This Week In History February 3rd – 9th


by Dianne Hermann

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

Week of February 3-9, 2014

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 declares 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 is hit and killed by a train in Toronto, Canada.

1930 – Former president William Howard Taft (1909-1913) resigned 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.

1962 – President Kennedy bans all trade with Cuba except for food and drugs.

1990 – Jockey Billy Shoemaker retires at age 58 after 40,350 horse races with a 22% win record. He is paralyzed in an auto accident in 1991 and trains horses from his electric wheelchair. Shoemaker died in 2003 at age 77.


February 4

1789 – The first Electoral College chooses George Washington as President and John Adams as Vice President.

1866 – Mary Baker Eddy claims she is cured from her spinal injury after opening her Bible. She becomes the founder of the Christian Science denomination. Eddy died in 1910 at age 89.

1945 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin meet for one week in Yalta to discuss rebuilding Europe after World War II.


1974 – Patty Hearst, daughter of publisher Randolph Hearst, is kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army and held for 19 months. Patty will be 60 years old this month.

1997 – O. J. Simpson was found libel in the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. OJ is found not guilty in his 1995 criminal trial but is now serving a 9- to 33-year sentence after his 2008 conviction for armed robbery and kidnapping.


February 5

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.

1948 – Dick Button becomes the first U.S. figure skating Olympic champion. The Olympic games are held in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

1969 – The U.S. population reaches 200 million. As of 2012 the U.S. population is 314 million.

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

1997 – Brook Lee of Hawaii is crowned the 46th Miss USA. She is crowned Miss Universe in May.




February 6

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

1891 – The Dalton Gang stage their first, albeit unsuccessful, train robbery when they attempt to rob a Southern Pacific train in California.

1958 – Ted Williams signs with the Boston Red Sox for $135,000, making him the highest paid baseball player to date. (See Feb. 8, 1991)

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.


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 48 years old.

1998 – Washington National Airport is renamed Ronald Reagan National Airport.


February 7

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

1964 – The Beatles land at New York’s JFK airport for their first U.S. tour. (See Feb. 9, 1964)

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 dies two weeks later. His last name (Vetter) is 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.


1984 – U. S. Astronaut Bruce McCandless makes the first un-tethered space walk. During the nearly 6-hour space walk, he and fellow astronaut Robert Stewart practice retrieval and repair procedures to be undertaken by the next shuttle mission. Candless is now 76 years old.

1993 – Cartoon characters Pebbles Flintstone and Bamm Bamm Rubble get married in a made-for-TV movie.


February 8

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.

1969 – The last edition of the “Saturday Evening Post” is published. It was first published in 1897.

1977 – “Hustler” magazine publisher Larry Flynt is sentenced to 7- to 25-years for “pandering obscenity” for selling Hustler magazine in Cincinnati, but serves only 6 days. His conviction is overturned in 1979. Flynt is shot and paralyzed in 1978 by serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin, who is executed in November 2013. Flynt is now 71 years old.


1991 – Roger Clemens signs a (then) record $5,380,250 per year contract with the Boston Red Sox. The highest paid baseball player is currently Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez at $29 million per year.


February 9

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

1942 – Daylight Savings War Time goes into effect in the U.S.

1964 – The Beatles make their first appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” to 3.7 million viewers.

1964 – The GI Joe character created and produced by the toy company Hasbro. GI stands for Government Issued.

1971 – Satchel Paige becomes the first Negro League player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1947, at age 42, Paige becomes the oldest rookie in Major League Baseball history. In 1965, at age 59, he becomes 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.



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