This Week in History: Oct. 16-22, 2023


This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann

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

Oct. 16-22, 2023

October 16

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 Sanger-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 37 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.

October 17

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).

October 18

1648 – Boston shoemakers form the first U.S. labor organization.

1767 – Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon complete their surveying and draw a line between Maryland and Pennsylvania to resolve a dispute between the British colonies and Colonial America. The term “Mason-Dixon Line” wasn’t used until the 1820 Missouri Compromise identified it as the boundary between slave and free territories.

1867 – The U.S. takes formal possession of Alaska after purchasing it from Russia for $7.2 million on March 30th. The treaty with Russia was negotiated by Secretary of State William Henry Seward, leading it to be called Seward’s Folly. Gold was discovered in the Klondike region in 1896.

1950 – Connie Mack (Cornelius McGillicuddy) retires as manager of Philadelphia Athletics after 50 years, making him the longest serving manager in baseball history. He is also the winningest manager with 3,731 wins. Mack died in 1956 at age 93.

1962 – Dr. Watson (U.S.) and Drs. Crick and Wilkins (Britain) win the Nobel Prize for Medicine for work in determining structure of DNA. Wilkins’s colleague Rosalind Franklin died of cancer in 1958 at age 37 and could not be honored. Crick and Wilkins both died in 2004. James Watson is now 95 years old.

1977 – Reggie Jackson hits 3 consecutive home runs (off three different pitchers), tying Babe Ruth’s World Series record. The Yankees beat the Dodgers 4 games to 2. Jackson was named MVP for the Series. Mr. October is now 77 years old. Albert Pujols (2011) and Pablo Sandoval (2012) also hit 3 consecutive home runs in a World Series game. Watch Jackson’s third homer.

1997 – The Women in Military Service for America Memorial honoring U.S. servicewomen, past and present, is dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery.

2009 – Quarterback Tom Brady throws five touchdowns in the 2nd quarter against the Tennessee Titans, setting a National Football League record for the most touchdown passes in one quarter. The record still stands, but the players kneel.

October 19

1781 – The Revolutionary War ends when General Charles Cornwallis surrenders to American and French forces at Yorktown, Virginia. Feigning illness, Cornwallis sent his Brigadier General to surrender. George Washington sent his second-in-command to accept it.

1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman in the U.S. to receive a medical degree.

1919 – Salvation Army commander Evangeline Booth is the first woman awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. It was presented by President Woodrow Wilson. Watch her 1934 acceptance speech on being selected to head the International Salvation Army.

1951 – President Harry Truman formally ends the state of war with Germany. Congress declared war on Germany on December 11, 1941, four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. President FDR signed the unanimous declaration the same day.

1970 – John Frazier of the “People of the Free Universe” declares that World War 3 will begin and then he murders Dr. Ohta and his family in Santa Cruz, California. Frazier’s death sentence was changed to life in prison after California’s death penalty was ruled unconstitutional in 1972. He committed suicide in prison by hanging himself in 2009 at age 62.

1977 – The ban on the Supersonic Concorde jets landing in the U.S is lifted. The first Concorde landed in New York on November 22nd. Only 20 Concorde jets were built in France and all the Concorde jets were bought by British Airways in 1983. The fleet of jets was retired in 2003.

1983 – The Senate establishes the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday. The first Dr. King holiday was celebrated on January 20, 1986.

2005 – Hurricane Wilma becomes the most intense Atlantic hurricane on record with the lowest pressure reading of 882 millibars.

October 20

1818 – The 49th parallel becomes the border between the United States and Canada.

1864 – President Lincoln formally establishes Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

1873 – P. T. Barnum’s Hippodrome opens in New York City featuring “The Greatest Show on Earth.” It was destroyed in a fire on December 23, 1873.

1902 – Marian Nolan, the California Venus, is shot to death by Edward Marshuts, who then kills himself. Nolan, at age 16, won a beauty contest as the most beautiful girl in California and had a statue made of her likeness. The statue is now located in the Oakland Museum of California.

1949 – Eugenie Anderson becomes the first woman U.S. ambassador (to Denmark). She died in 1997 at the age of 87.

1967 – Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin film a purported sighting of a Bigfoot. Watch the famous footage (no sound).

1973 – President Nixon proclaims Olympic gold medalist Jim Thorpe the greatest athlete of the first half of the 20th century.

1975 – The Supreme Court rules teachers could spank their pupils after a warning when it affirms without comment a Federal Court decision.

1988 – Los Angeles is the first city to have both baseball and basketball championship teams when the LA Dodgers beat the Oakland A’s 4 games to 1 in the World Series. The LA Lakers beat the Detroit Pistons 4 games to 3 in the NBA finals in June.

1993 – The highest scoring World Series game is played. The final score was Blue Jays 15, Phillies 14 (29 runs), in the 4 hour and 14 minute game. The highest scoring regular season game was played on August 25, 1922, when the Chicago Cubs beat the Philadelphia Phillies 26 to 23 (49 runs).

2003 – Kirk Jones, a 40-year-old unemployed salesman, goes over Niagara Falls without safety devices in a suicide attempt and survives. He was charged with illegally performing a stunt and fined $3,000.

2015 – Vice President Joe Biden confirms he will not run for president.

October 21

1774 – The first display of the word “Liberty” is on a flag raised by colonists in Taunton, Massachusetts, in defiance of British rule in Colonial America.

1918 – Margaret Owen set the world typing speed record at 170 words per minute (wpm) on a manual typewriter. She won four world speed typing championships, including three consecutive titles from 1915 to 1917. The average person types 38 to 40 words per minute. The Guinness Book of World Records lists Barbara Blackburn as the fastest typist. She typed 150 wpm for 50 minutes, with a top speed of 212 wpm.

1991 – U.S. hostage Jesse Turner is released after almost five years in captivity in Beirut, Lebanon. Nearly 100 people were kidnapped during the 10-year period from 1982-1992 by Pro-Iranian terrorists. Turner’s daughter was born five months after his kidnapping.

1998 – The New York Yankees set a major league baseball record of 125 victories for the regular and postseason combined.

2001 – “United We Stand” benefit concert for September 11, 2001, terrorist attack victims is held at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The event is organized and headlined by Michael Jackson and features pop stars Aerosmith, Mariah Carey, and The Backstreet Boys. Watch a star-studded group sing-along.

2015 – This is the date when Marty McFly (aka Michael J. Fox) arrives in the future in the movie “Back to the Future, Part II.”

October 22

1836 – Sam Houston is inaugurated as the first elected president of the Republic of Texas. In 1994, a 70-foot-tall statue of Sam Houston was unveiled in Texas.

1907 – Ringling Brothers “Greatest Show on Earth” buys Barnum & Bailey circus. They toured separately until the first combined performance in 1919 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Ringling Bros, and Barnum & Bailey Circus closed down in 2017.

1939 – The first televised NFL game features the Eagles vs the Dodgers. Watch excerpts from the 1939 football championship game (no sound).

1962 – President JFK imposes a naval blockade on Cuba, beginning the Cuban Missile Crisis.

1981 – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the artificial sweetener aspartame for tabletop use.

2010 – The International Space Station (ISS) set the record (3,641 days) for the longest continuous human occupation of space. It is the ninth space station and has been continuously inhabited since November 2, 2000. Since the U.S. Space Shuttle program ended in 2011, Russian Soyuz rockets have been the only means of transportation for astronauts to and from the ISS.

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