This Week in History: Feb. 11-17, 2019


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 Feb. 11-17, 2019

February 11

1752 – The Pennsylvania Hospital opens as the first hospital in the U.S.

1809 – Robert Fulton, an accomplished artist and portrait painter, patents the steamboat.

1812 – Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry signs a redistricting bill, leading to the term “gerrymandering.”

1916 – Emma Goldman is arrested for lecturing on birth control. She was convicted and served 15 days in jail rather than pay the $100 fine. Goldman became a mentor to future Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. Goldman’s arrests spanned more than 25 years from 1893 until she was deported back to Lithuania in 1919. She died in 1940 at age 70.

1937 – General Motors agrees to recognize the United Automobile Workers union, ending the sit-down strike against them.

1953 – President Eisenhower denies the clemency appeal for the Rosenberg couple, who were convicted of spying. They were executed on June 19, 1953.

1960 – Jack Paar walks off the set while live on the air on the “Tonight Show” with four minutes left. He did this in response to censors cutting out a joke from the show the night before. Watch rare clips, including Paar’s departure and return:

1969 – Diane Crump, age 20, becomes the first U.S. woman jockey to ride against male jockeys. The following year she became the first woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby.

2002 – The six stars on NBC’s “Friends” sign a deal for $24 million each for the ninth and final season of the series.

2006 – While quail hunting in Texas, Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shoots and wounds a companion.

February 12

1793 – The first U.S. fugitive slave law is passed, requiring the return of escaped slaves.

1876 – Al Spalding opens his first sporting goods shop with his brother Walter. Al Spalding was a baseball player, manager, owner, and entrepreneur. He also published the first official rule guide for baseball in 1878. Spalding died in 1915 at age 65.

1878 – Frederick Thayer patents the baseball catcher’s mask, although he is not credited with inventing it. Harvard College baseball player James Tyng is known as the first player to wear the catcher’s mask in a game against the Live oaks semi-pro baseball team in April of 1877.

1908 – The New York City to Paris great auto race begins. The route included Albany, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Valdez (Alaska), Vladivostok, Omsk, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Berlin, and finally Paris. George Schuster won behind the wheel of his Thomas Flyer, covering 3 continents and over 22,000 miles in 169 days. The feat has never been duplicated or equaled. Schuster died in 1972 at age 99.

1955 – President Eisenhower sends the first U.S. advisors to South Vietnam.

1973 – The first U.S. POWs in North Vietnam are released – 116 of the 456 POWs were flown to the Philippines. There are still about 1,600 MIAs (Missing In Action) from the Vietnam War.

1984 – Cale Yarborough becomes the first Daytona 500 qualifier to reach more than 200 MPH, and wins his fourth Daytona 500. He won in 1968, 1977, 1983, and 1984, making him second among winning drivers behind Richard Petty (7 wins). Yarborough is now 79 years old.

1999 – President Clinton is acquitted by the Senate on the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice during his impeachment trial. Clinton had been impeached in the House of Representatives on the same charges on December 19, 1998.

2001 – The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) Shoemaker spacecraft, launched in 1996, touches down on 433 Eros, becoming the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid.

2004 – Mattel announces that “Barbie” and “Ken” are breaking up. The dolls met on the set of their first television commercial together in 1961. Watch the original commercial:

February 13

1795 – The University of North Carolina opens, becoming the first state university in the U.S.

1866 – Jesse James robs his first bank, the Clay County Savings Association in Liberty, Missouri, netting $60,000. James was killed in 1882 at age 34 when he was shot in the back of the head at his home by fellow gang member Robert Ford.

1909 – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded.

1935 – Bruno Hauptmann is found guilty of kidnapping and murdering the 20-month-old Lindbergh baby during “The Trial of the Century.” Hauptman was executed in the electric chair in 1936.

1957 – The Southern Christian Leadership Conference organizes in New Orleans. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. served as its first president.

1984 – Six-year-old Stormie Jones of Texas receives the first successful heart and liver transplant. Jones died in 1990 at age 13.

1997 – The Space Shuttle Discovery captures the Hubble Space Telescope to make repairs. Watch Discovery link up with Hubble:

2000 – The final “Peanuts” comic strip appears in newspapers. Its creator, Charles M. Schulz, died the day before at age 77. The comic strip was launched by Schulz in January of 1950.

2002 – Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani receives an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.

February 14

1803 – Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall declares that any act of the U.S. Congress that conflicts with the Constitution is void.

1876 – Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray apply separately for telephone patents. The Supreme Court eventually ruled that Bell was the rightful inventor.

1929 – Seven gangsters are killed in Chicago, allegedly on Al Capone’s orders, in what became known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

1978 – The first “micro on a chip” is patented by Texas Instruments. It was designed by Gary Boone and Michael Cochran.

1989 – The first of 24 satellites of the Global Positioning System (GPS) are placed into orbit.

1990 – Space probe Voyager 1, launched in 1977, takes a photograph of our entire solar system. It carried a gold-plated audio-visual disc containing photos of Earth life forms, scientific information, music, and sounds of the Earth in the event it was found by intelligent life forms. Voyager’s mission is expected to continue collecting and sending back data until 2025, when it won’t have enough power to operate its instruments.

2002 – The House of Representatives passes the Shays-Meehan bill. The bill bans millions of unregulated money that goes to the national political parties.

2005 – The video-sharing website YouTube is activated. Watch the first video ever uploaded on YouTube:

February 15

1903 – The first Teddy Bear, named for President Theodore Roosevelt, is made by Morris and Rose Michtom.

1932 – George Burns and Gracie Allen debut as regulars on the “Guy Lombardo Show” on the radio. Gracie Allen died in 1964 at age 69 and George Burns died in 1996 at age 100.

1932 – U.S. bobsled team member Eddie Eagan becomes the only athlete to win gold medals in both the Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics. He also won gold in 1920 in boxing. Egan died in 1995 at age 65. Watch a bio of the impressive career of Eagan:

1961 – The entire 18 member U.S. figure skating team dies in a plane crash en route to the World Figure Skating Championships in Prague. One of the skaters who died was 16-year-old Laurence Owen, who won the U.S. Figure Skating Championship in January. She appeared on the February 13th cover of Sports Illustrated. Watch her skate just one month before her death:

1992 – Jeffrey Dahmer is found sane and subsequently convicted of killing 15 boys and sentenced to 15 life terms in prison. Dahmer was murdered in prison in 1994 at age 34 by then 25-year-old Christopher Scarver.

2002 – Investigators find 339 uncremated bodies disposed of in the woods and buildings at the Tri-State Crematory in LaFayette, Georgia. It was one of the worst incidents of abuse in the funeral service industry. Ray Brent Marsh, the founder’s son, eventually plead guilty and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Credited with time served, Marsh was released in 2016.

February 16

1838 – Kentucky passes a law permitting women to attend school under certain conditions.

1852 – The Studebaker Brothers Wagon Company is established. It was the precursor of automobile manufacturing.

1857 – Gallaudet College (National Deaf Mute College) forms in Washington, DC. Edward Miner Gallaudet, founder of the first school for deaf students in the U.S., became the new school’s first superintendent.

1883 – “Ladies Home Journal” begins publication. In 1903, it became the first American magazine to reach 1 million subscribers. In 2014, the Meredith Corporation announced it would cease publishing the monthly magazine, saying it would be published quarterly.

1937 – DuPont Corporation patents nylon, developed by its employee Wallace H. Carothers.

1950 – The longest-running prime-time game show at the time, “What’s My Line,” premiers on CBS-TV and airs until 1967. An all-star panel tried to guess the contestant’s occupation. The first contestant was Miss Pat Finch, a hat check girl. The first “mystery guest,” when the panelists are blindfolded, was Yankee baseball great Phil Rizzuto. Watch a montage of Pat Finch on WML:

1968 – The first 911 emergency phone system in the U.S. goes into service in Haleyville, Alabama.

2005 – National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman cancels the 2004-05 hockey season. This was the first time that a North American professional sports league canceled a season due to a labor dispute.

February 17

1801 – The House of Representatives breaks an Electoral College tie, after casting three dozen ballots, choosing Thomas Jefferson for president over Aaron Burr. Each candidate received 73 votes, but electors failed to distinguish between the office of President and Vice President.

1864 – The Confederate submarine “H.L. Hunley” sinks the Union ship “Housatonic,” becoming the first submarine to sink an enemy ship. The Hunley also sank after the attack, but that wasn’t known until it failed to return to base. The wreckage was discovered in 1970, but it wasn’t recovered until 2000.

1905 – Frances Willard – educator, temperance reformer, and women’s suffragist – becomes the first woman honored in National Statuary Hall in Washington, DC. Willard died in 1898 at age 58.

1915 – Edward Stone, the first U.S. combatant to die in World War I, is mortally wounded.

1943 – New York Yankee and future Baseball Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio enlists into the U.S. army. After being hospitalized with stomach ulcers DiMaggio was released from the service in September of 1945. He returned to play for the New York Yankees in 1946.

1947 – Voice of America begins radio broadcasting to the USSR. The Soviet Union responded by initiating electronic jamming of VOA broadcasts in April.

1964 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules one man one vote in Westberry v Sanders after James Westberry filed suit against Georgia Governor Carl Sanders over the unequal apportionment of congressional districts.

1969 – Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash record an album together, but it is never released. Listen to part of the amazing recording session with still photos:

1995 – A Federal judge allows a lawsuit claiming U.S. tobacco makers knew nicotine was addictive and manipulated its levels to keep customers hooked.

2016 – Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook confirms that Apple will contest an FBI order to unlock the phone of radical Muslim terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook after the mass murder in San Bernardino. The FBI was able to unlock the phone without Apple’s help.


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