This Week in History: July 8-14, 2024


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.” George Orwell

July 8-14, 2024

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 closed 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 – South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed into law a measure to remove 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.

July 10

1850 – Vice President Millard 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.

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. Currently there are three unidentified fallen soldiers buried there.

2017 – NASA‘s spacecraft Juno makes its closest pass over Jupiter’s Red Spot at 5,600 miles. Juno was launched in 2011. NASA updated Juno’s scientific operations to extend the mission until September 2025, or until the spacecraft ceases to function.

July 11

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 was indicted for murder, but the charges were 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, less than three months later. Congress passed the 22nd Amendment in 1947 that limits a president to two terms in office.

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 80, 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 still only athlete to be named an All-Star in two major sports. Bo is now 61 years old. Not to be outdone, Deion Sanders, now 56, is the only athlete to play in a Super Bowl and a World Series.

2019 – The Dow Jones closes above 27,000 for the first time. The Dow is now around 39,000.

July 12

1630 – New Amsterdam’s governor buys Gull Island from the Indians for cargo and renames it Oyster Island. It was later renamed Ellis Island.

1862 – Congress authorizes the Medal of Honor. More than 3,500 medals have been awarded to service men and women. Nineteen service members have been awarded the Medal of Honor twice.

1909 – The resolution proposing the 16th Amendment (income tax) is passed by the 61st Congress and submitted to the state legislatures. The resolution read 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.

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. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, although 30 states have a minimum wage about the federal level. California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Washington, and Washington DC have a minimum wage of $15 or more per hour. They are also among the states with the highest cost of living.

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.

July 13

1787 – The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 establishes a government in the Northwest Territory. It allowed the territory to become at least three but no more than five states. Each would be admitted to the Union when the population reached 60,000. Those five states became Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

July 14

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 broke Ruth’s record in 1973 (755 total home runs) and Barry Bonds broke Ruth’s record in 2006 (762 total home runs).

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, and communications were terminated in December 1967. The spacecraft is now in a derelict orbit. 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, which won a Pulitzer Prize for Literature and was made into a movie in 1962. Lee died in 2016 at age 89.

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