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
Nov 15-21, 2021
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 he was seeking. Boesky is now 84 years old.
1990 – Music producers confirm that singing duo Milli Vanilli (Fab Morvan & Rob Pilatus) didn’t sing on their album. Their Grammy Award was withdrawn when it was revealed the duo lip-synched their album. Pilatus died in 1998 at age 32. Morvan is now 55. Watch them perform (sort of) at the Grammys.
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.
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.
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.
1992 – Dateline NBC airs a demonstration showing a General Motors truck blowing up on impact. It was later revealed NBC rigged the test. Watch the test and Dateline NBC’s mea culpa.
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.
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 of 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 that would 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 being the star of 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.
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 24 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 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.
1866 – The first national convention of the Civil War Veteran’s organization the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) is held.
1947 – “Meet the Press” makes its network TV debut on NBC. The news program is the longest running TV show and still airs weekly.
1959 – WABC fires Alan Freed over the “payola” scandal. Freed accepted gratuities and consultation fees from record companies and promoters. When ABC demanded that Freed sign a prepared oath swearing he never received payments for promoting musical recordings on the air, Freed refused and was fired.
1969 – The Nixon administration announces a halt to residential use of the pesticide DDT as part of a total phase out of the substance.
1982 – Drew Barrymore hosts Saturday Night Live at age 7, making her the youngest host in SNL history. She has hosted SNL six times. Watch the opening skit with little Drew. Drew Barrymore on SNL
1984 – McDonald’s made its 50 billionth hamburger. They stopped updating their signs after 99 billion were sold in 1994. It is estimated that McDonald’s has sold over 300 billion hamburgers. They sell 75 hamburgers every second. McDonald’s estimates that 1 in 8 Americans has worked for the hamburger chain.
1998 – Forty-six states agree to a $206 billion settlement of health claims against the tobacco industry. The industry also agreed to give up billboard advertising of cigarettes.
2014 – Nearly 5 million illegal migrants in the U.S. will have the threat of deportation deferred after President Obama announces sweeping immigration changes.
2017 – Once the world’s largest covered stadium, the Georgia Dome in Atlanta is imploded in 12 seconds 25 years after it was built. Watch the explosions and implosion.
1871 – Emilio Onra is the first human cannonball.
1959 – Jack Benny (on violin) and Richard Nixon (on piano) play their famed duet during the President’s Ball at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Watch their performance.
1964 – “Verrazano Narrows” opens between Staten Island and Brooklyn as the world’s longest suspension bridge. It has since surpassed by several bridges, most recently the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan in 1998.
1974 – Congress passes the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) over President Gerald Ford’s veto. FOIA allows people to request access federal records or information with nine exceptions, such as national security or personnel files.
1980 – It is revealed that Kristin Shepard (played by Mary Crosby) is the person who shot J.R. Ewing (played by Larry Hagman) on the TV show “Dallas.” Several alternate scenes were filmed to keep it secret. Watch the big reveal.
1989 – President George H. W. Bush signs a law banning smoking on most domestic flights.
1995 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 5,000 for first time.
2013 – The Dow Jones closes above 16,000 for the first time. It recently closed above 36,000.
Image from: disneyworld.disney.go.com