This Week in History: July 3-9, 2023

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This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann

“History is a vast early warning system.” Norman Cousins

July 3-9, 2023




July 3

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 three 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 three 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.

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.



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.

1785 – The first Independence Day celebration is held in Bristol, Rhode Island, and is the oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the U.S.

1802 – The United States Military Academy opens at West Point, New York. The fortifications were originally built on the west point of the Hudson River in 1778 during the Revolutionary War, making it the longest continually occupied post in the U.S.

1826 – John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (2nd and 3rd presidents) die within five hours of each other at ages 90 and 82 respectively.

1939 – Baseball player Lou Gehrig makes his “luckiest man alive” speech. The Iron
Horse took himself out of the Yankee lineup for health reasons after playing 2,130 consecutive games. He was later diagnosed with ALS, a disease that now bears his name. Watch his iconic speech.



1966 – President LBJ signs the Freedom of Information Act. It act requires full or partial disclosure of information and documents on request that are controlled by the government, with nine exceptions including to national security, personnel, and trade secrets.

1996 – Hotmail begins as a free Internet E-mail service.

1997 – NASA’s unmanned spacecraft, the Mars Pathfinder, lands on Mars. The rover Sojourner was deployed to gather data about the surface of the planet. Its last communication was on September 27, 1997, after traveling 330 feet.

2004 – The cornerstone of the Freedom Tower (One World Trade Center) is laid on the former World Trade Center site in New York City. The building opened in November of 2014.

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.


July 5

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 refused to read the petition and proclaimed 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. As of 2022, 58 are still in service, 18 are in reserve, and 12 are in long-term storage.

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 were 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.


July 6

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.

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 famous 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. President Kennedy re-established the award in 1963 and expanded the scope of achievements. About 600 people have been awarded the Medal of Freedom by former presidents. President Biden has yet to present any medals.

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 5-4 in Arizona Governing Committee v. Norris 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 31 times, with Serena holding a 19 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.




July 7

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 2008. O’Connor is now 93 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 blacks. During a standoff, the gunman was killed by a bomb attached to a robot.


July 8

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 left 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 Great Depression (41.22).

1950 – Gen. Douglas MacArthur becomes commander-in-chief of UN forces in Korea by order of President Truman. MacArthur was relieved of his command by Truman in April of 1951. MacArthur later told 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 resigned for tax evasion and bribery, and then he 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. The Redskins, however, changed their team name to the “Washington Commanders” in February of 2022.


July 9

1776 – The American Declaration of Independence is read aloud to Gen. George Washington’s troops in New York.

1868 – The 14th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, granting citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” which included former slaves recently freed. In addition, it forbade states from denying any person “life, liberty or property, without due process of law.”

1893 – Dr. Daniel Williams performs the first successful open heart surgery in the U.S. Dr. Williams treated a man who had been stabbed in the chest.

1973 – Secretariat becomes the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years by winning horse racing’s Belmont Stakes. (The previous winner is Citation in 1948.) Secretariat was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in 1974. He was euthanized in 1989 at age 19 because of Laminitis, a painful inflammation of the sensitive tissue beneath the hoof wall. Watch his amazing record-setting Triple Crown win.



2015 – The South Carolina House of Representatives approves removing the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds. The Confederate flag was permanently taken down from South Carolina Capitol grounds the following day. It was placed in a state military museum. Watch the flag being lowered in front of a cheering crowd.





Image from: spacecoastdaily.com


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