This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history
is the most important of all the lessons of history.” Aldous Huxley
Week of May 11-17, 2020
1751 – The first hospital in America’s 13 Colonies is founded as the Pennsylvania Hospital.
1904 – Andrew Carnegie donates $1.5 million to build the Peace Palace in The Hague, Holland. Construction was completed in 1913. It houses the International Court of Justice. Watch the actual footage of the 1913 opening (no sound).
1927 – Louis B. Mayer forms the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences with 35 other founding members. Membership is now by invitation only based on earning an Oscar nomination or sponsorship by two current Academy members. The first Academy Awards ceremony was held in 1929.
1928 – General Electric opens the first TV station in Schenectady, New York.
1929 – The first regularly scheduled TV broadcasts shows 3 nights per week.
1973 – Citing government misconduct, charges are dismissed against Daniel Ellsberg for his involvement in releasing the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times. The Pentagon Papers showed that the Johnson administration lied about America’s involvement in Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam War.
1987 – The first “domino” heart-lung transplant takes place in Baltimore. A healthy human heart was taken from one living person (whose lungs were destroyed by cystic fibrosis) and transplanted into another human needing a heart transplant. The donor received the heart and lungs of a deceased accident victim.
1995 – At the UN in New York City, more than 170 countries decide to extend the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty indefinitely and without conditions.
2015 – Picasso’s “The Women of Algiers” sells for $160 million (not $179 million) at Christie’s in New York City, setting a new record price for a work of art at auction. Watch the final moments of the auction.
1925 – Walter Hagen wins his second consecutive PGA golf tournament. Hagen also played in the first PGA tournament in 1916. He has the most golf tournament wins behind Jack Nicholas and Tiger Woods (tied with Sam Snead). Hagen died in 1969 at age 76. Watch a bio of Hagen with actual footage.
1932 – The decomposed body of Charles Lindbergh’s son, kidnapped on March 1st, is found in the woods near the Lindbergh’s New Jersey home. It was believed the baby had been dead since the night of the kidnapping.
1949 – Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit of India is the first foreign woman ambassador to be received in the U.S. She was also the first female president of the UN General Assembly (1953).
1963 – Bob Dylan is invited to perform on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” He rehearsed but walked out before the show started because show executives objected to some of his lyrics.
1967 – H. Rap Brown replaces Stokely Carmichael as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and becomes a prominent figure in the Black Panther Party.
1970 – Harry A. Blackmun is confirmed by the Senate as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. He authored the Roe v Wade decision in 1973 and served on the court until 1994. Blackmun died in 1999 at age 90.
1978 – The Commerce Department says hurricane names will no longer be only female names.
2002 – Former President Jimmy Carter arrives in Cuba for a visit with Fidel Castro. It was the first time a U.S. head of state, in or out of office, had visited the island since Castro’s 1959 revolution. Watch a series of video clips of the visit.
2003 – Fifty-nine Democrat lawmakers flee the Texas Legislature and go into hiding to prevent a quorum in a dispute over a Republican congressional redistricting plan. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the plan.
1828 – The U.S. passes the Tariff of Abominations, so called by Southerners because of the adverse effects it had on their economy. The Tariff of 1828 was designed to protect northern industries from low priced imported goods.
1865 – The last land engagement of the Civil War is fought at the Battle of Palmito Ranch in south Texas, more than a month after Gen. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Virginia.
1911 – The New York Giants set a major league baseball record when ten runners cross home plate before the first out of the game against St. Louis.
1950 – Diner’s Club issues its first credit cards. In 1949, businessman Frank McNamara forgot his wallet while dining out at a New York City restaurant. He started the restaurant credit card company with his partner Ralph Schneider.
1960 – The first launch of a Thor-Delta rocket carrying the Echo-1 series satellite fails to reach orbit after the second-stage control system failure. The satellite was destroyed. Watch a newsreel of the launch.
1992 – Three astronauts simultaneously walk in space for the first time. Richard Hieb, Pierre Thuot, and Thomas Akers conducted an 8 ½-hour spacewalk outside Space Shuttle Endeavor.
2003 – The U.S. government unveils the newly designed version of the $20 bill. It was the first bill to be colorized in an effort to stop counterfeiters.
1804 – Lewis and Clark set out from St. Louis for the Pacific Coast.
1897 – “The Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa is performed for the first time at a ceremony when a statue of George Washington is unveiled.
1904 – The Olympic Games are held in St. Louis, Missouri. It was the first time the Olympic Games were played in the U.S.
1942 – The U.S. Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs) forms after Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts introduces a bill in Congress. The Corps became a permanent part of the Army from 1948 until 1978, when women were assimilated into all but the combat branches of the Army.
1945 – Dr. Joseph G. Hamilton injects misdiagnosed cancer patient Albert Stevens with 131 kBq of plutonium without his knowledge. Stevens lived for another 20 years until his death at age 79, surviving the highest known accumulated radiation dose in any human. Dr. Hamilton died in 1957 at age 49.
1948 – The U.S. grants Israel de facto recognition by President Harry Truman after Israel’s proclamation of independence.
1949 – Harry Truman signs a bill establishing a rocket test range at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The space center was renamed Cape Kennedy, following the assassination of President Kennedy, from 1963 to 1973.
1973 – The Supreme Court issues its decision in Frontiero v Richardson that provides the same rights to women as men in the military.
1999 – North Korea returns the remains of six U.S. soldiers who were killed during the Korean War. The Department of Defense estimated there are still over 7,000 U.S. personnel unaccounted for (missing in action) in Korea.
2005 – The USS America, a decommissioned Navy supercarrier, is deliberately sunk in the Atlantic Ocean after four weeks of live-fire exercises. It was the largest ship ever to be disposed of as a target in a military exercise. Watch the sinking.
2012 – Stanford University scientists develop a prototype bionic eye.
1817 – The Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason (now Friends Hospital) opens in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the first private mental health hospital in the U.S.
1869 – The National Woman Suffrage Association is founded by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, with Stanton serving as its first president.
1911 – The Supreme Court dissolves Standard Oil Company using the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which is passed by Congress to combat monopolies.
1928 – Mickey Mouse makes his first appearance in the cartoon short “Plane Crazy.” Watch the primitive animation classic.
1934 – The Department of Justice offers a $25,000 reward for John Dillinger, dead or alive. Dillinger was shot and killed by FBI agents on July 22nd in Chicago.
1944 – President Eisenhower, General Montgomery, Winston Churchill, and King George VI meet to discuss D-Day, which was planned for June 6th.
1963 – Weight Watchers is founded by New York homemaker Jean Nidetch. She died in 2015 at age 91.
1972 – Presidential candidate and former Governor George Wallace is shot and left paralyzed by Arthur Bremer in Laurel, Maryland. Bremer was convicted and sentenced to 63 years in prison. He was paroled in 2007 at age 57 after serving 35 years. Gov. Wallace died in 1998 at age 79.
1991 – President Bush takes Queen Elizabeth to an Oakland A’s / Baltimore Orioles baseball game. Watch some of the pomp and circumstance.
2014 – The National September 11 Memorial Museum is dedicated in New York City.
1868 – President Andrew Johnson is acquitted of “high crimes and misdemeanors” during a Senate impeachment by 1 vote. The impeachment stemmed from Johnson’s attempt to replace Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. This was the first impeachment trial of a president. President Nixon resigned during Watergate impeachment proceedings in 1974. President Clinton was impeached by the House in 1999, but acquitted by the Senate, as was President Trump in 2020.
1918 – The Sedition Act of 1918 (during WWI) is passed by Congress, making “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive” language about the government, flag, or armed forces an offense punishable by imprisonment. Since the act was passed near the end of WWI, only a handful of people were ever charged with sedition. Congress repealed the Sedition Act in 1920.
1929 – The first Academy Awards is held in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. “Wings” won for Best Picture, Emil Jennings won for Best Actor (“The Way of All Flesh”), and Janet Gaynor won for Best Actress (“7th Heaven,” “Street Angel,” and “Tempest”). In 1934, Gossip columnist Sidney Skolsky was the first to call the Academy Award the “Oscar” in print.
1948 – CBS news correspondent George Polk’s body is found in Greece while he’s covering the Greek civil war. Gregoris Staktopoulos, a Greek journalist, was jailed for 10 years for Polk’s murder.
1988 – Surgeon General C. Everett Koop reports that nicotine is as addictive as heroin.
1991 – Queen Elizabeth becomes the first British monarch to address the U.S. Congress. Watch a behind-the-scenes British report on the Queen’s visit.
2000 – First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is nominated to run for Senator in New York. She was the first former first lady to run for public office and later the first woman of a major party to run for president.
2015 – Victor Espinoza, riding American Pharoah, wins the 140th Preakness in 1:58.46 on his way to the Triple Crown. Espinoza also won the Preakness in 2002 and 2014. The last Triple Crown winner was Justify 2018.
1733 – England passes the Molasses Act, doubling the tariffs on rum and molasses imported to the colonies from countries other than British possessions.
1792 – The New York Stock Exchange is formed when 24 merchants sign the Buttonwood Agreement at 68 Wall Street.
1875 – In the first Kentucky Derby horse race, Oliver Lewis wins aboard Aristides in 2:37.75. The Derby was founded by Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr, the grandson of William Clark (Lewis & Clark Expedition).
1883 – Buffalo Bill Cody’s first wild-west show premieres in Omaha, Nebraska. Cody died in 1917 at age 70.
1884 – Alaska becomes a U.S. territory following its purchase from Russia for $7 million. It was known as Seward’s Folly after Secretary of State William H. Seward signed a treaty with Russia.
1954 – The Supreme Court unanimously rules in Brown v Topeka Board of Education that racial segregation of children in public schools violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, reversing the 1896 “separate but equal” Plessy v Ferguson decision.
1973 – The Senate Watergate Committee began its hearings. Watch the opening remarks of the committee.
1996 – President Clinton signs a measure requiring neighborhood notification when sex offenders move in. Megan’s Law was named for 7-year-old Megan Kanka, who was raped and killed in 1994 by a repeat sex offender.
2000 – Thomas E. Blanton Jr. and Bobby Frank Cherry surrender to police in Birmingham, Alabama. The two former Ku Klux Klan members were convicted of murder in the bombing of a church in 1963 that killed four young black girls. Blanton, now 81, is currently serving a life sentence. Cherry died in prison in 2004 at age 74.
2014 – Victor Espinoza, riding California Chrome, wins the 139th Preakness in 1:54.84. Espinoza also won the Preakness in 2002 and 2015. Watch Espinoza ride California Chrome to a win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, the first and second leg of the Triple Crown. The horse failed to win the Belmont Stakes.
Image from: en.wikipedia.org