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 23-29, 2018
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 passengers killed on the Titanic.) The Eastland almost capsized in July 1904 with 3,000 passengers on board and again in 1906 with 2,530 passengers on board.
1956 – Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis end their highly successful 10-year partnership after their final live performance at the Copacabana Nightclub in New York City. They made 16 movies together. Martin and Lewis performed their first show as a team at Club 500 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on July 25, 1946. Martin died in 1995 at age 78. Lewis died in 2017 at age 91.
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 46 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 43 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. Assange is now 47 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 44 years old and Clinton is 71.
1858 – The Treaty of Amity and Commerce (Harris Treaty) is signed between the U.S. and Japan opening Japanese ports to trade.
1920 – The first of three JL-6 aircraft leave New York for San Francisco on the inaugural transcontinental airmail flight. Former WWI flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker was one of the passengers.
1928 – Walt Disney’s “Steamboat Willie” (Mickey Mouse) is released. Watch the primitive cartoon:
1945 – After delivering the Atomic Bomb across the Pacific, the USS Indianapolis is torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine. Since the mission was secret, the ship was not reported missing. Survivors were accidentally found and rescued 4 days later. Only 317 of the 1,196 men on board survived.
1957 – Jack Paar begins hosting the “Tonight” show on NBC-TV. The name of the show was changed to “The Jack Paar Show.” Paar was the host for five years. Steve Allen was the original host (1953-1957). Then came Johnny Carson (1962-1992), Jay Leno (1992-2009 and 2010-2014), Conan O’Brien (2009-2010), and the current host Jimmy Fallon.
1958 – President Eisenhower signs into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act (NASA).
1984 – The Summer Olympic Games open in Los Angeles, California. LA also hosted the 1932 Summer Olympics. LA will host the 2028 Summer Olympics.
1988 – The last Playboy Club in the U.S. (in Lansing, Michigan) closes. The first Playboy Club was opened by Hugh Hefner in 1960. Hefner died in 2017 at age 91.
1998 – The United Auto Workers union end a 54-day strike against General Motors. The strike causes $2.8 billion in lost revenues.
Image from nasa.gov