This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” Ronald Reagan
June 27-July 3, 2022
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.
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.
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 80 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.
2010 – In McDonald v. City of Chicago the Supreme Court rules 5-4 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.
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.
1956 – The National Interstate and Defense Highways Act is signed by President Eisenhower, authorizing the construction of 41,000 miles of interstate highways from coast to coast.
1972 – The Supreme Court rules in Furman v. Georgia in a 5-4 decision 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 was 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 volunteered 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 – The Supreme Court rules in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld in a 6-3 decision 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 walked 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. In 2021, an Action Comics #1 sold for $3.25 million, making it the most expensive comic ever sold.
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.
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.
1836 – President Andrew Jackson announces to Congress the bequest by James Smithson of 100,000 gold sovereigns to establish the institution in Washington, DC that bears his name.
1874 – Four-year-old Charles Ross of Germantown, Pennsylvania, is the first U.S. kidnapping victim using a ransom note. He was held for $20,000 and the kidnappers wrote a total of 23 ransom letters over a five-month period. Two suspects were shot during a robbery attempt and admitted to kidnapping Charlie before they died. Charlie was never found, although his father and mother searched for him until their deaths in 1897 and 1912 respectively.
1874 – The first zoo in the U.S. opens in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Zoo is still open.
1898 – Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War. Vice President Teddy Roosevelt became president in 1901 when President McKinley was assassinated. Roosevelt was elected president in 1904.
1943 – The U.S. Government begins automatically withholding federal income tax from paychecks.
1963 – The U.S. postal service institutes the “zip” code (Zone Improvement Plan).
1966 – Medicare becomes available as a result of the Medicare Act being signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 31, 1965.
1971 – The cost of building the Golden Gate Bridge, completed in 1933, is paid in full. There is still a toll, however, to cross the bridge ($8.80 for cars and motorcycles). Watch a video of the amazing statistics about the bridge.
1987 – Robert Bork is nominated to the Supreme Court. The Senate rejected Bork’s nomination in October. Ten other nominees have been rejected by the Senate, with Bork being the most recent. Twenty other nominees withdrew, died, or were not voted on.
1996 – Placido Domingo becomes artistic director of Washington (DC) National Opera, a post he held until 2011. The current director is Francesca Zambello.
2015 – The U.S. and Cuba announce an agreement to re-open embassies and establish full diplomatic ties.
1776 – Richard Henry Lee’s resolution that the American colonies “are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States” is adopted by the Continental Congress.
1864 – Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol is established and Congress invites each state to contribute two statues of prominent citizens. The first statue was of Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene of Rhode Island, placed in the Hall in 1870. There are currently 100 statues in the Capitol.
1881 – President James A. Garfield is shot by Charles J. Guiteau, a disappointed office-seeker. Garfield died on September 19th. Vice President Chester Arthur became president when Garfield died. Guiteau was convicted of murder and hanged on June 30, 1882.
1926 – The U.S. Army Air Corps is created and the Distinguish Flying Cross is authorized. The first recipient of the DFC medal was Charles A. Lindbergh, then a captain in the Army Reserve, on June 11, 1927. The award recognized his 1927 transatlantic crossing in the Spirit of St. Louis.
1937 – Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan disappear over the Pacific Ocean in their Lockheed 5B Vega in their attempt to fly around the world. They were never found.
1947 – An unidentified flying object (UFO) crashes at William “Mack” Brazel’s ranch in Roswell, New Mexico. The U.S. Army Air Force insisted it was a weather balloon, but eyewitness accounts led to speculation that it might have been an alien spacecraft. Brazel died in 1963 at age 64.
1962 – Wal-Mart Discount City opens in Rogers, Arkansas. The company founded by Sam Walton and his brother James is now headquartered in nearby Bentonville, Arkansas.
1964 – President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act into law. As Senate Majority Leader in 1957, Johnson (D-TX) successfully blocked the civil rights legislation he was forced to sign when he was president! Watch a newsreel that includes a political who’s who.
1995 – “Forbes” magazine reports that Microsoft’s chairman Bill Gates is worth $12.9 billion, making him the world’s richest man. He is now worth $121 billion, making him the second richest man in the world after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos ($132 billion).
2002 – Steve Fossett becomes the first person to fly solo around the world nonstop in a balloon. Fossett disappeared in September 2007 while flying an airplane. The crash site was found in September 2008 and his remains were identified in November. He was 63 years old.
1775 – George Washington takes command of the Continental Army at Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1839 – The first “normal school” (teacher’s college) in the U.S. opens in Lexington, Massachusetts, with three female students enrolled, launching teaching as a profession.
1898 – Joshua Slocum completes the first solo circumnavigation of the globe and lands in Rhode Island after sailing more than three years. He launched his sloop the “Spray” from Massachusetts on April 24, 1895. In 1909, Slocum disappeared while sailing to the West Indies, and was presumed lost at sea. He was 65 years old.
1913 – A common tern, banded in Maine on this day, is found dead in 1919 in Africa. It was the first bird known to have crossed the Atlantic Ocean.
1965 – Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger dies at age 33. Trigger’s first movie role was with Olivia de Havilland starring as Maid Marian. She rode Trigger (then called Golden Cloud) through the forest in the 1938 movie “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” Watch Trigger’s film debut with a description of his rise to fame.
1986 – President Reagan presides over a relighting ceremony in New York Harbor of the renovated Statue of Liberty.
2014 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 17,000 for the first time.
Image from: time.com