upside down for 47 days.


1964 – Baseball approves a free-agent draft. Rick Monday is the first pick in the first free agent draft on June 8, 1965.


December 5

1935 – National Council of Negro Women is formed by Mary McLeod Bethune in New York City.

1955 – The AFL and CIO unions merge, with George Meany as its first president.

1955 – The historic bus boycott begins in Montgomery, Alabama, after Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white person.


1964 – Major Roger Donlon is awarded the first Medal of Honor of the Vietnam War for his heroism in battle earlier in the year.


1993 – Space Shuttle Atlantis astronauts begin repair of Hubble telescope in space.


December 6

1849 – Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery in Maryland for the second and final time.

1865 – The 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery, is ratified.

1923 – President Calvin Coolidge makes the first presidential address on a radio broadcast.

1964 – “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” a stop-action animation movie, airs for the first time on TV (and every year since).


1969 – About 300,000 people attend the Altamont rock concert in California, featuring the Rolling Stones.



December 7

1787 – Delaware becomes the first state to ratify the Constitution.

1941 – The Japanese attack the U.S. at Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hawaii, on a date that will live in infamy.


1945 – The microwave oven is patented. It is first sold under the name Radarange in 1947.

1968 – Richard Dodd returns a library book his great-grandfather checked out in 1823. The fine is not levied, but would have been $22,646.


December 8

1792 – The first person to be cremated in the U.S. is South Carolina Delegate Henry Laurens.


1941 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his “Day of Infamy” speech to the U.S. Congress the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

1952 – TV has its first acknowledgement of pregnancy when it is announced on I Love Lucy that Lucy is “enceinte” (French for expecting). The episode when Lucy gives birth airs on January 19, 1953, to coincide with Lucille Ball’s real-life delivery of Desi Arnez, Jr. by Caesarean section. This episode is watched by more people than any other TV program up to that time.


1953 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers his “Atoms for Peace” speech to the U.N. General Assembly, spelling out the necessity of repurposing existing nuclear weapons technology to peaceful ends. It is seen as the inspiration for the creation of the International Atomic Energy Agency of 1956.

1966 – The U.S. and the USSR sign a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons in outer space.


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