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 June 24-30, 2019
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 that the president can’t be sued for his actions while in office.
1993 – Yale computer science professor Dr. David Gelernter is seriously injured after receiving a mail bomb sent from the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. Sixteen bombs injured 23 and killed 3 people from 1978 to 1995. Kaczynski was arrested in 1996 and convicted of the bombings and murders. He is now 77 years old and serving life in prison without possibility of parole.
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 – The Supreme Court rules that juries, not judges, must make the decision to give a convicted killer the death penalty.
1638 – A lunar eclipse becomes the first astronomical event recorded in the U.S.
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 a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court rules in Engel v Vitale 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.
1981 – The Supreme Court upholds a male-only draft registration as constitutional.
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.
1990 – The Supreme Court upholds the right of an individual, whose wishes are clearly made, to refuse life-sustaining medical treatment. “The right to die” decision is made in the Curzan vs. Missouri case.
1998 – In Clinton vs. City of New York the Supreme Court rules that the presidential Line Item Veto Act of 1996 is unconstitutional.
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 beat 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:
1981 – Virginia Campbell of Mountain Home, Idaho, takes her coupons and rebates and buys $26,460 worth of groceries. She only paid 67 cents after all the discounts.
1996 – The Supreme Court orders the Virginia Military Institute to admit women or forgo state support.
1997 – In Reno v. ACLU the Supreme Court strikes 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 – The Supreme Court rules in District of Columbia v. Heller that the ban on handguns in the District of Columbia is unconstitutional. Justice Scalia delivered the majority opinion.
2015 – The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, rules 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 is 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 amristace was signed in 1953, but the war was never formally ended.
1955 – The first U.S. automobile seat belt legislation is enacted in Illinois.
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 – The Supreme Court rules 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.
1778 – Mary Ludwig Hayes, aka “Molly Pitcher,” aids American patriots during the Revolutionary War Battle of Monmouth by carrying water to wounded soldiers. Hayes took over operation of her husband’s cannon after he collapsed during the battle. Hayes died in 1832 at age 87. Watch a short bio of Molly:
1938 – Congress creates the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to insure construction loans.
1960 – Fidel Castro confiscates American-owned oil refineries in Cuba without compensation.
1968 – Daniel Ellsberg is indicted for leaking the Pentagon Papers, copies he made of classified documents that are ultimately published in the New York Times.
1978 – The Supreme Court orders University of California Davis Medical School to admit Allan Bakke, a white man and former marine who claims reverse discrimination after his application is twice rejected. Bakke graduated from U.C. Davis medical school in 1982 and worked as an anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic. Bakke is now 79 years old.
1996 – The Citadel votes to admit women, ending a 153-year-old men-only policy at the South Carolina military school. The unanimous vote by the school governing board came after the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the all-male admissions policy at the Virginia Military Institute.
2007 – The American bald eagle is removed from the endangered species list.
2010 – The Supreme Court rules in a 5-4 decision that Americans have the right to own a gun for self-defense anywhere they live.
1767 – The British pass the Townshend Revenue Act, which levies taxes on the colonists for items such as glass, paint, paper, and tea.
1891 – The U.S. National Forest Service is organized.
1940 – The U.S. passes the Alien Registration Act, known as the Smith Act. It set criminal penalties for advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government by non-citizens, expanded deportation, and required immigrants to register and be fingerprinted.
1952 – The USS Oriskany is the first aircraft carrier to sail around Cape Horn of South America.
1956 – The National Interstate and Defense Highways Act is signed by President Eisenhower and authorizes the construction of 41,000 miles of interstate highways from coast to coast.
1972 – The Supreme Court rules that the death penalty could constitute “cruel and unusual punishment.” The ruling prompted states to revise their capital punishment laws.
1979 – The San Diego Chicken (Ted Giannoulas) has a “grand hatching” at baseball’s Jack Murphy Stadium after the local radio station fires the mascot and then loses a lawsuit to keep Giannoulas from making appearances as the Chicken. Ted Giannoulas is originally hired by the radio station in 1974 for $2 an hour to wear a chicken costume for a week to hand out Easter eggs at a zoo. He then volunteers to appear in a chicken costume at the Padres games. He’s been doing it ever since! Watch the Grand Hatching:
1994 – President Clinton reopens the Guantanamo Naval Base to process Haitian refugees.
2006 – In Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld the Supreme Court rules that President George W. Bush’s plan to try Guantanamo Bay detainees in military tribunals violates U.S. and international law.
1859 – Charles Blondin is the first person to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Blondin walks the 1,100’ across the falls 160’ above the water before a crowd of 25,000 people without a safety net or harness.
1906 – The Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act are adopted during the Teddy Roosevelt administration.
1927 – The U.S. Assay Office in Deadwood, South Dakota, closes. It opened in 1898 to test the purity to precious metals like gold and silver.
1933 – The U.S. Assay Offices close in Helena, Montana, Boise, Idaho, and Salt Lake City, Utah. They all opened in 1869.
1938 – Superman first appears in DC Comics’ Action Comics Series issue #1.
1971 – The 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified when Ohio becomes the 38th state to approve it. The amendment lowered the minimum voting age to 18.
1994 – The U.S. Figure Skating Association strips Tonya Harding of the 1994 national championship and bans her from the organization for life for the attack on rival ice skater Nancy Kerrigan.
1998 – Officials confirm that the remains of a Vietnam War serviceman buried in the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery have been identified through DNA tests as those of Air Force pilot Michael J. Blassie. Watch part of the solemn ceremony to exhume Blassie’s body:
2000 – President Clinton signs the E-Signature bill, giving the same legal validity to an electronic signature as a signature in pen and ink.
Image from en.wikipedia.com