This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“History is a vast early warning system.” Norman Cousins
Nov. 20-26, 2023
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 in 1994 after 99 billion were sold. 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 announced 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 closed above 5,000 for first time.
2013 – The Dow Jones closed above 16,000 for the first time. The Dow is now over 34,000.
1718 – British pirate Edward Teach (“Blackbeard”) is killed off the coast of North Carolina in battle with a boarding party led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard.
1906 – International Radio Telecommunications Company adopts “SOS” as the new Morse code call for help. . . . – – – . . .
1923 – President Calvin Coolidge pardons German spy Lothar Witzke, who was sentenced to death for his role in the sabotage of installations in the San Francisco shipyards and New York Harbors during WW I.
1963 – President John F. Kennedy is assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, et al, in Dallas, Texas. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president the same day.
1977 – The Packet Radio net, SATNET, and ARPANET are connected, sending a message from California to London and back via satellite to Virginia and then the University of Southern California in a demonstration of what would eventually become the Internet.
1984 – Fred Rogers of PBS’ “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” presents a sweater to the Smithsonian Institution. Watch Mr. Rogers don his sweater at the opening of his show.
1985 – In the largest swearing-in ceremonies to date, 38,648 immigrants became citizens of the U.S. after the 12th and final ceremony in two weeks in Los Angeles.
1995 – “Toy Story” is released as the first feature-length film completely created using computer-generated imagery (CGI).
1998 – CNN airs a tape of Jack Kevorkian giving lethal drugs in an assisted suicide of a terminally ill patient with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Kevorkian was later sentenced to 25 years in prison for second-degree murder and was paroled in 2005. Kevorkian died from a blood clot and liver cancer in 2011 at age 83.
2008 – YouTube hosts the largest ever live broadcast, YouTube Live.
2016 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 19,000 for the first time, two weeks after Donald Trump is elected president. The Dow is now over 34,000.
1783 – Annapolis, Maryland, becomes the capital of the U.S. until June 1784.
1899 – The first jukebox is installed in the Palais Royal Hotel in San Francisco.
1903 – Enrico Caruso makes his U.S. debut at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in Verdi’s “Rigoletto.” It was the first of 863 appearances at the Met. Watch a slide show of Caruso and listen to him singing.
1936 – The first issue of “Life,” a picture magazine created by Henry R. Luce, is published. A photograph of Fort Peck Dam was on the cover. The last issue, published in May 2000, had a premature baby on the cover.
1954 – For the first time, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above the peak it reached before the 1929 stock market crash. The Dow closed at 380.33 on August 29, 1929, and at 382.74 on this date.
1960 – Hollywood dedicates its Walk of Fame in Hollywood at Boulevard and Vine Street. Joanne Woodward received the first star. She won an Academy Award in 1957 for “The Three Faces of Eve.” Watch an LA City Tours video advertising the famous street.
1998 – A U.S. federal judge rejects a Virginia county’s effort to block pornography on library computer, calling the attempt unconstitutional.
2014 – Republicans condemn President Obama’s use of executive action to push through immigration reform.
1835 – The Texas Rangers, a mounted police force, is authorized by the Texas Provisional Government. They are the oldest law enforcement body in North America.
1871 – The National Rifle Association, chartered on November 16th, elects former Civil War General Ambrose Burnside as its first president.
1917 – Nine police officers and two civilians are killed when a bomb explodes at the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, police headquarters building. It remains the second deadliest day in law enforcement history (9-11 is the first). The bomber(s) were never caught.
1932 – The FBI Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory (better known as the FBI Crime Lab) officially opens in Washington, D.C.
1936 – Grace D. Owen of Concord, New Hampshire, applies for her Social Security number and receives the lowest number possible: 001-01-0001.
1947 – The House on Un-American Activities Committee finds the “Hollywood 10” in contempt because of their refusal to reveal whether they were communists. Albert Maltz, Dalton Trumbo, John Howard Lawson, Samuel Ornitz, Ring Lardner, Jr., Lester Cole, Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Edward Dmytryk, and Robert Adrian Scott were charged with contempt of Congress. Movie studio executives met in New York the next day agree to blacklist the “Hollywood 10,” who were cited and jailed for contempt of Congress when they failed to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee.
1954 – Air Force One is christened as the first U.S. Presidential airplane. The presidential call sign was established in 1953 after a commercial aircraft with the same call sign entered the same airspace as the presidential aircraft.
1963 – The first live murder is shown on TV when Jack Ruby shoots Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in a police station. Watch the murder as it happened live.
1971 – Dan “DB” Cooper parachutes from a Northwest Airlines 727 with $200,000 he extorted from the airlines. His body and the money were never found. In 2016, the FBI announced it was suspending active investigation of the DB Cooper case after 45 years.
1979 – The U.S. government finally admits that troops in Vietnam were exposed to the toxic defoliant Agent Orange.
2014 – A 12-year-old boy is shot dead by police in a playground in Cleveland, Ohio, after brandishing what turned out to be a fake gun. The police were responding to a call of a male who kept pointing a gun at people.
2015 – Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-yearo-old Laquan McDonald. Although sentenced to 81 months in prison, Van Dyke is no longer incarcerated.
1792 – The Farmer’s Almanac is first published. It is the oldest continuously published periodical in the U.S. It was published during George Washington’s administration. Robert B. Thomas was the first editor.
1874 – The United States Greenback Party is established in Indianapolis as a political party. It consisted primarily of farmers affected by the Panic of 1873, which started as a result of the collapse of several prominent banks, railroads, and industries.
1920 – The first Thanksgiving Parade in the U.S. is sponsored by Gimbels Department Store in Philadelphia. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City started in 1924.
1963 – President John F. Kennedy is laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy lit the eternal flame that still burns over JFK’s grave. Watch a CBS Sunday Morning report on the eternal flame.
1973 – The maximum speed limit in the U.S. is cut to 55 MPH as an energy conservation measure during the oil crisis. In April of 1987, Congress passed the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act, which permitted states to raise the legal speed limit on rural interstates to 65 mph. Congress lifted all federal speed limit controls in the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995, returning all speed limit determination authority to the states.
1986 – The Iran-Contra affair erupts when President Reagan reveals a secret arms deal with Iran in exchange for the release of hostages. The funds went to support the Contras in Nicaragua.
2014 – Missouri Governor Jay Nixon orders hundreds more U.S. National Guard troops to the town of Ferguson to prevent a second night of rioting and looting. The Guard members were never utilized.
1789 – The first national Thanksgiving is celebrated.
1916 – President Woodrow Wilson, addressing the Chamber of Commerce in Cincinnati, Ohio, declares, “The business of neutrality is over. The nature of modern war leaves no state untouched.”
1941 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. In 1939, Roosevelt had signed a bill that changed the celebration of Thanksgiving to the third Thursday of November.
1948 – The first Polaroid Model 95 Land camera, developed by inventor Edwin Land, is sold at the Jordan Marsh department store in Boston for $89.75. The name “Land” was removed from the camera after Edwin Land retired in 1982.
1956 – “The Price Is Right” debuts on TV and is still on the air. The first host was Bill Cullen. Drew Carey has been the host since 2007. Watch an early episode (and check out the car!).
1973 – President Nixon’s personal secretary, Rose Mary Woods, tells a federal court she accidentally caused part of 18½-minute gap in a key Watergate tape.
1975 – A federal jury finds Lynette Fromme guilty of the attempted assassination of President Ford. Fromme, who was a member of the Manson family cult, was released from prison in 2009 after serving 34 years. Her parole was delayed after she escaped from prison and her sentence was lengthened. Fromme is now 75 years old.
1990 – The first Billboard Music Awards are handed out. Among the winners were Janet Jackson for Song of the Year (“Miss You Much”) and her brother Michael for album of the year (“Bad”).
2013 – After a street tirade is captured on video, Alec Baldwin’s show “Up Late with Alec Baldwin” is cancelled after only five episodes. Baldwin, now 65, was arrested on November 2, 2018, and charged with assault over a parking space. In October 2021, Baldwin shot two people, killing one, on a movie set.
Image from: dailymail.co.uk