This Week in History: Nov. 13-19, 2023


This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann

“History is a vast early warning system.” Norman Cousins

Nov. 13-19, 2023

November 13

1789 – Ben Franklin writes, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

1927 – The New York-New Jersey Holland Tunnel, the first twin-tube underwater auto tunnel, opens to traffic. Chief Engineer Clifford Holland died before its completion. Watch a documentary on the building of the tunnel.

1942 – The minimum military draft age is lowered from 21 to 18.

1956 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled race segregation on buses unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment.

2001 – In the first such act since World War II, President George W. Bush signs an executive order allowing military tribunals against foreigners suspected of connections to terrorist acts or planned acts on the U.S.

2006 – A deal is finalized for Google Inc. to acquire YouTube for $1.65 million in Google stock.

2009 – NASA announces that water has been discovered on the moon. The discovery came from the planned impact on the moon of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS). Watch a NASA press conference, with lunar maps.

2018 – The trial of Mexican drug lord “El Chapo” Guzman begins in New York City. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years for drug trafficking and money laundering.

November 14

1832 – The first horse-drawn streetcar (designed by John Stephenson) debuts in New York City. The fare was 12 cents to ride on 4th Avenue between Prince and 14th Streets.

1889 – New York World reporter Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochrane) begins her attempt to surpass the fictitious journey of Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg by traveling around the world in less than 80 days. She succeeded by finishing the trip in January in 72 days and 6 hours, setting a real world record. In 1887, Bly feigned insanity to have herself committed to the women’s mental institution in New York City. She wrote “Ten Days in a Mad-House” to expose the brutality and neglect at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island. The asylum was closed in 1894.

1910 – The first airplane launches from the deck of a ship. Eugene Ely took off from the USS Birmingham at Hampton Roads, Virginia, and landed at the Willoughby Spit peninsula in Norfolk after a 5-minute flight. In January 1911, Ely became the first pilot to land on a ship when he took off from the Tanforan Racetrack and landed on the USS Pennsylvania anchored in the San Francisco Bay. Ely was killed in October 1911 while flying at an exhibition in Georgia. He was 24 years old.

1972 – Dow Jones closes above 1,000 for first time (1003.16). It took another 15 years to close above 2,000 (in 1987).

1993 – Don Shula becomes (and remains) the winningest coach in NFL history with his 325th victory with the Miami Dolphins in his 31-year career. He passed Coach George Halas’ record of 324 wins during his 40-year career with the Chicago Bears. Shula finished his coaching career with 328 wins. Shula died in 2020 at age 90. Watch an interview with Shula on his coaching career.

1997 – Disney’s “Lion King” sets a Broadway record of $2,700,000 one day sales. It is also the highest grossing Broadway show at $1.8 billion and counting, surpassing “Phantom of the Opera” in 2012.

2001 – The House of Representatives votes not to create an independent commission to investigate the September 11 attacks.

November 15

1763 – Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon begin surveying the “Mason-Dixon Line” to resolve a border dispute among Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The official report that was issued in 1768 did not even mention their names.

1939 – The Social Security Administration approves the first unemployment check.

1957 – The U.S. sentences Soviet spy Rudolf Ivanovich Abel to 30 years in prison and fines him $3,000. He smuggled coded messages in hollow nickels. He served four years in prison before being exchanged for captured U-2 spy plane pilot Gary Powers. Abel died in 1971 at age 68.

1959 – Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Smith murder four members of the Clutter Family at their farm outside Holcomb, Kansas. The murders became the subject of Truman Capote’s book “In Cold Blood.”

1986 – Ivan F. Boesky, reputed to be the highest-paid person on Wall Street, faced penalties of $100 million for insider stock trading. He served 2 years of a 4-year sentence. It was the highest penalty ever imposed by the SEC. In a 1991 divorce, he was reportedly awarded a settlement from his wife of a $20 million lump payment plus $2 million a year for life, about half of what she was seeking. Boesky is now 86 years old.

2012 – BP settles with the U.S. Department of Justice for $4.5 billion after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill discharged an estimated 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. As of 2018, cleanup costs and penalties cost BP more than $65 billion.

November 16

1676 – The first colonial prison is organized in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

1914 – The Federal Reserve System formally opens. The “Fed” was created by Congress during the Wilson administration as the central bank of the U.S. to influence monetary policy and regulate banks. The “Fed” is made up of 12 member banks for each of the 12 Federal Reserve Districts and has never been audited.

1963 – The touch-tone telephone is introduced.

1965 – Walt Disney launches Epcot Center (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). Walt Disney died the following year and Epcot opens in 1982. Watch an animated ride on the EPCOT People Mover with electronic voiceover.

1973 – President Nixon authorizes construction of the Alaska pipeline. The pipeline was built between 1974 and 1977. More than 18 billion barrels of crude oil have been pumped through the pipeline.

1981 – Luke and Laura finally get married on the soap opera “General Hospital.” It is the longest running American soap opera still in production (since 1963). It surpassed Guiding Light (1952-2009) as the longest soap opera of all time. Watch the long-awaited wedding ceremony.

2012 – “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” grosses $500 million in the first 24 hours to become the biggest entertainment launch of all time – until “Grand Theft Auto V” pulled in $800 million in the first 24 hours in 2013. It took in $1 billion in just 3 days.

2017 – Senator Al Franken (D-MN) is accused of sexual misconduct during the #MeToo movement. He resigned in January 2018.

November 17

1800 – Congress holds its first session in the incomplete Capitol building Washington, DC. The building was completed in 1826.

1871 – The National Rifle Association (NRA) is chartered in New York.

1894 – H. H. Holmes, identified as the first American serial killer, is arrested in Boston after being tracked by Pinkerton detectives. Although he confessed to 27 murders, it is believed he is guilty of more than 200 murders. He was hanged in 1896 after being convicted on a single count of murder.

1936 – Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy become an overnight success on radio. The Edgar Bergen/ Charlie McCarthy Show aired until 1956. Edgar Bergen died in 1978 at age 75. Charlie is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

1967 – Surveyor 6 becomes the first man-made object to lift off from the Moon.

1968 – NBC cuts to the movie “Heidi,” missing the Oakland Raider’s rally in the final two minutes of the football game. The Raiders scored two touchdowns in nine seconds of play to beat the New York Jets, 43-32 in the “Heidi Bowl.” Watch the news show and commentary, with the last minute of the game that was never seen on TV.

1993 – The U.S. House of Representatives approves the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

2004 – Kmart Corp. announces it is buying Sears, Roebuck and Co. for $11 billion and naming the newly merged company Sears Holdings Corporation.

November 18

1820 – U.S. Navy Capt. Nathaniel B. Palmer of Connecticut, age 22, discovers Antarctica.

1872 – American suffragette Susan B. Anthony and 14 other women are arrested after voting on November 5th in Rochester, New York. Anthony was denied a trial by jury and was tried in Federal Court in June 1873 by newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Ward Hunt. Anthony was not allowed to speak in her own defense until after she was found guilty and ordered to pay a $100 fine. She told the judge she “shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty,” and she never did.

1883 – Standard time zones are formed by the railroads in U.S. and Canada to provide a uniform schedule for train departures and arrivals. Four times zones were first proposed in 1870 by Charles F. Dowd.

1902 – Brooklyn toymaker Morris Michton names the stuffed bear after President Theodore Roosevelt. The “teddy” bear was nicknamed for the president following a hunting trip in 1902 with Mississippi Governor Andrew H. Longino in which Teddy Roosevelt refused to kill an old bear tied to a tree.

1928 – The first successful sound-synchronized animated cartoon, Walt Disney’s “Steamboat Willie,” starring Mickey Mouse premieres in New York.

1932 – “Flowers & Trees” by Walt Disney Studios receives the first Academy Award for a cartoon. Watch the cartoon.

1951 – Chuck Connors (Los Angeles Angels) becomes the first baseball player to ask for an exemption to the major league baseball draft. Connors left baseball to become an actor, including starring in the television show “The Rifleman” (1958-1963). He also served in the Army during WWII as a tank-warfare instructor at West Point, after which he played basketball for the Boston Celtics before turning to baseball. Connors died in 1992 at age 71.

1961 – President JFK sends 18,000 military advisors to South Vietnam.

1966 – The U.S. National Conference of Catholic Bishops changes the rule prohibiting eating meat on Fridays, amending it to apply only during Lent.

1978 – In Jonestown, Guyana (South America), 909 members of the Peoples Temple are murdered or commit suicide under the leadership of American cult leader Jim Jones.

2001 – Phillips Petroleum and Conoco merge into a new company as ‘ConocoPhillips’, the third-largest oil and natural gas company in the U.S. ExxonMobile is the largest.

November 19

1620 – The “Mayflower” reaches Cape Cod and explores the coast. It eventually landed at Plymouth Rock.

1794 – The Jay Treaty is signed with Great Britain. Named for the first Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay, the treaty granted America “Most Favored Nation” status but left many issues from the Revolutionary War unresolved.

1861 – Julia Ward Howe pens “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” as a poem. It was first published in “The Atlantic Monthly” in February 1862. The music was from the song “John Brown’s Body.”

1863 – Abraham Lincoln delivers his famous “Four score and seven years ago…” address in Pennsylvania dedicating the Gettysburg battlefield. Lincoln was asked to deliver the “concluding remarks” at the dedication ceremony, following the lengthy principal address by Massachusetts Senator Edward Everett. Listen to a recitation of the address with Civil War photographs.

1919 – The U.S. Senate rejects the Treaty of Versailles with the League of Nations by a vote of 55-39. The U.S. signed a separate peace treaty with Germany in 1921.

1950 – U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes the supreme commander of NATO in Europe. He was president from 1952-1960.

1980 – CBS-TV bans Calvin Klein’s jeans ad featuring 15-year-old Brooke Shields. Watch the provocative ad.

1997 – Bobbi McCaughey of Des Moines, Iowa, gives birth to septuplets (4 boys and 3 girls) in the first known case where all seven babies were born alive and survive infancy. Today they are 26 years old.

1998 – The U. S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee begins impeachment hearings against President Bill Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The House of Representatives impeached Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice but he remained in office. President Andrew Johnson was the only other president previously to endure impeachments proceedings. The impeachment for “high crimes and misdemeanors” was not upheld and Johnson also remained in office.

2002 – The U.S. government takes over of security at 424 airports nationwide through the TSA following the signing of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act by President George W. Bush.

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