This Week In History January 27 – February 2


by Dianne Hermann

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

Week of January 27-February 2, 2014

January 27

1825 – U.S. Congress approves a plan by Secretary of War John C. Calhoun for an Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa. This clears the way for forced relocation of the Eastern Indians through the Indian Removal Act of 1830 during what became known as the “Trail of Tears.”

1926 – The U.S. Senate agrees to join the World Court.

1951 – The U.S. conducts the first nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site located 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The mushroom-shaped cloud could be seen from Las Vegas.

1961 – “Sing Along with Mitch” [Mitch Miller] premieres on NBC-TV and airs until 1966.

1967 – Astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White, and Roger B. Chaffee die when a flash fire engulfs their Apollo 1 command capsule during testing. They are the first astronauts to die in the line of duty.


1973 – The United States and Vietnam sign the Paris Peace Accord initiating a cease-fire. Negotiations began in 1968. The Vietnam War does not officially end until May 1975.


January 28

1878 – George W. Coy is hired in New Haven, Connecticut, as the first full-time telephone operator at the first telephone exchange.

1915 – The first U.S. ship lost in World War I is the merchant ship “William P. Frye.” It is carrying wheat to England.

1932 – Wisconsin enacts the first U.S. state unemployment insurance.

1956 – Elvis Presley makes his first TV appearance. He performs on the Dorsey Brothers Stage Show with Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey.


1986 – The Challenger, on the 25th Space Shuttle mission, explodes 73 seconds after liftoff. All crew members are lost.


January 29

1845 – Edgar Allen Poe’s narrative poem “The Raven” is first published once upon a midnight dreary. Poe died mysteriously in 1849 at the age of 40.

1879 – The Custer Battlefield National Monument at in Montana is established. Lakota, Sioux, and Cheyenne warriors kill Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer and over 200 troops of the 7th Cavalry on June 25, 1876 near the Little Bighorn River.

1920 – Walt Disney starts his first job as a cartoonist with the Kansas City Slide Company at $35 a week.

1936 – Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson are the first players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1951 – Elizabeth Taylor gets divorced for the first time. Conrad Hilton, Jr. is the first of her eight husbands. She married Richard Burton twice. Liz died in 2011 at age 79.


2002 – In his State of the Union Address, United States President George W. Bush describes the “regimes that sponsor terror” as an Axis of Evil, which includes Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.


January 30

1815 – The Library of Congress, burned by the British during the War of 1812, is reestablished with 6,487 books bought from Thomas Jefferson at a cost of $23,950.

1862 – The U.S. Navy’s first ironclad warship, the USS Monitor, is launched. The Monitor and the USS Virginia (formerly the Merrimack) engage in the first ironclad battle on March 9th. Neither ship sustains serious damage but the Monitor sinks in bad weather off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina later the same year.


1933 – “Lone Ranger” begins a 21-year run on ABC radio. The “Lone Ranger” TV show airs from 1949 to 1957 starring Clayton Moore. Moore died in 1999 at age 85.

1946 – The Franklin Roosevelt dime is first issued.

1962 – Two members of Flying Wallendas high-wire act are killed when their 7-person pyramid collapses during a performance in Detroit, Michigan. The Wallenda family started as circus performers in the 1780s in Europe.

1977 – The 8th and final part of “Roots” is most-watched TV entertainment show to date.

1989 – The American embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, closes.


January 31

1851 – Mr. Gail Borden announces the invention of evaporated milk. He patents the process of condensing milk in a vacuum.


1865 – General Robert E. Lee is named Commander-in-Chief of the Confederate Armies during the American Civil War.

1865 – Congress passes the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery in America by declaring that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

1950 – President Harry Truman publicly announces development of the H-bomb.

1957 – Elizabeth Taylor gets divorced for the 2nd time. It’s Michael Wilding turn.

1974 – McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc buys the San Diego Padres baseball team.


February 1

1790 – The Supreme Court convenes for the first time in New York City.

1865 – John S. Rock, the first black lawyer to practice law in the Supreme Court, is admitted to bar. He died in 1866 at age 41.

1906 – The first federal penitentiary building is completed in Leavenworth, Kansas. It is the largest maximum-security prison in the U.S. until 2005 when it is downgraded to a minimum-security prison.

1951 – An atomic explosion airs live on TV for the first time.


1958 – The first successful U.S. satellite is launched. Explorer I orbits Earth carrying instruments to measure cosmic rays, micrometeorites, and its own temperature. It transmits data until May 23, 1958 and reenters Earth’s atmosphere in 1970 after orbiting 58,000 times.

1961 – The first full-scale test of a U.S. Minuteman-I Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) is successful. A total of 800 ICBMs are delivered to U.S. military bases.

1965 – Martin Luther King, Jr. and 700 demonstrators are arrested in Selma, Alabama, during a voting rights demonstration.

1976 – Sonny and Cher start their new TV variety show after their real-life divorce in 1975 after 6 years of marriage. “The Sonny and Cher Show” airs from 1976 to 1977. Their first show, “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour,” airs from 1971 to 1974.

1978 – Harriet Tubman is the first black woman honored on a U.S. postage stamp.

1989 – Princess Diana of England visits New York City for 3 days. It is her first visit to New York and her major official trip without her husband, Prince Charles. Princess Diana died in 1997 at age 36.


February 2

1802 – The first leopard is exhibited in U.S. in Boston. Admission costs 25 cents.

1848 – The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends the Mexican-American War. The U.S. acquires Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona for $15 million.

1935 – The lie detector, invented by Leonarde Keeler, is first used in court in Portage, Wisconsin. Two criminals are convicted of assault after the polygraph test results are read in court.


1940 – Frank Sinatra has his singing debut in Indianapolis, Indiana, with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

1954 – President Eisenhower reports the detonation of the first H-bomb. It actually happened in 1952.

1974 – The F-16 Fighting Falcon flies for the first time. General Dynamics has sold over 4,400 F-16s.

1980 – The FBI releases details of Abscam, a sting operation that targeted 31 elected and public officials for bribes and political favors. One senator and six representatives are convicted after their trials in 1981. Abscam comes from the name of the fake company (Abdul Enterprises) the FBI used to target (scam) corrupt politicians.

1991 – The cost of a U.S. postage stamp is raised from 25 cents to 29 cents. Postage stamps now cost 49 cents.


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