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 8-14, 2021
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 2020, there were an estimated 18.6 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 falls 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.
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.
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 is now 86 years old. 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.
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.
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 2.5 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 has won more Iditarod races (5). 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 33 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.
1868 – The Senate begins President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment trial. The Senate failed by one vote to impeach Johnson.
1901 – Andrew Carnegie announces he is retiring from business and that he will spend the rest of his life giving away his fortune. His net worth was estimated at $300 million. That’s about $9.3 billion in today’s dollars.
1925 – Tennessee passes the “Butler Act,” making it unlawful to teach evolution. High school teacher John Scopes was tried in July for violating that act. He was found guilty and fined $100, but the verdict was overturned on a technicality. It was later revealed that town leaders convinced Scoped to plead guilty for the publicity after the ACLU offered to defend anyone accused of teaching evolution.
1963 – Ernesto Miranda is arrested in Phoenix, Arizona, and interrogated by police until he signs a confession. The Supreme Court ruled in 1966 that Miranda had not been informed of his legal rights and his conviction for kidnapping and rape was overturned. Miranda was stabbed to death in a bar fight in 1976. He was 34 years old.
1991 – Exxon pays $1 billion in fines and for the cleanup of the Valdez oil spill.
1997 – The unidentified flying objects called the “Phoenix Lights” are seen over Phoenix, Arizona, by hundreds of people and by millions on television. They continue to be a hotly debated controversy. Watch a news report.
2012 – After 244 years of publication, Encyclopedia Britannica announced it is discontinuing its U.S. print edition.
1812 – Congress authorizes the sale of war bonds to finance the War of 1812.
1900 – U.S. currency goes on the gold standard. Since 1971, the U.S. dollar has been called fiat currency, meaning it is not backed by a physical commodity (gold), and is only worth the paper it’s printed on.
1958 – The Recording Industry Association of American is created. Perry Como’s “Catch a Falling Star” is certified as its first gold record. Watch Mr. Relaxation perform his hit song in England.
1967 – In the first NFL-AFL football common draft, the Baltimore Colts pick defensive lineman Bubba Smith. Smith won the 1971 Super Bowl with the Baltimore Colts. Smith turned to acting after a career-ending knee injury.
1989 – Imported semi-automatic “assault” rifles are banned in the U.S. under President George H.W. Bush’s administration.
1997 – President Bill Clinton trips at 1:20 AM while on a fund-raising trip to Florida. The injury required knee surgery.
2018 – NASA reports the results of their twins study with astronaut Scott Kelly and his brother Mark. After one year in space, Scott is no longer identical to his twin brother because 7% of his genes had been altered.
Image from: sbnation.com