This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” Ronald Reagan
May 9-15, 2022
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.
1752 – Benjamin Franklin tests the lightning rod. He never filed for a patent on any of his inventions. He said, “As we benefit from the inventions of others, we should be glad to share our own … freely and gladly.”
1775 – The 2nd Continental Congress names George Washington as the supreme commander.
1869 – The Golden Spike is driven, completing the Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Point, Utah. It marked the meeting of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads.
1877- President Rutherford B. Hayes has the first telephone installed in the White House. The White House phone number was #1.
1924 – J. Edgar Hoover is appointed head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He remained the FBI director until his death in 1972.
1969 – The National and American Football Leagues announce their plans to merge for the 1970-71 season.
2003 – A series of tornados begins and lasts until May 10th. The same storm system produced over 400 tornadoes, caused 50 deaths, and led to over $4 billion in damages. The tornado outbreak covered the Great Plaines and eastern U.S.
2011 – It is announced that Microsoft closed a deal to purchase the Internet phone service Skype for $8.5 billion.
2013 – Crane operators in New York City hoist the final pieces of the spire atop One World Trade Center (formerly called the Freedom Tower), making it the tallest building in the U.S. and the 4th tallest building in the world. Watch it from ground level.
1751 – The first hospital in America’s 13 Colonies is founded as the Pennsylvania Hospital.
1904 – Andrew Carnegie donates $1.5 million to build the Peace Palace in The Hague, Holland. Construction was completed in 1913. It houses the International Court of Justice. Watch the actual footage of the 1913 opening (no sound).
1927 – Louis B. Mayer forms the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences with 35 other founding members. Membership is now by invitation only based on earning an Oscar nomination or sponsorship by two current Academy members. The first Academy Awards ceremony was held in 1929.
1973 – Citing government misconduct, charges are dismissed against Daniel Ellsberg for his involvement in releasing the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times. The Pentagon Papers showed that the Johnson administration lied about America’s involvement in Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam War.
1995 – At the UN in New York City, more than 170 countries decide to extend the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty indefinitely and without conditions.
2015 – Picasso’s “The Women of Algiers” sells for $160 million (not $179 million) at Christie’s in New York City, setting a new record price for a work of art at auction. Watch the final moments of the auction.
1784 – The U.S. and Great Britain exchange ratified copies of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War.
1932 – The decomposed body of Charles Lindbergh’s son, kidnapped on March 1st, is found in the woods near the Lindbergh’s New Jersey home. It was believed the baby had been dead since the night of the kidnapping.
1949 – Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit of India is the first foreign woman ambassador to be received in the U.S. She was also the first female president of the UN General Assembly (1953).
1967 – H. Rap Brown replaces Stokely Carmichael as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and becomes a prominent figure in the Black Panther Party.
1970 – Harry A. Blackmun is confirmed by the Senate as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. He authored the Roe v Wade decision in 1973 and served on the court until 1994. Blackmun died in 1999 at age 90.
1978 – The Commerce Department says hurricane names will no longer be only female names.
2002 – Former President Jimmy Carter arrives in Cuba for a visit with Fidel Castro. It was the first time a U.S. head of state, in or out of office, had visited the island since Castro’s 1959 revolution. Watch a series of video clips of the visit.
2003 – Fifty-nine Democrat lawmakers flee the Texas Legislature and go into hiding to prevent a quorum in a dispute over a Republican congressional redistricting plan. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the plan.
1828 – The U.S. passes the Tariff of Abominations, so called by Southerners because of the adverse effects it had on their economy. The Tariff of 1828 was designed to protect northern industries from low priced imported goods.
1865 – The last land engagement of the Civil War is fought at the Battle of Palmito Ranch in south Texas, more than a month after Gen. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Virginia.
1911 – The New York Giants set a major league baseball record when ten runners cross home plate before the first out of the game against St. Louis.
1950 – Diner’s Club issues its first credit cards. In 1949, businessman Frank McNamara forgot his wallet while dining out at a New York City restaurant. He started the restaurant credit card company with his partner Ralph Schneider.
1960 – The first launch of a Thor-Delta rocket carrying the Echo-1 series satellite fails to reach orbit after the second-stage control system failure. The satellite was destroyed. Watch a newsreel of the launch.
1992 – Three astronauts simultaneously walk in space for the first time. Richard Hieb, Pierre Thuot, and Thomas Akers conducted an 8 ½-hour spacewalk outside Space Shuttle Endeavor.
2003 – The U.S. government unveils the newly designed version of the $20 bill. It was the first bill to be colorized in an effort to stop counterfeiters.
2021 – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can stop wearing masks.
1804 – Lewis and Clark set out from St. Louis for the Pacific Coast.
1897 – “The Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa is performed for the first time at a ceremony when a statue of George Washington is unveiled.
1904 – The Olympic Games are held in St. Louis, Missouri. It was the first time the Olympic Games were played in the U.S.
1942 – The U.S. Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs) forms after Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts introduces a bill in Congress. The Corps became a permanent part of the Army from 1948 until 1978, when women were assimilated into all but the combat branches of the Army.
1945 – Dr. Joseph G. Hamilton injects misdiagnosed cancer patient Albert Stevens with 131 kBq of plutonium without his knowledge. Stevens lived for another 20 years until his death at age 79, surviving the highest known accumulated radiation dose in any human. Dr. Hamilton died in 1957 at age 49.
1948 – The U.S. grants Israel de facto recognition by President Harry Truman after Israel’s proclamation of independence.
1949 – Harry Truman signs a bill establishing a rocket test range at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The space center was renamed Cape Kennedy, following the assassination of President Kennedy, from 1963 to 1973.
1973 – The Supreme Court issues its decision in Frontiero v Richardson that provides the same rights to women as men in the military.
1999 – North Korea returns the remains of six U.S. soldiers who were killed during the Korean War. The Department of Defense estimated there are still over 7,000 U.S. personnel unaccounted for (missing in action) in Korea.
2005 – The USS America, a decommissioned Navy supercarrier, is deliberately sunk in the Atlantic Ocean after four weeks of live-fire exercises. It was the largest ship ever to be disposed of as a target in a military exercise. Watch the sinking.
1817 – The Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason (now Friends Hospital) opens in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the first private mental health hospital in the U.S.
1869 – The National Woman Suffrage Association is founded by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, with Stanton serving as its first president.
1911 – The Supreme Court dissolves Standard Oil Company using the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which was passed by Congress to combat monopolies.
1928 – Mickey Mouse makes his first appearance in the cartoon short “Plane Crazy.” Watch the primitive animation classic.
1934 – The Department of Justice offers a $25,000 reward for John Dillinger, dead or alive. Dillinger was shot and killed by FBI agents on July 22nd in Chicago.
1944 – President Eisenhower, General Montgomery, Winston Churchill, and King George VI meet to discuss D-Day, which was planned for June 6th.
1963 – Weight Watchers is founded by New York homemaker Jean Nidetch. She died in 2015 at age 91.
1972 – Presidential candidate and former Governor George Wallace is shot and left paralyzed by Arthur Bremer in Laurel, Maryland. Bremer was convicted and sentenced to 63 years in prison. He was paroled in 2007 at age 57 after serving 35 years. Gov. Wallace died in 1998 at age 79.
1991 – President Bush takes Queen Elizabeth to an Oakland A’s / Baltimore Orioles baseball game. Watch some of the pomp and circumstance.
2014 – The National September 11 Memorial Museum is dedicated in New York City.
Image from: independent.co.uk