This Week in History: Nov. 6-12, 2023


This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann

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

Nov. 6-12, 2023

November 6

1789 – Pope Pius VI appoints Father John Carroll as the first Catholic bishop in the U.S.

1861 – Jefferson Davis is elected to a 6-year term as Confederate president. Davis graduated from West Point in 1828. Col. Davis was a hero of the Mexican-American War in 1847. He served as a U.S. Senator from Mississippi (1847-1851 and 1857-1861) and the U.S. Secretary of War (1853-1857). He died in 1889 at the age of 81.

1938 – The three DiMaggio brothers (Vince, Joe, and Dominic) play baseball together in a west coast charity game. They are the only trio of brothers to have been All-Stars. Over 350 sets of brothers (including sets of twins) have played major league baseball.

1947 – NBC’s “Meet the Press” debuts and is the longest running TV show in the U.S.

1952 – The first hydrogen bomb is exploded at Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. A total of 43 nuclear tests were conducted between 1948 and 1958.

1986 – President Reagan signs a landmark immigration reform bill. It made it illegal to knowingly hire illegal immigrants and legalized illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. before January 1, 1982 under strict conditions. The INS estimated that about 4 million illegal immigrants would apply and about half of them would be eligible.

1990 – A fire destroys some of Universal Studios stages and causes $25 million in damage. A security guard, who had been on the job less than two months, was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to arson. Watch a report on the fire.

2012 – The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico votes in favor of becoming a U.S. state. It was the fourth statehood referendum, but the first in which a majority voted for statehood.

November 7

1805 – Lewis and Clark first view the Pacific Ocean. The Corps of Discovery left Missouri in May of 1804.

1872 – The cargo ship Mary Celeste sails from New York to Italy. It was mysteriously found abandoned in the Bermuda Triangle four weeks later with all the crew’s effects, cargo, and 6-month’s food supply intact. The crew was never found although a lifeboat was missing. The Mary Celeste was sold several times and made Atlantic voyages over the next 12 years, until it was deliberately run aground for the insurance. The wreck has never been found.

1874 – Thomas Nast creates the first cartoon depicting an elephant as the symbol for the Republican Party. He also created the modern version of Santa Claus.

1910 – The first air freight shipment is undertaken by the Wright Brothers and department store owner Max Morehouse. A Wright brother’s pilot flew 200 pounds of silk worth $800 from Dayton to Columbus, Ohio. Philip Parmelee flew the 65-mile route in 66 minutes at an altitude of 2,000 to 3,000 feet in freezing temperatures by following railroad tracks. Parmelee was killed at an airshow two years later. He was 25.

1932 – “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” is broadcast as the first science fiction program on the radio. It aired until 1936, but it was revived several times. It debuted as a comic strip in 1929. An 8-minute Buck Rogers’ film was made for the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair. Buck Rogers was a 12-part movie serial starring Buster Crabbe starting in 1939 and a short-lived TV series in 1950-51. Most recently it aired as a TV show starring Gil Gerard from 1979 to 1981.

1973 – Congress over-rides President Nixon’s veto of the War Powers Act, which limits a chief executive’s power to wage war without congressional approval.

1991 – Magic Johnson announces he has the HIV virus and retires from the LA Lakers basketball team. Johnson is now 64 years old. Watch his announcement.

2000 – The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration discovers an LSD lab inside a converted military missile silo in Wamego, Kansas. William Leonard Pickard, now 78, was paroled after serving 20 years of his two life sentences following his conviction in the largest LSD manufacturing case in U.S. history. He continued to conduct research, write, and advocate for psychedelics. His partner, Clyde Apperson, now 68, was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison without the possibility of parole. He was also released in 2020 after serving 20 years in prison.

November 8

1731 – Benjamin Franklin opens the first U.S. library in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1933 – The Civil Works Administration is created by executive order by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The organization was designed to create jobs for more than four million unemployed people in the U.S. during the Great Depression.

1956 – After turning down 18,000 names, the Ford Motor Company decides to name its new car the “Edsel,” after Henry Ford’s only son. The Ford Edsel was in production for only three years.

1966 – Movie actor Ronald Reagan is elected governor of California. He first appeared in a movie in 1937 and finished his acting career in 1965 in the TV series Death Valley Days. He was elected president in 1980 and 1984. He died in 2004 at age 93. Watch Reagan in Death Valley Days.

1988 – George H. W. Bush is the first vice president since Martin Van Buren (1837) to be elected president of the U.S.

2000 – Waco special counsel John C. Danforth releases his final report that absolves the government of wrongdoing in the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Texas that ended in the death of 76 people, including 25 children.

2000 – A statewide recount begins in Florida to decide the winner of the U.S. presidential election. George Bush beat Al Gore by a hanging chad.

November 9

1857 – The Atlantic magazine is first published, billing itself as a “journal of literature, politics, science, and the arts.” It is the second-oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S., after Scientific American (founded 1845).

1935 – The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) labor union forms. The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was formed in 1886. The two unions merged in 1955 as the AFL-CIO.

1961 – The X-15 rocket plane, piloted by Robert White, sets a world record speed of 4,092 mph (Mach 6.04) and reaches an altitude of 101,600 feet after being launched from under the wing of a B-52. Watch a video with a description of the launch, flight, and landing.

1982 – Sugar Ray Leonard retires from boxing for the first time. He retired again in 1984. He came out of retirement in 1987 to defeat Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Sugar Ray retired again in 1991 only to return to the ring in 1997 at age 40. He retired for the last time in 1997 following a TKO and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame later that same year. Sugar Ray is now 66 years old.

1984 – “The Three Servicemen” Memorial is completed in Washington, DC. It was designed and created to complement the controversial design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

2015 – San Diego’s SeaWorld announces it will overhaul its killer whale show after controversy over the treatment of its whales. Watch a news report on the announcement.

November 10

1775 – Congress forms the U.S. Marine Corps as a component of the Navy. Major Samuel Nicholas was the first Commandant (1775-1783).

1891 – Granville T. Woods patents the electric railway. Known as the “Black Edison,” Woods received close to 60 patents, 15 for inventions or improvements for electric railroads.

1940 – Walt Disney begins serving as an informer for the Los Angeles office of the FBI. Disney’s job was to report back to the FBI any information on Hollywood political subversives until his death in 1966.

1969 – “Sesame Street” premieres on PBS TV. The show is still on the air and is the longest running children’s show. Its creators included Muppets creators Jim Henson and Frank Oz. Watch the opening of the show.

1982 – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial opens in Washington, DC. The design of 21-year-old Chinese-American Ohio-born Maya Ying Lin was chosen from more than 1,400 submissions.

1993 – The House of Representatives passes the Brady Bill, which calls for a background check and five-day waiting period for handgun purchases. The bill, introduced by Rep. Charles Schumer (D-NY), was named for James Brady, who was wounded in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan. The bill was signed into law on November 30th by President Bill Clinton.

2016 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average sets a new all-time high record of 18,791 just two days after Donald Trump is elected president.

November 11 – Thanks to our Veterans!

1750 – The F.H.C. Society, also known as the Flat Hat Club, is formed at Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was the first college fraternity.

1865 – Mary Edwards Walker, the first female Army surgeon, becomes the first woman to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

1918 – World War I ends at 11 AM with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. President Wilson proclaims November 11 a national holiday as Armistice Day in 1919. The holiday was renamed Veteran’s Day after WWII. In 1954, President Eisenhower made the first Veterans Day proclamation.

1921 – President Harding dedicates the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. The Tomb of the Unknowns has been guarded continuously 24/7/365 since 1937, including during hurricanes when Honor Guards refused to stand down. Guards are volunteers of the elite 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard,” at Fort Meyer, Virginia. Over 600 Tomb Guard Identification Badges have been awarded since they started counting in 1958.

1926 – U.S. Route 66 is established and, when completed, winds from Chicago to LA, more than two thousand miles all the way. Get your kicks on Route 66. The song of the same name was first recorded by Nat King Cole in 1946.

1939 – Kate Smith makes her first public performance of “God Bless America,” written by Russian-born immigrant Irving Berlin in 1918. Watch the quintessential performance of the patriotic song. Kate Smith sings “God Bless America”

1992 – Russian President Boris Yeltsin tells U.S. senators in a letter that Americans had been held in prison camps after World War II. Some were “summarily executed,” while others were still living in his country voluntarily.

1993 – The Vietnam Women’s Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC, to honor the more than 11,000 women who served in the Vietnam War.

2008 – Taylor Swift, age 18, releases her second album “Fearless,” which wins multiple music awards. It remains the most awarded country album of all time.

November 12

1920 – District Court Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis is elected as the first baseball commissioner and is still the longest-serving commissioner. He served until his death in 1944 at age 78.

1926 – The first recorded aerial bombing on U.S. soil took place in Williamson County, Illinois, during a feud between rival bootlegger gangs, the Shelton brothers and the Charlie Birger gang. Members of each gang used trucks converted into armored vehicles and bombed their rival’s buildings. Binger was arrested for ordering the murder of Joe Adams, a local mayor. He was convicted and hanged in April of 1928. Two of the Shelton brothers were murdered by another rival gang. Earl, the last surviving brother, died in 1986 at age 96.

1954 – Ellis Island, the immigration station in New York Harbor, closes. It opened in 1892. Over 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island.

1969 – The U.S. Army announces it is investigating Lt. William Calley for an alleged March 19th massacre of civilians in the Vietnamese village of My Lai. He was convicted on 22 counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison. President Nixon ordered Calley transferred to house arrest in Fort Benning, Georgia, where he remained for 3 ½ years. Calley is now 80 years old.

1975 – Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas retires after 36 years on the bench. He is still the longest-ever serving Supreme Court Justice. Douglas died in 1980 at age 81. Clarence Thomas is currently the longest-serving Jurist at 32 years.

1981 – Double Eagle V completes the first balloon crossing of Pacific Ocean from Japan to Baja California in 84 ½ hours. It set a new distance record of 5,768 miles. Watch a brief report on the historic flight. First balloon crossing of Pacific Ocean

1997 – Ramzi Yousef is found guilty of masterminding the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Yousef was sentenced to life plus 240 years to be served in solitary confinement.

2015 – “Out” Magazine names Barack Obama “Ally of the Year,” making him the first sitting U.S. President to pose for cover of a gay magazine. Watch a Pravda (Russian news) report. Pres. Obama on cover of gay magazine

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