This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“The most effective way to destroy people is to
deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
Week of July 16-22, 2018
1790 – U.S. Congress establishes the District of Columbia, initially known as “The Federal City.” The nation’s capital moves from Philadelphia to Washington, DC in 1800.
1926 – The first underwater color photographs appear in “National Geographic” magazine. The pictures had been taken near the Florida Keys.
1941 – Joe DiMaggio hits in his 56th straight game with the American League New York Yankees. The streak ends the next day in Cleveland, but Joe goes on to hit in the next 18 consecutive games. Willie Keeler of Baltimore holds the National League record with 45 consecutive hits during the 1896-97 season. Watch still photos as DiMaggio talks about his hitting streak:
1945 – The U.S. detonates the first atomic bomb in a test at Alamogordo, New Mexico.
1957 – Marine Major John Glenn sets the transcontinental speed record in an F8U-1P Crusader. Glenn set another record when he becomes the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962 in Friendship 7 and the oldest person in space in 1998 at age 77 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. Glenn died in 2016 at the age of 95.
1969 – Apollo 11 launches from Kennedy Space Center carrying Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin on the successful mission to land on the moon.
1988 – Florence Griffith Joyner sets the 100-meter women’s world record at 10.49 seconds during the Olympic time trials in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is considered the fastest woman of all time because her record for the 100-meter and 200-meter has never been beat. Flo-Jo died in 1998 at age 38. Watch the fastest woman ever:
1999 – John F. Kennedy, Jr. (piloting a Piper Saratoga), his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette are killed in a plane crash off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.
2015 – A 24-year-old Kuwaiti-born Muslim terrorist shoots and kills 5 American soldiers at a Chattanooga, Tennessee, naval reserve training center. The soldiers returned fire to help others escape. The terrorist was shot to death by police. His father was on the terrorist watch list.
1775 – The first U.S. military hospital (medical department) is approved in Massachusetts with a Director-General (chief physician of the Hospital), four surgeons, an apothecary (pharmacist), and nurses (usually wives or widows of military personnel). The pay for the surgeons and the pharmacist was $1.66 a day and nurses $2 a month.
1856 – The Great Train Wreck of 1856 between Camp Hill and Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, kills over 60 people when two trains traveling on the same track in opposite directions collide.
1938 – Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan leaves New York for Los Angeles in his modified Curtiss Robin and ends up in Ireland. He was denied permission to fly across the Atlantic and claims his trans-Atlantic flight is due to a navigation error. The New York Post printed its headline backwards. Watch a 50th anniversary news report with Corrigan:
1955 – Disneyland opens in Anaheim, California. The Magic Kingdom covers 160 acres and costs $17 million to build. Watch Walt Disney’s brief opening speech:
1955 – Arco, Idaho, becomes the first U.S. city lit by nuclear power. The Experimental Breeder Reactor Number 1 near Arco becomes the first reactor in the U.S. when it goes online in 1951.
1975 – An Apollo spacecraft docks with a Soyuz spacecraft in orbit. It was the first link up between the U.S. and Soviet Union in space.
1997 – After 117 years in business, the Woolworth Corp. closes the last of its 400 stores.
1768 – Boston Gazette publishes “Liberty Song,” America’s first patriotic song.
1938 – Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan lands in Ireland after he leaves New York for California but “accidentally” flies the wrong way. Watch Corrigan explain what happened:
1947 – President Harry Truman signs the Presidential Succession Act. The line of succession after the Vice President is Speaker of the House, President Pro Tem of the Senate, Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Defense, the Attorney General, Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, HHS, HUD, Transportation, Energy, Education, VA, and Homeland Security (as long as they are constitutionally eligible).
1969 – Mary Jo Kopechne dies when Senator Edward Kennedy drives his car off the Chappaquiddick Bridge. Kopechne, age 28, drowned in the car. Two fishermen found the submerged car in the morning after Kennedy failed to report the accident. Kennedy, age 37, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a two-month suspended sentence.
1986 – Videotapes are released showing Titanic’s sunken remains. Marine geologist Robert Ballard discovered the Titanic wreckage 350 miles southeast of Newfoundland, 13,000 feet down on the ocean floor. Watch a video of a 2004 dive on the wreckage:
1995 – “Dreams from My Father,” a memoir by Barack Obama, is published by Times Books.
2015 – PayPal, an online payment system, is spun off from eBay as a separate publicly traded company on the NASDAQ.
1692 – Five more people are hanged for witchcraft (making 20 in all) in Salem, Massachusetts.
1848 – The first U.S. women’s rights convention is held in Seneca Falls, New York, to discuss women’s social and political equality. Nearly 300 people attended the 2-day convention.
1879 – Doc Holliday (a dentist) kills for the first time after a man shoots up his New Mexico saloon. Holliday fled when a reward was offered for his capture. He joined the Earp brothers in the gunfight at the OK Corral in 1881. Holliday died of TB at age 36 in 1887.
1899 – New York City newspaper boys revolt when Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise the price they charge the boys to sell bundles of 100 newspapers from 50 to 60 cents. The children, boys and girls, stood their ground until the newspaper moguls backed down after 2 weeks.
1930 – Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Laurence McKinley Gould, and their polar expedition team return to the U.S. following the first exploration of the interior of Antarctica.
1945 – The USS submarine Cod saves 56 sailors from the sinking Dutch sub O-19 in the only international sub-to-sub rescue in history. After being mothballed, recommissioned, and decommissioned, the USS Cod opened for public tours in 1976 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986. She is now docked in Lake Erie at Cleveland, Ohio. Watch part of the rescue:
1982 – According to the 1981 U.S. Census Bureau report 14 percent (about 32 million) of the population have an income below the official poverty level. In 2014, the percentage was 14.8 (almost 47 million people). The 2016 Census reported the poverty level to be 12.7 percent.
1985 – Christa McAuliffe is chosen as the first teacher to fly in a space shuttle. She was killed on January 28, 1986, during the Space Shuttle Challenger launch.
1881 – Sioux Indian Chief Sitting Bull, a fugitive since the 1876 Battle of Little Big Horn, surrenders to federal troops and is forced onto a reservation. He was shot and killed in 1890 while being arrested by U.S. government and Indian agents who feared he would lead an uprising.
1917 – The World War I draft lottery held. Number 258 is the first number drawn.
1940 – Billboard first publishes the ranking of record singles. Tommy Dorsey scored the first #1 single with “I’ll Never Smile Again.” The song, featuring vocals by Frank Sinatra, stayed #1 for 12 weeks.
1942 – The first detachment of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs) begins basic training at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. There were 440 officer candidates (average age 30) and 125 enlisted women (average age 24).
1969 – Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. aboard Apollo 11 (The Eagle) become the first men to land on the moon. Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit aboard the command spacecraft. Watch the Eagle land:
1976 – Hank Aaron hits home run #755, his final major league homer, off Angels’ pitcher Dick Drago. Babe Ruth set the home run record at 714 in 1927. Aaron played his last game on October 3rd and was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1982. Hank is 84 years old.
1984 – Vanessa Williams is asked to resign as Miss America after “Penthouse Magazine” announces its plans to publish nude photos of her. Williams, the first black Miss America, resigned three days later, becoming the first Miss America to resign. First runner-up Suzette Charles, Miss New Jersey, assumed the crown. Watch the crowning ceremony:
2000 – The leaders of Salt Lake City’s bid to win the 2002 Winter Olympics are indicted by a federal grand jury for bribery, fraud, and racketeering.
2012 – Twelve people are killed and 59 injured after a gunman opens fire at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
1861 – The first major battle of the U.S. Civil War begins. It was the Battle of Bull Run at Manassas Junction, Virginia. The Confederates won the battle. The first land battle of the Civil War was actually the Battle of Carthage (Missouri), fought on July 5th.
1865 – Wild Bill Hickok shoots and kills Davis Tutt in Springfield, Missouri, after quarreling over a card game. This was the first recorded case of two men taking part in a quick-draw duel. The following month Hickok was acquitted of murder after pleading self-defense.
1873 – Jesse James and James Younger’s gang commit their first train robbery (the Rock Island Line) near Adair, Iowa.
1925 – The Scopes Monkey Trial ends when Tennessee high school biology teacher John Scopes is found guilty of teaching Darwinism. He was fined $100. His defense attorney was Clarence Darrow and the prosecutor was three-time Democrat presidential nominee William Jennings Bryant, who died five days after the trial.
1930 – The U.S. Veterans Administration is established.
1969 – Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the moon and utters the immortal words, “One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” A total of 12 people have walked on the moon, all Americans. Watch the first small step:
1974 – The House Judiciary Committee approves two Articles of Impeachment against President Richard Nixon following the Watergate investigation. Nixon resigned on August 9th.
1976 – The first outbreak of “Legionnaires’ Disease” kills 29 people at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia.
1980 – Selective Service (draft) registration begins in the U.S. for men aged 19 and 20 years old following Proclamation #4771 signed by President Carter in response to the Soviet invasion of Afganistan.
1984 – The first documented case of a robot killing a human in the U.S. occurs when 34-year-old Harry Allen is pinned by a robot against a trim press at the Diecast Corporation in Jackson, Michigan. Allen died 5 days later.
1997 – The fully restored 200-year-old USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides”) celebrates her 200th birthday by setting sail for the first time in 116 years. Watch an aerial and on deck video of the sailing:
2004 – White House officials are briefed on the September 11 commission’s final report. The 575-page report concluded that hijackers exploited “deep institutional failings within our government.” The report was released to the public the next day.
2011 – NASA’s Space Shuttle program ends with the landing of Space Shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-135. NASA’s space shuttle program began with its first launch (Columbia mission STS-1) on April 12, 1981. Watch the final landing:
1587 – The second English colony is established on Roanoke Island off North Carolina. The colony vanished under mysterious circumstances.
1893 – Katharine Lee Bates writes the poem, “America the Beautiful” after being inspired during a visit to Pike’s Peak in Colorado. She didn’t publish it for two years, when it was then set to the music by composer S. A. Ward’s “Materna,” the tune to which we sing it today.
1933 – Wiley Post completes the first solo around-the-world flight. He traveled 15,596 miles in 7 days, 18 hours and 49 minutes.
1934 – “Public Enemy No. 1” John Dillinger is mortally wounded by FBI agents outside Chicago’s Biograph Theatre. Watch a Smithsonian video about his criminal life:
1937 – The U.S. Senate rejects President Roosevelt’s proposal to add up to 6 more justices to the Supreme Court.
1975 – The House of Representatives votes to restore citizenship to General Robert E. Lee. In 1865, Lee signed an amnesty oath issued by President Andrew Johnson but was not pardoned because Secretary of State William Seward (of Seward’s folly fame) gave the application to a friend as a souvenir. A National Archives examiner eventually found Lee’s oath and initiated the amnesty process.
1991 – Jeffrey Dahmer confesses to killing 17 boys and young men between 1978 and 1991. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 16 life terms. In November 1994, 34-year-old Dahmer was killed in the Wisconsin prison shower by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver.
1994 – OJ Simpson pleads “Absolutely 100 percent not guilty” of murdering his ex-wife and her friend. He was found not guilty on October 3, 1995. One of OJ’s lawyers was Robert “Keeping Up With The” Kardashian. Kardashian died in 2003 at age 59.
Image from latimes.com