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
Oct 11-17, 2021
1809 – Explorer Meriwether Lewis dies at age 35 under mysterious circumstances at an inn called Grinder’s Stand along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee. He was shot multiple times and his death remains an unsolved mystery.
1869 – Thomas Edison files for a patent on his first invention. It was an electric machine used for counting votes in Congress, but Congress did not buy it.
1890 – The Daughters of American Revolution (DAR) is founded. It is a lineage-based service organization for women who are directly descended from someone who fought in the Revolutionary War.
1929 – JC Penney opens store #1252 in Milford, Delaware, making it a nationwide company with stores in all lower 48 states. James Cash Penney died in 1971 at age 95.
1950 – The Federal Communications Commission issues the first license to broadcast television in color to CBS.
1958 – The U.S. launches the lunar probe Pioneer 1. The probe did not reach its destination and fell back to Earth, burning up in the atmosphere.
1968 – Apollo 7 is launched as the first manned Apollo mission in which live television broadcasts are received from orbit.
1975 – “Saturday Night Live” premieres with George Carlin as its guest host. Carlin died in 2008 at age 71. Watch the first show with Carlin’s classic monologue comparing football and baseball.
1984 – Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan is the first American woman to walk in space. She flew on three Space Shuttle missions and logged 532 hours in space. Sullivan, age 70, is now the Charles Lindbergh Chair of Aerospace History at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.
1984 – Vice Presidential candidates Geraldine Ferraro (D) & George H. W. Bush (R) participate in a debate. Ferraro was the first woman from a major political party to be nominated as Vice President. Ferraro died in 2011 at age 75.
2018 – The world’s longest airline flight flies from Singapore to Newark, New Jersey in just under 18 hours on its inaugural flight.
1692 – The Massachusetts Bay Colony discontinues the witch trials in Salem. A total of 20 “witches” were executed, including eight women who were hanged on September 22nd.
1773 – America’s first insane asylum opens in Williamsburg, Virginia, for “Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds.” The building was destroyed in an 1885 fire. The grounds were excavated in 1972, the building was reconstructed, and it opened as a museum in 1985.
1792 – The first monument honoring Christopher Columbus is dedicated in Baltimore, Maryland. In August 2017, the monument was vandalized. A Columbus monument dedicated in 1984 was torn down by protesters in July 2020. Watch a 2017 news report that includes a video made by the vandals.
1892 – The original version of the Pledge of Allegiance is first recited in public schools in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Columbus landing. The pledge was written by Francis Bellamy.
1920 – Man O’War runs his last race and wins. He retired and sired 379 foals, including future Triple Crown winner War Admiral (1937).
1928 – The iron lung, invented by Philip Drinker and Louis Shaw, is first used at the Boston Children’s Hospital. It was used to successfully treat a girl suffering from polio.
1961 – The first video memoirs by a U.S. president are made when Walter Cronkite interviews Dwight D. Eisenhower on the 20th anniversary of D-Day.
1977 – The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the “reverse discrimination” case of Allan Bakke, a white student twice denied admission to the University of California Medical School. In June 1978, the Supreme Court ruled that affirmative action was constitutional, but it invalidated the use of racial quotas. Bakke eventually graduated from medical school and became an anesthesiologist.
2000 – The USS Cole is badly damaged in Yemen by two suicide bombers, killing 17 crew and wounding at least 39.
2017 – The long-lost bust of Napoleon by famed sculptor August Rodin is found in the town hall in Madison, New Jersey. The 700-pound sculpture, on display there for 85 years, is valued at over $4 million. The bust is now on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
1775 – The Continental Congress creates the U.S. Navy. The U.S. Army was created on June 14, 1775.
1792 – Robert B. Thomas publishes “The Farmer’s Almanac.” The word “Old” was added to the title after 39 years. It is the oldest continuously published periodical in America.
1792 – George Washington lays the cornerstone of the Executive Mansion. President Teddy Roosevelt renamed the presidential residence the White House in 1901.
1947 – “Kukla, Fran & Ollie” premieres on TV and airs until 1947. Kukla (a clown) and Ollie (a dragon) were puppets with Fran Allison as the hostess. Burr Tillstrom was the show’s creator and puppeteer. Burr died in 1985 at age 68 and Fran died in 1989 at age 81. Watch part of a very early episode.
1982 – The International Olympic Committee Executive Committee approves the reinstatement of Jim Thorpe’s gold medals from the 1912 Olympics. Thorpe was stripped of his medals after his amateur status is nullified. Thorpe died in 1953 at age 64.
2016 – Bob Dylan is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” He refused to accept the prize until March 2017.
2019 – Simone Biles becomes the world’s most decorated gymnast in history after winning her 25th medal at the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
1773 – The United Kingdom’s East India Company ship’s cargo of tea on the ship Peggy Stewart is burned at Annapolis, Maryland. The Boston Tea Party was December 16th.
1912 – Presidential candidate Teddy Roosevelt is shot while campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The bullet struck Roosevelt’s metal eyeglasses case before entering his chest. He delivered his 90-minute speech before going to the hospital. The would-be assassin John Schrank was deemed insane and confined for life to an asylum. Woodrow Wilson won the 1912 election.
1947 – Chuck Yeager, in a Bell X-1, makes the first supersonic flight at Mach 1.015, becoming the first person to break the sound barrier. Watch a short report on the flight.
1960 – Senator John F. Kennedy first suggests creating the Peace Corps while campaigning at the University of Michigan. Newly elected President Kennedy signs Executive Order 10924 establishing the Peace Corps in March of 1961.
1962 – U.S. U-2 espionage planes locate Soviet-supplied missile launchers in Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis started when Cuban anti-aircraft gunners opened fire on the U.S. reconnaissance planes on October 27th. Khrushchev in Russia blinked first.
1968 – The first live telecast from space to Earth is made from the manned U.S. spacecraft Apollo 7.
2003 – Baseball fan Steve Bartman deflects the ball away from Chicago Cubs outfielder Moises Alou. Bartman was escorted from the stadium under police protection. The Cubs, who were leading in the game, gave up eight runs in the inning and lose to the Florida Marlins 8-3. The Bartman incident was seen as the turning point in their loss of the National League Championship Series. After the Cubs won the 2016 World Series, they claimed they would give a ring to Bartman, who declined. Watch the incident.
2017 – Harvey Weinstein is expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after revelations of decades of sexual misconduct. Weinstein was convicted on two felony counts in 2020 and sentenced to 23 years in prison. Five months after his conviction, Weinstein was extradited to California to face additional charges.
1883 – The Supreme Court declares unconstitutional the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which guaranteed equal treatment in public accommodations and transportation.
1924 – President Calvin Coolidge declares the Statue of Liberty a national monument. The statue, built by Gusave Eiffel, was dedicated in October 28, 1886.
1949 – Billy Graham begins his ministry with a crusade in Los Angeles, California. Graham died in 2018 at age 99. Watch a short ABC interview with America’s pastor.
1951 – “I Love Lucy” starring real-life married couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz debuts on TV and airs until 1957. Lucille Ball also starred in “The Lucy Show,” 1962-1968, and “Here’s Lucy,” 1968-1974. Ball and Arnaz divorced in 1960.
1965 – The Senate passes the Freedom of Information Act. President LBJ signed it into law on July 4, 1966.
1966 – Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale create the Black Panther Party. Seale was one of the Chicago 7 who protested at the 1968 Democrat National Convention.
1997 – Former U.S. Representative Dan Rostenkowski is released from prison after serving 15 months of a 17 month sentence for mail fraud. The fraud case was led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Rostenkowski died in 2010 at age 82.
2011 – Legoland Florida (the world’s largest Legoland theme park) opens in Winter Haven, Florida. Watch a video tour of the park.
1859 – Abolitionist John Brown leads 21 men in an unsuccessful raid on a federal arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, prior to the Civil War. They were captured the following day. Brown was put on trial for treason, sentenced to death, and hanged on December 2nd.
1916 – Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, opens a birth control clinic in Brooklyn, New York. She published many articles in the 1920s supporting eugenics, the science of improving the human population by controlled breeding to increase the desirable heritable characteristics. Hitler and the Nazi Regime used American-style eugenics during WWII to exterminate 11 million people with undesirable heritable characteristics. Sanger died in 1966 at age 86.
1923 – Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio is founded by Walt Disney. Disney died in 1966 at age 65.
1940 – The first draft lottery in the U.S. for World War II is held. Number 158 was the first number drawn.
1968 – Mexico City Summer Olympics medal winners Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise their black-gloved fists in the Black Power salute during the medal ceremony. Watch a video that includes interviews from their alma mater, San Jose State University.
1987 – Jessica McClure, age 18 months, is rescued 58 hours after falling into a 22-feet deep well shaft. Jessica is now 35 years old. Watch the amazing rescue.
1995 – The Million-Man March, led by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, is held in Washington, DC. An estimated 800,000 mostly black men attended.
2013 – The 16-day government shut-down ends and the U.S. avoids default following a deal in the Senate. It was the third longest government shut down. The debt-limit was suspended until the following February.
1888 – The first issue of “National Geographic Magazine” is released at newsstands. It cost 50 cents and did not contain any photographs.
1931 – Al Capone is convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years in prison. He died on January 25, 1947, at age 48 following a stroke, having suffered from syphilis for many years.
1933 – Albert Einstein arrives in the U.S. as a refugee from Nazi Germany. In August 1939, Einstein wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt warning him that the Nazis were working on an atomic bomb. This led to the Manhattan Project.
1967 – The controversial musical “Hair” premieres off Broadway at the Joseph Papp’s Public Theater. “Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” opened on Broadway in April 1968 for 1,750 performances. In 1969, the original Broadway cast recording received a Grammy Award and sold nearly 3 million copies in the U.S. It also charted at # 1 on the Billboard 200, the last Broadway cast album to do so. The movie “Hair” was released in 1979.
1978 – President Jimmy Carter signs a bill passed by Congress restoring citizenship to former Confederate President Jefferson Davis. In 1876, Davis was specifically excluded from an amnesty bill that restored citizenship to former Confederates. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment (giving citizenship and equal protection of the law for former slaves) states that anyone who participated in an insurrection or rebellion (the Civil War) could not hold public office unless two-thirds of Congress voted to remove the restriction. Before the Civil War, Jeff Davis was the Secretary of War (1853-1857) and a Mississippi senator (1847-1851 & 1857-1861).
1986 – The U.S. Senate approves an immigration bill prohibiting the hiring of illegal aliens and offers amnesty to illegal aliens who entered prior to 1982.
1989 – An earthquake in San Francisco (6.9 on the Richter scale) kills 67 people and leads to the cancellation of game 3 of the World Series. Watch earthquake footage and interviews.
2007 – Exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama receives the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal from President George W. Bush (43).
Image from: billygraham.org