This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“History is a vast early warning system.” Norman Cousins
June 5-11, 2023
1752 – Benjamin Franklin flies a kite for the first time to demonstrate that lightning is a form of electricity.
1884 – Civil War General William T. Sherman refuses the Republican presidential nomination by saying, “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”
1917 – Ten million U.S. men begin registering for the draft during World War I.
1947 – Secretary of State George C. Marshall outlines the “Marshall Plan,” or European Recovery Program, after World War II.
1967 – Murderer Richard Speck is sentenced to death in the electric chair for the murders of eight student nurses in their South Chicago home. He was also a suspect in the murder of many other people, mostly girls and women. His sentence was commuted to 50-100 years when the Supreme Court abolished the death penalty in 1972. Speck died of a heart attack in prison in 1991 at age 49.
1968 – Robert F. Kennedy, age 42, is assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles after Kennedy wins the California presidential primary. Watch an ABC report that includes Kennedy’s speech and assassination aftermath. RFK assassination
1977 – The first personal computer, the Apple II designed by Steve Wozniak, goes on sale. By the end of production in 1993, between 5 and 6 million computers had been produced. The Woz is now 72 years old.
1981 – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that five men in Los Angeles are suffering from a rare pneumonia found in patients with weakened immune systems. They were the first recognized cases of what became known as AIDS.
2001 – Senator Jim Jeffords leaves the Republican Party to become an Independent, an act that shifts control of the U.S. Senate from the Republicans to the Democrats. Jeffords retired from the Senate in 2006.
2012 – A gubernatorial recall election is held in Wisconsin. Republican Governor Scott Walker won and became the first governor to survive a recall election.
2013 – The first article based on NSA documents leaked by former CIA employee Edward Snowden are published by the Guardian Newspaper in the U.K. Snowden, now 39 years old, took up temporary asylum in Russia. In October 2020, Snowden was granted permanent residency in Russia.
1816 – Ten inches of snow falls in New England during the “year without a summer.” It may have been caused by a series of volcanic eruptions of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815.
1850 – Levi Strauss makes his first pair of blue jeans using rivets at the points of strain. Strauss died in 1902 at age 73 and left an estate estimated at $6 million.
1925 – Chrysler Corporation is founded Walter Percy Chrysler. Future Chrysler head Lee Iacocca was 8 months old.
1944 – The D-Day invasion of Europe takes place on the beaches of Normandy, France with 400,000 Allied American, British, and Canadian troops.
1966 – Stokely Carmichael launches the “Black Power” movement. He headed the Black Panther Party from 1967-1969. He moved to Africa in 1969 and changed his name to Kwame Ture and espoused anti-American, anti-Semitic, and Pro-Communist ideas. Carmichael died in 1998 at age 57 of prostate cancer, blaming the U.S. government for “infecting” him.
1981 – American sculptor and artist Maya Yang Lin wins the competition for the design the Vietnam War Memorial. The Wall was dedicated in November 1982.
1983 – Betty White becomes the first woman to win Outstanding Game Show Host at the Daytime Emmy Awards for NBC’s “Just Men!” The show aired for only one season. White died in 2021 at age 99, just 2 1/2 weeks before her 100th birthday.
2005 – The Supreme Court rules in Gonzales v Raich that federal authorities can prosecute sick people who smoke marijuana on doctor’s orders. The ruling concluded that state medical marijuana laws do not protect the production and use of homegrown cannabis from the federal ban on the drug.
2015 – American Pharaoh becomes the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown. Watch the end of the 37-year-drought.
1775 – The United Colonies change their name to the United States.
1776 – Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposes a resolution calling for a Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress.
1909 – “America’s Sweetheart” Mary Pickford makes her screen debut at the age of 16 in “Mrs. Jones Entertains.” She was one of the 36 original founding members of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences. Pickford died in 1979 at age 87. Watch an excerpt from one of her 1909 films.
1912 – Capt. Charles De Forest Chandler performs U.S. Army tests using the first machine gun mounted on a plane. Pilot Lieutenant Thomas De Witt Milling made several passes over a Maryland airfield at 50 miles per hour while Chandler fired a “Lewis” gun mounted on a swiveling turret at a cloth target on the ground, scoring hits with 45 out of 50 rounds. The Lewis gun was designed in 1911 by U.S. Army Col. Isaac Newton Lewis.
1955 – The game show “The $64,000 Question” premieres on CBS-TV and airs until 1958. This and other game shows failed when it was discovered that the games were rigged or the contestants were coached.
1965 – Sony introduces its home video tape recorder, priced at $995.
1977 – Anita Bryant leads a successful crusade against Miami gay rights laws. Bryant, a singer, beauty pageant winner, and spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Commission, was an outspoken critic of homosexuality. Bryant is now 83 years old. Watch one of her orange juice commercials.
1994 – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia declares that the RMS Titanic, Inc. is “Salvor in Possession” of the wreck and the wreck site of the RMS Titanic.
2000 – U.S. Federal Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson orders the breakup of Microsoft Corporation. Judge Jackson’s order that Microsoft be divided into two companies was overturned on appeal.
1789 – James Madison introduces a proposed Bill of Rights in the House of Representatives.
1861 – The U.S. Sanitary Commission is given executive approval by President Lincoln to offer medical care and provide general welfare during the Civil War.
1915 – Three-time presidential candidate and former Senator William Jennings Bryan (D-NE) resigns as Secretary of State over President Wilson’s handling of the sinking of the “Lusitania” in May.
1968 – James Earl Ray, assassin of Martin Luther King Jr. is captured at a London airport. The two-month manhunt was the largest and most expensive investigation in FBI history. Ray was convicted and sentenced to 99 years in prison. Ray died in prison in 1998 at age 70.
1978 – A Nevada jury rules that the Howard Hughes “Mormon Will” is a forgery. Melvin Earl Dummar claimed he saved Hughes in the desert and should be awarded $156 million of Hughes’ estate as stated in his will. In 2006, Dummar sued the Hughes estate, claiming conspiracy to defraud him based on perjured testimony. A judge dismissed Dummar’s lawsuit in 2007. Dummar died in 2018 at age 74.
1982 – Ronald Reagan becomes the first president to address a joint session of the British Parliament. Watch part of his historic speech.
1998 – The National Rifle Association elects Charlton Heston as its president, who served until 2003.
2018 – Summit, the world’s most powerful supercomputer, is launched at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. It is capable of making 200 quadrillion mathematical calculations per second.
1628 – In the first deportation from what is now the U.S., Thomas Morton was sent away from Massachusetts after he was charged with sedition for being a Royalist agitator.
1860 – The book “Malaeska, the Indian Wife of the White Hunter” by Ms. Ann Stevens is offered for sale for a dime. It was the first published “dime novel.”
1928 – Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith and Charles Ulm are the first to fly across the Pacific when they complete their flight from California to Australia. Both men disappeared during different flights while attempting to set other distance records.
1931 – Robert Goddard patents the design of the first rocket-powered aircraft. He is considered the father of modern rocketry. Goddard died in 1945 at age 62.
1962 – Tony Bennett performs in a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The concert was released as a live album. Bennett is now 96 years old and retired from performing in 2021.
1973 – Secretariat wins the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown ending a 25-year drought since Citation won in 1948. Secretariat set a track record in all three races that still stands. The most recent Triple Crown winner is Justify in 2018. Watch Secretariat’s record-setting run.
1985 – Thomas Sutherland, a professor at the American University of Beirut, is kidnapped and held hostage in Lebanon for 2,253 days (6 years, 2 months), making him the 2nd longest held Iranian captive after Terry Anderson. In June 2001, the Sutherland family won a $323 million verdict in a lawsuit against the frozen assets of the Iranian government. He received $35 million. Sutherland died in 2016 at age 85.
2000 – Canada and the United States sign a border security agreement. The agreement called for the establishment of a border-enforcement team.
2014 – Laverne Cox (born Roderick Laverne Cox) becomes the first transgender person to appear on the cover of “Time” Magazine.
1793 – Washington, DC replaces Philadelphia as the U.S. capital.
1854 – The first class of the United States Naval Academy graduates 50 midshipmen.
1935 – Dr. Robert Smith and William Wilson of Akron, Ohio, form Alcoholics Anonymous.
1944 – The youngest player in major league baseball history pitches his first game. Joe Nuxhall was 15 years old (and 10 months, 11 days). Nuxhall died in 2007 at age 79. Watch a news report done in memory of Nuxhall.
1963 – President Kennedy signs a law for equal pay for equal work for men and women.
1978 – Affirmed wins the Triple Crown at the 110th Belmont Stakes with jockey Steve Cauthen in 2:26.8. The next horses to win the Triple Crown were American Pharaoh in 2015 and Justify in 2018. Watch Affirmed win all three races to take the Triple Crown.
1998 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court rules that poor children in Milwaukee can attend religious schools at taxpayer expense.
2003 – The Spirit Rover is launched, beginning NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover mission. The Rover landed on Mars on January 2004 and transmitted information until March 2010.
1578 – England grants Sir Humphrey Gilbert a patent to explore and colonize North America.
1776 – The Continental Congress creates a committee (Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston) to draft a Declaration of Independence.
1859 – The Comstock silver lode is discovered near Virginia City, Nevada, by two miners, Peter O’Riley and Patrick McLaughlin.
1895 – The first auto race held in the U.S. runs from Chicago to Milwaukee with six cars. Charles Duryea’s Motorized Wagon won the race in about eight hours at an average speed of 7 mph.
1919 – Sir Barton becomes the first horse to win the Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes). Since then, 12 horses have won the Triple Crown. In the last century, 35 horses have won two of the three legs of the Triple Crown.
1948 – The V-2 Blossom rocket is launched into space from White Sands, New Mexico, carrying Albert I, a Rhesus monkey. Albert did not survive the flight. Watch a report about V-2 rockets and four Albert monkey’s flights. Monkeys in space
1977 – Seattle Slew wins the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown. The previous Triple Crown winner is Secretariat in 1973. The most recent was Justify in 2018.
1984 – The U.S. Supreme Court declares illegally obtained evidence (Exclusionary Rule) may be admitted at trial if it could be proved that it would have been discovered legally.
1990 – The Supreme Court says the law prohibiting desecration of the U.S. flag is unconstitutional.
1998 – Mitsubishi of America agrees to pay $34 million to end the largest sexual harassment case filed by the U.S. government. The federal lawsuit claimed that hundreds of women at a plant in Normal, Illinois, had endured groping and crude jokes from male workers.
2004 – Ronald Reagan’s funeral is held at the Washington National Cathedral. Former President Reagan died on June 5th at age 93. Watch the solemn procession.
2009 – The World Health Organization (WHO) declares the H1N1 swine flu a global pandemic. President Obama gets the vaccine in December after months of vaccine shortages.
Image from: dailtymail.co.uk