This Week in History May 19-25 2014


by Dianne Hermann

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

Week of May 19-25, 2014


May 19

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 – U.S. 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 – President Jefferson Davis is captured by 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.

TIS_19_Ringling_Brothers1892 – 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.

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.


May 20

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 per 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 & white silent film.

1916 – Codell, Kansas, is hit by tornado on this date for three consecutive years (also 1917 and 1918).

1916 – Saturday Evening Post cover features 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 – At 7:40 AM, pilot Charles Lindbergh takes off from New York to cross the Atlantic Ocean. 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.

1985 – 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 is scheduled to be released from prison one year from today.

1986 – The Flintstones’ 25th Anniversary Celebration airs on CBS-TV as a live-action and animated show.


May 21

1832 – The first Democratic National Convention is held in Baltimore.

1881 – The American Red Cross is founded by Clara Barton in Washington, DC. She serves as a nurse in the Civil War. Barton led the Red Cross for 23 years. She died in 1912 at age 90.TIS_21_Clara_Barton

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.

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 19) and Humphrey Bogart (age 44) get married. They are married until Bogart’s death in 1957.


1980 – The second in the Star Wars movies, “The Empire Strikes Back,” is released. (See May 27 – 1977 and 1983)

1999 – “All My Children” soap opera star Susan Lucci finally wins a Daytime Emmy after being nominated 19 times, the longest period of unsuccessful nominations in television history.


May 22

1807 – Former Vice President Aaron Burr is tried for treason in Richmond, Virginia. It is alleged that Burr plotted to annex Spanish territories in Louisiana and part of Mexico to establish an independent territory. Burr is acquitted for lack of evidence that he acted on his plot.

1819 – The first steam-propelled vessel to cross Atlantic leaves Savannah, Georgia.

1842 – Farmers Lester Howe and Henry Wetsel discover Howe Caverns in Schoharie County, New York, when they stumble upon a large hole in the ground. Howe opens the cave to tours in 1843.


1849 – Abraham Lincoln patents a buoying device. Lincoln is the only president to hold a patent.

1872 – Amnesty Act removes voting and office-holding restrictions to secessionists who participated in the Civil War, except for 500 military officers. Congress passes the original restrictive act in May 1866.

1892 – Dr. Washington Sheffield invents the toothpaste tube.

1928 – The U.S. Congress passes Jones-White Merchant Marine Act, which provides subsidies to shipping companies to stay competitive.

1953 – President Eisenhower signs the Offshore Tidelands Bill, giving Texas the right to oil off its shores.

1962 – Roger Maris walks 5 times (including a record of 4 intentionally) in a 9-inning baseball game. Barry Bonds now holds the record for most intentional walks (career 668).

1980 – TV show’s “That Girl” Marlo Thomas and talk show host Phil Donahue get married.


1985 – U.S. sailor Michael L. Walker, the 22-year-old son of spy John Walker, Jr., is arrested for spying for USSR. He is convicted of spying and serves 15 years of a 25-year sentence.

1992 – Johnny Carson makes his final appearance as host of the Tonight Show. (See May 25, 1992)


2011 – An EF5 Tornado strikes the U.S. city of Joplin, Missouri, killing 161 people, making it the single deadliest U.S. tornado since modern record keeping began in 1950.



May 23

1785 – Benjamin Franklin announces his invention of bifocals.

1863 – Organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Battle Creek, Michigan.

1873 – In the first Preakness horse race, George Barbee rides Survivor to win in 2:43. The Preakness is the second jewel of the Triple Crown, between the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes.

1900 – Associated Press News Service forms in New York.

1908 – The 450’ Morrell dirigible collapses over Berkley, California, 16 passengers fall, but none die.


1923 – A team of police officers, led by Texas Ranger Cordell Walker, ambush bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow near their hide-out in Black Lake, Louisiana, killing them both.

1958 – School students first use Cliff’s Notes.


1982 – Colin Wilson rides a surfboard 294 miles.

1990 – The cost of rescuing savings and loan failures is put at up to $130 billion.

1991 – The U.S. Supreme Court bars subsidized clinics from discussing abortion.

1992 – President Bush orders Coast Guard to intercept boats with Haitian refugees.


May 24

1738 – John Wesley is converted, essentially launching the Methodist movement. The day is celebrated annually by Methodists as Aldersgate Day.

1883 – The Brooklyn Bridge, spanning the East River, is opened by President Chester A. Arthur and Governor Cleveland. The bridge took 14 years to build, used 600 workers, and cost $15 million.

1899 – The first auto repair shop opens in Boston.

1916 – U.S. pilot Lt. Col. William Thaw II shoots down a German Fokker during World War I, becoming the first American to engage in aerial combat in the war.


1931 – The first air-conditioned train installed on the B&O Railroad.

1954 – IBM announces vacuum tube “electronic” brain that could perform 10 million operations an hour.

1958 – UP and International News Service merge into United Press International.

1976 – In the Judgment of Paris, wine testers rate wines from California higher than their French counterparts, challenging the notion of France being the foremost producer of the world’s best wines.

1981 – Bobby Unser wins, loses, and wins the controversial Indianapolis 500 auto race. Race officials issue a penalty against Unser for illegally passing under a caution, but reverse their decision on appeal. Mario Andretti wins second place.



May 25

1787 – Constitutional convention opens at Philadelphia with George Washington presiding.

1793 – Father Stephen Theodore Badin is the first Roman Catholic priest ordained in the U.S.

1844 – The first telegraphed news dispatch is published in Baltimore Patriot.

1927 – Henry Ford stops producing Model T car and begins producing the Model A.

1928 – Amelia Earhart (as a passenger) is the first woman to fly across Atlantic Ocean.

1961 – President JFK sets goal of putting a man on Moon before the end of decade.

1964 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that closing schools to avoid desegregation is unconstitutional.

1977 – The original “Star Wars” movie is released.

1983 – “Return of the Jedi” (Star Wars 3) is released.

1986 – In Hands Across America, 7 million people hold hands across 4,152 miles from Long Beach, California, to Battery Park in New York to raise money for local charities.TIS_25_Hands_Across_America


1992 – Jay Leno becomes the permanent host of “The Tonight Show.”

1999 – The United States House of Representatives releases the Cox Report, which details the People’s Republic of China’s nuclear espionage against the U.S. over the prior two decades.

2001 – Erik Weihenmayer, age 32 of Boulder, Colorado, becomes the first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

2011 – Oprah Winfrey airs her last show, ending her twenty-five year run of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

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