This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“No problem of human making is too great to be overcome by
human ingenuity, human energy, and the untiring hope of the human spirit.”
President George H. W. Bush
Week of May 20-26, 2019
1639 – Dorchester Massachusetts, forms the first school funded by local taxes.
1874 – Levi Strauss markets blue jeans with copper rivets at the price of $13.50 a dozen.
1895 – The first commercial movie performance is in a storefront theater in New York City. It was an 8-minute black and white silent film.
1916 – The Saturday Evening Post features its first Norman Rockwell painting on the cover, entitled “Boy with Baby Carriage.” Rockwell was paid $75. Rockwell painted 321 covers over the next 47 years.
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 landed in Paris the following afternoon.
1932 – Amelia Earhart leaves Newfoundland to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean when she landed in Ireland the following day. She scheduled her flight to coincide with 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 produced the Falcon from 1960 to 1970. Watch the 1961 Ford Falcon commercial featuring the Peanuts gang:
1985 – The FBI arrests John A. Walker, Jr. His brother, son, and friend were all recruited in the spy ring. They were all convicted of spying for USSR. John would have been eligible for parole, but he died in prison in August 2014 at age 77.
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.
1918 – The House of Representatives passes the 19th Amendment allowing women to vote. The bill was 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 was the first cartoon awarded the Pulitzer.
1924 – Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb kidnap 13-year-old Bobby Franks for fun. Franks was murdered by teenagers Leopold and Loeb, and both were sentenced to life in prison.
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:
1998 – An expelled student, Kipland Kinkel, in Springfield, Oregon, kills 2 people and wounds 25 others with a semi-automatic rifle. Police also discovered that he killed his parents before the rampage.
2013 – Microsoft announces the release of Xbox One.
1807 – Former Vice President Aaron Burr is tried for treason in Richmond, Virginia. It was alleged that Burr plotted to annex Spanish territories in Louisiana and part of Mexico to establish an independent territory. Burr was acquitted for lack of evidence that he acted on his plot. Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804.
1849 – Abraham Lincoln patents a buoying device. Lincoln is the only president to hold a patent.
1872 – The Amnesty Act removes voting and office-holding restrictions to secessionists who participated in the Civil War, except for 500 military officers. Congress passed the original restrictive act in May 1866.
1900 – The Associated Press organizes in New York City as a non-profit news cooperative.
1946 – The first U.S. rocket (WAC Corporal) to reach the edge of space is fired from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
1967 – “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” premieres on PBS and airs until 2001. Fred Rogers died in 2003 at age 74. Watch the show’s opening scene:
1977 – Janet Guthrie sets the fastest time on the second weekend of qualifying, becoming the first woman to earn a starting spot in the Indianapolis 500 since its inception in 1911.
1985 – U.S. sailor Michael L. Walker, the 22-year-old son of spy John Walker, Jr., is arrested for spying for USSR. He was convicted of spying and served 15 years of a 25-year sentence. He was released from prison in 2000 and is on probation. His father, spy John Walker, died in prison in 2014.
1992 – Johnny Carson makes his final appearance as host of the Tonight Show. Watch Johnny Carson in his own words:
2002 – Chandra Levy’s remains are found in Washington, DC’s Rock Creek Park. She was last seen on April 30, 2001. California Congressman Gary Condit was questioned in the case due to his relationship with Levy. An illegal immigrant was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 60 years in prison in Levy’s murder.
2011 – An EF5 Tornado strikes Joplin, Missouri, killing 161 people, making it the single deadliest U.S. tornado since modern record keeping began in 1950.
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. Watch a narrated black and white video of the aftermath:
1939 – The USS Squalus submarine sinks in the Gulf of Maine, drowning 26 sailors. The 33 remaining crew were rescued from a depth of 243 feet by divers using the newly developed Heliox air systems (helium and oxygen). The divers were later awarded the Medal of Honor.
1963 – NBC purchases the TV rights to the 1963 AFL championship football game for $926,000. (By contrast, ESPN acquired the rights to Monday Night Football in 2005 and paid over $1 billion to air 17 regular season games over 8 years.)
1985 – Thomas Patrick Cavanagh is sentenced to life in prison for trying to sell Stealth Bomber secrets to the Soviet Union for $25,000. He was paroled in 2001.
1990 – The cost of rescuing the U.S. savings and loan failures is put at as much as $130 billion.
1992 – In Lisbon, Portugal, the U.S. and four former Soviet republics sign an agreement to implement the START missile reduction treaty that had been agreed to by the Soviet Union before it was dissolved.
2000 – Rapper Eminem releases his 3rd studio album “The Marshall Mathers LP” and it becomes the fastest selling studio album. He won a Grammy for Best Rap Album in 2001. It has since been eclipsed by Adele’s 2015 album “25.”
1738 – John Wesley is converted, essentially launching the Methodist movement. Methodists celebrate this day annually as Aldersgate Day.
1883 – President Chester A. Arthur and Governor (and next president) Grover Cleveland open the Brooklyn Bridge, which spans the East River. The bridge took 14 years to build, used 600 workers, and cost $15 million.
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.
1935 – The Cincinnati Reds play the Philadelphia Phillies in the first major league baseball game at night. President Franklin Roosevelt throws the switch to turn on the floodlights.
1954 – IBM announces that the vacuum tube “electronic” brain that could perform 10 million operations an hour.
1958 – Unites Press and International News Service merge to form United Press International (UPI).
1976 – In the Paris Wine Tasting, dubbed the Judgment of Paris, wine testers rate wines from California higher than French wines, challenging the idea 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 issued a penalty against Unser for illegally passing under a caution, but reverse their decision on appeal. Mario Andretti won second place. Watch the controversial move by Unser:
2000 – A Democrat Party event for Al Gore in Washington brings in $26.5 million. The amount set a new record, which had just been set the previous month by Republicans for Texas Governor George W. Bush. By contrast, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton raised $1.14 billion by September 2016 from Democrats and Clinton super-PACs.
2001 – The Democrats gain control of the U.S. Senate for the first time since 1994 when Senator James Jeffords of Vermont abandons the Republican Party and declares himself an independent. Jeffords died in 2014 at age 80.
2009 – Hélio Castroneves wins the Indy 500 auto race for the 3rd time (2001, 2002). He won “Dancing with the Stars” (Season 5) in 2007. Watch him win Dancing with the Stars and decide which win he enjoyed most:
2016 – Bill Cosby is ordered to stand trial in a sexual assault case. In April 2018, he was convicted on three counts of indecent assault after a mistrial was declared in June of 2017. Cosby is 81 years old.
1787 – The Constitutional Convention opens in Philadelphia with George Washington presiding.
1844 – The first telegraphed news dispatch is published in the Baltimore Patriot.
1928 – Amelia Earhart (as a passenger) is the first woman to fly across Atlantic Ocean.
1935 – Babe Ruth hits his final homerun, his 714th, and sets a record that would stand for 39 years. Hank Aaron broke Ruth’s record in 1974 and Barry Bonds broke Aaron’s record in 2007. These are the only players to hit more than 700 homeruns in their career.
1961 – President J. F. Kennedy sets the goal of putting a man on Moon before the end of decade. Watch Kennedy’s speech at Rice University:
1964 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that closing schools to avoid desegregation is unconstitutional.
1977 – The original “Star Wars” movie is released, taking in $1.5 million on the opening weekend.
1983 – The “Return of the Jedi” movie (Star Wars 3) is released. It set a new opening weekend box office record of over $23 million. By contrast, the most recent movie “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” released in December 2017, took in $220 million on opening weekend.
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. Watch the official video:
2006 – In Houston, former Enron Corp. chiefs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling are convicted of conspiracy and fraud for the downfall of Enron.
2012 – The SpaceX Dragon becomes the first private commercial spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station.
1637 – The battle between the Pequot Indians and a military force of settlers at Mystic, Connecticut, kills 500 Indians. Many other members of the Indian tribe were captured and sold as slaves in the West Indies, destroying the Pequot Nation.
1647 – Alse Young becomes the first person executed as a witch in the American colonies when she is hanged in Hartford, Connecticut.
1857 – The U.S. slave Dred Scott and his family are freed by owner Henry Taylor Blow three months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Dred Scott’s bid for freedom. Scott died the following year at age 63.
1896 – Dow Jones (Charles Dow and Edward Jones) begins reporting on the average of 12 selected industrial stocks. It closed is 40.94. General Electric is the only original industrial stock.
1911 – The first Indianapolis 500 auto race is run. Ray Harroun won the inaugural race in 6 hours and 42 minutes. The 2018 Indy 500 lasted less than half that time. Watch the original footage:
1924 – President Calvin Coolidge signs an immigration law restricting immigration.
1927 – The Ford Motor Company produces the last (and 15 millionth) Model T Ford / Tin Lizzie and begins producing the Model A.
1938 – The House Committee on Un-American Activities begins its work of searching for subversives in the U.S.
1946 – Manhattan Project scientists Klaus Fuchs and John von Neumann file for a secret patent in the U.S. for the H-Bomb.
1972 – President Nixon and Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev sign the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) accord.
1977 – George H. Willig “The Human Fly” is arrested after he scales the South Tower of New York’s World Trade Center. It took him 3 1/2 hours. Watch two news reports about the iconic climb:
1994 – Michael Jackson, age 35, marries Elvis’ daughter Lisa Marie Presley, age 26. They were divorced in 1996.
Image from npr.org