This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“History is a vast early warning system.” Norman Cousins
Feb 13-19, 2023
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. Ford was shot to death 10 years later at age 30.
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 astronauts repair the telescope.
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.
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 Earth’s 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. It is 14 billion miles from Earth.
2002 – The House of Representatives passes the Shays-Meehan bill. The bill bans millions of dollars of unregulated money that goes to the national political parties. John McCain and Russ Feingold pushed a similar bill in the Senate.
2005 – The video-sharing website YouTube is activated. Watch the first video ever uploaded on YouTube.
2011 – Barbie and Ken get back together after they split up in 2004.
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. The conditions of his probation included writing a letter of apology to each of the designated representatives for each of the identified remains.
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 in subscriptions. In 2014, the Meredith Corporation announced it would cease publishing the monthly magazine, saying it would be published quarterly. Publication ceased in 2016.
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. Currently, the longest-running game show is Wheel of Fortune. Watch a montage of Pat Finch on What’s My Line.
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 a North American professional sports league canceled the entire season due to a labor dispute.
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.
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 and retired in 1951.
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 was never released. Listen to the amazing recording session with photos and videos.
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.
1841 – The first continuous filibuster in the U.S. Senate begins over the dismissal of the printer for the Senate and lasts until March 11th.
1861 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis is inaugurated in Montgomery, Alabama. Davis had resigned his seat as a U.S. senator from Mississippi in January.
1878 – Outlaw Jessie Evans murders John Tunstall, sparking the Lincoln County War in New Mexico between immigrant English and Irish ranchers and merchants. Tensions and murders raged until 1884. One of the combatants was Billy the Kid.
1929 – The first Academy Awards, hosted by Douglas Fairbanks, are announced. “Wings” starring Clara Bow and Gary Cooper won for Best Picture.
1932 – Sonja Henie wins her 6th straight World Women’s figure skating title. Henie won Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936. She moved to the U.S. and became a movie star. Henie died in 1969 at age 57.
1978 – Fifteen competitors race in the first Ironman Triathlon (swim, bike ride, and marathon) held in Kona, Hawaii. Gordon Haller was the winner, completing the race in 11 hours and 46 minutes. U.S. Navy Commander John Collins founded the event as a way to determine whether swimmers, cyclists, or runners are more fit. Watch a 2013 interview with Haller.
2001 – FBI agent Robert Hanssen is arrested for spying for the Soviet Union. He was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms in prison after a plea deal enabled him to escape the death penalty. The Department of Justice described his espionage as “possibly the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history. The movies “Master Spy” and “Breach” were made about his life as a spy. Hanssen is now 78 years old.
1807 – Former Vice President Aaron Burr is arrested in Alabama for treason, but is later found innocent. He was charged with treason for an alleged conspiracy to provoke a rebellion and take parts of the south by force from the Union. In 1804, while serving as vice president, Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel.
1859 – Dan Sickles is acquitted of murder on grounds of temporary insanity. It was the first time this defense was successfully used.
1913 – The first prize is inserted into a Cracker Jack box. In 1896, the snack’s creator Louis Rueckheim gave the treat to a salesman who exclaimed, “That’s a cracker, Jack!” So Rueckheim trademarked the name.
1942 – President FDR orders the detention and internment of all west coast Japanese-Americans during World War II. Twelve detention centers in California and one in Oregon house more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans. In December of 1944, FDR announced the end of the detentions and the internees returned home. By then, they had lost their homes, businesses, and possessions. President Ronald Reagan signed into law The Civil Liberties Act of 1988, providing an apology and redress to the internees still living, although nearly half of those who had been imprisoned died before the bill was signed.
1953 – Baseball star Ted Williams, recalled for active duty as a Marine fighter pilot in 1952, safely crash lands his damaged Panther jet in Korea. Williams was awarded the Air Medal and two Gold Stars before being discharged for health reasons. Williams retired from baseball in 1960, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966, and died in 2002 at age 83. His son had Williams’ body cryogenically frozen in Scottsdale, Arizona.
1974 – The first American Music Award are held. Helen Reddy and Jim Croce (posthumously) won. Jim Croce died in a plane crash the previous September at age 30.
1986 – The U.S. Senate ratifies the United Nation’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide 36 years after it is adopted by the UN.
1987 – An anti-smoking ad by the American Cancer Society, featuring Yul Brynner, airs for the first time on TV. It was filmed two years before, just months before Brynner died of lung cancer. Watch Yul Brynner’s plea.
2002 – NASA’s Mars Odyssey space probe begins to map the surface of Mars using its thermal emission imaging system.
Image from: Rolling Stone