This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past,
for human events ever resemble those of preceding times.”
Week of May 15-21, 2017
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 forms. Elizabeth Cady Stanton serves 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:
1933 – The first voice amplification system is used in the U.S. Senate.
1934 – The Department of Justice offers a $25,000 reward for John Dillinger, dead or alive. Dillinger is shot and killed by FBI agents on July 22nd in Chicago.
1940 – Nylon stockings go on sale for the first time in the U.S.
1941 – Joe DiMaggio starts his 56-game hitting streak.
1942 – Gasoline is first rationed in 17 eastern states.
1944 – President Eisenhower, General Montgomery, Winston Churchill, and King George VI meet to discuss D-Day planned for June 6th.
1951 – AT&T becomes the first corporation to have one million stockholders.
1963 – Peter, Paul & Mary win their first Grammy for “If I Had a Hammer.”
1963 – Weight Watchers is founded by New York homemaker Jean Nidetch. She is now 91 years old.
1972 – Presidential candidate and former Governor George Wallace is shot and left paralyzed by Arthur Bremer in Laurel, Maryland. Bremer is convicted and sentenced to 63 years in prison. He is paroled in 2007 when he is 57 years old after serving 35 years. Gov. Wallace died in 1998 at age 79.
1981 – “Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island” airs on TV.
1991 – President Bush takes Queen Elizabeth to an Oakland A’s-Baltimore Orioles baseball game. Watch some of the pomp and circumstance:
2008 – California becomes the second U.S. state (after Massachusetts in 2004) to legalize same-sex marriage after the states own Supreme Court rules a previous ban unconstitutional.
2014 – The National September 11 Memorial Museum is dedicated in New York City.
1866 – Congress authorizes the nickel 5¢ piece to replace the silver half-dime.
1868 – President Andrew Johnson is acquitted during a Senate impeachment by 1 vote.
1918 – The Sedition Act of 1918 (during WWI) is passed by the U.S. Congress, making criticism of the government an offense punishable by imprisonment.
1925 – The Kentucky Derby is first aired during a network radiocast.
1927 – The Supreme Court rules that bootleggers must pay income tax.
1929 – The first Academy Awards is held in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. “Wings” wins for Best Picture, Emil Jennings wins for Best Actor (“The Way of All Flesh”), and Janet Gaynor wins for Best Actress (“7th Heaven,” “Street Angel,” and “Tempest”).
1939 – Food stamps are first issued.
1948 – CBS news correspondent George Polk’s body is found in Greece while he is covering the Greek civil war. Gregoris Staktopoulos, a Greek journalist, is jailed for 10 years for Polk’s murder.
1965 – SpaghettiO’s is first sold under the Franco-American brand by Campbell Soup. Watch the 1966 commercial (if the voice sounds familiar, uh-oh, it’s Jimmy Rodgers):
1985 – Michael Jordan is named the National Basketball Association Rookie of the Year.
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 is the first former first lady to run for public office and later the first woman of a major party to run for president.
2013 – Bill Gates becomes the world’s richest man (again) with $72.7 billion after losing the position in 2008.
2015 – Victor Espinoza riding American Pharoah wins the 140th Preakness in 1:58.46 on his way to the Triple Crown. (See May 17, 2014 and May 18, 2002)
1733 – England passes the Molasses Act, putting high tariffs on rum and molasses imported to the colonies from a country 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 aboard Aristides wins in 2:37.75.
1883 – Buffalo Bill Cody’s first wild-west show premieres in Omaha, Nebraska.
1884 – Alaska becomes a U.S. territory following its purchase from Russia. It is known as Seward’s Folly.
1921 – President Harding opens the first Valencia (California) Orange Show via telephone.
1939 – The first-ever televised baseball game is played between Princeton and Columbia. Princeton beats Columbia 2–1.
1954 – The Supreme Court unanimously rules (9-0) 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.
1961 – Fidel Castro offers to exchange Cuba’s Bay of Pigs prisoners for 500 bulldozers.
1973 – The Senate Watergate Committee began its hearings. Watch a news report and the opening remarks of the committee:
1975 – NBC pays $5 million for rights to show the movie “Gone with the Wind” one time.
1996 – President Clinton signs a measure requiring neighborhood notification when sex offenders move in. Megan’s Law is 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 David Luker surrender to police in Birmingham, Alabama. The two former Ku Klux Klan members are arrested on charges from the bombing of a church in 1963 that killed four young black girls.
2004 – Massachusetts becomes the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.
2014 – Victor Espinoza riding California Chrome wins the 139th Preakness in 1:54.84. Watch Espinoza ride California Chrome to a win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness:
1652 – Rhode Island enacts the first law declaring slavery illegal.
1860 – The Republican Party nominates Abraham Lincoln for president at its convention in Chicago.
1896 – The Supreme Court affirms race separation in Plessy v Ferguson. Homer Plessy is arrested in New Orleans for sitting in a “whites only” railroad car. The Supreme Court rules that separate facilities are constitutional as long as they are equal. Justice John Harlan is the lone dissenter on the Court.
1918 – A TNT explosion in a chemical factory in Oakdale, Pennsylvania, kills 200 people.
1926 – Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson vanishes while swimming near Venice, California. She shows up a month later in Senora, Mexico, saying she had been kidnapped. Watch a video of McPherson’s speech on prohibition:
1927 – Andrew Kehoe blows up Bath Consolidated School in Michigan, killing 38 children and 2 teachers after killing his wife and setting their home on fire. Kehoe dies in a second bombing later that day aimed at the school’s superintendent.
1933 – Tennessee Valley Act (TVA) Act is signed by FDR to build dams.
1933 – The first major league baseball All-Star Game is announced for July 6 at Comiskey Park. The game is played as part of the Chicago World’s Fair.
1934 – Gossip columnist Sidney Skolsky is the first to call the Academy Award the “Oscar” in print.
1953 – Jacqueline Cochran is the first woman to break the sound barrier flying an F-86 Sabre fighter plane. She sets more than 200 aviation records. Cochran died in 1980 at age 74.
1967 – Tennessee Gov. Ellington repeals the “Monkey Law,” upheld in the 1925 Scopes Trial.
1972 – John Sebastian of Maine East High School makes a record 63 consecutive free throws while blindfolded. Fred Newman of breaks the record with 88 at the Central YMCA in San Jose, California.
1980 – Mt. Saint Helens erupts in the state of Washington. Fifty-seven people are killed and $3 billion in damage is done. Watch a USGS video of the eruption:
1982 – Unification Church founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon is convicted of tax evasion, is fined $15,000, and serves 13 months of his 18-month sentence. Moon died in 2012 at age 92.
1983 – The Senate revises U.S immigration laws, gives millions of illegal aliens legal status under an amnesty program.
1992 – The Supreme Court rules that states could not force mentally unstable criminal defendants to take anti-psychotic drugs.
1998 – The U.S. Department of Justice and 20 U.S. states file an anti-trust case against Microsoft. Microsoft and the DOJ reach a settlement in 2001
2002 – Victor Espinoza riding War Emblem wins the 127th Preakness in 1:56.36.
1643 – Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Harbor form the United Colonies of New England.
1749 – King George II grants a charter to the Ohio Company to settle the Ohio Valley.
1828 – President John Quincy Adams signs the Tariff of 1828 into law to protect industry in the North. Southerners call it the Tariff of Abominations.
1848 – Mexico signs the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, giving Texas to the U.S., and ending the Mexican-American War.
1862 – The Homestead Act is signed into law by President Lincoln, providing up to 160 acres of free land for settlement of West. A total of 1.6 million people claim 420,000 square miles of government land.
1865 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis is captured by the Union Cavalry in Georgia. Davis is held at Fort Monroe, Virginia, but is released after two years.
1884 – The Ringling Brothers circus premieres in Wisconsin. The circus is started by the 5 Ringling Brothers. Ringling Brothers Circus merges with Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1907.
1892 – Charles Brady King invents the pneumatic hammer.
1906 – Federated Boys’ Club (Boys’ Club of America) organizes in Boston with 53 member organizations.
1913 – The California Alien Land Law passes, forbidding “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from owning agricultural land. The bill is primarily directed at the Japanese.
1921 – Congress sharply curbs immigration through the Emergency Quota Act by setting a national quota system. Based on the quota formula, the number of immigrants fell from about 800,000 in 1920 to about 300,000 in 1921-1922.
1935 – The National Football League adopts an annual college draft to begin in 1936.
1958 – The U.S. and Canada form the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD).
1960 – Alan Freed and eight other disc jockeys are accused of taking radio payola.
1976 – The Senate establishes a permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
1987 – The first American Comedy Awards is held to recognize performers or performances in the field of TV or film comedy. The first funniest male and female performers are Robin Williams and Bette Midler. Watch the first intro:
1989 – The Dow Jones average passes the 2,500 mark for the first time.
1992 – Amy Fisher shoots Mary Jo Buttafuoco in the face at her Massapequa Long Island, New York home.
1993 – The Dow Jones average closes above 3,500 for the first time.
1999 – Rosie O’Donnell and Tom Selleck have an uncomfortable verbal conversation concerning gun control on Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show. Watch a video of Selleck being a total gentleman:
2000 – The bones of the most complete and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton go on display in Chicago.
2005 – “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” brings in $50 million on its opening day. “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” brought in a (then) record $28.5 million when it opened on the same day in 1999.
1639 – Dorchester Massachusetts, forms the first school funded by local taxes.
1704 – Elias Neau forms school for slaves in New York.
1868 – The Republican National Convention meets in Chicago and nominates former Union General Ulysses S. Grant for president.
1874 – Levi Strauss markets blue jeans with copper rivets at the price of $13.50 dozen.
1892 – George Sampson patents the clothes dryer.
1895 – The first commercial movie performance is in a storefront theater in New York City. It is an 8-minute black and white silent film.
1916 – Codell, Kansas, is hit by tornado on this date and on the next two consecutive years (1917 and 1918).
1916 – The Saturday Evening Post cover features a Norman Rockwell painting entitled “Boy with Baby Carriage.” Rockwell was paid $75 for the cover.
1926 – Congress passes the Air Commerce Act, which licenses pilots and planes.
1927 – Charles Lindbergh takes off from New York to cross the Atlantic Ocean in the “Spirit of St. Louis.” He lands in Paris the following afternoon.
1932 – Amelia Earhart leaves Newfoundland to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She flies on the 5th anniversary of Lindbergh’s flight.
1939 – The first regular airmail and passenger service across the Atlantic Ocean begins when the “Yankee Clipper” takes off from Port Washington, New York.
1959 – Ford wins the battle with Chrysler to call its new car “Falcon.” Ford produces the Falcon from 1960 to 1970. Watch the 1961 Ford Falcon commercial featuring the Peanuts gang:
1961 – A white mob attacks the Freedom Riders in Montgomery, Alabama. The event prompts the federal government to send U.S. marshals.
1978 – Mavis Hutchison, at age 53, becomes the first woman to run across America. It takes Hutchison 69 days to run the 3,000 miles. Hutchison is now 92 years old.
1985 – The FBI arrests John A. Walker, Jr. John’s brother, son, and friend are all recruited in the spy ring. They are all convicted of spying for USSR. John would have been eligible for parole, but he died in prison in August 2014 at age 77.
1986 – The Flintstones’ 25th Anniversary Celebration airs on CBS-TV as a live-action and animated show. Watch the star-studded into:
1996 – The Supreme Court strikes down a Colorado measure banning laws that would protect homosexuals from discrimination.
2003 – The reality series “America’s Next Top Model,” created by Tyra Banks, debuts on TV.
2013 – Yahoo purchases Tumblr, a social networking website created by David Karp in 2007, for $1.1 billion.
2015 – David Letterman hosts the “Late Show with David Letterman” for the last time after 33 years on TV.
1832 – The first Democratic National Convention is held in Baltimore.
1881 – The American Red Cross is founded by Clara Barton in Washington, DC. She served as a nurse in the Civil War. Barton led the Red Cross for 23 years. She died in 1912 at age 90.
1914 – Greyhound Bus Company begins when Swedish immigrant Carl Eric Wickman begins transporting miners from Hibbing to Alice, Minnesota, for 25¢ round trip.
1917 – Leo Pinckney is the first African-American drafted during WW I.
1918 – The House of Representatives passes the 19th Amendment allowing women to vote. The bill is first introduced in Congress in 1878.
1922 – The cartoon, “On the Road to Moscow,” by American political cartoonist Rollin Kirby wins a Pulitzer Prize. It is the first cartoon awarded the Pulitzer.
1924 – Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb kidnap 13-year-old Bobby Franks for fun. Franks is murdered by teenagers Leopold and Loeb, and both are sentenced to life in prison.
1927 – Lindbergh lands in Paris, completing the first solo air crossing of Atlantic Ocean.
1932 – Amelia Earhart completes a flight that makes her the first woman to fly solo cross the Atlantic. She schedules her flight to coincide with the 5th anniversary of Lindbergh’s flight.
1945 – Lauren Bacall (age 20) and Humphrey Bogart (age 44) get married. They are married until Bogart’s death in 1957.
1956 – The U.S. detonates the first airborne hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean over Bikini Atoll. A B-2 bomber drops the bomb from 55,000 feet and it detonates at 15,000 feet. The resulting explosion is estimated to be 4 miles in diameter. Watch a newsreel report of the historic test:
1968 – The nuclear-powered U.S. submarine Scorpion, with 99 men aboard, is last heard from. The remains of the sub are later found on the ocean floor 400 miles southwest of the Azores.
1980 – The third in the Star Wars movies, “The Empire Strikes Back,” is released.
1998 – An expelled student, Kipland Kinkel, in Springfield, Oregon, kills 2 people and wounds 25 others with a semi-automatic rifle. Police also discover that he killed his parents before the rampage.
1999 – “All My Children” soap opera star Susan Lucci finally wins a Daytime Emmy award after being nominated 19 times, the longest period of unsuccessful nominations in television history. Watch her stunned reaction:
2013 – Microsoft announces the release of Xbox One.