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 8-14, 2019
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 was 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.
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:
1850 – Vice President Fillmore becomes president when Zachary Taylor dies following a brief illness after just 16 months in office.
1900 – “His Master’s Voice” is registered with the U.S. Patent Office. The logo of the Victor Recording Company, and later, RCA Victor, shows the dog, Nipper, looking into the horn of a gramophone machine.
1913 – The highest temperature ever recorded in the U.S. is 134° F in Death Valley, California.
1919 – President Wilson personally delivers the Treaty of Versailles to the Senate. The Treaty followed six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference after the WWI Armistice on November 11, 1918. The treaty was rejected by a deeply divided Senate and was never ratified.
1962 – The Telstar I Communications satellite is launched. Later that same day it transmitted the first live television images from the United States to France.
1985 – Coca-Cola resumes selling the old formula of Coke that is renamed “Coca-Cola Classic.” It was also announced that they would continue to sell “New” Coke. Watch Coke president Donald Keough make a hasty retreat:
1998 – The U.S. military delivers the remains of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Blassie to his family in St. Louis, Missouri. Blassie was shot down over South Vietnam in 1972. He had been placed in Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in 1984. His identity was confirmed through DNA testing.
1999 – The U.S. women’s soccer team wins the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final over China. The tournament is played every 4 years. They also won in 1991, 2015, and 2019.
1798 – President John Adams signs the bill establishing the U.S. Marine Corps as a permanent military force under the jurisdiction of the Department of Navy.
1804 – Vice President Aaron Burr kills Alexander Hamilton in a pistol duel near Weehawken, New Jersey. Burr is indicted for murder, but the charges are later dropped. Burr and Hamilton had been bitter political and personal rivals for years.
1944 – Franklin Roosevelt announces that he will run for a fourth term as President of the United States. He was re-elected, but died in office in 1945 at the age of 63. Congress passed the 22nd Amendment in 1947 that limited a president to two terms in office.
1973 – John Paul Getty III, 16-year-old heir to the Getty oil fortune, is kidnapped in Italy and held for $17 million ransom. When his father refused to pay, the kidnappers cut off the teenager’s ear and sent it in the mail. Getty agreed to pay part of the ransom and made a loan to his son for the remainder. Getty was freed in December. Two of the nine kidnappers were sentenced to prison. Getty III overdosed on drugs on 1981 and was paralyzed. He died in 2011 at age 54 after a long illness.
1977 – Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. is posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.
1981 – Neva Rockefeller is the first woman ordered to pay alimony to her husband. Neva, now 75, is the great-granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller.
1987 – Bo Jackson signs a contract to play football for the L.A. Raiders for 5 years. He also continued to play baseball for the Kansas City Royals. He is the only athlete to be named an All-Star in two major sports. Bo is now 56 years old.
1999 – A U.S. Air Force jet flies over the Antarctic and drops off emergency medical supplies for Dr. Jerri Nielsen at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Research Center after she discovered a lump in her breast. Nielsen performed a biopsy on herself and then treated herself with chemotherapy using supplies parachuted by the Air Force the following month. Nielsen died of cancer in 2009 at age 57. Watch a short AP report on her life and death:
1630 – New Amsterdam’s governor buys Gull Island from the Indians for cargo and renames it Oyster Island. It was later called Ellis Island.
1862 – Congress authorizes the Medal of Honor. More than 3,400 medals have been awarded to service men and women.
1909 – The resolution proposing the 16th Amendment (income tax) is passed by the 61st Congress and submitted to the state legislatures. The resolution reads simply “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” The 16th Amendment was voted on by each state legislature and subsequently ratified on February 3, 1913.
1912 – “Queen Elizabeth” is the first foreign feature film shown in U.S. Watch a portion of the silent film:
1933 – Congress passes the first minimum wage law (25 cents per hour) as part of the National Industrial Recovery Act. The Supreme Court ruled the act unconstitutional in 1935.
1984 – U.S. Rep. Geraldine A. Ferraro (D-NY) is chosen by Democrat presidential candidate Walter Mondale to be his running mate. Ferraro became the first woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket. Ferraro died in 2011 at age 75. Watch part of her acceptance speech:
2009 – All television broadcasts in the U.S. switch from analog NTSC to digital ATSC transmission.
1787 – The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 establishes a government in the Northwest Territory. It allowed the territory to become at least 3 but no more than 5 states and each would be admitted to the Union when the population reaches 60,000.
1832 – Henry R. Schoolcraft discovers that the source of the Mississippi River is Lake Itasca, Minnesota.
1836 – U.S. patent #1 is issued for locomotive wheels (after 9,957 unnumbered patents were issued!). Patent #10,000,000 (10 million!) was issued in 2018.
1865 – Horace Greeley, who favored westward expansion, advises his readers to “Go west young man” in a New York Tribune editorial. The actual quote is, “Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting, and the morals are deplorable. Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.”
1923 – The Hollywood sign is officially dedicated in the hills above Hollywood, Los Angeles. The sign originally read “Hollywoodland,” but the last four letters were dropped after renovation in 1949.
1939 – Frank Sinatra makes his recording debut singing “High Hopes” with the Harry James Band. Watch this black and white video of Sinatra singing “High Hopes” with a group of kids:
1954 – The United States, Great Britain, and France reach an accord regarding Indochina. It divided Vietnam into two countries, North and South, along the 17th parallel, also known as the DMZ (demilitarized zone). When Donald Trump crossed the DMZ on June 30, 2019, he became the first sitting president to enter North Korea.
1966 – Richard Speck murders 8 student nurses in their home in Chicago. Speck’s death sentence was overturned due to issues with jury selection. Speck died of a heart attack in prison in 1991 at age 49 after having served 25 years in prison.
1976 – The trial begins in the USSR for Valery Sablin for his 1975 mutiny on the Soviet submarine the Sentry. The true story of the mutiny is made into the 1990 American movie “The Hunt for Red October” based on Tom Clancy’s 1984 book. Sablin was convicted and executed by order of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Sablin is buried in an unmarked – and unknown – grave.
1984 – Terry Wallis, age 20, is injured in a car accident and left comatose. He came out of the coma 19 years later in 2003. Wallis, now 55 years old, is still disabled.
1985 – The “Live Aid” concert raises over $70 million for African famine relief during a live concert from Philadelphia and London. Watch an interview with organizer Bob Geldof:
2018 – The Department of Justice charges 12 Russian intelligence officers with cyber-attacks against the Democrat campaign during 2016 U.S. election.
1798 – The Sedition Act prohibits public opposition to the government through “false, scandalous, and malicious” writing against the U.S. government in response to foreign threats.
1853 – President Franklin Pierce opens the first U.S. World’s fair at New York’s Crystal Palace. The Palace was destroyed in 1858 by a fire that started in an adjacent lumberyard.
1921 – Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are convicted in Massachusetts of murdering a shoe company’s guard and paymaster during an armed robbery. Italian-born anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in the electric chair in 1927 at ages 36 and 39 respectively. After requesting a review of the case, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation on the 50th anniversary of their execution that Sacco and Vanzetti had been unfairly tried and convicted.
1934 – The New York Times erroneously declares that Babe Ruth’s 700 home run record will stand for all time. Hank Aaron breaks Ruth’s record in 1973 (755 total home runs) and Barry Bonds breaks Ruth’s record in 2006 (762 total home runs).
1952 – The first transatlantic helicopter flight begins when two U.S. Air Force Sikorsky H-19s travel from the U.S. to Wiesbaden, Germany. The total flight time was about 52 hours, but because of stops in Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, and the Netherlands the trip took 21 days.
1953 – The George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Missouri, becomes the first national park to honor an African American.
1965 – American space probe Mariner 4 flies within 6,118 miles of Mars after an eight-month journey. This mission provided the first close-up images of the red planet. The mission launched November 28, 1964. Watch a NASA video:
1986 – Richard W. Miller becomes the first FBI agent convicted of espionage. After two trials Miller was convicted in 1993 and sentenced to 20 years, which a judge reduced to 13 years. Miller was released in 1994 and died in 2013 at age 76.
2008 – The iTunes Music Store reaches 10 million downloads. The following year the number of downloads reached 1.5 billion. As of this year, iTunes downloads totaled 25 billion, an average of 7 million per day.
2015 – Harper Lee’s second novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” written in 1957, goes on sale. The book was an earlier version of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” published in 1960. It won a Pulitzer Prize for Literature and was made into a movie in 1962. Lee died in 2016 at age 89.
Image from army.mil