This Week in History, January 19 – 25, 2015


This Week In History

by Dianne Hermann


“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people.

They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

– Thomas Jefferson


Week of January 19-25, 2015


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 43 years old.


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 January 20th thereafter.

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:

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:

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.

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


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 is 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.

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.

1987 – BB King donates his 7,000 record album collection to the University of Mississippi.


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.


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.

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

1964 – The world’s largest cheese (15,723 kg) is 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 round 2 for the heavyweight boxing title.

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 reached to end the Vietnam War.

1977 – The miniseries “Roots” premieres on ABC-TV. 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 62 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:

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.

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 U.S. 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:

2003 – The United States Department of Homeland Security officially begins operation.


January 25

1851 – Sojourner Truth addresses the first Black Women’s Rights Convention, held in Akron, Ohio.

1890 – Nellie Bly beats the fictional Phileas Fogg’s time around world by 8 days. American-born Bly travels around the world mostly by ship and rail, completing the trip alone in just over 72 days.


1890 – United Mine Workers of America forms.

1904 – 179 miners die in a coalmine explosion at Cheswick, Pennsylvania.

1907 – Julia Ward Howe, who penned “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” is the first woman elected to National Institute of Arts & Letters.

1915 – Alexander Graham Bell in New York places a call to Thomas Watson in San Francisco.

1937 – The first broadcast of “Guiding Light” airs on NBC radio. It premiers on TV in 1952, and airs until 2009.

1945 – Grand Rapids, Michigan, becomes the first U.S. city to fluoridate its drinking water.

1949 – The first television Emmy Awards is held. Ventriloquist Shirley Dinsdale and the popular TV show “Pantomime Quiz” win awards.


1957 – The FBI arrests Jack and Myra Sobel and charges them with spying for the USSR. Myra is sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison, and Jack 7 years.

1964 – The Beatles have their first U.S. #1 hit with “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”

1971 – Charles Manson and 3 women followers convicted of the seven Tate-LaBianca murders. He is sentenced to death but his sentence is changed to life in prison when the death penalty is abolished. He has repeatedly been denied parole.

1981 – The 52 Americans held hostage by Iran for 444 days arrived back in the U.S. Watch their emotional return at:

1985 – USA For Africa records the song “We are the World,” written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. It sells more than 20 million copies. Watch the official star-studded video at:

1993 – Sears announces it is closing its catalog sales department after 97 years.

2004 – The Mars Exploration Rover “Opportunity” lands on surface of Mars. The 3-month mission has lasted 10 years and is still ongoing.


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