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
June 21-27, 2021
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.
1611 – Mutineers from his ship Discovery set Henry Hudson, his son, and seven supporters adrift in the Hudson Bay. They were never seen again. The mutineers sailed back to England and were arrested.
1847 – Elizabeth Gregory creates the doughnut when she makes a large batch for her son’s voyage. She gave the recipe to Captain Gregory’s cook so he could make doughnuts for him and his crew.
1870 – Congress creates the Department of Justice.
1922 – Striking coal miners of the United Mine Workers massacred 19 non-union strikebreakers during after they had peacefully left the mine in Herrin, Illinois. Not one of the striking coal miners was ever convicted of the murders.
1941 – President Franklin Roosevelt signs the “GI Bill of Rights.”
1946 – President Truman sets up the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
1970 – President Nixon signs the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18.
1981 – Mark David Chapman pleads guilty to killing John Lennon in December 1980. Chapman changed his plea from not guilty by reason of insanity to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life with mandatory psychiatric treatment. Chapman is now 65 years old.
1992 – In R.A.V. (petitioner for juveniles) v. City of St. Paul the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that “hate crime” laws violate free-speech rights.
1998 – In Pennsylvania Board of Probation the Supreme Court rules 5-4 that evidence illegally obtained by authorities can be used at revocation hearings for a convicted criminal’s parole.
2015 – Former Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley calls for the removal of the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds in the wake of murders of 9 people in a Charleston church. The Confederate flag was removed from the statehouse grounds on July 10th and placed in a museum. Watch her press conference.
1683 – William Penn signs a friendship treaty with the Lenni Lenape Indians, the Six Nations (Mengwes), the Shawanese Nation, the Gawanese, and the Conestogas (Mingoes) in Pennsylvania. It was said that an exchange of wampum belts took place, but in 1782 Chief Killbuck lost the historic wampum that contained the treaty that had been made with Penn one hundred years earlier.
1784 – The first manned balloon ascension in the U.S. takes place when 13-year-old Edward Warren goes aloft in a tethered hot air balloon at Bladensburg, Maryland.
1860 – The U.S. Secret Service is created to combat counterfeiting of U.S. currency. Congress requested that the Secret Service provide protection for presidents after the assassination of William McKinley in 1901.
1888 – Frederick Douglass is the first African-American nominated for president when he received one vote from the Kentucky Delegation at the Republican Convention in Chicago.
1931 – Wiley Post and Harold Gatty take off for a record-setting flight around the world. Their trip took 8 days.
1938 – Marineland opens in Florida as “Marine Studios.” It was known as the World’s First Oceanarium.
1967 – The Senate censures Thomas J. Dodd (D-CT) for misusing campaign funds. It was only the 7th time in the Senate’s history that it censured one of its own members. He was the father of former Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT).
1972 – President Nixon signs Title IX of the Education Amendments, barring sex discrimination in college sports.
1986 – Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill refuses to let President Reagan address House before its critical vote on funding for the anti-communist “Contra” rebels in Nicaragua.
2013 – Aerialist Nik Wallenda completes a quarter mile tightrope walk over the Little Colorado River Gorge in Arizona. Watch and listen to Nik talk to his crew as he walks across the gorge.
1795 – The Senate ratifies the Jay Treaty between the U.S. and Great Britain It was the first treaty that used arbitration to resolve issues. Negotiated by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay, the treaty resolved trading and land issues.
1853 – President Franklin Pierce signs the Gadsden Purchase (29,670 square miles) from Mexico (now southern Arizona and New Mexico) for $10 million.
1940 – TV cameras are used for the first time in a political convention as the Republicans convene in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Watch and listen to the sights and sounds of the convention with commentary.
1957 – In Roth v. United States the Supreme Court rules that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment, thus upholding the conviction of Samuel Roth for sending “obscene, lewd, lascivious or filthy” materials through the mail.
1968 – “Resurrection City,” a shantytown constructed as part of the Poor People’s March on Washington D.C., is closed down by authorities. Watch actual news footage.
1972 – Bernice Gera becomes the first female umpire in a minor league baseball game. She resigned when none of the other umpires would work with her on the field. Gera died in 1992 at age 61.
1982 – In Nixon v. Fitzgerald the Supreme Court rules 5-4 that the president can’t be sued for his actions while in office.
1997 – The U.S. Air Force releases a report titled “The Roswell Report, Case Closed” that dismisses the claims that an alien spacecraft crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. Watch the official Pentagon press conference.
2002 – In Roper v. Simmons the Supreme Court rules 5-4 that juries, not judges, must make the decision to give a convicted killer the death penalty.
1798 – The U.S. passes the Alien and Sedition Act, allowing the president to deport aliens considered “dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States.”
1876 – George Armstrong Custer and his 7th Cavalry (262 men) are wiped out by the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians at Little Big Horn in Montana. In 1863, Custer (age 23) was appointed a Union Brigadier General. He graduated last in his class from West Point in 1957.
1948 – President Harry Truman signs the Displaced Persons Bill, allowing 205,000 European victims of Nazi persecution into the U.S.
1962 – In Engel v. Vitale the Supreme Court rules 6-1 that the use of unofficial non-denominational prayer in public schools is unconstitutional.
1968 – Bobby Bonds of the San Francisco Giants hits a grand-slam home run in his first game with the Giants. He was the first player to debut with a grand-slam home run. Bonds died in 2003 at age 57.
1985 – ABC’s “Monday Night Football” begins the season with a new line-up. The trio includes Frank Gifford, Joe Namath, and O.J. Simpson. Watch an interview with Joe Namath about OJ on The Howard Stern Show.
1990 – In Cruzan v. Missouri the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, upholds the right of an individual, whose wishes are clearly made, to refuse life-sustaining medical treatment in “The right to die” decision.
2008 – Facebook agrees to transfer over 1.2 million common shares and pay $20 million in cash to settle a lawsuit. In 2004, Harvard students Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra sued Zuckerberg for misleading them and using their ideas to develop Facebook.
2015 – A 6-3 Supreme Court ruling preserves the Obamacare subsidies in the Affordable Care Act. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority decision and the late Justice Scalia wrote the dissenting opinion.
1721 – Dr. Zabdiel Boylston of Massachusetts gives the first untested smallpox inoculation in America to his own son.
1870 – The Christian holiday of Christmas is declared a federal holiday in the U.S.
1900 – U.S. Army physician Dr. Walter Reed begins research that, in 1901, leads to the discovery of how to treat Yellow Fever. His experiments with other doctors in Cuba proved that mosquitoes transmit Yellow Fever.
1945 – The UN Charter is signed by 50 nations in San Francisco, California.
1948 – The Berlin Airlift begins as the United States, Britain, and France start ferrying supplies to the isolated western sector of Berlin, Germany. The airlift lasted 323 days.
1974 – The Universal Product Code (UPC) is scanned for the first time to sell a package of Wrigley’s chewing gum at the Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio.
1977 – Elvis Presley sings in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was the last performance of his career. Presley died on August 16th at age 42. Watch Presley perform the last song he ever sang live.
1996 – The Supreme Court, in a 7-1 decision, orders that the Virginia Military Institute must admit women or forgo state support.
1997 – In Reno v. ACLU the Supreme Court rules 7-2 to strike down the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that made it illegal to distribute indecent material on the Internet.
2000 – The Human Genome Project and Celera Genomics Corp. jointly announce that they have created a working draft of the human genome.
2008 – In District of Columbia v. Heller the Supreme Court rules 5-4 that the ban on handguns in the District of Columbia is unconstitutional. Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion.
2015 – In Obergefell v. Hodges the Supreme Court rules 5-4 that same-sex marriage is a legal across all U.S. states. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion and Justice Scalia wrote one of the dissenting opinions.
1778 – The Liberty Bell is returned to Philadelphia from Northampton Town (now Allentown) where it was hidden until after the British depart following the Revolutionary War.
1833 – Prudence Crandall, a white woman, is arrested for conducting an academy for black females at Canterbury, Connecticut.
1893 – The New York stock market crashes. By the end of the year, 600 banks and 74 railroads had gone out of business. This is why the period of time following the stock market crash of 1929 is called the “Great” Depression.
1922 – The first Newbery Medal for the year’s best children’s book is presented to Hendrik Van Loon for “The Story of Mankind.” The award was named for the eighteenth-century English bookseller John Newbery.
1940 – Robert Pershing Wadlow’s height is measured at 8′ 11.1″, making him the tallest person in history according to Guinness World Records. The Illinois native has a shoe size of 37AA. He was only 22 at the time of his death on July 15, 1940. Watch a slide show of his life.
1942 – The FBI captures eight Nazi saboteurs from a sub off New York’s Long Island before they were able to carry out destructive acts against the U.S. The Nazis recruited eight Germans who lived in the U.S. for Operation Pastorius. All eight men were found guilty in a military tribunal. One was sentenced to life in prison, another to 30 years, while six were sentenced to death. They were executed within a few weeks.
1950 – North Korean troops reach Seoul and the UN asks its members to aid South Korea. Harry Truman ordered the U.S. Air Force and Navy into the Korean conflict. An armistice was signed in 1953, but the war was never formally ended.
1976 – The first 157 women are admitted to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In October 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed legislation permitting women to enter the United States service academies.
1979 – In United Steelworkers v. Weber the Supreme Court rules 5-2 that employers may use quotas to help minorities.
2001 – The International Court of Justice finds against the United States in its judgment in the LaGrand Case. The German-born LaGrand brothers were sentenced to death for killing a man in an armed bank robbery in Arizona. The brothers Karl-Heinz and Walter contacted the German consulate for assistance under the Vienna Convention. Despite intervention by the German Ambassador and a member of the German Parliament the brothers were executed in 1999.
2003 – The U.S. National Do Not Call Registry, formed to combat unwanted telemarketing calls and administered by the Federal Trade Commission, enrolls almost three-quarters of a million phone numbers on its first day.
2008 – Bill Gates steps down as Chairman of Microsoft Corporation to work full time for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Image from: britannica.com