This Week in History: Oct 19-25, 2020


This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history
is the most important of all the lessons of history.” Aldous Huxley

Oct 19-25, 2020

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.

1914 – The U.S. post office first uses an automobile to collect and deliver mail.

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.

1992 – The first World Series game outside of the U.S. is played when the Toronto Blue Jays host the Atlanta Braves. Toronto won the game, and the World Series 4 games to 2.

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 – Former 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.

1925 – The U.S. Treasury Department announces that it has fined 29,620 people for prohibition (of alcohol) violations.

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. Turner’s daughter is born five months after his kidnapping by Pro-Iranian terrorists.

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 is 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.

October 23

1813 – The Pacific Fur Company trading post in Astoria, Oregon, (named for John Jacob Astor) is sold to their rival, British North West Company, during the War of 1812. The fur trade in the Pacific Northwest was dominated for the next three decades by the United Kingdom until the beaver population dwindles.

1850 – About 900 people attend the first national Woman’s Rights Convention convenes in Worcester, Massachusetts. Speakers included Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, and Frederick Douglass.

1910 – Blanche Stuart Scott becomes the first woman to fly solo in an airplane at a public event when she flies at an air meet in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1912 Scott became the first female test pilot.

1956 – NBC broadcasts the first videotaped recording. The tape of comedian Jonathan Winters was seen coast to coast across the U.S. Watch the opening credits.

1981 – The U.S. national debt tops $1 trillion. It now tops $22.8 trillion (about $1 trillion more than this time last year).

2001 – Apple releases the iPod.

2015 – Singer-songwriter Adele releases her single “Hello,” which becomes the first song with more than a million downloads in its first week. No song has topped it.

October 24

1861 – The first transcontinental telegram is sent, leading to the end of the Pony Express.

1901 – Annie Taylor becomes the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. The 43-year-old Michigan teacher survived the drop. The next attempt wasn’t until 10 years later – by a man. Taylor’s barrel is on display as part of the Daredevil Gallery at the IMAX Theatre in Niagara Falls.

1911 – Orville Wright remains in the air in his glider for 9 minutes and 45 seconds at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, setting a new world record that stood for the next 10 years. Watch a video of the flight of a replica marking the 100th anniversary of the historic flight, with interviews.

1926 – Harry Houdini’s last performance is at the Garrick Theatre in Detroit, Michigan. Houdini died a few days later (on Halloween) at the age of 52.

1946 – A camera on board the V-2 No. 13 rocket launched from White Sands, Mew Mexico, takes the first photograph of earth from outer space.

1987 – Robert Bork’s Supreme Court nomination is rejected by the U.S. Senate, mostly along party lines. He was one of only three Supreme Court nominees to ever be opposed by the ACLU. The Supreme Court opening was eventually filled by Anthony Kennedy. Justice Kennedy’s seat was filled by Judge Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

1989 – Televangelist Rev. Jim Bakker is sentenced to 45 years for fraud but serves only 4 years. He is now 80 years old. His wife, Tammy Faye Bakker, died in 2007 at age 65. Watch an interview with the Bakkers.

2002 – Police arrest spree-murderers 42-year-old John Allen Muhammad and 17-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo, ending the Beltway sniper attacks in and around Washington, DC, that kills 10 people and wounds 3 others. Muhammad was sentenced to death and was executed by lethal injection in Virginia in 2009. Malvo received life without parole, which was overturned on appeal because of his age.

2003 – The Concorde makes its last commercial flight from New York City to London. The first Concorde flight was in 1969.

2009 – The First International Day of Climate Action is held. It was organized by, founded by American environmentalist Bill McKibben in 2007. The group’s name came from their global campaign to address a claimed global warming crisis that worked to pressure world leaders to reduce carbon dioxide levels from 400 parts per million to 350 parts per million.

October 25

1870 – Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness Stakes, opens in Baltimore, Maryland. Pimlico, the second jewel in horse racing’s Triple Crown, is the second oldest racetrack in the U.S. behind Saratoga.

1903 – The U.S. Senate begins investigating the Teapot Dome scandal during the Harding administration over bribes for oil reserves in Montana without competitive bidding.

1955 – Tappan sells the first microwave oven. It cost $1,295.

1971 – Roy Disney dedicates Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. His brother Walt Disney died in 1966. Watch the dedication.

1978 – Gaylord Perry is the first pitcher to win the Cy Young Award in both leagues (AL – 1972 with the Cleveland Indians; NL – 1978 with the San Diego Padres).

2003 – The Florida Marlins defeat the New York Yankees in the 100th World Series 4 games to 2. The Marlins became one of only six wild card teams to win the World Series, and the only team to do it twice (also in 1997.) Watch the final tag out for the Marlins’ World Series win.

2004 – Fidel Castro, Cuba’s President, announces that transactions using the American Dollar will be banned by November 8.

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