This Week in History: May 31-June 6, 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 31-June 6, 2021

May 31

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

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

1917 – “Darktown Strutters Ball,” written by Shelton Brooks and recorded by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, is released as the first jazz record. See still photos and listen to the original recording.

1935 – Babe Ruth grounds out in his final at bat. When he retired, Ruth held the record for the most home runs as a batter and the most strikeouts as a pitcher.

1955 – The Supreme Court orders that all states must end racial segregation “with all deliberate speed” in a separate ruling a year after Brown v Board of Education.

1989 – The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Jim Wright (D-TX), resigns. He was the first Speaker of the House to resign because of a scandal. Wright was 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.

1994 – The U.S. announces it is no longer aiming long-range nuclear missiles at targets in the former Soviet Union.

2003 – Eric Robert Rudolph is captured in North Carolina. He had been on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list for five years for several bombings, including the 1996 Olympic bombing. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Security guard Richard Jewell was initially a suspect. Rudolph is now 54 years old. Jewell died in 2007 at age 44.

2012 – The New York District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. announced a 184-count indictment against Abacus Federal Savings Bank for mortgage fraud. After a four-month trial in 2015, the bank and its officers were acquitted on all charges. Abacus, a Chinese-American owned bank, was the only bank indicted after the 2008 sub-prime banking crisis. It was the subject of a 2017 documentary, “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.”

June 1

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

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 regulated the time and manner of administering oaths of office.

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: After his death, Lawrence’s crew gave up the ship to the British.)

1880 – The U.S. census exceeds 50 million people (50,155,783).

1890 – The U.S. census exceeds 60 million people (62,622,250). The population based on the 2020 census is about 331 million people.

1908 – John Krohn begins his walk around the perimeter of the U.S. pushing a wheelbarrow. Krohn, started westbound from Portland, Maine, walking 9,024 miles in 357 days. He wore out 11 pairs of shoes, 112 pairs of socks, and 5 wheels on the wheelbarrow. He wrote a book about his experiences called “The Walk of Colonial Jack.”

1936 – The Queen Mary arrives in New York, completing its maiden voyage. The ship departed Southampton, England, on May 27th. Watch a silent video of its arrival in New York.

1963 – Alabama’s Democrat Governor George Wallace vows to defy an injunction that ordered the integration of the University of Alabama. On June 11th Wallace stood at the school’s entrance in a symbolic attempt to block integration. In his January 1963 inaugural address, he promised, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

1978 – The U.S. reports finding wiretaps in the American Embassy in Moscow, Russia.

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. Kevorkian died in 2011 at age 83.

2008 – NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander becomes the first spacecraft to scoop up Martian soil. Watch a report and animation of the Mars Lander.


June 2

1897 – Mark Twain, at age 61, in responding to rumors that he had died, is quoted by the New York Journal as saying “the report of my death was an exaggeration.” Twain died in 1910 at age 74.

1924 – U.S. citizenship is granted to all indigenous people when President Calvin Coolidge signs the Indian Citizenship Act.

1966 – U.S. space probe Surveyor 1 successfully lands on the moon and starts sending photographs of the Moon’s surface back to Earth. It was the first attempt at a soft landing on the Moon. Watch a newsreel report and animation.


1998 – Voters in California pass Proposition 227. The act abolished the state’s 30-year-old bilingual education program and required that all children be taught in English. It was repealed by the passage of Proposition 58 in November 2016.

2004 – Ken Jennings begins his record 74-game winning streak on the game show Jeopardy!, where he ultimately wins $2 ½ million. Jennings also won the Jeopardy! “Greatest of all Time” championship tournament in January 2020. Watch Jennings lose his 75th game.


2015 – Congress passes new legislation to reform National Security Agency procedures, restricting the gathering of phone records.

June 3

1784 – Congress formally creates the U.S. Army to replace the disbanded Continental Army, which is created on June 14, 1775, by the Second Continental Congress.

1800 – John Adams moves to Washington, DC. He was the first president to live in what later became the capital of the United States.

1916 – The ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) is established by Congress.

1943 – A mob of 60 people from the Los Angeles Naval Reserve Armory beat up everyone perceived to be Hispanic, starting the week long Zoot Suit Riots. Watch a report on the history of Zoot Suits and the riots.

1953 – Alexander Cartwright, not Abner Doubleday, is officially credited by Congress as the founder of baseball.

1959 – The U.S. Air Force Academy holds its first graduation. The Class of 1959 had 207 graduates. The Air Force was separated from the Army and formed into its own branch of the military in 1947.

1968 – Valerie Solanas, author of the radical feminist SCUM Manifesto (Society for Cutting Up Men), attempts to kill Andy Warhol by shooting him. She was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, but deemed fit to stand trial. She was sentenced to three years in prison, with the year she spent in a psychiatric ward counting as time served. Solonas continued to stalk Warhol, was arrested again in 1971, and then institutionalized. Warhol died in 1987 at age 58. Solonas died in 1988 at age 52.

1976 – The U.S. is presented with the oldest known copy of 1215 AD Magna Carta (Latin for Great Charter) by the British for the U.S. bicentennial.

1989 – Sports casting legend Vin Scully broadcast 23 innings of baseball in two different cities on one day. Scully is now 93 years old.

2012 – Tiger Woods wins his 73rd Professional Golf Association tournament and ties Jack Nicklaus’s record. Woods now has 82 PGA wins, and is tied with Sam Snead.

June 4

1794 – Congress passes the Neutrality Act, banning Americans from serving in the armed forces of foreign countries.

1919 – The Senate passes the Women’s Suffrage bill, granting women the right to vote. Black men were granted the right to vote in 1870 with the passage of the 15th Amendment.

1939 – Sylvan Goldman introduces the first shopping cart in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It was actually a folding chair frame mounted on wheels. Watch a brief history of Goldman’s shopping cart.

1972 – Black activist Angela Davis is acquitted of aggravated kidnapping and first-degree murder in the 1970 death of a court judge and the wounding of a prosecutor and juror during the trial of Jonathon Jackson, even though it was proven that Davis purchased the weapons used in the attack. Davis is now 77 years old.

1973 – A patent for the ATM (Automated Teller Machine) is granted to Don Wetzel, Tom Barnes, and George Chastain.

1985 – The Supreme Court in a 6-3 ruling on Wallace v. Jaffree strikes down the Alabama “moment of silence” law citing its purpose is to endorse religion and return voluntary prayer into public schools.

2003 – The House of Representatives passes a bill with a 282-139 vote that bans “partial birth” abortions after the fifth month of pregnancy. President Bush signed the bill is into law. The Supreme Court upheld the law in a 5-4 decision in 2007.

June 5

1752 – Benjamin Franklin flies a kite for the first time to demonstrate that lightning is a form of electricity.

1884 – Civil War General William T. Sherman refuses the Republican presidential nomination by saying, “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”

1917 – Ten million U.S. men begin registering for the draft during World War I.

1947 – Secretary of State George C. Marshall outlines the “Marshall Plan,” or European Recovery Program, after World War II.

1967 – Murderer Richard Speck is sentenced to death in the electric chair for the murders of eight student nurses in their South Chicago home. He was also a suspect in the murder of many other people, mostly girls and women. His sentence was commuted to 50-100 years when the Supreme Court abolished the death penalty in 1972. Speck died of a heart attack in prison in 1991 at age 49.

1968 – Robert F. Kennedy, age 42, is assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles after Kennedy wins the California presidential primary. Watch an ABC report that includes Kennedy’s speech and assassination aftermath.

1977 – The first personal computer, the Apple II designed by Steve Wozniak, goes on sale. By the end of production in 1993, between 5 and 6 million computers had been produced. The Woz is now 70 years old.

1981 – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that five men in Los Angeles are suffering from a rare pneumonia found in patients with weakened immune systems. They were the first recognized cases of what became known as AIDS.

2001 – Senator Jim Jeffords leaves the Republican Party to become an Independent, an act that shifts control of the U.S. Senate from the Republicans to the Democrats. Jeffords retired from the Senate in 2006.

2012 – A gubernatorial recall election is held in Wisconsin. Republican Governor Scott Walker won and became the first governor to survive a recall election.

2013 – The first article based on NSA documents leaked by former CIA employee Edward Snowden are published by the Guardian Newspaper in the U.K. Snowden, now 36 years old, took up temporary asylum in Russia. His asylum request has been extended through 2020.

June 6

1664 – New Amsterdam is renamed New York City.

1816 – Ten inches of snow falls in New England during the “year without a summer.” It may have been caused by a series of volcanic eruptions of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815.

1850 – Levi Strauss makes his first pair of blue jeans using rivets at the points of strain. Strauss died in 1902 at age 73 and left an estate estimated at $6 million.

1925 – Chrysler Corporation is founded Walter Percy Chrysler. Future Chrysler head Lee Iacocca was 8 months old.

1944 – The D-Day invasion of Europe takes place on the beaches of Normandy, France with 400,000 Allied American, British, and Canadian troops.

1966 – Stokely Carmichael launches the “Black Power” movement. He headed the Black Panther Party from 1967-1969. He moved to Africa in 1969 and changed his name to Kwame Ture and espoused anti-American, anti-Semitic, and Pro-Communist ideas. Carmichael died in 1998 at age 57 of prostate cancer, blaming the U.S. government for “infecting” him.

1981 – American sculptor and artist Maya Yang Lin wins the competition for the design the Vietnam War Memorial. The Wall was dedicated in November 1982.

1983 – Betty White becomes the first woman to win Outstanding Game Show Host at the Daytime Emmy Awards for NBC’s “Just Men!” The show aired for only one season. White is 99 years old.

2005 – The Supreme Court rules in Gonzales v Raich that federal authorities can prosecute sick people who smoke marijuana on doctor’s orders. The ruling concluded that state medical marijuana laws do not protect the production and use of homegrown cannabis from the federal ban on the drug.

2015 – American Pharaoh becomes the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown. Watch the end of the 37-year-drought.

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