This Week in History: Mar 6-12, 2023


This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann

“History is a vast early warning system.” Norman Cousins

Mar 6-12, 2023

March 6

1831 – Edgar Allan Poe is removed from West Point Military Academy after seven months. Poe was court-martialed in January of 1831 after he stopped attending classes, parades, roll calls, and chapel services. Poe died in 1849 at age 40.

1836 – Several thousand Mexican soldiers under the command of Santa Anna overrun the Alamo defended by fewer than 200 Americans near modern-day San Antonio, Texas. All defenders were killed, including Jim Bowie and former Congressman Davey Crockett.

1857 – In the infamous Dred Scott Decision, the Supreme Court rules that slaves cannot be citizens or sue in federal court. The Dred Scott decision was overturned by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution, which were ratified in 1865 and 1868 respectively.

1930 – Clarence Birdseye of Brooklyn develops a method for quick freezing food.

1967 – Joseph Stalin’s only daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, asks for political asylum in U.S. at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, which is granted. She spent the rest of her life in New Jersey. Svetlana died in 2011 at age 85. Watch her 1967 press conference.

2007 – Former White House aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Jr. is found guilty on four of five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice trial resulting from the Valarie Plame CIA investigation. His 30-month federal prison sentence was commuted by President Bush.

2015 – The U.S. State Department charges two Vietnamese and one Canadian citizen with cyber fraud for stealing 1 billion email addresses for spam. Two of the three men were arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced. One is still at large.

March 7

1644 – Massachusetts establishes the first bicameral (2-chamber) legislature in the colonies.

1908 – Cincinnati Mayor Mark Breith stands before the city council and announces, “Women are not physically fit to operate automobiles.”

1917 – The first jazz record “Dixie Jazz Band One Step” is recorded by Nick LaRocca’s Original Dixieland Jazz Band and released by RCA Victor in Camden, New Jersey. Listen to the original recording.

1942 – The first cadets graduate from flying school at Tuskegee, Alabama. The Tuskegee Airmen, the first black pilots in the U.S. armed forces, distinguished themselves during World War II.

1967 – Teamsters Union president Jimmy Hoffa begins an 8-year jail sentence for defrauding the union and jury tampering. His sentence was commuted on December 23, 1971. Hoffa disappeared in July 1975. His disappearance was never solved and his body was never found.

2002 – A federal judge awards former Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith more than $88 million in damages. The ruling was the latest in a legal battle over the estate of Smith’s late billionaire husband, J. Howard Marshall II, who died in 1995 at age 90. Anna Nicole died in 2007 at age 39.

March 8

1884 – Susan B. Anthony addresses the U.S. House Judiciary Committee arguing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote. Anthony’s argument came 16 years after legislators had first introduced a federal women’s suffrage amendment. The 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was not passed until 1919 and was ratified in 1920. The 15th Amendment giving black men the right to vote was ratified in 1870. Anthony died in 1906 at age 86 without ever having legally voted.

1913 – The Internal Revenue Service begins to levy and collect income taxes.

1930 – Babe Ruth signs a 2-year contract for $160,000 with the New York Yankees. General Manager Ed Barrow wrongly predicted, “No one will ever be paid more than Ruth.”

1948 – The Supreme Court rules 8-1 in McCollum v Illinois Board of
Education that religious instruction in public schools is unconstitutional.

1958 – Nobel Prize winning author William Faulkner says U.S. schools have “degenerated to become babysitters.”

1965 – The U.S. lands about 3,500 Marines in South Vietnam. They were the first U.S. combat troops in Vietnam.

1985 – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reports that 407,700 Americans are millionaires. That is more than double the total from just five years before. By the end of 2016, there were almost 11 million millionaires. By the end of 2022, that number doubled to an estimated 22 million millionaires.

1983 – President Ronald Reagan calls the USSR an “Evil Empire.” While in Berlin in 1987, Reagan tells Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” The Berlin Wall is torn down in 1989 and the empire fell in 1991. Watch excerpts of Reagan’s speech.

2014 – Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappears with 239 passengers on board, including 3 Americans. No sign of the aircraft or wreckage was ever found.

March 9

1776 – The book on economics “The Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith is published.

1862 – The battle of the “Monitor” (Union) and the “Merrimack” (Confederate) takes place in Hampton Roads, Virginia. It was the first battle between ironclads (submarines). The Monitor sank during a storm in December 1862 and the wreckage was finally discovered off the coast of Cape Hatteras in 1973. The Merrimack was scuttled by Confederate soldiers when the Union took over the port at Norfolk in April 1862.

1933 – Congress is called into special session by President FDR and begins its “100 days.” In all, Roosevelt pushed 15 major bills through Congress in his first 100 days in office. Already half way through his first 100 days, Biden has not signed any legislation passed by Congress. He has, however, signed almost three dozen Executive Orders.

1959 – The Barbie doll goes on sale. Ruth Handler invented the iconic doll and named it after her own daughter Barbara. Her full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts. Ruth died in 2002 at age 85. Watch an interview with Handler.

1964 – The first Ford Mustang is produced. Introduced mid-year, it was known as the 1964 ½ Mustang. Over one million Mustangs were sold in the first two years of production.

1976 – The first female cadets are accepted to West Point Military Academy. Of the first 119 female cadets, 62 graduated.

1986 – NASA announces that searchers found the remains of the Space Shuttle Challenger astronauts following the January 28th explosion on takeoff.

2007 – The U.S. Justice Department releases an internal audit that finds that the Federal Bureau of Investigation acted illegally in its use of the USA Patriot Act to secretly obtain personal information about U.S. citizens.

2011 – The Space Shuttle Discovery makes its final landing after 39 flights. The last Space Shuttle flight was the Atlantis in July 2011. There were a total of 135 Space Shuttle missions. Watch the Discovery’s landing from space to touchdown.

March 10

1849 – Abraham Lincoln applies for and receives (on May 22nd) a patent for his invention of a device to lift boats over shoals, although his device was never manufactured. Lincoln is the only U.S. president to hold a patent.

1862 – The U.S. issues the first paper money ($5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, and $1,000 bills).

1951 – FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover declines the job of baseball commissioner. Ford Frick was named baseball commissioner. Hoover remained FBI director until his death in 1972 at age 77.

1969 – James Earl Ray pleads guilty of the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. Ray died in prison in 1998 at age 70.

1971 – The U. S. Senate approves the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18.

1980 – Willard Scott becomes the weather forecaster on the “Today Show.” He was the first Ronald McDonald. Scott died in 2021 at age 87. Watch Scott in a 1987 weather forecast.

1994 – White House officials began testifying before a federal grand jury about the Clinton Whitewater controversy. Although the Bill and Hillary Clinton were never charged with any crimes, 15 other people were convicted in the land swindle, including the sitting Arkansas governor, Guy Tucker, who was removed from office.

1998 – U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf begin receiving the first vaccinations against anthrax.

2020 – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo deploys the National Guard to establish a one-mile radius zone around New Rochelle after 108 cases of COVID-19 are detected.

March 11

1789 – Benjamin Banneker, the son of a freed slave, and Pierre L’Enfant, who came from France to fight in the Revolutionary War, begin laying out the plans for Washington, DC.

1823 – Concord Academy of Concord, Vermont, opens as the first normal school (training school for teachers) in the U.S. It was founded by Samuel Read Hall. It is now a college-prep high school.

1841 – The first continuous filibuster in the U.S. Senate ends. It began on February 18th. It started over Senator Henry Clay’s bill to charter the Second Bank of the United States. The word “filibuster” is derived from the French word meaning “pirate.”

1918 – The first confirmed cases of the Spanish Flu are observed at Fort Riley, Kansas, starting the 3-year global flu pandemic that killed 3 to 5 percent of the world’s population after the soldiers were deployed overseas.

1953 – An American B-47 aircraft accidentally drops a nuclear bomb on Mars Bluff, South Carolina. The bomb didn’t detonate, but the hole it made is still visible.

1958 – Herb Stempel finally loses on the TV game show “Twenty-One.” It was later revealed that the show’s producers provided competitor Charles Van Doren with the correct answer and told Herb Stempel to give the wrong answer, resulting in one of the biggest game show scandals. Van Doren died in 2019 at age 93, Stempel died in 2020, also at age 93. Watch the full episode.

1982 – Senator Harrison Williams (D-NJ) resigns rather than face expulsion following his 1981 conviction for taking bribes in the ABSCAM sting.

1986 – The National Football League adopts the instant replay rule. The first instant replay in baseball was used in 2008. Instant replay became official in major league baseball in 2014.

1997 – The ashes of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry are launched into space on the Voyager Memorial Spaceflight Service arranged by the Houston-based firm Celestis, Inc. The ashes of his wife were also launched into space after her 2012 death.

2002 – Two columns of light are pointed skyward from ground zero in New York as a temporary memorial to the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

March 12

1664 – The first naturalization act is passed in American colonies. The first Oaths of Allegiance were also taken.

1789 – The U.S. Post Office is established. Ben Franklin served as the first Postmaster General.

1912 – Juliette Gordon Low forms the Girl Scouts in Savannah, Georgia. There are about 2.6 million Girl Scouts.

1933 – FDR conducts his first “fireside chat” on the radio. Listen to the chat.

1980 – A jury finds John Wayne Gacy guilty of murdering 33 men and boys in Chicago. Gacy was executed by lethal injection in 1994 at age 52.

1986 – Susan Butcher wins the first of her four 1,158-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Races (1986, 1987, 1988, and 1990). She ran the race 18 times. Butcher died of leukemia in 2006 at age 51. Only Rick Swenson and Dallas Seavey have won more Iditarod races (tied with 5 wins). The first Iditarod race was run in 1973. It recreated the dog-sled relay that transported the antitoxin serum to treat a diphtheria epidemic in Nome, Alaska, in January of 1925. Twenty mushers, using 150 dogs, covered 674 miles in 5 ½ days in brutal winter conditions. Watch a brief bio of Butcher.

1989 – About 2,500 veterans and supporters march at the Art Institute of Chicago to demand that officials remove an American flag placed on the floor as part of an exhibit. The exhibit was closed for only a short period of time, then reopened.

2003 – Elizabeth Smart is found after having been missing for 9 months. She was kidnapped from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah, by Brian David Mitchell. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2011. Smart is now 35 years old.

2003 – The U.S. Air Force announces it will resume reconnaissance flights off the coast of North Korea. The flights stopped on March 2 after an encounter with four armed North Korean jets.

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