This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall
possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in
need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.” Samuel Adams
March 29-April 4, 2021
1806 – Construction is authorized of the Great National Pike, better known as the Cumberland Road, becoming the first federal highway in the U.S.
1867 – Congress approves the Lincoln Memorial. The Memorial was dedicated in 1922 and Lincoln’s only surviving son, 79-year-old Robert Todd Lincoln, was in attendance.
1951 – Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are convicted of spying. They were executed in 1953. Watch a 1951 newsreel of the events.
1961 – The 23rd Amendment is ratified, allowing Washington, DC residents to vote in presidential elections.
1971 – 1st Lt. William L. Calley, Jr. is found guilty in the My Lai (Vietnam) massacre and is sentenced to life in prison with hard labor. Calley was transferred to house arrest pending appeal, where he served 3 1/2 years at Fort Benning, Georgia, before being released. He was finally pardoned by President Nixon in 1974. Calley is now 77 years old.
1973 – U.S. troops leave Vietnam, nine years after The Tonkin Resolution. Two U.S. ships were attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin by three Vietnamese Navy ships on August 2, 1964. At President LBJ’s request Congress passed the Resolution authorizing the president “to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty requesting assistance in defense of its freedom.” President Nixon signed the repeal of the resolution in 1971.
1974 – U.S. space probe Mariner 10 becomes the first spacecraft to reach the planet Mercury. It was launched on November 3, 1973.
1979 – The Committee on Assassinations Report issued by House of Representatives states the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was the result of a conspiracy.
1995 – The House of Representatives rejects a constitutional amendment that would have limited terms to 12 years in the House and Senate.
1999 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 10,000 for the first time.
2019 – Joe Biden is accused by Lucy Flores of kissing her inappropriately.
1842 – Dr. Crawford Long of Jefferson, Georgia, uses ether as an anesthetic during surgery for the first time.
1867 – The U.S. Secretary of State William Seward agrees to buy Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, or 2 cents an acre, in what becomes known as Seward’s Folly. Gold was discovered in the Yukon in 1896. Watch a brief history of Alaska’s acquisition.
1870 – Texas becomes the last confederate state readmitted to the Union after the Civil War.
1939 – The comic book “Detective Comics #27” appears on newsstands. This comic book introduced Batman.
1964 – Astronaut John Glenn withdraws from the Ohio senate race because of injuries he suffered in a fall. Glenn finally won his senate seat in 1974 after a third run and served until he retired in 1997. In 1998 John Glenn became the oldest astronaut to go into space. Glenn died in 2016 at the age of 95.
1964 – “Jeopardy” debuts on TV and is hosted by Art Fleming. Merv Griffin created the daytime game show. The nighttime game show debuted in 1984 and was hosted by Alex Trebek until his death in 2020 at age 80. The show is now hosted by celebrity hosts. Watch part an early episode (and notice the dollar amounts of clues).
1981 – President Ronald Reagan is shot and wounded by John Hinckley, Jr. President Reagan recovered while Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Hinckley, now 65 years old, was released in 2016 from of St. Elizabeth’s Mental Hospital in Washington, DC after 35 years.
2012 – The U.S. Mega Millions lottery hits a world record lottery amount of $656 million. There were three winning tickets.
1870 – Thomas P. Mundy of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, is the first black person to vote in the U.S. Mundy died in 1904 at age 79.
1906 – The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States is founded to set rules in amateur sports. The organization became the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in 1910.
1918 – Daylight Savings Time goes into effect for the first time in the U.S. during WWI. New Zealand entomologist George Hudson proposed the first modern daylight savings time in 1895 as a way to collect insects after work. Arizona and Hawaii do not observe DST.
1930 – The Motion Pictures Production Code (Hays Code) is instituted, imposing strict guidelines on the treatment of sex, crime, religion, and violence in film for the next thirty-eight years. The new film rating system went into effect in 1968 using G (general), M (mature), R (restricted), and X (sexually explicit).
1948 – Congress passes the Marshall Aid Act to rehabilitate war-torn Europe.
1949 – RCA releases the first single 45-rpm record. It was “Texarkana Baby” and “Bouquet of Roses” by Eddy Arnold. Listen to “Texarkana Baby.”
1980 – President Carter deregulates the banking industry by signing the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act.
2008 – Senator and presidential candidate Obama criticizes President Bush for “Trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not going through Congress at all.” Watch his comments and broken campaign promise.
1778 – New Orleans businessman Oliver Pollock creates the “$” (dollar) symbol.
1866 – Congress rejects a veto by President Andrew Johnson (D-TN) giving equal rights to all people in the U.S. It was the first major piece of legislation passed over a presidential veto.
1889 – The first dishwashing machine is marketed in Chicago, Illinois. Josephine Cochrane patents her invention in 1886. A wealthy socialite, Cochrane designed the dishwasher because she was tired of her best china being chipped by the hired help. Cochrane’s dishwashing machine company eventually became KitchenAid. Cochrane died in 1913 at age 74.
1891 – The Wrigley Company is founded in Chicago, Illinois. At the age of 29 William Wrigley, Jr. left his home in Philadelphia with $32 and started selling his father’s soap in Chicago. In 1893, after giving away chewing gum as a promotion, he introduced a new gum called “Juicy Fruit.” Wrigley died in 1932 at age 70.
1934 – Bonnie and Clyde kill two police officers near Grapevine, Texas. They were believed to have committed 13 murders. On May 23rd, law enforcement officers killed Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow near Sailes, Louisiana. Bonnie was 23 and Clyde was 25.
1938 – The Baseball Hall of Fame opens in Cooperstown, New York. The first inductees were Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, and Babe Ruth.
1946 – Weight Watchers is formed by overweight housewife Jean Nidetch in her apartment in Queens, New York. Nidetch died in 2015 at age 91. Watch a brief history of Weight Watchers.
1948 – Ralph Alpher (American), Hans Bethe, and George Gamow propose the Big Bang Theory in Physical Review, a publication organized in 1893 at Cornell University.
1954 – The U.S. Air Force Academy is formed in Colorado.
1992 – The battleship USS Missouri (on which Japan surrendered ending World War II) is decommissioned. It is now a memorial museum at Pearl Harbor. The USS Missouri was used in the 2012 movie “Battleship.” The extras in the movie were actual WWII veterans from the USS Missouri.
2004 – Google introduces Gmail. The launch is met with skepticism because of the launch date.
2009 – President Obama bows when meeting King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Watch the greeting.
1792 – The Coinage Act is passed establishing the United States Mint.
1870 – Victoria Woodhull is the first woman to be nominated for the U.S. presidency. She ran on the Equal Right Party ticket. Woodhull died in 1927 at age 88.
1917 – President Woodrow Wilson asks Congress to declare war against Germany. Congress declared war on the German Empire on April 6th.
1932 – Charles Lindbergh turns over $50,000 as ransom for his kidnapped son. In April 1936, Richard Bruno Hauptmann was executed for the kidnapping and death of the Lindbergh’s son. Watch a short report about the “crime of the century.”
1978 – The TV show “Dallas” premieres on CBS and airs until 1991. The Southfork Ranch is actually located in Parker, Texas, about 25 miles north of Dallas. “Dallas” launched its new series in 2012. Larry Hagman (JR Ewing) died in 2012 at age 81 after filming just 17 new episodes.
1987 – The speed limit on U.S. interstate highways is increased to 65 miles per hour in limited areas. Speed limits mow vary from state to state.
2014 – The Supreme Court rules (5-4 decision) in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission that limits on the total amount of money individuals can give political candidates and political action committees is unconstitutional.
1513 – Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon lands at what is now Florida.
1860 – The first Pony Express riders leave St. Joseph, Missouri, for Sacramento, California, on a trip across the country that takes about a week. The Pony Express, which advertised for “Young, skinny, wiry fellows, not over 18, must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily, orphans preferred,” only lasted about a year and a half. Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok are among the riders. Watch a brief history of the Pony Express.
1882 – The outlaw Jesse James is shot in the back and killed by Robert Ford. Jesse James was 34 years old.
1944 – The Supreme Court rules in Smith v Allwright that “all white” primaries are unconstitutional. Lonnie Smith, a black voter in Texas, challenged the Democrat party rules that allowed for only whites to vote in primaries.
1949 – Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis debut on radio on the “Martin and Lewis Show”. The NBC radio program ran until 1953. Martin and Lewis go on to star in a variety of TV shows and movies. Martin died in 1995 at age 78. Lewis died in 2017 at age 91.
1953 – “TV Guide” is published for the first time. Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s son Desi Arnaz, Jr. is on the cover. Little Desi is now 68 years old.
1973 – The first mobile phone call is made by Motorola employee Martin Cooper from Manhattan to Bell Labs headquarters in New Jersey.
1991 – Football player Bo Jackson signs a 1-year contract with the Chicago White Sox baseball team. Jackson was the first athlete to play in an All-Star game in two different sports. In 2013, ESPN named Jackson the “Greatest Athlete of All Time.” Watch ESPN’s interview with Bo.
1996 – Unabomber suspect Theodore Kaczynski is arrested. He pleaded guilty in January 1998 to five Unabomber attacks in exchange for a life sentence without the chance of parole. Kaczynski is now 78 years old.
2010 – The first Apple iPad is released.
1818 – Congress passes a plan that says the U.S. flag will have 13 red and white stripes and 20 stars. It had 15 stripes to represent 15 states, but Congress realized it would be impractical to keep adding stripes. The plan allowed that a new star would be added for the each new state.
1841 – President William Henry Harrison, at the age of 68, becomes the first president to die in office. He took the oath of office only a month before he died of pneumonia. He delivered a 2-hour inaugural address on a cold, wet day without wearing a coat or hat.
1914 – The first known serialized moving picture opens in New York City. It was “The Perils of Pauline.” Watch the first episode (black and white with dramatic piano music).
1949 – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) treaty is signed in Washington, DC.
1968 – Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, at age 39.
1974 – Hank Aaron ties Babe Ruth’s home-run record by hitting his 714th home run. Watch #714 go over Pete Rose’s head.
1975 – Microsoft is founded as a partnership between Bill Gates and Paul Allen.
2008 – During a raid on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints owned YFZ Ranch in Texas, 401 children and 133 women are taken into state custody. Several male members of the compound were found guilty or plead no contest to sexual assault.
Image from: people.com