This Week in History May 26 – June 1


by Dianne Hermann

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

Week of May 26-June 1, 2014

May 26

1637 – The battle between the Pequot Indians and a military force of settlers at Mystic, Connecticut, kills 500 Indians. Many of other members of the Indian tribe are 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.

1781 – The Bank of North America incorporates in Philadelphia.

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 rules against Dred Scott’s bid for freedom. Scott died the following year at age 63.

1896 – Dow Jones begins an index of 12 industrial stocks. It closes at 40.94.

1911 – The first Indianapolis 500 auto race is run. Ray Harround wins the inaugural race.

1924 – President Calvin Coolidge signs an immigration law restricting immigration.

1941 – The American Flag House (Betsy Ross’ Home) is given to city of Philadelphia.


1946 – Manhattan Project scientists Klaus Fuchs and John von Neumann filed 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.

1978 – The first legal gambling casino opens in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

2004 – The New York Times publishes an admission of journalistic failings, claiming that its flawed reporting and lack of skepticism towards sources during the buildup to the 2003 war in Iraq helped promote the belief that Iraq possessed large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

2004 – The U.S. Army veteran Terry Nichols is found guilty of 161 state murder charges for helping carry out the Oklahoma City bombing.


May 27

1692 – The Court of Oyer and Terminer is established by the Governor of Massachusetts to hear the excessive amount of accusations of witchcraft.

1813 – Americans capture Fort George, Canada, near Niagara-on-the-Lake during the War of 1812.

1844 – Samuel F.B. Morse completes the first telegraph line.


1930 – The 1,046-foot Chrysler Building in New York City, the tallest man-made structure at the time, opens to the public.

1930 – Richard Drew invents Scotch tape. Five years earlier he invents masking tape.

1935 – The Supreme Court declares FDR’s National Recovery Act unconstitutional.

1937 – San Francisco Bay’s Golden Gate Bridge opens.

1958 – Ernest Green, of the Little Rock Nine, and 600 white students graduate from Little Rock’s Central High School.


1969 – Construction begins on Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The theme park opens in October 1971.

1981 – John Hinckley, Jr. attempts suicide by overdosing on Tylenol while awaiting trial for his assassination attempt on President Reagan.

1988 – The U.S. Senate ratifies a treaty eliminating medium-range nuclear missiles.

1995 – Actor Christopher Reeve is paralyzed from the neck down after falling from his horse in a riding competition in Culpeper, Virginia. Reeve died in 2004 at age 52.


1998 – Michael Fortier is sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $200,000 for failing to warn authorities about the Oklahoma City bombing terrorist plot.


May 28

1539 – Hernando de Soto lands in what is now Florida.

1664 – The first Baptist Church is organized in Boston.

1774 – The first Continental Congress convenes in Virginia.

1863 – The first black regiment (54th Massachusetts) leaves Boston to fight in the Civil War.


1915 – John B. Gruelle, a political cartoonist, develops and patents the Raggedy Ann doll.

1928 – Dodge Brothers Inc. is sold to the Chrysler Corporation. Both founding Dodge brothers, John and Horace, die in 1920. Their widows sell the company to Dillon, Reed & Company in 1925 for $146 million, the largest cash transaction in history.

1952 – The Memphis Kiddie Park opens in Brooklyn, Ohio. The park’s Little Dipper roller coaster is the oldest steel roller coaster operating in the same location in North America.


1956 – President Eisenhower signs a farm bill that allows government to store agricultural surplus.

1972 – White House “plumbers” break into the Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel during the Nixon administration. The scandal eventually leads to President Nixon’s resignation in 1974.


1974 – The first Daytime Emmy Award presentations are held at Rockefeller Center in New York City. The Emmys are hosted by Barbara Walters and Peter Marshall.

1996 – U.S. President Bill Clinton’s former business partners in the Whitewater land deal, James and Susan McDougal, and Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker, are convicted of fraud.

1997 – Linda Finch completes Amelia Earhart’s attempted around-the-world flight in a restored 1930s Electra 10E.


May 29

1677 – The Treaty of Middle Plantation establishes peace between the Virginia colonists and the local Indians.

1765 – Patrick Henry delivers his historic speech against the Stamp Act, answering a cry of “Treason!” with, “If this be treason, make the most of it!”

1790 – Rhode Island becomes the last of original 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution.

1851 – Sojourner Truth addresses the first Black Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

1900 – The trademark “Escalator” is registered by Otis Elevator Company.

1916 – The official flag of the president of U.S. is adopted after President Woodrow Wilson signs Executive Order #2390.


1942 – Bing Crosby records the song “White Christmas,” the greatest selling record of all time.


1977 – Janet Guthrie becomes the first woman to drive in the Indianapolis 500.


1987 – “Twilight Zone” director John Landis is found innocent in the 1993 deaths of actor Vic Morrow and two child actors. The actors are killed during filming on the set by a falling helicopter.

1999 – The Space Shuttle Discovery completes the first docking with the International Space Station.


May 30

1806 – Future president Andrew Jackson kills Charles Dickinson in a duel after Dickinson accuses Jackson of cheating on a horse race and then insulting his wife.

1822 – Two slaves betray fellow slave Denmark Vesey in a slave revolt conspiracy. Charleston, South Carolina, authorities charged 131 men with conspiracy. In total, 67 men are convicted and 35 are hanged, including Denmark Vesey.

1848 – Mexico ratifies the treaty giving the United States New Mexico, California, and parts of Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado in return for $15 million.

1868 – Memorial Day is first observed when two women in Columbus, Mississippi, place flowers on both Confederate and Union graves.

1879 – Gilmore Garden in New York is renamed Madison Square Garden after President James Madison.

1896 – The first car accident occurs when Henry Wells hits a bicyclist in New York City.

1922 – The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC is dedicated and opens to the public. A commission to plan a monument is first proposed in 1867, shortly after Lincoln’s death. Construction begins in 1914.


1937 – In the Memorial Day Massacre, Chicago police shoot on union marchers at the Republic Steel Plant, killing 10 marchers.

1942 – The U.S. aircraft carrier Yorktown leaves Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on its way to participate in the Battle of Midway during World War II.

1958 – The remains of unidentified soldiers killed in World War II and the Korean War are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier sarcophagus is placed above the grave of World War I soldiers that is built in 1921.


1970 – Baseball All-Star Game voting is returned to the fans. From 1958 to 1969, baseball mangers, players, and coaches made the All-Star selections.

1971 – The U.S. Mariner 9 is launched on a mission as the first satellite to orbit Mars. The spacecraft ran out of attitude control gas in 1972, after nearly a year in the Mars orbit.

1976 – Bobby Unser sets world record for fastest Indy 500 pit stop at 4 seconds.



May 31

1634 – The U.S. colony Massachusetts Bay annexes the Maine colony.

1790 – U.S. copyright law is enacted.

1821 – The Cathedral of Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary, the first U.S. Catholic cathedral, is dedicated in Baltimore.


1868 – The first Memorial Day parade is held in Ironton, Ohio.

1884 – Dr. John Harvey Kellogg patents “flaked cereal.” The cereal is created by accident by the doctor and his brother at a sanitarium.


1893 – Whitcomb Judson of Chicago patents a hookless fastener (aka – zipper).

1917 – “Darktown Strutters Ball,” written by Shelton Brooks and recorded by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, is released as the first jazz record.

1935 – Babe Ruth grounds out in his final at bat. When he retires Ruth holds the record for the most home runs and the most strikeouts.

1979 – Radio City Music Hall in New York City reopens after a $70 million renovation.

1989 – The Speaker of the House of Representatives Jim Wright (D-TX) resigns. He is the first Speaker of the House to resign because of a scandal. Wright is accused of ethics violations for using the bulk sale of his book “Reflections of a Public Man” to circumvent the maximum limit on annual outside earned income.

1990 – The TV show “Seinfeld” starring Jerry Seinfeld debuts on NBC as the Seinfeld Chronicles. The show about nothing airs until 1998.



June 1

1638 – The first earthquake recorded in the U.S. hits Plymouth, Massachusetts.

1657 – The first Quakers arrive in New Amsterdam (now New York).

1660 – Mary Dyer is hanged for defying a law banning Quakers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

1789 – The first U.S. congressional act becomes law. The law regulates the time and manner of administering oaths.

1813 – Capt. John Lawrence utters the future Navy motto “Don’t give up the ship” after being mortally wounded during a battle between his U.S. Navy vessel Chesapeake and the British gunship Shannon. Note: Lawrence’s crew gives up the ship to the British.

1862 – General Robert E. Lee assumes command of the Confederate forces during the Civil War after Joe Johnston is injured at Seven Pines.

1869 – Thomas A. Edison patents the voting machine.

1880 – The U.S. census reaches 50,155,783 people.

1890 – The U.S. census reaches 62,622,250 people. The current population from the 2010 census is 308,700,000 people.

1908 – John Krohn begins his walk around the perimeter of the U.S. pushing a wheelbarrow. Krohn walks 9,024 miles in 357 days.

1925 – Lou Gehrig replaces Wally Pipp, playing the first of his record 2,130 consecutive baseball games.

1936 – The Queen Mary arrives in New York, completing its maiden voyage. The ship departs Southampton, England, on May 27th.


1957 – Don Bowden is the first U.S. runner to break the 4-minute mile.

1971 – Ed Sullivan’s final TV show airs on CBS. The show premiers in 1948 as “Toast of the Town” and is renamed in 1955. Sullivan died in 1974 at age 73.


1980 – Ted Turner’s Cable News Network begins broadcasting.

2007 – Jack Kevorkian is released from prison after serving eight years of his 10-25 year prison term for second-degree murder in the 1998 death of Thomas Youk, 52, of Oakland County, Michigan.

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