This Week In History January 20 – 26 2014


by Dianne Hermann

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

Week of January 20-26, 2014

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. In 1776, Fort Constitution, on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, had been renamed Fort Lee in his honor.

1869 – Elizabeth Cady Stanton becomes the first woman to testify before the U.S. Congress. She spoke 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.

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.

1953 – President Eisenhower delivers the first live coast-to-coast inauguration address.

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.

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 Reagan is inaugurated.


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 Measels” 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.”

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.


1999 – In one of the largest drug busts in American history, the United States 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.

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


1968 – “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” premieres on NBC-TV. The show is hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin and airs until 1973.TIS_22_Rowan_&_Martin

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 5-4 Roe vs. Wade decision.

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

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 a fine of $10,050.


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


January 23

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.

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


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

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

1977 – The miniseries “Roots” premieres on ABC-TV. It is based on Alex Haley’s 1976 novel.

1986 – The first induction 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.


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.”

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


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.

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


January 25

1890 – United Mine Workers of America forms.

1904 – 179 miners die in 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 calls 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.

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


1971 – Charles Manson and 3 women followers are 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 U.S.

1993 – Sears announces it is closing its catalog sales dept 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.



January 26

1784 – Ben Franklin expresses unhappiness over eagle as America’s symbol. It is said he preferred the turkey.

1862 – President Lincoln issues General War Order #1, calling for a Union offensive. General McClellan ignores the order.

1911 – Glenn Curtiss pilots the first successful hydroplane in San Diego, California.

1913 – Jim Thorpe relinquishes his 1912 Olympic medals for playing as a semi-professional baseball. His medals are posthumously returned on January 18, 1983. Thorpe died in 1953 at age 64.

1954 – Ground breaking begins on Disneyland in California. The theme park opens on July 17, 1955. Walt Disney is introduced at the opening ceremony by future governor and president Ronald Reagan.



1961 – Dr. Janet G. Travell becomes the first woman “personal physician to president.” She is JFK’s physician. Travell died in 1997 at the age of 95.

1992 – The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) goes into effect.

2005 – Condoleezza Rice is sworn in as U.S. Secretary of State, becoming the first black woman to hold the post.



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