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 March 18-24, 2019
1818 – Congress approves the first pensions for government service workers.
1834 – The first railroad tunnel in the U.S. is completed in Pennsylvania. The Staple Bend Tunnel is 900 feet long.
1850 – Henry Wells and William Fargo form American Express in Buffalo, New York.
1882 – Morgan Earp is assassinated in Tombstone, Arizona, two months after the gunfight at the OK Corral. Morgan, Wyatt Earp’s brother, was killed by outlaws after he played billiards.
1931 – The first electric shavers go on sale in the U.S. They were made by Schick. Army Lieutenant Colonel Jacob Schick invented a new type of safety razor in 1921 and continued to improve on his original invention. Schick died in 1937 at age 59.
1942 – The third military draft in the U.S. begins during World War II. Just over 10 million men were drafted.
1977 – Vietnam hands over 22 sets of MIA remains to the U.S. while 1,642 Americans are still listed as missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War.
1990 – Two thieves dressed as police officers tie up guards at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and steal 13 pieces of art valued at $500 million. It was the largest art heist in U.S. history. Although the museum offered a $5 million reward and the FBI followed many leads the art has never recovered and the thieves have not been caught. Watch a report on the investigation:
1992 – Leona Helmsley is sentenced to 4 years for tax evasion. The “Queen of mean” died in 2007 at age 87. She left $12 million to her pet Maltese dog. The dog died in 2011.
1995 – Basketball great Michael Jordan announces he is ending his 18-month NBA retirement. He played the 1995-1998 seasons and retired again. Jordan made another comeback 2001-2003 and retired for the 3rd and final time. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. Jordan is now 56 years old. Watch interviews and highlights:
2014 – The U.S. closes the Syrian embassy in Washington and expels all Syrian diplomats.
1831 – The City Bank of New York is the first U.S. bank to be robbed. Thieves make off with $245,000.
1918 – Congress authorizes the use of time zones and approves daylight saving time to save energy during World War I.
1920 – The U.S. Senate rejects the Treaty of Versailles for the second time by refusing to ratify League of Nations’ covenant (maintaining its isolation policy).
1949 – The first museum devoted exclusively to atomic energy opens in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The American Museum of Science and Energy is still open.
1953 – The 25th Academy Awards is the first Oscar ceremony to be televised. Cecil B. DeMille’s “Greatest Show on Earth” beats out Stanley Kramer’s “High Noon” for best picture. Watch the award announcement and presentation for best picture:
1975 – Pennsylvania becomes the first state to allow girls to compete with boys in high school sports. Title IX, passed in 1972, prohibits discrimination in any educational activity or program on the basis of sex.
1979 – C-SPAN (an acronym for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, a private, nonprofit American cable television network) is launched.
2009 – President Obama compares his bowling to Special Olympics on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno. Watch Obama without a teleprompter:
2013 – NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity discovers further evidence of water-bearing minerals. Curiosity has covered about 12.5 miles on the surface of Mars.
1816 – The U.S. Supreme Court affirms its right to review state court decisions in Martin v Hunter’s lessee involving a land dispute.
1897 – In the first recorded intercollegiate basketball game, Yale beats the University of Pennsylvania 32-10.
1922 – USS Langley is commissioned. It was the Navy’s first aircraft carrier. It went through several conversions and in 1942 she was attacked by Japanese bombers. She was badly damaged during the attack and scuttled.
1952 – The U.S. Senate ratifies the peace treaty with Japan. The treaty went into effect in April of 1952.
1976 – Patricia Hearst is convicted of the armed robbery she committed while being held captive after being held captive by the SLA. Hearst is now 65 years old. Watch the actual bank footage of the robbery:
1984 – The U.S. Senate rejects an amendment to permit spoken prayer in public schools.
1985 – American Libby Riddles is the first woman to win the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race. Riddles is now 62 years old. Watch an ABC report after her win:
1991 The Supreme Court rules unanimously that employers can’t exclude women from jobs where exposure to toxic chemicals could potentially damage a fetus.
1999 – Legoland California, the first and only Legoland outside of Europe, opens in Carlsbad, California.
2012 – The Disney movie “John Carter” records the largest loss in cinema history with a $200 million dollar write down.
1843 – Preacher William Miller of Massachusetts predicts the world will end on this day. He was an early pioneer of the Seventh Day Adventist movement.
1891 A member of the Hatfield family marries a McCoy, ending the long and bloody feud in West Virginia that started with an accusation of pig stealing and lasted over 20 years. Descendants of the Hatfield and McCoy families appeared on the TV game show Family Feud in 1979.
1934 – Female track and field Olympian and future golf legend Babe Didrikson pitches an inning in an A’s-Dodgers exhibition game. The Associated Press declared Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias to be the “Woman Athlete of the Half Century” in 1950. Zaharias died in 1956 at the age of 45. Watch a video bio of her amazing athletic life:
1947 – President Truman signs Executive Order 9835 requiring all federal employees to have allegiance to the U.S.
1965 – Martin Luther King, Jr. begins the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, a distance of about 50 miles. They arrived on March 25th.
1980 – President Jimmy Carter announces the U.S. will boycott the Moscow Olympics to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
1980 – J.R. Ewing is shot on the TV show Dallas, sparking the summer-long question, “Who shot JR?” Spoiler alert – It was revealed in the season premiere on November 21st that J.R.’s sister-in-law Kristin Shepard was the one “Who done it” in the highest rated TV show episode at the time. Watch the most-talked-about TV season finale:
1989 – The first sea test of Trident 2 missile self-destructs over Cape Canaveral. The missile cost $23.7 million.
2016 – President Obama has a joint press conference with Cuban dictator Raul Castro. It ended with an awkward attempt at a hug:
1622 – In the first Indian (Powhatan) massacre of whites in Jamestown Virginia, 347 pilgrims are slain.
1765 – The Stamp Act is passed. It was the first direct British tax on colonists and it taxed all printed materials, including documents, newspapers, and playing cards. Following months of protests and riots in the Colonies, the Stamp Act was repealed one year later.
1790 – Thomas Jefferson becomes the first U.S. Secretary of State during President Washington’s administration.
1794 – Congress bans U.S. vessels from supplying slaves to other countries.
1871 – William Holden of North Carolina is the first governor removed from office by impeachment. Holden was charged and convicted of declaring martial law, unlawfully raising troops, illegally declaring counties to be in a state of insurrection, illegally arresting citizens, seizing, detaining, imprisoning, and depriving those citizens of their liberty and privileges as freemen, and refusing to obey a writ of habeas corpus.
1882 – The Edmunds Act is adopted by the U.S. to suppress polygamy. About 1,300 men, mostly Mormons, were later imprisoned under the act. The Latter-Day Saints Church discontinued the practice of plural marriage in their1890 Manifesto.
1934 – The first Masters Golf Championship begins in Augusta, Georgia. Horton Smith wins with two under par.
1946 – The WAC rocket, the first U.S. rocket to leave the Earth’s atmosphere, travels 50 miles up. Early rockets were named for enlisted ranks in the Army. WAC stands for Women’s Army Corps.
1972 – The Senate passes the Equal Rights Amendment but it is not ratified by the states.
1980 – People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is founded by British-born Ingrid Newkirk and American-born Alex Pacheco. Watch Newkirk discuss why she thinks there is no “humane meat”:
2006 – British forces in Baghdad rescue 3 Christian Peacemaker Teams hostages after 118 days captivity. Their colleague, American Tom Fox, was found dead with gunshots in his head and chest.
1775 – Patrick Henry proclaims while urging fellow Virginians to arm in self-defense, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”
1857 – Elisha Otis’ first elevator is installed at 488 Broadway in New York City.
1920 – Britain denounces the U.S. because of their delay in joining the League of Nations. The U.S. never joined the League of Nations.
1936 – Dr. Joseph G. Hamilton injects a leukemia patient with a sodium radioisotope, the first intravenous injection of a human with a radioisotope. Hamilton and his research team also injected plutonium into 18 unsuspecting patients to observe the effects of radiation on humans. Hamilton died in 1957 at age 49 of leukemia. His death was ruled an industrial accident since it was suspected his disease was a consequence of his work.
1965 – Gemini 3 is launched, sending into space “Molly Brown,” the first 2-man U.S. flight with Gus Grissom and John Young on board. Grissom was one of three astronauts killed in a launch pad fire in 1967. Young went on to command the first Space Shuttle flight in 1981. Watch the launch into space:
1972 – Daredevil motorcycle driver Evel Knievel breaks his collarbone after successfully clearing 13 cars in Detroit, Michigan, on his Harley-Davidson XR-750. He holds the Guinness World Record for the most broken bones with over 400 by the end of 1975. Knievel died in 2007 at age 69.
1983 – U.S. President Ronald Reagan introduces the “Star Wars” plan (Strategic Defense Initiative).
1987 – The first Soul Train Awards is held in Los Angeles and is hosted by Luther Vandross and Dionne Warwick. Watch a performance of “That’s What Friends Are For” featuring Dionne and her niece, the late Whitney Houston:
2005 – The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, refuses to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube. Schiavo died 2 weeks later at age 41 after suffering irreversible brain damage 15 years earlier. Terri had been in a persistent vegetative state since 1990 and was the subject of multiple legal battles.
2013 – The Senate approves its first budget in four years by a margin of 50–49. President Obama failed to submit a constitutionally required budget during his first term.
1664 – Roger Williams is granted a charter to colonize Rhode Island.
1765 – Britain enacts the Quartering Act, requiring colonists to provide temporary housing to British soldiers. The Third Amendment of the Constitution restricting the housing of soldiers during peacetime is in direct response to the British Quartering Act.
1832 – Mormon leader Joseph Smith is beaten, tarred, and feathered in Ohio by a mob led by the brother of then 16-year-old Nancy Miranda. In 1842, Miranda, who was already married, becomes Smith’s 10th wife.
1920 – The first U.S. coast guard air station is established in Morehead City, North Carolina.
1935 – Major Bowes’ Original Amateur Hour goes national on the NBC Radio Network. Ted Mack, who supervises the auditions, hosts the TV version in 1955. Listen to the oldest known recording of the show with the Hoboken Four featuring a very young Frank Sinatra:
1947 – John D. Rockefeller, Jr. donates the NYC East River site to the United Nations. The UN was founded in October of 1945. Construction on the headquarters building began in 1949 and was completed in 1952.
1949 – Walter and John Huston become the first father-and-son team to win Academy Awards in the same year. The movie was “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Walter won for Best Supporting Actor and John won for Best Director.
1998 – Two students, Andrew Golden, age 11, and Mitchell Johnson, age 13, fire on teachers and students at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas, killing five people and wounding ten. Both were found guilty, incarcerated until they were 21 years old, then released. In 2007, Johnson was indicted on federal weapons and drug charges. He was released on parole in July 2015. Golden and Johnson, now 32 and 34 respectively, are the only living mass school shooters who are not incarcerated.
2014 – The U.S. and its allies announce they will exclude Russia from the G8 meeting and boycott a planned summit in Sochi in response to Russia’s takeover of Crimea. The G7 summit was held in Brussels in June with a condemnation of Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Image from nytimes.com