This Week in History: Nov. 27-Dec. 23, 2023

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This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann

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

Nov. 27-Dec. 3, 2023




November 27

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.”

1957 – Army troops leave Little Rock, Arkansas, after escorting nine black students into Central High School, ending desegregation. Democrat Governor Guy Faubus had blocked the “Little Rock 9” from integrating Little Rock High School.

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 animated film of all time, is released. It has grossed $1.29 billion worldwide. It was surpassed by “Frozen II” in 2019, which has grossed $1.45 billion.

2017 – American actress Meghan Markel and Britain’s Prince Harry announce their engagement. They were married in May 2018 and moved to the U.S. in 2020. The couple split from the Royal Family in February 2021.


November 28

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 merged his company to form Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1924.

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.

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. Watch the 2010 grand reopening of the Opry 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. He was 34.

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.


November 29

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.




November 30

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.

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 have 3 children. Watch their wedding (no sound).



1993 – President Clinton sighs the Brady gun Control bill into law.

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. Long-time host Alex Trebek died in 2020 at age 80. Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik replaced Trebek as hosts. 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.


December 1

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.

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 23 years. Watch a short NASA video about life on the ISS.



1998 – Exxon announces that it will buy Mobil for $73.7 billion creating the largest company in the world to date. Walmart is now the largest. Three of the top five companies are Chinese.

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 acquired TWA.


December 2

1816 – The first savings bank in the U.S. opens as the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society (PFSF). By the late 1910s, PSFS had the most depositors of any savings bank in the U.S.

1823 – President James Monroe declares his “Monroe Doctrine.” Monroe stated during a message to Congress that, “The American continents … are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.”

1845 – U.S. President James K. Polk announces to Congress that the United States should aggressively expand into the West in what became known as “Manifest Destiny.”

1942 – Dr. Enrico Fermi and his staff produce the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction at the University of Chicago. Fermi described the Chicago Pile-1 apparatus as “a crude pile of black bricks and wooden timbers.”

1954 – The U.S. Senate censures Senator Joe McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) for “conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.” McCarthy claimed that communists had infiltrated the U.S. State Department. He became chair of the Senate’s subcommittee on investigations. He continued to serve in the Senate until his death in May of 1957 at age 48.

1957 – The first nuclear power plant in the world opens in Shippingport, Pennsylvania, and remained operational until 1982. There are currently 92 commercially operating nuclear power plants in the U.S. in 28 states.

1982 – The first permanent artificial heart is successfully implanted in retired dentist Barney Clark. He lived 112 days with the Jarvic-7 heart.

2014 – Stephen Hawking claims that Artificial Intelligence could be a “threat to mankind” and spell the end of the human race. Hawking, who from suffered from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), died in 2018 at age 76. Watch a report on the claim.




December 3

1868 – The first blacks are selected to serve on a U.S. jury in preparation for the trial of Confederate President Jefferson Davis for treason. They never served on the jury because Davis, after 2 years of imprisonment at Fort Monroe, Virginia, was released in $100,000 bail.

1923 – The first Congressional open session is broadcast via radio from Washington, DC.

1950 – Paul Harvey begins his national radio broadcast. Harvey started his radio career with a local broadcast in Chicago in 1944. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. His final broadcast was on February 7, 2009. Harvey died three weeks later at age 90. Good day!

1989 – Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President George H. W. Bush declare that the Cold War is over. It started after the end of World War II amid geopolitical uncertainties. The term Cold War was coined by author George Orwell in an essay written in 1945.

2012 – The Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched in 1977, reaches the end of our solar system and enters interstellar space. Voyager’s mission is expected to continue until about 2025, when its generators will no longer be able to supply enough power to operate the onboard instruments.

2015 – Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announces that all combat roles in U.S. armed forces will be open to women. Watch Carter’s announcement from the Pentagon.






Image from: parade.com


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