This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“No problem of human making is too great to be overcome by
human ingenuity, human energy, and the untiring hope of the human spirit.”
President George H. W. Bush
Week of Nov. 25-Dec. 1, 2019
1792 – The Farmer’s Almanac is first published. It is the oldest continuously published periodical in the U.S., published during George Washington’s administration.
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. The party disbanded in 1889.
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.
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.
1979 – Pat Summerall and John Madden announce their first game together. Their partnership spanned 22 years and became one of the most well-known pairings in TV sports broadcasting history. Both announcers are in the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame. Watch vintage Madden and Summerall after Pat announced his retirement:
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. The current host is Drew Carey. 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 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 71 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 61, was arrested on November 2, 2018, and charged with assault over a parking space. Watch a 2013 news report and read Alex’s lips:
1870 – The New York Times dubs baseball “The National Game.”
1924 – In New York City, the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is held. Watch a History Channel report on the history of the parade:
1934 – Bank robber Lester Gillis (aka Baby Face Nelson) dies in a shoot-out with the FBI. He was 25 years old. J. Edgar Hoover named him “Public Enemy #1.”
1962 – The first Boeing 727 rolls out. The first flight of the Boeing 727 was on February 9, 1963. It was designed to service smaller airport with shorter runways and carry 131 passengers plus its crew. Watch a narrated video of the certification test flight:
2013 – “Frozen”, the highest-grossing film of all time, is released. It has grossed $1.28 billion worldwide. Frozen 2 was released November 22nd.
1895 – America’s first auto race is organized by the “Chicago Times-Herald” Chicago to Evanston, Illinois, and back. Six cars travel a distance 55 miles, with the winner averaging 7 MPH.
1907 – Scrap-metal dealer Louis B. Mayer of Haverhill, Massachusetts, opens his first movie theater, formerly a burlesque theater called the “Garlic Box.” In 1918, the Russian-born Mayer moved to Los Angeles to form the Louis B. Mayer Pictures Company. He later merged his company to form Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).
1919 – U.S.-born Lady Nancy Astor is elected and serves as the first female member of British Parliament. Astor sat in the House of Commons until her retirement in 1945. Watch a short bio:
1925 – The Grand Ole Opry premieres as the WSM Barn Dance on WSM radio in Nashville, Tennessee. The Ryman Auditorium was the venue for the Opry until 1974. Since 1974, the show has been broadcast from the Grand Ole Opry House east of downtown Nashville. The Opry reopened in 2010 after the Nashville flooding.
1963 – President Johnson announces that Cape Canaveral would be renamed Cape Kennedy in honor of his assassinated predecessor. The name was changed back to Cape Canaveral in 1973 by a vote of residents.
1984 – William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, and his wife Hannah Callowhill Penn are made Honorary Citizens of the United States over 250 years after their deaths. Hannah administered the Province of Pennsylvania for eight years after William’s death, until her death in 1726.
1994 – Convicted serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is clubbed to death by an inmate in the Columbia Correctional Institution gymnasium in Portage, Wisconsin, where he was serving 15 consecutive life terms for multiple murders.
1995 – Congress passes the National Highway Designation Act, which officially removes all federal speed limits.
2016 – The musical “Hamilton” sets a new record for the most money earned in a single week on Broadway at $3.3 million.
1890 – The first Army-Navy football game is played. Final score: Navy 24, Army 0. The game was played at West Point.
1915 – Fire destroys most of the buildings in Avalon on Santa Catalina Island, California. Chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. purchased the resort in 1919. Wrigley’s Santa Catalina Island Company built the iconic Avalon Casino in 1928-29 and became the setting for many movies.
1929 – U.S. Navy Lt. Comdr. Richard E. Byrd makes the first airplane flight over the South Pole. In 1926, Byrd and Floyd Bennett flew over the North Pole.
1963 – President LBJ sets up the Warren Commission to investigate assassination of President JFK. In 1992, Congress ordered JFK documents to be released within 25 years. Over 3,800 documents were released in 2017 by the National Archives.
1975 – Bill Gates adopts the name Microsoft for the company he and Paul Allen formed to write the BASIC computer language for the Altair.
1995 – President Bill Clinton lifts the ban on exports of oil from the Alaskan North Slope that was imposed after the oil embargo by Arab oil producers in 1973.
2004 – Godzilla receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Watch Godzilla make a personal appearance to receive his star:
1753 – Benjamin Franklin receives the Godfrey Copley Medal from the Royal Society of London “on account of his curious Experiments and Observations on Electricity.”
1782 – The U.S. and Britain sign the Preliminary Peace Articles in Paris, signaling the end the Revolutionary War. The Treaty of Paris was signed in September 1783.
1866 – Work begins on the first U.S. underwater highway tunnel near Chicago. The Winston Tunnel was built by hand and took 23 years and $500,000 for workers to complete the 1,500-foot tunnel beneath the Chicago River. It was abandoned in 1972.
1924 – The first photo facsimile (fax) is transmitted across the Atlantic by radio from London to New York City.
1967 – Julie Nixon (daughter of the president) and David Eisenhower (grandson of the former president) announce their engagement. They were married on December 22, 1968, and are still married. They had 3 children. Watch their wedding (no sound):
1993 – President Clinton sighs the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act into law. The Brady Bill mandated federal background checks and a 5-day waiting period on gun purchases. In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that compelling states to of perform background checks was unconstitutional because it violated the 10th Amendment.
2004 – Longtime “Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings of Salt Lake City, Utah, finally loses. He left the show with $2,520,700, television’s all-time biggest game show winnings. Watch Jennings’ surprise loss:
2007 – Leeland Eisenberg enters the presidential campaign office of Hillary Clinton in Rochester, New Hampshire, with a device suspected of being a bomb. He held three people hostage for five hours. Eisenberg spent about 2 years in jail for the incident. He had a long criminal and mental health history.
1891 – James Naismith of Springfield, Massachusetts, creates the game of basketball as a way to motivate and inspire young men that “should be of a recreative nature, something that would appeal to their play instincts.” Two peach baskets were nailed to each end of the lower balcony of the gymnasium at Springfield College and Naismith wrote the 13 original rules for the game. The Basketball Hall of Fame, founded in 1959, is located in Springfield, Massachusetts.
1913 – Henry Ford introduces the continuous moving assembly line, producing a car every 2 hours and 38 minutes. By 1927, Ford factories built a Model T every 24 seconds and accounted for half of all cars sold worldwide.
1913 – The first drive-up gasoline station opens in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. On the first day of business, the Gulf station sold 30 gallons of gas at 27 cents a gallon.
1917 – Boys Town is founded by Father Edward Flanagan near Omaha, Nebraska. The first five boys to live there were homeless and were sent by the courts on December 12th. The events in the 1938 movie “Boys Town” were mostly fiction, but Spencer Tracy’s character was based on Father Flanagan.
1929 – Toymaker Edwin S. Lowe invents the game “Bingo” when he is 18 years old. Lowe bought the rights to the game “Yahtzee” in 1956. Lowe died in 1986 at age 75.
1941 – The U.S. Civil Air Patrol (CAP) organizes. After the Pearl Harbor attack the following week, thousands of CAP civilian volunteers log more than 500,000 hours performing critical wartime missions.
1955 – Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to move to the back of the bus, triggering the Montgomery bus boycott.
1969 – The U.S. government holds its first draft lottery since WW II. The first number drawn is 258 (matching the birth date of September 14) so all men born between 1944 and 1950 who share that birth date are called to serve at once.
1981 – The AIDS virus (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is officially recognized. The cause was later discovered to be a human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV.
1982 – Michael Jackson releases his “Thriller” album and it becomes, and remains, the best-selling album of all time. Jackson died at age 50 in 2009.
1987 – NASA announces four companies (Boeing Aerospace, G. E.’s Astro-Space Division, McDonnell Douglas Aeronautics, and Rocketdyne Division of Rockwell International) have been given contracts to help build a space station. Construction began in 1988. The International Space Station has been continuously inhabited for over 18 years. Watch the continuous live feed from the ISS:
1998 – Exxon announces that it will buy Mobil for $73.7 billion creating the largest company in the world to date. It is now the 6th largest company in the world, with Walmart being the largest. Three of the top five companies are in China.
2001 – The 76 years of TWA airline operations comes to an end when Captain Bill Compton lands Trans World Airlines Flight 220, an MD-83, at St. Louis International Airport. American Airlines acquires TWA.
Image from: newsweek.com