This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall
possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in
need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.” Samuel Adams
July 26-August 1, 2021
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.
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.
1995 – The Korean War Memorial is dedicated in Washington, DC.
2017 – Amazon founder Jeff Bezos becomes the world’s richest man ($91.4 billion) for half a day when he briefly overtakes Bill Gates.
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 – The Senate ratifies the United Nation charter. Bill Langer (R-ND) and Henrik Shipstead ((R-MN) were the only senators who voted against the charter.
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 46 years old and Clinton is 73.
2017 – The late Senator John McCain (R-AZ) casts the deciding vote against repealing Obamacare.
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 four days later and rescued. Only 317 of the 1,196 men on board survived in the shark-infested sea, and only 10 of them are still living.
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 since 2014, Jimmy Fallon.
1958 – President Eisenhower signs into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act (NASA).
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.
1619 – The first representative assembly in America convenes in Jamestown, Virginia as the House of Burgesses.
1839 – Slaves take over the slave ship Amistad after 60 days at sea and are arrested in New York. The district court judge ruled that the slaves were free men, and ordered them released from prison. He also ordered that the U.S. government transport them back to Africa. The Supreme Court upheld the decision in 1841.
1932 – Walt Disney’s “Flowers and Trees” premiers. It was the first Academy Award winning cartoon and first cartoon short to use Technicolor. Watch the video, which includes sound.
1942 – President FDR signs the bill creating the U.S. Women’s Naval Reserve, the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).
1956 – The phrase “In God We Trust” is adopted as the U.S. national motto.
1965 – President Johnson signs into law Social Security Act that establishes Medicare and Medicaid. It went into effect the following year.
1998 – A group of Ohio machine-shop workers (who call themselves the Lucky 13) win the $295.7 million Powerball jackpot. It was the largest-ever American lottery to date. The largest single lottery jackpot in U.S. history was Powerball in 2018 at $1.536 billion.
2014 – The European Union and the U.S. extend sanctions on Russia to include banks, energy, and defense firms. Moscow denied the allegation that Russia was arming rebels in Eastern Ukraine.
1792 – The cornerstone is laid for the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, the first United States government building.
1928 – MGM’s mascot Leo the Lion roars on film for the first time. The lion, whose name was Jackie, introduced MGM’s first talking picture, “White Shadows in the South Seas.” There have been seven “Leos”: Slats (1917-1928); Jackie (1928-1956); George (1956-1957); and Leo (1957-present). Three other lions were also used in cartoons and movies: Telly (1928-1932); Coffee (1932-1935); and Tanner (1934-1956). Hear Leo (aka Jackie) roar and watch the movie’s intro.
1953 – The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) is created during the Eisenhower administration. President Harding proposed a department of education and welfare in 1923. HEW was a cabinet-level department until 1979, when it was separated into different departments.
1971 – Astronauts ride in a vehicle on the moon for the first time in a lunar rover vehicle (LRV). Watch the lunar ride.
1987 – Rockwell International is awarded a contract to build a fifth space shuttle, the Endeavor, to replace the Challenger, which exploded on launch in 1986. The Endeavor flew 25 missions from 1992 to 2011.
1991 – The U.S. Senate votes to allow women to fly combat aircraft. Air Force Colonel Martha McSally was the first woman to fly a combat mission after the 43-year ban was lifted. She was a U.S Representative and Senator (R-AZ).
2014 – The U.S. agrees to resupply arms to Israel – including rocket launchers, mortar rounds, and grenades – despite condemnation of civilian casualties in Gaza.
1790 – The first U.S. census is taken showing a population of 3,939,214, of which 697,624 are slaves. The current U.S. population is about 331 million, based on the 2020 census.
1855 – Castle Clinton (aka Fort Clinton) in New York City opens as the first U.S. receiving station for immigrants. More than eight million people arrived in the U.S. until Ellis Island opens on January 1, 1892. Castle Clinton is now a national monument.
1907 – The U.S. Army establishes an aeronautical division, which becomes the U.S. Air Force on September 18, 1947.
1943 – The Navy patrol torpedo boat PT-109 sinks near the Solomon Islands after being attacked by a Japanese destroyer. The boat was under the command of future president Navy Lt. John F. Kennedy. The 11 surviving crewmembers swam to Naru Island and were rescued on August 7th. The last surviving crewman of PT-109, Gerard Zinser, died in 2001 at age 82. Watch a short “American Experience” video.
1957 – The Bridgers and Paxton Office Building in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the first commercial building to be heated by solar energy. It is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
1972 – Carl Bernstein, now 77, and Bob Woodward, now 78, publish their first article exposing the Watergate scandal.
1977 – Gary Powers dies when his news helicopter crashes in Los Angeles. Powers was 48 years old. Powers was the former CIA U-2 pilot who was shot down while on a surveillance mission over Russia in 1960 and held for two years. On August 19, 1960, Powers was convicted of espionage in Russia and sentenced to 10 years confinement. Powers was returned to the U.S. in February 1962 in a prisoner exchange.
2001 – Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has a Ten Commandments monument installed in the judiciary building, leading to a lawsuit to have the monument removed and Moore removed from office. District Court Judge Myron Thompson ordered Moore to remove the Ten Commandments from the courthouse rotunda within fifteen days. Moore refuses, but the monument was later moved to a room that was not open for public viewing. On August 23, 2003, a panel of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary unanimously voted to remove Judge Moore from the bench for not renouncing God. In 2012, Moore was re-elected as Alabama’s Chief Justice. In 2016, the Alabama Judiciary Inquiry Commission brought charges of six ethics violations against Moore and he was suspended pending a trial. He was found guilty, lost his appeal, and resigned in April 2017. Moore lost his bid for the U.S. Senate in a special election to replace Jeff Sessions in December 2017. Watch part of the 2003 trial and the verdict to remove Justice Moore.
Image from: thisdayinaviation.com