This Week In History, January 18-24, 2016


This Week In History

by Dianne Hermann


“While I take inspiration from the past, like most Americans,

I live for the future.”

– Ronald Reagan

Week of January 18-24, 2016




January 18


1778 – Captain James Cook stumbles onto the Sandwich Islands (later renamed Hawaiian Islands).


1896 – An X-ray machine is first demonstrated in U.S. in New York City.


1911 – The first shipboard landing of a plane is successfully completed when Eugene Burton Ely lands his Curtiss pusher airplane from Tanforan Park onto the USS Pennsylvania.


1929 – The “New York Daily Mirror” with columnist Walter Winchell debuts on the radio.


1948 – “Ted Mack and The Original Amateur Hour” talent show debuts and airs until 1970. It follows the “Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour” radio show after the death of Bowes.


1960 – The U.S. and Japan sign a joint defense treaty.


1962 – The U.S. begins spraying foliage in Vietnam with Agent Orange to reveal Viet Cong guerrillas.


1974 – “$6 Million Man” starring Lee Majors premieres on ABC-TV and airs until 1978. Majors is now 76 years old.


1975 – “The Jeffersons,” a spin-off from “All in the Family,” premieres on CBS-TV and airs until 1985.


1979 – Peter Jenkins finishes “A Walk Across America” in Florence, Oregon. He starts in New York in October 1973. Jenkins is now 63 years old.


1983 – The International Olympic Committee restores Jim Thorpe’s Olympic medals 70 years after they were taken from him for being paid $25 in semipro baseball. Thorpe died in 1953 at age 64.


1986 – AIDS charity record “That’s What Friends Are For” hits #1. The song is written by Bert Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager and performed by Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Dionne Warwick. Watch the song performed at the Grammy Awards with Stevie Wonder in place of Elton John, with Bacharach at the piano:


1991 – Eastern Air Lines goes out of business after 62 years, citing financial problems.


1993 – The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday observed in all 50 states for the first time.


1996 – Lisa Marie Presley files for divorce from Michael Jackson after 20 months of marriage.



January 19


1825 – Ezra Daggett and his nephew Thomas Kensett patent food storage in tin cans to “preserve animal substances in tin.”


1840 – American naval officer Charles Wilkes leads an expedition and discovers Antarctica.


1883 – The first electric lighting system employing overhead wires, built by Thomas Edison, begins service at Roselle, New Jersey.


1922 – The U.S. Geological Survey says the U.S. oil supply will be depleted in 20 years.


1937 – Millionaire Howard Hughes sets a transcontinental air record (7 hours, 28 minutes 25 seconds).


1955 – The letter tile board game “Scrabble” debuts.


1961 – The first episode for “Dick Van Dyke Show” is filmed. It airs until 1966. Watch the original 1961 show intro at:


1977 – President Ford pardons American-born World War II propaganda broadcaster Iva Toguri D’Aquino (a.k.a. Tokyo Rose). She is arrested, tried, and convicted of treason in 1949. She serves six years of a 10-year sentence. D’Aquino died in 2006 at age 90.


2006 – The New Horizons probe is launched by NASA on the first mission to Pluto.


2013 – Lance Armstrong admits to doping in all seven of his Tour de France victories. He is stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. Armstrong is 44 years old. Watch the confession:



January 20


1778 – The first American military court martial trial begins in Brunswick, New Jersey. General Charles Lee, George Washington’s second in command, is charged and found guilty of disobeying orders, misbehavior before the enemy, and disrespect to the Commander-In-Chief. He is suspended from the Army for one year.


1801 – John Marshall is appointed U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice. Chief Justice Marshall serves until his death in 1835 at age 79. Marshall is the longest serving Chief Justice in U.S. history, serving during the administration of six presidents.


1869 – Elizabeth Cady Stanton becomes the first woman to testify before the U.S. Congress. She speaks about woman’s rights and suffrage. Stanton died in 1902 at age 86.


1920 – The American Civil Liberties Union is founded. Its primary focus in the early years is defending free speech and anti-war protesters.


1929 – “In Old Arizona” is the first feature talking motion picture filmed outdoors.


1930 – “The Lone Ranger” makes its first radio broadcast. The theme song is the William Tell Overture by Rossini.


1937 – FDR is the first president to be inaugurated on the newly selected Inauguration Day. It is held every four years on the January 20th there after.


1945 – FDR is sworn-in for an unprecedented 4th term as President. FDR died April 12th at age 63 and is succeeded by Vice President Harry Truman.


1953 – President Eisenhower delivers the first live coast-to-coast inauguration address. Read the text at: Home of Heroes


1961 – Poet Robert Frost recites “Dedication” at JFK’s inauguration. Frost is the first poet to be included in a presidential inauguration. Frost died in 1963 at age 88. Listen to Frost recite his poem at:


1964 – The world’s largest cheese (17 tons) is manufactured in Wisconsin for the 1965 New York’s World’s Fair.


1980 – President Jimmy Carter announces the U.S. boycott of the Winter Olympics in Moscow following the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. The U.S. is one of 65 countries that do not participate in the Olympics.


1981 – The 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days are freed just moments after President Ronald Reagan is inaugurated.


1986 – New footage of the 1931 movie “Frankenstein” is found. The footage is originally deleted because it is considered to be too shocking. Watch 18 seconds of unseen footage:

1989 – Ronald Reagan becomes the first President elected in a year ending in “0” since 1840 to leave office alive.


1994 – Shannon Faulkner becomes the first woman to attend classes at The Citadel in South Carolina. Faulkner joins the cadet corps in August 1995 under court order but soon dropps out.



January 21


1677 – The first medical publication in America is a pamphlet on smallpox. Thomas Thacher’s pamphlet, “A Brief Rule to Guide the Common People of New England how to order themselves and theirs in the Small Pocks, or Measles” is published in Boston.


1789 – The first American novel, W. H. Brown’s “Power of Sympathy” is published. It is subtitled “The Triumph of Nature.”


1853 – An envelope-folding machine patented by Russell Hawes of Worcester, Massachusetts.


1880 – The first sewage disposal system in the U.S. that is separate from storm drains is built in Memphis, Tennessee.


1908 – The Sullivan Ordinance is passed in New York City. It made smoking in public places by women illegal. The measure is vetoed by Mayor George McClellan, Jr. two weeks later.


1915 – Kiwanis International is founded in Detroit, Michigan. It is now headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. Its new motto, adopted in 2005, is “Serving The Children of the World.”


1942 – Count Basie records “One O’clock Jump.” Watch Count Basie’s band perform it with the Count on piano at:


1950 – A New York jury finds former State Department official Alger Hiss guilty of perjury. He is convicted of lying about passing state secrets to Whittaker Chambers, a Time magazine editor.


1954 – The Nautilus is launched in Groton, Connecticut, as the first atomic-powered submarine. First Lady Mamie Eisenhower breaks the traditional bottle of champagne across the bow to christen the sub.


1977 – President Carter pardons almost all Vietnam War draft evaders.


1987 – BB King donates his 7,000 record album collection to the University of Mississippi. King died in 2015 at age 89.


1990 – American John McEnroe becomes the first tennis player ever expelled from the Australian Open for throwing a tantrum and swearing at an official. Watch the close encounter at:


1999 – In one of the largest drug busts in American history, the U.S. Coast Guard intercepts a ship with over 9,500 pounds of cocaine on board.


2003 – The Census Bureau announces that estimates show that the Hispanic population has passed the black population for the first time.



January 22


1673 – Postal service between New York and Boston is inaugurated.


1814 – The first Knights Templar grand encampment in the U.S. is held in New York City.


1879 – James Shields begins a term as a Senator from Missouri. He previously serves from Illinois and Minnesota. He is the first Senator to serve three states.


1903 – Secretary of State John M. Hay and Colombian Chargé Dr. Tomás Herrán sign the Hay-Herrán Treaty, granting the U.S. rights to the land proposed for the Panama Canal.


1917 – President Wilson pleads for an end to war in Europe, calling for “peace without victory.” America enters the war the following April.


1946 – Congress creates the CIA, Central Intelligence Agency, during the Hoover administration. Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter is its first director.


1964 – The world’s largest cheese (15,723 kg) manufactured in Wisconsin.


1968 – “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” premieres on NBC-TV. The show is hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin and airs until 1973. Watch a short opening salvo at:


1970 – The first commercial Boeing 747 flight from New York to London takes 6½ hours.


1973 – The U.S. Supreme Court legalizes some abortions in the Roe vs. Wade decision. There have been over 55 million abortions in the U.S. since Roe vs. Wade.


1973 – George Foreman TKOs Joe Frazier early in 2 round for the heavyweight boxing title. Watch the bout at:


1982 – Seventy-five percent of North America is covered by global warming (a.k.a. snow).


1988 – Mike Tyson TKOs Larry Holmes in 4 rounds for heavyweight boxing title.


1990 – Robert Tappan Morris, Jr. is convicted of releasing the 1988 Internet worm. He is the first person to be indicted under the new Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Morris is sentenced to three years of probation, 400 hours of community service, and is fined $10,050.


2002 – Kmart Corp becomes the largest retailer in U.S. history to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.



January 23


1812 – A 7.8 earthquake shakes New Madrid, Missouri.


1855 – The first bridge over the Mississippi River opens in what is now Minneapolis, Minnesota. The bridge today is called the Father Louis Hennepin Bridge.


1862 – Agoston Haraszthy, the first vintner in Sonoma Valley, California, imports 10,000 grape vine cuttings.


1865 – General Robert E Lee is named Commander-in-Chief of Confederate Armies.


1930 – The George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Colonial Beach, Virginia, is established.


1933 – The 20th amendment changes the date of presidential inaugurations to January 20.


1943 – Duke Ellington plays at Carnegie Hall in New York City for the first time.


1953 – NFL’s Dallas Texans move and become the Baltimore Colts. The Colts move to Indianapolis in 1984.


1968 – The spy ship USS Pueblo and its 83-man crew is seized in Sea of Japan by North Korea. The crew is released 11 months later but the ship remains in North Korea.


1973 – President Nixon announces an accord has been reach to end the Vietnam War.


1977 – The miniseries “Roots” premieres on ABC-TV and airs for eight consecutive nights. It is based on Alex Haley’s 1976 novel.


1983 – “The A-Team” with Mr. T (Laurence Tero Tureaud) premieres on NBC-TV and airs until 1987. Mr. T is now 63 years old.


1986 – The first inductees into Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame are Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, “Fats” Domino, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley.


1991 – “Seinfeld” debuts on NBC-TV and airs until 1998. Jerry Seinfeld and George discuss the show about nothing at: watch?v=EQnaRtNMGMI


1993 – New York Newsday reports that Oregon’s Senator Bob Packwood sexually harassed 23 women. Packwood announces his resignation from the Senate on September 7, 1995, after the Senate Ethics Committee unanimously recommends that he be expelled from the Senate for ethical misconduct.



January 24


1848 – James Marshall finds gold in Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California, starting the gold rush.


1908 – General Baden-Powell starts the Boy Scouts.


1922 – Christian K. Nelson gets the patent for the Eskimo Pie, a chocolate covered ice cream bar. It is originally called the “I Scream Bar.”


1925 – Moving pictures of a solar eclipse are taken from a U.S. Navy dirigible over Long Island. Watch the flight from LA to NY and the eclipse footage at:


1935 – The Krueger Brewing Company sells the first canned beer, “Krueger Cream Ale.”


1947 – The National Football League adds a 5th official (the back judge) and allows for sudden death in playoff games.


1962 – Jackie Robinson is the first black person elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.


1964 – The 24th Amendment to Constitution goes into effect. It states voting rights cannot be denied due to failure to pay taxes.


1984 – Apple Computer Inc. unveils its revolutionary Macintosh personal computer. Watch Apple’s first Mac commercial at:


1989 – Confessed serial killer Ted Bundy is put to death in Florida’s electric chair for the 1978 kidnap-murder of 12-year-old Kimberly Leach.


2003 – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security officially begins operation.

Leave a Reply