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 Jan 6-12, 2020
1759 – George Washington marries Martha Dandridge Custis. Martha was a widow who has 2 children. George died in 1799 at age 67 and Martha died in 1802 at age 70.
1893 – The Washington National Cathedral is chartered by Congress and signed by President Benjamin Harrison. Construction took 83 years, from 1907 to 1990, at a cost of $65 million in private donations.
1941 – FDR makes his “4 Freedoms” speech (speech, worship, from want, and from fear). Listen to his speech with a slide show:
1975 – The original daytime version of “Wheel of Fortune” debuts on NBC-TV. It lasted until 1989, when it moved to CBS for two years before moving back to NBC. The original host was Chuck Woolery. Pat Sajak (age 73) has been the host since 1981. Vanna White (age 62) has been the hostess since 1982. It is the second longest running TV game show after “The Price Is Right.”
1994 – Tonya Harding’s ex-husband and her bodyguard hire Shane Stant to break the leg of ice skater Nancy Kerrigan the day before the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Kerrigan withdrew from the competition with a bruised leg. Both skaters were named to the Olympic team, where Kerrigan won the Silver Medal and Harding finished eighth. Harding plead guilty to hindering the prosecution and received three years’ probation, 500 hours of community service, a $160,000 fine, and a lifetime ban from figure skating.
2016 – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” sets a new opening weekend box office record with $248 million. The movie grossed more than $2 billion worldwide. The 2019 movie “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” earned about $177 million on its opening weekend.
1608 – Fire destroys the colony at Jamestown, Virginia.
1896 – Fanny Farmer publishes her first cookbook. She was partially paralyzed after a stroke when she is 16. She enrolled in the Boston Cooking School at age 30 and attends until 1989. Farmer died in 1915 at age 57.
1927 – The Harlem Globetrotters basketball team play their first game in Hinckley, Illinois. They started as the “Savoy Big Five” in 1926 with 24-year-old coach Abe Saperstein. “Sweet Georgia Brown” became their theme song in 1952. They played basketball against the Washington Generals. In 1982, the Harlem Globetrotters became the only sports team with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Watch their top 10 dunks video:
1969 – The U.S. Congress doubles the president’s salary to $200,000. In 1999, President Clinton doubled his salary to $400,000 plus benefits. In 1789, George Washington was paid $25,000 a year. President Trump takes a salary of $1 a year.
1970 – Local farmers sue Max Yasgur for $35,000 in damages caused by the “Woodstock” concert.
1998 – Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky signs an affidavit denying she had an affair with President Bill Clinton.
1999 – President Bill Clinton begins his impeachment trial in the Senate for perjury and obstruction of justice after saying he did not have sex with “that woman.” Although Clinton was convicted in the House, both charges failed in the Senate on February 12th. Watch Clinton ask for the definition of the word “is”:
2002 – Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates introduces a new device called the Mira. The device was a tablet-like device that is a cross between a handheld computer and a TV remote control. Mira was cancelled in December 2003 after technological problems could be resolved.
1790 – President George Washington delivers the first State of the Union Address before a joint session of Congress in New York City. Many of the early addresses, however, were only delivered to Congress in writing. Since the ratification of the 20th Amendment in 1933, that changed the opening of Congress from March to January, the President’s Annual Message to Congress has been delivered in late January or early February.
1835 – The U.S. national debt is $0 for the first and only time. The current national debt is almost $22 trillion. (Last year on this date the national debt was $21.5 trillion.) The National Debt Clock registers dozens of U.S. indicators: National Debt Clock
1867 – Legislation gives voting rights to blacks in Washington, DC, despite President Andrew Johnson’s veto.
1877 – Crazy Horse and his warriors fight their last battle with the U. S. Cavalry at Wolf Mountain in the Montana Territory. Crazy Horse surrendered in May with his band to protect them, and went to Fort Robinson in Nebraska. Crazy Horse died that September. A mountain monument of Crazy Horse is being constructed 17 miles from Mount Rushmore in Custer County, South Dakota. His face is 87 feet high, while the president’s faces are 60 feet high.
1954 – Elvis Presley pays $4 to a Memphis studio and records his first two songs, “Casual Love” and “I’ll Never Stand in Your Way.” Listen to the Elvis recording with photos of the King:
1963 – The “Mona Lisa” painting by Leonardo de Vinci, on loan from the Louvre Museum in Paris, is unveiled in America’s National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC for President and Mrs. Kennedy.
1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson declares the “War on Poverty.”
1973 – The trial of Watergate burglars begins in Washington, DC. James W. McCord and G. Gordon Liddy were convicted on charges conspiracy, burglary, and wiretapping. Five others plead guilty earlier. McCord’s sentence was reduced to four months and Liddy served four years of his 20-year sentence.
2002 – President George W. Bush signs into law the “No Child Left Behind” Act. The “Every Student Succeeds” Act replaced NCLB in 2015.
2011 – The attempted assassination of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at a Safeway grocery store in Tuscon, Arizona, kills 6 and wounds 13, including Giffords. She resigned from Congress a year later. Jared Lee Loughner was convicted of the shooting and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
1793 – The first hot-air balloon flight in the U.S. lifts off in Philadelphia, piloted by Jean Pierre Blanchard. He flew to an altitude of over one mile and traveled more than 15 miles.
1861 – The Union merchant vessel Star of the West is fired upon at Ft. Sumter in South Carolina in the first hostile act of Civil War.
1903 – Frank Farrell and Bill Devery purchase the American League Baltimore baseball team franchise for $18,000 and move the team to New York City. The team was renamed the Highlanders until 1913, then renamed the Yankees.
1942 – The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff positions are created. The first members were Admiral William D. Leahy, President Roosevelt’s special military adviser/ Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy; General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the Army; Admiral Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations and Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet; and General Henry H. Arnold, Deputy Army Chief of Staff for Air and Chief of the Army Air Corps.
1956 – Abigail Van Buren’s “Dear Abby” column first appears in newspapers. Her real name was Pauline Phillips. Abby died in January 2013 at age 94. Her twin sister was columnist “Ann Landers,” who died in 2002 at age 83.
1979 – The Supreme Court strikes down a Pennsylvania law (by a 6-3 vote) requiring doctors performing an abortion to try to preserve lives of potentially viable fetuses.
1991 – Baseball officially bans Pete Rose from being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. “Charlie Hustle” was banned for betting on baseball games while he was a player and manager. Rose is now 78 years old.
2002 – Michael Jackson receives the Artist of the Century award at the American music awards. Jackson died in 2009 at age 50. Jackson’s physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for administering the drugs that killed Jackson. Murray served two years of a four-year sentence. Watch the award ceremony:
2007 – Apple Inc. CEO, Steve Jobs announces the iPhone.
1776 – Thomas Paine publishes “Common Sense.” Originally published anonymously, “Common Sense” advocated independence from Britain for the American colonies.
1789 – The first national presidential election in the U.S. ends. The election process began on December 15, 1788. George Washington was unanimously elected to the first of his two 4-year terms.
1870 – John D. Rockefeller incorporates Standard Oil. He became the world’s first millionaire.
1943 – President F.D. Roosevelt leaves for Casablanca, Morocco, becoming the first U.S. president to visit a foreign country in wartime.
1984 – The U.S. establishes full diplomatic relations with Vatican after 117 years. In 1983, Congress lifted a prohibition on diplomatic relations enacted in 1867 during widespread anti-Roman Catholic sentiment and concern about the struggle for Italian unification.
1987 – The Dow Jones industrial average closes over the 2,000 mark for the first time. Thirty years later, on January 25, 2017 (five days after President Trump took office), the Dow Jones closed over 20,000.
1994 – The trial of Lorena Bobbitt begins. She cut off her husband John’s penis in 1993 after what she claims was years of abuse. His member was reattached during a nine-hour surgery. Lorena was acquitted of malicious wounding. Lorena is now 49 years old and John is 52.
2018 – Amazon’s Jeff Bezos becomes a billionaire. He is now the richest person in the world. Seven of the top ten billionaires in the world are Americans.
1794 – Robert Forsyth, a 40-year-old U.S. Marshal, is killed in Augusta, Georgia, when trying to serve court papers. Forsyth was the first U.S. marshal to die in the line of duty.
1803 – James Monroe and Robert Livingston sail for Paris to buy New Orleans. They end up purchasing Louisiana. Monroe served as president from 1817 to 1825. Livingston helped draft the Declaration of Independence and administered the presidential oath of office to George Washington in 1789.
1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman in the U.S. to earn a medical degree. She opened an infirmary in 1857 and trained nurses during the Civil War. Blackwell died in 1910 at age 89. Watch a brief bio of Dr. Blackwell:
1953 – J. Edgar Hoover turns down a 6-figure offer to become the president of the International Boxing Club. Hoover served as FBI director from 1924 until his death in 1972.
1963 – The first discotheque, Whiskey-a-Go-Go, opens in Los Angeles on the Sunset Strip. The nightclub is still open.
1964 – The first government report is issued by U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry warning that smoking may be hazardous to one’s health.
1984 – The Supreme Court reinstates the $10 million award to Karen Silkwood’s family. Silkwood worked at the Kerr-McGee Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site plant near Crescent, Oklahoma, and became a nuclear safety activist. She died in a suspicious car accident in 1974 at age 28.
1991 – Congress empowers President Bush to use force against Iraq.
1773 – The first public museum in the U.S. is established in Charlestown, South Carolina.
1896 – Dr. Henry Smith of Davidson, North Carolina, makes the first X-ray photo in the U.S.
1906 – Dow Jones closes above 100 for the first time (100.26). After the stock market crash and the Great Depression, it wasn’t until 1933 that the Dow Jones closed above 100 again.
1921 – Kenesaw Mountain Landis becomes the first commissioner of baseball. The former federal judge served until his death in 1944 at age 78. He was the longest serving commissioner in baseball history.
1948 – The Supreme Court rules in favor of Ada Sipuel in the case of Sipuel vs. Oklahoma State Board of Regents. Two years earlier Ada Sipuel applied for admission to the all-white law school at the University of Oklahoma and was denied because of her race. Future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall argued before the Supreme Court while future Justice John Paul Stevens watched from the gallery.
1967 – The Louisville, Kentucky, draft board refuses an exemption for the boxer Muhammad Ali. Ali (born Cassius Clay) was convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to 5 years in prison, fined $10,000, and banned from boxing for three years. He stayed out of prison during his appeal and the Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 1971. Ali died in 2016 at age 74.
1967 – Dr. James Bedford, who died of kidney cancer at age 73, becomes the first person to be placed in cryonic suspension with the intent of future resuscitation. Bedford’s body was successfully transferred to a new cryogenic storage dewar (capsule) in 1991. There are currently over 250 people in cryonic suspension in seven facilities worldwide (five are in the U.S.).
1995 – Malcolm X’s daughter Qubilah Shabazz is arrested for plotting the murder of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, whom she believed was responsible for her father’s assassination in 1965. As Malcolm X, a former member of the Nation of Islam, was preparing to speak before the Organization of Afro-American Unity, three men charged the stage and shot Malcom 21 times. All three men were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Following a May 2000 interview on 60 Minutes, Farrakhan said that he may have “created the atmosphere that ultimately led to Malcolm X’s assassination.”
2005 – NASA’s spacecraft Deep Impact launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a Delta 2 rocket on a mission to land on a comet. In July, the impactor separated from the fly-by spacecraft and hit the comet. The fly-by spacecraft was reprogrammed and crossed paths with other comets. Communication was lost in 2013. Watch an onboard video of the impact (no sound):
Image from: history.com