This Week in History: May 3-9, 2021


This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann

“If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall
possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in
need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.” Samuel Adams

May 3-9, 2021

May 3

1919 – America’s first passenger flight takes off from New York City and lands in Atlantic City.

1923 – The first nonstop transcontinental flight (New York to San Diego) is completed.

1952 – The first airplane lands at the geographic North Pole. It was flown by U.S. Air Force pilots Joseph O. Fletcher and William P. Benedict.

1997 – Garry Kasparov begins a 6-game chess rematch with the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in Pennsylvania, winning 3 ½ to 2 ½. Watch a diagram and a move by move explanation of the game.

1999 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 11,000 for the first time. The Dow is now around 34,000.

2001 – The U.S. loses its seat on the U.N. Human Rights Commission for the first time since the commission was formed in 1947.

2006 – Al-Quaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui is given a sentence of life in prison for his role in the terrorist attack on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. Moussaoui is currently serving his sentence in a maximum-security penitentiary in Colorado.

May 4

1780 – The American Academy of Arts & Science is founded by the Massachusetts legislature when 62 people sign the charter, including John Adams, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock. Its purpose was “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.” The Academy is headquartered in Cambridge.

1893 – Cowboy Bob Pickett, the son of former slaves, invents the rodeo sport of bulldogging. Pickett died in 1932 at age 69 after being kicked in the head by a horse.

1904 – Construction on the Panama Canal is taken over by the United States from France, who started the project in 1881. The 48-mile-long canal was completed in 1914.

1932 – Al Capone, convicted of income tax evasion, enters the Atlanta Penitentiary. He was paroled in 1939 and died in 1947 at age 48.

1959 – The first Grammy Awards are held. Perry Como and Ella Fitzgerald win as best male and female vocalists. Henry Mancini wins album of the year for “The Theme from Peter Gunn.”

1970 – Four students were killed and nine were injured on the campus of Kent State when Ohio National Guard troops fired on students protesting the Vietnam War. John Filo, a university photojournalism student, took the Pulitzer Prize winning photo of the 14-year-old runaway Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling over the dead body of 20-year-old student Jeffrey Miller.

1975 – Houston Astros’ Bob Watson scores baseball’s one-millionth run of all time. He is awarded $10,000 and 1 million Tootsie Rolls. Watson served as Major League Baseball’s vice president in charge of discipline and vice president of rules and on-field operations until 2010. Watch a report on the big hit.

1998 – A federal judge in Sacramento, California, gives “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski four life sentences plus 30 years after Kaczynski accepts a plea agreement sparing him from the death penalty.

2003 – Idaho Gem, the first member of the horse family to be cloned, is born. Watch him gets his legs under him.

2013 – Harper Lee files a lawsuit against her literary agent over the copyright of her Pulitzer Prize winning book “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Rights to the book were returned to Lee, who died in 2016 at age 89.

May 5

1809 – Mary Kies is the first woman issued a U.S. patent. It was for a technique of weaving straw with silk and thread in making hats.

1865 – About one dozen men tear up tracks in the first U.S. train robbery. Over 100 passengers were robbed near North Bend, Ohio. The robbers were never caught.

1893 – In the wake of the Panic of 1893 the New York Stock Exchange crashes, leading to the Depression of 1893. This is why the subsequent stock market crash of 1929 is called the Great Depression.

1925 – John T. Scopes is arrested for teaching evolution in Tennessee. Scopes is tried, convicted, and fined $100. His conviction was overturned on a technicality by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

1943 – Postmaster General Frank C. Walker develops the Postal Delivery Zone System.

1961 – Alan Shepard becomes the first American in space when he is launched aboard Freedom 7. (John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth.) Shepard went to the moon on Apollo 14 in 1971. Shepard died in 1998 at age 74. Watch a 10-minute biography.

1965 – U.S. Army ground units arrive in South Vietnam for the first large-scale mission.

1979 – Voyager 1 passes Jupiter. It was launched by NASA in September 1977. In 2012 Voyager I passed into interstellar space.

2018 – A Florida man dies when his E-cigarette explodes. It was the first death attributed to a vaping product.

May 6

1833 – Blacksmith and inventor John Deere makes its first steel plow. His company was founded in 1837.

1861 – Jefferson Davis approves the bill declaring War between the United States and the Confederacy.

1882 – Congress passes the Chinese Exclusion Act. The act, signed by President Chester A. Arthur, placed a moratorium on Chinese immigration to the U.S. for 10 years.

1937 – The Dirigible Hindenburg explodes in flames at Lakehurst, New Jersey. Although 36 people were killed, 62 passengers survived the crash. Watch a newsreel of the historic tragedy.

1941 – Bob Hope performs in his first USO show at California’s March Field. Hope headlined a total of 57 tours during every war from World War II to Operation Desert Shield in 1991. Hope died in 2003 at age 100.

1957 – Senator John F. Kennedy is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for book “Profiles in Courage.” In 2008, Kennedy speechwriter Ted Sorenson acknowledged that he wrote most of the book.

1981 – A jury of international architects and sculptors unanimously selects Maya Ying Lin’s entry for the design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. It is the second most visited monument in Washington, after the Lincoln Memorial. Watch a 2008 talk by Lin about the memorial.

1996 – The body of former CIA director William Colby is found washed up on a riverbank in southern Maryland, eight days after he disappeared in an apparent boating accident. He was 47 years old.

2013 – Wal-Mart becomes (and remains) the largest company by revenue on the Fortune 500 list.

May 7

1789 – The first inaugural ball is held after George Washington is sworn in as president in New York City.

1847 – The American Medical Association (AMA) organizes in Philadelphia. Its headquarters is now in Chicago.

1912 – Columbia University approves plans for awarding the Pulitzer Prize in several categories. The award was established by Joseph Pulitzer as part of his will. The first prize was awarded in 1917.

1915 – The Lusitania ocean liner is sunk by a German submarine on its way from New York to England and about 1,200 lives were lost. This event led to the U.S. declaring war against Germany and entering WWI.

1942 – In the Battle of the Coral Sea, American and Japanese navies attack each other with carrier planes. It was the first time in the history of naval warfare where two enemy fleets fight without seeing each other.

1975 – President Ford declares an end to the “Vietnam Era.”

1984 – A $180 million out-of-court settlement is announced in the Agent Orange class-action lawsuit brought by Vietnam veterans who claimed they suffered injuries from exposure to the defoliant while serving in the armed forces.

1992 – A Constitutional amendment barring mid-term congressional raises is ratified. James Madison proposed in 1789 what became the 27th Amendment.

1992 – The U.S. Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-49) launches on its maiden voyage. It was built to replace the Challenger, which was destroyed in a launch accident in January 1986.

1999 – A jury finds “The Jenny Jones Show” and Warner Brothers liable in the shooting death of Scott Amedure after the show purposely deceives Jonathan Schmitz into appearing on a secret same-sex crush episode. Schmitz killed Amedure days after the show’s taping. A jury awarded Amedure’s family $25 million. Schmitz was sentenced to 25-50 years in prison. Watch the never-aired episode and interviews.

2013 – The Dow Jones industrial average closes over 15,000 for the first time. The Dow is now around 34,000.

May 8

1792 – The U.S. establishes the military draft.

1861 – Richmond, Virginia, is named the capital of the Confederacy. Richmond is about 100 miles south of Washington, DC.

1879 – George Selden files the first patent for a gasoline-driven automobile. The witness for his patent was bank teller, and future camera entrepreneur, George Eastman. In 1903, Selden filed a patent infringement suit against Henry Ford and four other car makers. Although Selden won the case, Ford prevailed on appeal in 1911. Selden then focused on his truck company.

1886 – Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta sells Coca-Cola for the first time. The carbonated soft drink, invented by John Pemberton, actually contained cocaine.

1919 – Edward George Honey first proposes the idea of a moment of silence to commemorate the Armistice of World War I, which later results in the creation of an international Remembrance Day. It is now known as Veterans Day in the U.S.

1945 – President Harry Truman announces victory in Europe and that World War II has ended.

1958 – President Eisenhower orders the National Guard out of Little Rock, Arkansas, as Ernest Green, one of the Little Rock nine, becomes the first black person to graduate from an Arkansas public school. In 1957, Governor Guy Faubus refused to comply with the 1954 Brown v Board of Integration Supreme Court decision and ordered the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the nine students from entering Little Rock High School.

1973 – A group of about 200 American Indians holding the South Dakota town of Wounded Knee for 71 days surrender after protesting corruption and treaty violations.

1987 – Democrat presidential candidate Gary Hart quits the race after his affair with Donna Rice is revealed.

1994 – The Colorado Silver Bullets, an all-female pro baseball team, play their first game. They played their last game in 1997. Watch a report about the team.

1999 – Nancy Mace becomes the first female cadet to graduate from The Citadel military college. Mace (R) was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2017.

2014 – Snapchap (mobile messaging app) settles with the FTC on complaints that it deceived consumers about promises that messages would disappear and misrepresented its security measures. A breach allowed hackers to compile a list of 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and passwords.

May 9

1754 – The first political cartoon in America, “Join, or Die,” is printed in Benjamin Franklin’s newspaper.

1913 – The 17th Amendment passes, providing for the election of senators by popular vote instead of selection by the state legislators.

1926 – Americans Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett make the first flight over the North Pole. They circled the North Pole to verify their location and take photos.

1934 – The first of many “Black Blizzard” storms hits the Midwest. Watch a video description of what caused the Dust Bowl.

1939 – The Catholic Church beatifies Kateri Tekakwitha as the first Native American saint. Born in 1656 in New York, Tekakwitha was known as the “Lily of the Mohawks.”

1946 – “NBC’s Hour Glass” premieres as the first hour-long variety show on TV. The show lasted until March of 1947. No videos of the shows exist. Audio recordings of the show are archived in the Library of Congress.

1950 – A 5-pound bear cub is rescued during a New Mexico forest fire and named Smokey the Bear. Smokey died in 1976 at the National Zoo in Washington and buried in New Mexico. Watch a video of the history of Smokey.

1996 – In video testimony at a courtroom in Little Rock, Arkansas, President Clinton insisted that he had nothing to do with a $300,000 loan in the criminal case against his former Whitewater partners. Fourteen of Clinton’s friends and business associates were convicted or pleaded guilty to various charges related to the Whitewater land scandal. Clinton avoided any prosecution.

2005 – The liberal commentary website The Huffington Post is launched by Arianna Huffington.

Image from:

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments