This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“No problem of human making is too great to be overcome by
human ingenuity, human energy, and the untiring hope of the human spirit.”
President George H. W. Bush
Week of Oct. 21-27, 2019
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.”
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.
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.
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 79 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 350.org, 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.
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.
1787 – The “Federalist Papers” are published calling for the ratification of the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote the series of 85 articles and essays.
1881 – Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp along with Doc Holliday are involved in a gunfight near the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, against Billy and Ike Clanton along with Tom and Frank McLaury. Billy Clanton and both McLaury brothers were killed. Virgin and Morgan were wounded.
1916 – Margaret Sanger (eugenicist and future Planned Parenthood founder) is arrested for obscenity by advocating birth control. Eugenics is the science of improving the human population by controlled reproduction in order to increase desirable characteristics and decrease undesirable characteristics. Sanger was an outspoken supporter of Eugenics, which was used by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
1919 – President Woodrow Wilson’s veto of the Volstead Act (Prohibition Enforcement Bill) is overridden by the Senate, leading the passage of the 18th Amendment after it is ratified by the states.
1958 – Pan Am flies the first transatlantic jet trip from New York to Paris. Pam Am started in 1927 and filed for bankruptcy in 1991.
1962 – President JFK warns Russia that the U.S. will not allow Soviet missiles to remain in Cuba. Nikita Khrushchev sent a note to JFK the following day offering to withdraw his missiles from Cuba if the U.S. closed its bases in Turkey. The offer was rejected.
1977 – The experimental space shuttle Enterprise successfully lands at Edwards Air Force Base in California after separating from a 747 aircraft. The space shuttle was originally named Constitution, but a successful write-in campaign from Star Trek fans led to the name change. Watch a video of the live separation:
1988 – American and Soviet icebreakers free two whales that had been trapped for nearly 3 weeks in an Arctic ice pack.
2001 – The U.S. passes the USA PATRIOT Act into law. PATRIOT is an acronym for Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.
2012 – China blocks the New York Times from Internet searches and social media in response to an investigation into Premier Wen Jiabao.
1795 – The Treaty of San Lorenzo provides for the free navigation of Mississippi River.
1838 – Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs issues the Executive Order 44, which orders all Mormons to leave the state or be exterminated. It was signed in the aftermath of the Battle of Crooked River, a clash between Mormons and a unit of the Missouri State Guard in northern Ray County, Missouri, that resulted in four fatalities.
1871 – Boss Tweed (William Magear Tweed), New York State Senator/ U.S. Representative (D-NY), and Tammany Hall leader, is arrested after the New York Times and cartoonist Thomas Nast expose his corruption. Tweed was convicted on 204 of the 220 corruption counts, fined, and sentenced to 12 years in prison (later reduced to one year). After his release, the state of New York filed civil suit to recover $6 million in embezzled funds. Jailed again, Tweed escaped and fled to Spain, was arrested and imprisoned again. Tweed agreed to testify about his corruption ring in exchange for his release, but Gov. Tilden refused to honor the agreement. Tweed died in prison in 1878 at age 55.
1904 – On the first day of operation of the New York City subway, 350,000 people ride the 9.1-mile track. It was the world’s first subway and the fare was 5 cents. A NYC subway single-ride ticket now costs $3.
1938 – DuPont announces its new synthetic fiber will be called “nylon.” It was patented in 1935. Wallace Carothers, its inventor, died in 1937 at age 41. Nylon stockings went on sale for the first time on October 24, 1939, in Wilmington, Delaware.
1954 – Walt Disney’s first television program, “The Disneyland Story,” premieres on TV. The show was renamed “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” and aired until 1992. Watch the opening credits and a history of Disney:
1969 – Ralph Nader sets up a consumer organization known as Nader’s Raiders. The former presidential candidate (1972, 1992, 1996, and 2000) is 85 years old.
1983 – Larry Flynt, Hustler Magazine publisher, pays a hit man $1 million to kill Hugh Hefner, Bob Guccione, Walter Annenberg, and Frank Sinatra. The alleged hit man, mercenary and former OSS operative Mitchell WerBell III, died soon after of an apparent heart attack. WerBell founded a company in the 1960s that produced firearm suppressors (mistakenly called silencers). Flynt, now age 75, was shot and paralyzed in 1978. The confessed shooter, Joseph Franklin, was never charged.
2004 – The Boston Red Sox win the World Series for the first time in 86 years. The Boston White Sox won in 2005 after an 87-year drought, and the Chicago Cubs won in 2016 after a 107-year drought.
Image from en.wikipedia.org