This Week in History: Feb 3-9, 2020


This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history
is the most important of all the lessons of history.” Aldous Huxley

Week of Feb 3-9, 2020


February 3

1690 – The Massachusetts Bay Colony issues the first paper money in (what would later become) America.

1870 – The 15th Amendment is passed. Although it declared that the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” poll taxes and literacy tests kept the 15th Amendment from being fully applied until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed.

1882 – Circus owner P.T. Barnum buys his world famous elephant Jumbo from the London Zoo for $10,000. In September 1885, while touring with “The Greatest Show on Earth,” Jumbo was hit and killed by a train in Toronto, Canada. The Ringling Brothers/ Barnum & Bailey Circus closed in 2017.

1930 – Former president William Howard Taft (1909-1913) resigns as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for health reasons. Taft was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1921, making him the only president to also serve on the Supreme Court. Taft died the following month at age 72.

1953 – J. Fred Muggs, a chimp, becomes a regular on NBC’s Today Show. Watch Muggs in action on the Today Show:

1973 – President Richard Nixon signs the Endangered Species Act into law.

1984 – The first baby conceived by embryo transplant is born in Long Beach, California. The embryo was conceived in one woman’s womb and transferred to another woman without using test tube fertilization. The baby boy was born 38 weeks after the procedure was performed.

1990 – Jockey Billy Shoemaker retires at age 58 after 40,350 horse races with a 22% win record, making him the winningest jockey. He was paralyzed in an auto accident in 1991 and trained horses from his electric wheelchair. His record has since been eclipsed by jockeys Laffit A. Pincay, Jr. and Russel A. Baze. Shoemaker died in 2003 at age 77.

2019 – The New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in the lowest scoring Super Bowl. It was the Patriots’ 6th Super Bowl win, tying with the Steelers for the most wins.

February 4

1787 – Shays’ Rebellion (of debt-ridden Massachusetts farmers) fails. Daniel Shays led a group of farmers who revolted against the government for seizing the farms of farmers who couldn’t pay their taxes due to harsh economic conditions. Since the federal government was unable to finance an army due to lack of money, the Massachusetts governor raised money from local merchants and created a privately-funded militia army that ultimately defeated the Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays and local farmers.

1861 – The Provisional Congress of Confederate States of America holds its first meeting in Montgomery, Alabama. The states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina elected Jefferson Davis as President of Confederacy.

1866 – Mary Baker Eddy claims she is cured from her spinal injury after opening her Bible. She became the founder of the Christian Science denomination in 1879 and founded the publication Christian Science Monitor in 1908. Eddy died in 1910 at age 89.

1974 – Patty Hearst, granddaughter of publisher William Randolph Hearst, is kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army and held for 19 months. Patty is now 65 years old. Watch a brief look back at her kidnapping:

1991 – The Baseball Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors votes 12-0 to bar Pete Rose for life for betting on baseball games. Rose appealed the decision several times, but the ban still stands because he was deemed “permanently ineligible.” Rose is 78 years old.

1997 – OJ Simpson is found libel in the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. OJ was found not guilty in his 1995 criminal trial. He served a 9-year sentence after his 2008 conviction for armed robbery and kidnapping. OJ was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 1985 and the bylaws stipulate that only a player’s achievements on the football field are considered as criteria for induction in the Hall of Fame. He is 72 years old.

2004 – Facebook is launched by Mark Zuckerberg from his Harvard dormitory.

February 5

1778 – South Carolina becomes the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation. It was replaced by the Constitution in 1788.

1918 – Stephen W. Thompson is the first U.S. pilot to shoot down an enemy aircraft. Thompson died in 1977 at age 83.

1922 – Reader’s Digest magazine is first published. Roy DeWitt Wallace came up with the idea of publishing articles on various subjects while he was recovering from wounds he received during World War I. Wallace was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Nixon in 1972. Wallace died 1981 at age 91.

1967 – “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” premieres on CBS-TV. Later they moved to ABC, and then NBC. The show aired until 1969. Tom and Dick were often embroiled in controversies with the censors. Tom is now 82 and Dick is 80 years old.

1973 – A funeral is held for Lt. Col. William Nolde, the last U.S. soldier killed in the Vietnam War. Nolde was killed in combat 11 hours before the ceasefire under the Paris Peace Accord became effective.

1991 – A Michigan court bars Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a euthanasia activist, from assisting in suicides. Between 1994 and 1997 Kevorkian was tried four times for participating in assisted suicides. He was acquitted three times (the fourth was a mistrial). In 1999 Kevorkian was convicted of 2nd degree murder and served 8 years of his 10-15-year sentence. He died in 2011 at age 83. Watch a CNN news report:

2003 – Secretary of State Colin Powell presents evidence to the U.N. concerning Iraq’s material breach of U.N. Resolution 1441, which was unanimously passed in 2002. Its purpose was to give Saddam Hussain another opportunity to comply with the disarmament obligations set out in 10 previous resolutions.

2016 – Super Bowl LI (51) is the first Super Bowl to go into overtime. The New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28.

2018 – The Dow Jones has the largest one-day point loss in history. It dropped 1,175.21 points.

February 6

1693 – A royal charter is granted for the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was the 2nd college in the U.S., after Harvard University.

1891 – The Dalton Gang stages their first, albeit unsuccessful, train robbery when they attempt to rob a Southern Pacific train in California. The Dalton brothers were lawmen in the late 1880s. It’s believed they became outlaws because of strained frontier conditions and not being paid. The gang robbed several trains and banks until they attempted to rob two bank simultaneously in Coffeyville, Kansas, in October of 1892. Two Dalton Brothers and two other gang members were killed, while Emmett Dalton survived being shot 23 times. Emmett was pardoned after serving 14 years of a life sentence. He moved to California and became a real estate agent, author and actor. Emmett died in 1937 at age 66.

1911 – The Arizona Pioneers’ Home, the first old-age home in the U.S., opened in Prescott, Arizona. It was a home for indigent pioneers and disabled miners. It is still in operation.

1926 -The National Football League rules that college students are ineligible play pro football until they graduate from college. The rule was not changed until 1990 when the NFL ruled that players can play football three years after graduating from high school.

1971 – Alan Shepard hits the first golf balls on the Moon. Both golf balls Shepard hit are still on the Moon. Shepard died in 1998 at age 74. Watch his zero gravity putt: h

1996 – Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss begins her 7-year jail sentence for tax evasion of which she served 20 months. Her 1994 conviction for pandering was later overturned. Fleiss is now 54 years old.

2000 – First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton formally declares that she is a candidate for a U.S. Senate seat from the state of New York. She won the election in November. She lost her presidential bids in 2008 and 2016.

February 7

1812 – A 7.5–8 magnitude earthquake shakes New Madrid, Missouri. This was the final in a series of earthquakes to hit the area from December to February. They were the largest earthquakes to ever hit the contiguous U.S. and caused substantial damage.

1839 – Henry Clay declares in the Senate, “I had rather be right than president.” Clay lost his bid for the presidency in 1824, 1832, and 1844. Clay died in 1852 at age 75 and was the first person to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

1948 – Omar Bradley succeeds Dwight Eisenhower as Army Chief of Staff. In 1950, Bradley became the last of only nine people promoted to the rank of 5-Star General. Eisenhower served as president from 1953 to 1961.

1973 – The Senate creates the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities to investigate the Watergate scandal during the 1972 election.

1984 – The Bubble Boy (born without an immune system) touches his mom for the first time as he lay dying in the hospital following an unsuccessful bone marrow transplant. Twelve-year-old David died two weeks later. His last name (Vetter) was not revealed until 10 years after his death to protect his family’s privacy. His brother, born with the same hereditary disease (SCID), lived only 7 months. Watch a touching video:

1984 – U. S. astronaut Bruce McCandless makes the first un-tethered spacewalk. During the nearly 6-hour spacewalk, he and fellow astronaut Robert Stewart practiced retrieval and repair procedures to be undertaken by the next shuttle mission. McCandless died in 2017 at age 80.

1999 – NASA’s Stardust space probe is launched. The mission was to collect comet dust samples from the comet Wild 2. The mission was completed on January 15, 2006, when the sample capsule returned to Earth.

February 8

1837 – Richard Johnson is the first vice president chosen by the Senate according to the 12th Amendment, which states that Congress shall cast votes specifically for president and vice president. He served during the Van Buren administration. Johnson died in 1850 at age 70.

1887 – The Dawes Act, written by Congressman Henry Dawes, authorizes the President of the United States to survey Native American tribal land and divide it into individual allotments called reservations.

1910 – William D. Boyce, philanthropist, incorporates the Boy Scouts of America. Boyce died in 1929 at age 70.

1935 – Jay Berwanger of the University of Chicago is the first player picked in the first National Football League draft. Berwanger was picked by the Eagles, but he never played in the NFL. He died in 2002 at age 88.

1969 – The last edition of the “Saturday Evening Post” is published. It was first published in 1897. Beginning in 1916, Norman Rockwell painted more than 300 Saturday Evening Post covers during his 50-year career.

1977 – “Hustler” magazine publisher Larry Flynt is sentenced to 7-25 years for “pandering obscenity” for selling Hustler magazine in Cincinnati, but serves only 6 days. His conviction was overturned in 1979. Flynt was shot and paralyzed in 1978 by serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin, who was executed in November 2013. Flynt is now 77 years old.

1993 – GM sues NBC, alleging that “Dateline NBC” program that aired on November 17, 1992 rigged two truck crashes to show that 1973 to 1987 GM pickups were prone to fires. NBC later admitted to editing the videos. Watch the rigged test:

2002 – The 19th Winter Olympic Games open at Salt Lake City, Utah. Following charges of corruption, an investigation led to the expulsion of 10 International Olympic Committee members and the sanctioning of 10 others. This was the first expulsion and sanctioning for corruption in the history of the IOC.

February 9

1870 – The U.S. Army establishes the U.S. National Weather Service.

1909 – The first federal legislation prohibiting narcotics outlaws the drug opium.

1942 – Daylight Savings War Time goes into effect in the U.S. during WWII. The war ended almost 80 years ago.

1953 – “The Adventures of Superman” show premieres on TV and airs until 1958. Superman actor George Reeves committed suicide in 1959 at age 45. Watch excerpts from the show:

1960 – The first star is placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The star was for Joanne Woodward. There are now more than 2,500 stars.

1964 – The Beatles make their first appearance of on the “Ed Sullivan Show” to 3.7 million viewers. Watch the four lads on their last of three appearances:

1971 – Satchel Paige becomes the first Negro League player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1947, at age 42, Paige became the oldest rookie in Major League Baseball history. In 1965, at age 59, he became the oldest baseball player to play in a game and pitches three scoreless innings for the Kansas City Athletics. Paige died in 1982 at age 75.

2001 – The submarine USS Greenville accidentally strikes and sinks a Japanese civilian training vessel off the coast of Hawaii during a ballast-blow maneuver. Nine people on the vessel were killed. Greenville Commander Scott Waddle was forced to retire after the findings of a court of inquiry were released.

2016 – In the New Hampshire Presidential Primary, Republican Donald Trump wins (35%) over John Kasich (16%) and Bernie Sanders (60%) defeats Hillary Clinton (38%) in Democrat race.


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