This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“No problem of human making is too great to be overcome by
human ingenuity, human energy, and the untiring hope of the human spirit.”
President George H. W. Bush
Week of July 22-28, 2019
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.
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.
1999 – The Woodstock 99 Music Festival (30th anniversary of Woodstock) begins in Rome, New York, and lasted until the 25th. It was attended by an estimated 400,000 and ended early due to violence. Woodstock 50 (50th anniversary) is scheduled for August 16-18, 2019.
1715 – The first lighthouse in America is authorized for construction on Little Brewster Island, Massachusetts, and is known as the Boston Light.
1880 – The first application of hydropower electricity generation within an industrial setting in the U.S. occurs when the Wolverine Chair Factory in Grand Rapids, Michigan, powers up 16 brush-arc lamps using a water turbine. The world’s first commercial hydroelectric power plant built to provide electricity to buildings outside the plant opened in September 30, 1882, on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin.
1938 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approves the first federal game preserve. The area covered 2,000 acres in Utah.
1956 – The Bell X-2 rocket plane, piloted by Col. Frank Everest, sets a world aircraft speed record of 1,895 miles per hour (Mach 2.87) at 60,000 feet over Edwards Air Force Base in California. In 1967, the X-15 set the current official world record for the fastest speed ever reached by a manned aircraft at 4,520 mph. Watch a newsreel of the X-2 flight:
1989 – FOX tops ABC, NBC, and CBS in TV ratings for the first time with their show “America’s Most Wanted.” The show was cancelled several times and resumed by public demand. The 6-year-old son of the host John Walsh was kidnapped and murdered in 1981.
2015 – NASA’s Kepler mission announces the discovery of the most Earth-like planet yet, named Kepler-452b, 1,400 light years from Earth (over 8 quadrillion miles).
1758 – George Washington is admitted to Virginia House of Burgesses. He was 26 years old. Washington represented Frederick County and Fairfax County until 1775. The first meeting of the colonial House of Burgesses was held in Jamestown in 1619.
1824 – A Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, newspaper publishes the results of the first public opinion poll showing a clear lead for presidential candidate Andrew Jackson in a four-candidate race for the presidency. Jackson received a plurality of votes but lost when the House of Representatives settled the contested election by selecting John Quincy Adams, who actually received fewer popular and electoral votes. It was the only election when this ever happened. Four years later, Jackson handily won the White House by defeating incumbent John Quincy Adams.
1866 – Tennessee becomes the first state to be readmitted to the Union after the U.S. Civil War. Georgia is the last in July 15, 1870. For Confederate states to be readmitted, they had to ratify the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship rights to former slaves and equal protection under the law.
1915 – The excursion ship Eastland, carrying employees of the Western Electric Company to a company picnic, capsizes on Lake Michigan killing 844 of the 2,573 passengers. Compare that with 815 of the 2,435 passengers that were killed on the Titanic three years earlier. The Eastland almost capsized in July 1904 with 3,000 passengers on board and again in 1906 with 2,530 passengers on board. Watch a 7-minute report with actual footage and photos by the Chicago Tribune on the 100th anniversary of the sinking:
1950 – The V-2/ Corporal rocket is the first rocket launched from Cape Canaveral.
1959 – Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Secretary Nikita Khrushchev have a series of impromptu arguments at the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow in what became known as the “Kitchen Debate.” Watch one exchange with translation:
1961 – A U.S. commercial airplane carrying 33 passengers and 5 crew is hijacked to Cuba. It was the first time an American carrier flight originating from the U.S. was hijacked to Cuba. Between 1961 and 1973 almost 160 U.S. aircraft were hijacked.
2002 – James Traficant (D-OH) is expelled from the House of Representatives on a vote of 420 to 1 for using campaign donations for his own personal use. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to eight years in prison. He ran for his former House seat from prison in 2002, and lost. Traficant was released in 2009 and died in 2014 at age 73.
2005 – Lance Armstrong retires after winning a record seventh consecutive Tour de France victory. He was stripped of his titles in 2012 for “doping.” In 2013, he admitted during an Oprah Winfrey interview that he took performance-enhancing drugs. Armstrong is now 47 years old. Watch part of the interview:
1775 – Maryland issues currency depicting King George III trampling the Magna Carta.
1861 – Congress passes the Crittenden-Johnson Resolution stating that “the present deplorable civil war” . . . “is not waged upon our part in any spirit of oppression” but is to be “fought to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and to preserve the Union.” Sponsored by Representative John Crittenden of Kentucky and Senator (and future president) Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, the purpose was to limit the goals of the war.
1929 – A cross-country footrace from New York to San Francisco, dubbed the Bunion Derby, ends after more than 2 months. The winner was 60-year-old Abraham Lincoln Monteverde.
1946 – Micheline Bernardini models the first bikini at a Paris fashion show. Mechanical engineer Louis Réard and fashion designer Jacques Heim invented the bikini using 30-square-inches of cloth. Réard named the bombshell swimsuit after the Bikini Atoll where the U.S. tests atomic bombs.
1990 – Roseanne Barr slaughters the National Anthem at San Diego Padre’s baseball game. Billboard ranked Barr’s performance as the second worst public singing of the National Anthem ever. The worst was Kat DeLuna’s performance at a 2008 Dallas Cowboys game. Watch Barr express regret for her performance in an interview:
1997 – Autumn Jackson is found guilty of trying to extort $40 million from Bill Cosby. Jackson served 14 months of a 26-month sentence for extortion, conspiracy, and crossing state lines to commit a crime. She claimed to be Cosby’s child. Jackson is now 44 years old.
2010 – WikiLeaks releases to the public more than 90,000 internal reports involving the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan from 2004-2010. WikiLeaks was founded in 2006 by Julian Assange, who sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in June 2012. He left in 2019 and was sentenced to 50 weeks in jail in England for violating terms of his bail. He now faces multiple charges in several countries for espionage and sexual assault. Assange is now 48 years old.
1775 – Benjamin Franklin becomes the first U.S. Postmaster General.
1878 – The American West outlaw and poet calling himself “Black Bart” (Charles E. Boles) commits his first of 28 robberies when he steals the safe box from a Wells Fargo stagecoach. No one was ever killed in the robberies and some of the empty safe boxes were left with taunting poems inside. He was captured and convicted in 1883 and sentenced to 6 years in jail. He was released from jail early and in 1888 he disappeared.
1908 – U.S. Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte issues an order to staff the Office of the Chief Examiner (later renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation).
1947 – President Harry Truman signs the National Security Act, establishing the Central Intelligence Agency.
1964 – Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa is convicted of fraud and conspiracy and sentenced to prison. The case against Hoffa and organized crime was pursued by Attorney General Robert Kennedy. In 1971, President Nixon commuted Hoffa’s sentence to time served. Hoffa disappeared in 1975 and his body was never found.
1990 – President H. W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act passed by Congress. The law prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all places open to the general public.
1999 – Over 1,500 pieces of Marilyn Monroe’s personal items go on display at Christie’s in New York City. The items went up for auction in October 1999. Watch part of the auction with live commentary:
2005 – The Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-114) launches as NASA’s first scheduled flight mission after the Columbia Disaster in 2003. There were a total of 135 Space Shuttle missions, ending in July of 2011.
1775 – Benjamin Rush begins his service as the first Surgeon General of the Continental Army. Vice Admiral Jerome Adams is the current Surgeon General.
1789 – President Washington signs legislation establishing the Department of Foreign Affairs (now called the State Department). Representative and future president James Madison of New York introduced the bill.
1804 – The 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, directing the Electors to vote for a President and a Vice President. Prior to the amendment, the candidate with the most Electoral votes became president and the candidate with second most votes became vice president. In 1801, the Electoral vote ended in a tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Jefferson was elected president over Burr on the 36th ballot in the House of Representatives after being swayed by Alexander Hamilton. Vice President Burr killed Hamilton in a duel on July 11, 1804.
1909 – Orville Wright sets a record for the longest airplane flight. He tested the first Army airplane at Fort Myer, Virginia, and kept it in the air for 1 hour 12 minutes and 40 seconds. Watch a silent video of the historic flight:
1953 – The Armistice is signed ending the Korean War. Over 50,000 Americans and millions of Koreans and Chinese were killed during the three-year-long war. The Korean War Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC, on this day in 1995.
1965 – President Johnson signs the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act that requires cigarette makers print health warnings on all cigarette packages about the effects of smoking.
1987 – The first salvaging of the Titanic wreckage begins. Robert Ballard located the wreckage in 1985. The mini-submarine Nautile dove 2.5 miles below the ocean’s surface to retrieve objects not seen since the 1912 sinking. Watch a National Geographic video on the 100th anniversary of the sinking:
2001 – The ribbon cutting ceremony is held for American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The event set two new world records, one for the 3-mile-long ribbon and one for the 2,000 people who cut it.
1900 – Louis Lassing of New Haven, Connecticut, says his diner is the first to put a hamburger on a bun. (He is one of many who makes this claim.)
1932 – Two unemployed WWI veterans are killed in a scuffle with police in Washington, DC, during the “Bonus March.” President Hoover called in federal troops when thousands of “Bonus Marchers” demand the government cash in their bonuses early. The clash with the troops was led by General Douglass MacArthur and supported by Major George S. Patton. Watch a video by Historic Films:
1933 – Lucille Lipps, a Western Union operator in New York City, delivers the first singing telegram. It was delivered to Rudy Vallee on his birthday.
1945 – An Army B-25 bomber crashes into the 79th floor of New York City’s Empire State Building, killing 14 people and injuring 26. The crash was blamed on thick fog. Watch a detailed newsreel report of the crash:
1982 – San Francisco, California, becomes the first city in the U.S. to ban private ownership of handguns. A state court concluded that under California law such decisions were reserved to the state legislature and can’t be made by individual cities.
1998 – Monica Lewinsky receives blanket immunity from prosecution to testify before a grand jury about her relationship with President Bill Clinton. She gave her deposition to the Senate in February 1999. Clinton was impeached by the House for perjury and obstruction of justice in December 1998, but he was acquitted by the Senate in February 1999. Lewinsky is now 45 years old and Clinton is 72.
Image from cbsnews.com