This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history
is the most important of all the lessons of history.” Aldous Huxley
June 15-21, 2020
1775 – George Washington is appointed commander-in-chief of Continental Army.
1864 – Robert E. Lee’s home in Arlington, Virginia, becomes a military cemetery.
1878 – Leland Stanford, former governor of California, hires photographer Eadweard Muybridge to make the first motion pictures to see if all four of a horse’s hooves leave the ground. Muybridge used 12 cameras, each taking one picture. Watch the short silent film.
1887 – Carlisle D. Graham survives the third of his four successful rides over a Niagara waterfall in barrel. In 1901, Graham lent his newly designed barrel to Martha Wagenfuhrer, who became the first woman to successfully navigate through the rapids and whirlpool alone.
1924 – J. Edgar Hoover assumes leadership of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Hoover served as its director until his death in 1972.
1955 – The Eisenhower administration stages the first annual “Operation Alert” (OPAL) civil defense readiness exercise, an attempt to assess the America’s preparations for a nuclear attack.
1962 – Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) complete the Port Huron Statement, a radical manifesto written primarily by SDS co-founder Tom Hayden during a United Auto Workers retreat in Port Huron, Michigan. Hayden was married to Jane Fonda from 1973 to 1990.
1982 – The Supreme Court rules that all children, regardless of citizenship, are entitled to a public education.
1983 – The Supreme Court strikes down two state and local restrictions on abortion. In the City of Akron v Akron Center, the court ruled against a law requiring parental consent for abortions for girls under age 15. On the same day the court also ruled against a Missouri law requiring abortions in the second trimester be performed at a hospital.
2012 – A rare working Apple I computer sells at a New York auction for a record $374,500. The 36-year-old circuit board was built by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Only 200 were made, and of the estimated 50 units that survive, only 6 are still working.
1858 – Abraham Lincoln says, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” when accepting the Illinois Republican Party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate.
1903 – “Pepsi-Cola” is officially registered with the U.S. Patent Office. Pepsi was invented in 1893 by Caleb David Bradham of North Carolina as “Brad’s Drink” and was sold to aid in digestion. He renamed it Pepsi after the two main ingredients, pepsin and cola. Bradham launched the company in the back room of his pharmacy in 1902.
1909 – Jim Thorpe makes his professional pitching debut in baseball for the Rocky Mount Railroaders with a 4-2 win. This caused him to forfeit his 1912 Olympic medals by violating the amateur status rules. Thorpe’s medals were restored in 1983, 30 years after his death.
1941 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the closure of all the German consulates in the U.S. by July 10th.
1966 – “Rowan & Martin Show” debuts on TV. The show was hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. Rowan and Martin launched the cultural phenomenon “Laugh-In” in 1967. Watch one of the weekly joke walls.
1967 – Over 50,000 people attend the Monterey International Pop Festival in Monterey, California. Woodstock was held two years later.
1987 – Subway Vigilante Bernhard Goetz is acquitted on all but gun possession charges after shooting 4 black teenagers who tried to rob him on the subway.
2008 – California begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
1579 – Sir Francis Drake lands on the northern coast of California and names it “New Albion,” claiming it for England.
1885 – The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York City aboard French ship “Isere.” The metal framework was built by Gustave Eiffel. The pedestal was completed in April 1886, after which the statue was assembled on the pedestal and dedicated in October. The plaque which starts, “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,” comes from a poem written by Emma Lazarus. The poem was auctioned to raise money for the pedestal construction. The plaque was added after the dedication.
1915 – The League to Enforce Peace is organized at Independence Hall in Philadelphia with former president William Howard Taft as its president. The LEP program eventually supported the League of Nations.
1928 – Amelia Earhart leaves Newfoundland to become the first woman passenger to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. The plane was piloted by Wilmer Stultz.
1932 – During the Bonus Army March about a thousand World War I veterans amass at the United States Capitol as the U.S. Senate considers a bill that would give them certain benefits. Watch a report using actual photos.
1950 – The first kidney transplant in the U.S. is performed on 44-year-old Ruth Tucker. Although Tucker’s body rejected the kidney, she lived for five more years with one functioning kidney.
1963 – The Supreme Court bans the required reading of the Lord’s Prayer and Bible reading in public schools in Abington School District v Schempp.
1972 – Five White House “plumbers” are apprehended after the second burglary of the Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate Hotel.
1988 – Stella Nickell is sentenced to 90 years in prison in the first product tampering murder case after the Chicago Tylenol murders. Nickell was convicted of killing her husband and a woman by poisoning bottles of Extra-Strength Excedrin. Nickell was eligible for parole in 2018, but is still incarcerated. She is now 76 years old.
1994 – Murder suspect OJ Simpson leads Los Angeles police on a chase in his Ford Bronco for 1 and 1/2 hours. The slow motion car chase was seen live on TV. Watch a CNN report on the chase and hear the conversation between OJ and a helicopter pilot.
2015 – Nine people are shot and killed inside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, by a 21-year-old gunman. As a result of this event, Confederate flags were banned in many public buildings. Dylann Roof was sentenced to death, but he is currently appealing it.
2015 – The U.S. Treasury announces that the image of Alexander Hamilton would be replaced on the $10 bill by an image of a woman. In 2017, that idea was scrapped after the popularity of the Broadway musical “Hamilton.”
1873 – Susan B. Anthony is fined $100 for voting for president.
1898 – The first amusement park, Steel Pier, opens in Atlantic City, New Jersey. A fire severely damaged the park in 1924, but it was rebuilt, sold several times, and is still in operation.
1912 – The Chicago National Republican Convention splits between President Taft and former president Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909). After Taft is nominated, Roosevelt and progressive elements of the party form the Progressive Party (also known as the Bull Moose Party).
1928 – Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean as she completes a flight from Newfoundland to Wales.
1959 – A Federal Court annuls the Arkansas law allowing school closings to prevent integration.
1977 – The Space Shuttle test model “Enterprise” carries a crew aloft for the first time. It was fixed atop a modified Boeing 747. The Enterprise never flew into space. Watch the stacked crafts takeoff.
1979 – President Jimmy Carter and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev sign the SALT II treaty limiting nuclear weapons. Six months later the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, so the treaty was never ratified by the Senate.
1983 – The Challenger Space Shuttle launches with Sally Ride on board as the first American woman in space. Ride died in 2012 at age 61. Watch an interview with Sally Ride.
2003 – Google launches AdSense, a program that enables website publishers to serve ads targeted to the specific content of their individual web pages.
1846 – The New York Knickerbocker Club plays the New York Club in the first baseball game at the Elysian Field in Hoboken, New Jersey. It was the first organized baseball game.
1934 – Congress establishes the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate radio (and later TV) broadcasting.
1951 – President Harry S. Truman signs the Universal Military Training and Service Act, which extends Selective Service until July 1, 1955 and lowers the draft age to 18.
1956 – Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin end their partnership after starring together in 16 films. Jerry Lewis died in 2017 at age 91. Dean Martin died in 1995 at age 78.
1961 – The Supreme Court strikes down a provision in Maryland’s constitution requiring state office holders to believe in God.
1964 – The Civil Rights Act of 1964 passes by a vote of 73-27, with a majority of Republicans voting in favor of the act and half of Democrats opposing it.
1981 – “Superman II” sets the (then) all-time, one-day record for theater box-office receipts when it takes in $5.5 million. Watch the movie trailer.
1987 – The Supreme Court strikes down the Louisiana law that requires that schools teach creationism.
2000 – The Supreme Court rules that a group prayer led by students at public school football games violates the First Amendment’s principle that called for the separation of church and state.
1782 – Congress approves the Great Seal of the U.S. and the eagle as its symbol.
1871 – The Ku Klux Klan trial begins in federal court in Oxford, Mississippi, following the Meridian Race Riot. No one was ever convicted in the deaths resulting from the riots.
1893 – Lizzie Borden is acquitted in the ax murders of her father and stepmother in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Lizzie died in 1927 at age 66.
1911 – The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) incorporates in New York.
1944 – Congress charters the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
1948 – “Toast of the Town” hosted by Ed Sullivan premieres on TV and airs until 1971. Sullivan died in 1974 at age 73. Watch a short promo for Ed’s show.
1955 – The AFL and CIO unions agree to combine their names and a merge into a single group.
1967 – Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) is convicted of refusing induction into the armed services. Ali was sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000, and banned from boxing for three years. He stayed out of prison while his case was appealed and returned to boxing in 1970. Ali died in 2016 at age 74.
1977 – Oil enters the Trans-Alaska pipeline and exits 38 days later at Valdez. The pipeline carries an estimated 700,000 barrels of oil per day.
1997 – The tobacco industry agrees to a massive settlement in exchange for major relief from mounting lawsuits and legal bills.
2011 – The first Critics’ Choice Television Awards are held. “Modern Family” wins best comedy series and “Mad Men” wins for best drama series.
2015 – Surfers in Huntington Beach, California, set the Guinness world record for the most surfers to ride on a single board. Sixty-six surfers ride a single 43-foot-long 1,300-pound board for 15 seconds.
1684 – King Charles II revokes the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s charter due to insubordination for violating the terms of the charter.
1788 – The U.S. Constitution goes into effect when New Hampshire becomes the 9th colony to ratify it.
1879 – F. W. Woolworth opens his first store in Utica, New York, but it fails the following year. He opened a new store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1881 and within a few years Woolworth was a millionaire. Woolworth died in 1919 at age 66.
1893 – The first Ferris wheel premieres at Chicago’s Columbian Exposition. It was designed and built by George Washington Gale Ferris. Ferris died of TB in 1896 at age 37.
1939 – The New York Yankees announce Lou Gehrig’s retirement after doctors reveal he has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Gehrig made his farewell speech on July 4th.
1964 – Bryon de la Beckwith is arrested for the murder of Medgar Evers. Two trials in 1964 ended in hung juries with all white jurors. Beckwith was found guilty 30 years later based on new evidence. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole and died in prison in 2001 at age 80.
1964 – Three civil rights workers, Michael H. Schwerner Andrew Goodman, and James E. Chaney, disappear after their release from a Mississippi jail. Their remains were found six weeks later buried in an earthen dam. In 1967, 19 men, including the county’s Deputy, were arrested and tried for federal civil rights violations. An all-white jury convicted seven, acquitted nine, and deadlocked on three others. In 2005, 80-year-old Edgar Ray Killen was convicted on three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 60 years in prison. Killen is now 92 years old.
1982 – John Hinckley, Jr. is found not guilty by reason of insanity for the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan. He was released from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, DC, in 2016. Hinckley is now 65 years old.
1989 – The Supreme Court rules that burning the American flag as a form of political protest is protected by the First Amendment.
2004 – SpaceShipOne, designed by Burt Rutan and piloted by Mike Melvill, reaches 328,491 feet above Earth in a 90-minute flight. The height was about 400 feet above the distance scientists consider to be the boundary of space. It won the $10 million Ansari X Prize for being the first non-governmental manned spacecraft to go into space twice within two weeks. Watch the flights.
Image from: nasa.gov