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 2-8, 2018
1776 – Richard Henry Lee’s resolution that the American colonies “are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States” is adopted by the Continental Congress.
1864 – Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol is established and Congress invites each state to contribute 2 statues of prominent citizens. The first statue is of Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene of Rhode Island, placed in the Hall in 1870. There are currently 100 statues in the Capitol.
1881 – President James A. Garfield is shot by Charles J. Guiteau, a disappointed office-seeker. Garfield died on September 19th. Vice President Chester Arthur became president when Garfield died. Guiteau was convicted of murder and hanged on June 30, 1882.
1926 – The U.S. Army Air Corps is created and Distinguish Flying Cross is authorized. The first recipient of the DFC medal was Charles A. Lindbergh, then a captain in the Army Reserve, on June 11, 1927. The award recognized his 1927 transatlantic crossing in the Spirit of St. Louis.
1937 – Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan disappear over the Pacific Ocean in their Lockheed 5B Vega in their attempt to fly around the world.
1947 – An unidentified flying object crashes at William “Mack” Brazel’s ranch in Roswell, New Mexico. The U.S. Army Air Force insisted it was a weather balloon, but eyewitness accounts led to speculation that it might have been an alien spacecraft. Brazel died in 1963 at age 64.
1962 – Wal-Mart Discount City opens in Rogers, Arkansas. The company founded by Sam Walton and his brother James is now headquartered in nearby Bentonville, Arkansas.
1964 – President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act into law. As Senate Majority Leader in 1957, Johnson (D-TX) successfully blocked the civil rights legislation he was forced to sign when he was president! Watch a newsreel that includes a political who’s who:
1986 – The Supreme Court upholds affirmative action in 2 rulings.
1995 – “Forbes” magazine reports that Microsoft’s chairman Bill Gates is worth $12.9 billion, making him the world’s richest man. In 1999, he was worth about $77 billion. It is now $92 billion, making him the second richest man in the world after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos ($109 billion).
2002 – Steve Fossett becomes the first person to fly solo around the world nonstop in a balloon. Fossett disappeared in September 2007 while flying an airplane. The crash site was found in September 2008 and his remains were identified in November. He was 63 years old.
1775 – George Washington takes command of the Continental Army at Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1839 – The first “normal school” (teacher’s college) in the U.S. opens in Lexington, Massachusetts, with 3 female students enrolled, launching teaching as a profession.
1898 – Joshua Slocum completes the first solo circumnavigation of the globe and lands in Rhode Island after sailing more than 3 years. He launched his sloop the “Spray” from Massachusetts on April 24, 1895. In 1909, Slocum disappeared while sailing to the West Indies, and was presumed lost at sea. He was 65 years old.
1913 – A common tern, banded in Maine on this day, is found dead in 1919 in Africa. It was the first bird known to have crossed the Atlantic Ocean.
1930 – The Veterans Administration is created.
1965 – Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger dies at age 33. Trigger’s first movie role was with Olivia de Havilland starring as Maid Marian. She rode Trigger (then called Golden Cloud) through the forest in the 1938 movie “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” Watch Trigger’s film debut with a description of his rise to fame:
1978 – The Supreme Court rules 5-4 that the Federal Communications Commission has a right to reprimand a New York radio station for broadcasting George Carlin’s “Filthy Words.” These were part of Carlin’s monologue “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.”
1986 – President Reagan presides over a relighting ceremony in New York Harbor of the renovated Statue of Liberty.
2014 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 17,000 for the first time.
July 4 – Independence Day
1776 – The U.S. Congress proclaims in the Declaration of Independence our independence from Britain.
1796 – The first Independence Day celebration is held.
1802 – The United States Military Academy opens at West Point, New York.
1826 – John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (2nd and 3rd presidents) die within five hours of each other at ages 90 and 82 respectively.
1883 – Buffalo Bill Cody presents his first Wild West show in North Platte, Nebraska.
1939 – Baseball player Lou Gehrig makes his “luckiest man alive” speech. The Iron
Horse takes himself out of the Yankee lineup for health reasons after playing 2,130 consecutive games. He is later diagnosed with ALS, a disease that now bears his name. Watch his iconic speech:
1966 – President LBJ signs the Freedom of Information Act.
1996 – Hotmail, a free Internet E-mail service, begins.
1997 – NASA’s Mars Pathfinder, an unmanned spacecraft, lands on Mars. A rover named Sojourner was deployed to gather data about the surface of the planet.
2004 – The cornerstone of the Freedom Tower (One World Trade Center) is laid on the former World Trade Center site in New York City.
2005 – NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft, launched earlier in 2005, takes pictures as a space probe smashes into the Tempel 1 comet. The mission was aimed at learning more about comets that formed from the leftover building blocks of the solar system. Watch a short but compelling video of the impact:
2009 – The Statue of Liberty’s crown reopens to visitors. It had been closed to the public since 2001.
1775 – The Second Continental Congress adopts the Olive Branch Petition in an attempt to assert the rights of the colonists while appearing to maintain their loyalty to Britain and submits it to King George on July 8th. King George refuses to read the petition and proclaims that the colonists have “proceeded to open and avowed rebellion.”
1865 – The U.S. Secret Service is created to fight the counterfeiting of money. The Secret Service was asked to protect presidents in 1901 after the assassination of President McKinley.
1934 – On “Bloody Thursday” police open fire on striking longshoremen in San Francisco during a riot, striking three men and mortally wounding two. Watch actual newsreel footage of the shootout:
1954 – The B-52A bomber makes its maiden flight. A total of 744 were built by Boeing between 1952 and 1962.
1989 – Former U.S. National Security Council aide Oliver North receives a $150,000 fine and a suspended prison term for his part in the Iran-Contra affair. His convictions are later overturned.
1994 – The U.S. changes its refugee policy by sending back Haitian boat people.
1994 – Amazon.com is founded by Jeff Bezos in Bellevue, Washington, under the name “Cadabra.” The name was quickly changed to Amazon.
1998 – Japan joins the U.S. and Russia in space exploration with the launching of the Planet-B probe to Mars.
2016 – The FBI releases a report stating that Hillary Clinton was “extremely careless” in her handling of classified emails, but did not recommend prosecution.
1699 – The pirate Captain William Kidd is captured in Boston and sent to England for trial. He was convicted of piracy and murder and hanged in May 1701. He was 56 years old.
1785 – Congress unanimously resolves that the U.S. currency be named the “dollar” and adopts decimal coinage.
1905 – Fingerprints are exchanged for the first time between officials in Europe and the U.S. The person in question was John Walker.
1945 – Abbott and Costello’s film “The Naughty Nineties” is released and features the longest version of their iconic “Who’s on First” routine. Watch the sketch from the movie:
1945 – President Truman signs an executive order establishing the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is awarded “for especially meritorious contribution to 1) the security or national interests of the United States, or 2) world peace, or 3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” It is the highest civilian award in the U.S.
1971 – President Nixon forms the White House Plumbers unit to plug news leaks after the “Pentagon Papers” are released to the New York Times. The “Plumbers” were also instrumental in trying to cover up the Watergate break-in at the Democrat National Committee’s Headquarters in 1972.
1983 – The Supreme Court rules that retirement plans can’t pay women smaller monthly payments solely because of their gender.
1993 – John F. Kennedy Jr. gives notice he is quitting as Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan. In 1995, he launched the magazine “George.” Kennedy, his wife, and sister-in-law died in a plane crash in July 1999.
2003 – Serena Williams beats her sister Venus Williams (4-6, 6-4, 6-2) at the 110th Wimbledon Women’s Tennis Tournament.
2008 – Venus Williams beats her sister Serena Williams (7-5 6-4) at the 115th Wimbledon Women’s Tennis Tournament. The sisters have competed against each other 29 times, with Serena holding a 17 to 12 advantage.
2010 – NASA Administrator Charles Bolden tells al-Jazeera news that President Obama told him, “He wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.” See it for yourself:
1863 – The first military draft in the U.S. is held. Exemptions to service during the Civil War cost $100.
1928 – Sliced bread is sold for the first time by the Chillicothe Baking Company in Missouri. It was described as the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was first wrapped. No word on what is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
1948 – The Cleveland Indians sign 42-year-old Satchel Paige to a baseball contract. He was the oldest rookie in baseball history. Paige died in 1982 at age 75. Watch a short bio of Paige:
1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor is nominated as the first woman Supreme Court Justice. She was unanimously confirmed by Congress on July 8. She submitted her letter of resignation from the Court in 2005. O’Connor is now 88 years old.
1983 – Eleven-year-old Samantha Smith of Manchester, Maine, leaves for a visit to the Soviet Union at the personal invitation of Soviet leader Yuri Andropov after she writes him a letter. Samantha died in 1985 at age 13 in a plane crash with her father. Watch Ted Koppel’s interview with Samantha:
2016 – In Dallas, Texas, a gunman ambushes police officers, killing five and wounding nine others, during a protest march against fatal police shootings of African Americans. During a standoff, the gunman was killed by a bomb attached to a robot.
1693 – New York City authorizes the first police uniforms in the American colonies.
1797 – William Blount of Tennessee becomes the first U.S. senator to be expelled by impeachment. He was allegedly part of a conspiracy to assist England in taking possession of Louisiana and parts of Florida. Blount failed to appear before the Senate to answer the charges.
1911 – Nan Aspinwall is the first woman to complete a solo transcontinental trip by horse when she arrives in New York City. She leaves San Francisco on her horse Lady Ellen on September 1, 1910. Aspinwall made the ride on a bet by Buffalo Bill Cody. Aspinwall died in 1968 at age 88.
1932 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes at its lowest during the Depression (41.22).
1950 – Gen. Douglas MacArthur becomes commander-in-chief of UN forces in Korea by order of President Truman. MacArthur is relieved of his command by Truman in April of 1951. MacArthur later tells Congress, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” MacArthur died in 1964 at age 84.
1975 – President Ford announces he will seek the Republican nomination for president. Ford is the only person to serve as both vice president and president without being elected to either office. Ford was nominated vice president to replace Spiro Agnew after he resigns for tax evasion and bribery and then replaced Richard Nixon after he resigned following the Watergate scandal.
2011 – The Space Shuttle Atlantis is launched on the final mission of the U.S. Space Shuttle program. There were a total of 135 flights, starting with the Columbia on April 12, 1981. Watch a 7-minute video of the 30-year history of the Space Shuttle:
2015 – The NFL’s Washington Redskins have their trademark vacated by a federal judge on the grounds it may be disparaging to Native Americans, but the ruling does not bar the football team from using the name “Redskins.” In April 2016, the team asked the Supreme Court to review the lower court ruling. In July 2017, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Washington Redskins.
Image from telegraph.co.uk