This Week in History March 31 – April 6 2014


by Dianne Hermann

“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”
– Winston Churchill

Week of March 31-April 6, 2014

March 31

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.


1917 – The U.S. purchases the Danish West Indies for $25 million and renames them the Virgin Islands.

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 film rating system goes into effect in 1968 using G (general), M (mature), R (restricted), and X (sexually explicit).

1949 – RCA releases its first single 45-rpm record ever. It is “Texarkana Baby” and “Bouquet of Roses” by Eddy Arnold.

1954 – The U.S. Air Force Academy is established in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

1980 – President Jimmy Carter deregulates the banking industry.

1981 – The first Raspberry Awards are held to honor the worst films of the previous year. The 1980 winner (or loser) is “Can’t Stop The Music.”


April 1

1853 – Cincinnati becomes the first U.S. city to pay fire fighters a regular salary.

1866 – The U.S. Congress rejects President Andrew Johnson’s veto giving equal rights to all in the U.S. It is 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 designs the dishwasher because she is tired of her best china being chipped by the hired help. Cochrane’s dishwashing machine company eventually becomes 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 introduces a new gum called “Juicy Fruit.” Wrigley died in 1932 at age 70.

1927 – The first automatic record changer is introduced by Victor Victrola, His Master’s Voice.


1934 – Bonnie and Clyde kill two police officers near Grapevine, Texas. On May 23rd, law enforcement officers kill Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow near Sailes, Louisiana. Bonnie is 23 and Clyde is 25.

1938 – The Baseball Hall of Fame opens in Cooperstown, New York. The first inductees are Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, and Babe Ruth.


1970 – President Nixon signs a bill limiting cigarette advertisements effective January 1, 1971.

1986 – World oil prices dip below $10 a barrel. Oil is now over $100 a barrel.

1992 – The Battleship USS Missouri (on which Japan surrendered ending World War II) is decommissioned.


April 2

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 runs on the Equal Right Party ticket. Woodhull died in 1927 at age 88.


1877 – The first Easter egg roll is held on the White House lawn.

1917 – Jeannette Rankin (R-MT) begins her term as the first woman member of U.S. House of Representatives.

1917 – President Woodrow Wilson asks Congress to declare war against Germany. Congress declares war on the German Empire on April 6th.

1956 – The soap operas “Edge of Night” and “As the World Turns” premiere on TV. “Edge of Night” ends in 1984 and “As the World Turns” ends in 2010.

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” launches its new series in 2012. Larry Hagman died in 2012 at age 81 after filming just 17 new episodes.


1986 – The NCAA adopts the 3-point basketball rule at a distance of 19 feet 9 inches.


April 3

1513 – Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon lands in 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 advertises for “Young, skinny, wiry fellows, not over 18, must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily, orphans preferred,” only lasts about a year and a half. Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok are among the riders.

1882 – The outlaw Jesse James is shot in the back by Robert Ford. Jesse James was 34 years old.


1910 – James Wickersham makes the first (albeit unsuccessful) attempt to climb Alaska’s Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain in North America.

1948 – President Harry Truman signs the Marshall Plan giving $5 billion in aid to 16 European countries.

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 went on to star in a variety of TV shows and movies.


1973 – The first portable cell phone call is made in New York City.

1977 – Egyptian President Anwar Sadat has the first meeting with President Jimmy Carter.

1986 – The U.S. national debt hits $2 trillion. The current national debt is $17.5 trillion, which has doubled since 2006.

1991 – Football player Bo Jackson signs a 1-year contract with the Chicago White Sox baseball team. Jackson is the first athlete to play in the All-Star game in two different sports. In 2013 ESPN names Jackson the “Greatest Athlete of All Time.”


April 4

1887 – Susanna Medora Salter of Argonia, Kansas, is elected the first woman mayor in the U.S.

1933 – The U.S. Dirigible Akron crashes off the coast of New Jersey, killing 73 people. There are three survivors.


1949 – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) treaty was signed in Washington, DC.

1967 – Johnny Carson quits “The Tonight Show.” He returns three weeks later after getting a raise of $30,000 a week. Carson retired in 1992 after 30 years and died in 2005 at age 79.

1968 – Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated at age 39 in Memphis, Tennessee.

1974 – Hank Aaron ties Babe Ruth’s home-run record by hitting his 714th home run.

1975 – Microsoft is founded as a partnership between Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

1988 – Eddie Hill becomes the world’s first driver to cover the quarter mile in less than 5 seconds.



April 5

1869 – Daniel Bakeman, the last surviving soldier of the U.S. Revolutionary War, dies at the age of 109.


1887 – Anne Sullivan teaches the hand sign for “water” to Helen Keller.

1923 – Firestone Tire and Rubber Company begins the first regular production of balloon tires for automobiles.

1973 – Pioneer 11 launches on its mission to study Jupiter. NASA loses contact with the spacecraft in 1995 after receiving data for 22 years.

1974 – The world’s tallest building, the World Trade Center, opens in New York City at 110 stories. We will always remember 9-11-01.


1984 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar breaks Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time career scoring record of 31,419 points by scoring 31,421.

1987 – The FOX Broadcasting Company launches its nighttime shows with “Married . . . With Children” and “The Tracey Ullman Show.”


April 6

1789 – The first U.S. Congress begins regular sessions. They meet at Federal Hall in New York City.

1896 – The first modern Olympic games open in Athens, Greece. American James Connolly wins the first Olympic medal in modern history.

1909 – Americans Robert Peary and Matthew Henson reach the North Pole. Frederick Cook claims to have reached the North Pole one year earlier. (See 1988 below)



1917 – The U.S. declares war on Germany and enters World War I.

1924 – Four Douglas airplanes leave Seattle, Washington, on the first successful around-the-world flight. They travel about 25,000 miles and return to Seattle on September 28th.

1930 – Hostess Twinkies are invented by bakery executive James Dewar. Twinkies originally have a banana filling.

1938 – Teflon is invented by Roy J. Plunkett.

1947 – The First Tony Awards, formally known as the Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theatre, are held in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

1954 – The first frozen TV dinner, made by Swanson & Sons, goes on sale. They cost 98 cents and contain turkey, sweet potatoes, peas, and corn bread stuffing.

1988 – Black North Pole explorer Matthew Henson is buried next to Robert Peary in Arlington National Cemetery. Henson died in 1955 and was originally buried in New York City’s Woodlawn Cemetery.


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