This Week in History: Oct. 23-29, 2023


This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann

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

Oct. 23-29, 2023

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 dwindled.

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 $33.6 trillion (about $5 trillion more than this time last year).

2001 – Apple releases the iPod. It sold for $399. Apple now sells the 7th generation iPod Touch for $299.

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. The mail service relay of horse-mounted riders lasted from April 1860 to October 1861.

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.

1989 – Televangelist Rev. Jim Bakker is sentenced to 45 years for fraud but serves only 4 years. He is now 83 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 in New York.

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).

2004 – Fidel Castro, Cuba’s President, announces that transactions using the American Dollar will be banned by November 8th. Castro died in 2016 at age 90.

October 26

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 Earp 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.

1958 – Pan Am makes the first transatlantic jet flight from New York to Paris. Pam Am started in 1927 and filed for bankruptcy in 1991.

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.

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’s vast wealth while serving in the Chinese government.

October 27

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 costs $2.75.

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 89 years old.

1988 – Investigators learn that Larry Flynt, Hustler Magazine publisher, paid a hit man $1 million in 1983 to kill Hugh Hefner, Bob Guccione, Walter Annenberg, and Frank Sinatra. The alleged hit man, mercenary and former OSS operative Mitchell WerBell III, died in 1983 after of an apparent heart attack. A defendant in an unrelated murder case accused Flynt of poisoning him. Flynt, who died in February, was shot and paralyzed in 1978. The confessed shooter, Joseph Franklin, was never charged.

1997 – Microsoft argues it retains “unfettered liberty to design its products to meet customer demand free from government interference.” The Justice Department’s antitrust department petitioned U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson to find Microsoft in contempt of a 1995 consent decree to desist from unfair practices.

2018 – A gunman shoots and kills 11 people and injures 6 in an anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Robert Bowers, the 46-year-old gunman, was shot multiple times by police before he was arrested. Bowers, held without bond, is not expected to stand tried on federal and state charges until 2023.

October 28

1636 – Harvard University is founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts, making it the oldest university in America.

1858 – Macy’s Department store opens in New York City. Rowland Macy opened the store after his first seven business ventures failed. Macy died in 1877 at age 54.

1886 – The Statue of Liberty is dedicated by President Grover Cleveland. The event was celebrated by the first confetti (ticker tape) parade in New York City. The inscription, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses …” is part of the poem “The New Colossus” written by Emma Lazarus in 1883 to raise funds for the statue’s pedestal. A plaque, with the entire poem, was added to the pedestal in 1903.

1904 – The St. Louis Police Department is the first to try a new investigation method when they test for fingerprints.

1919 – Congress passes the Volstead Act over President Wilson’s veto, which starts Prohibition. It lasted 13 years, until the 21st amendment repealed it.

1962 – Soviet leader Khrushchev agrees to remove missiles from Cuba, ending the 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis.

1965 – The Gateway Arch along the waterfront in St. Louis, Missouri, is completed. It is the world’s tallest arch at 630 feet, and the tallest man-made monument in the Northern Hemisphere. Take a brief tour of the arch.

1985 – John A. Walker Jr. and his 22-year-old son Michael Lance Walker plead guilty to charges of spying for the Soviet Union. John A. Walker Jr. was sentenced to life in prison and died in 2014 at age 77. Michael Lance Walker was released from prison in 2000 after serving 15 years of his 25-year sentence.

2005 – Lewis Libby, Vice-president Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, is indicted in the Valerie Plame/CIA case. Libby resigned later that day. Libby, who had nothing to do with the release of Plame’s name as a CIA agent, was convicted of perjury and sentenced to 30 months in prison. President Bush commuted Libby’s sentence, but did not pardon him.

October 29

1682 – William Penn lands in what will become his name sake state, Pennsylvania.

1929 – On what is known as “Black Tuesday” the stock market crashes, triggering “The Great Depression.” This is not to be confused with the “Depression of 1893,” which was caused by the Panic of 1893 after the dramatic drop in wheat prices and the receivership of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad.

1940 – The first peacetime military draft begins in the U.S.

1960 – Eighteen-year-old Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) wins his first professional fight, beating Tunney Hunsaker by decision in 6 rounds. Ali died in 2016 at age 74. Watch part of the bout (no sound).

1966 – The National Organization of Women (NOW) is founded by Shirley Chisholm, Betty Friedan, and Muriel Fox.

1998 – The Space Shuttle Discovery blasts off on Mission STS-95 with 77-year old John Glenn on board, making Glenn the oldest person to go into space. Glenn was the first American is space in 1962. Glenn died in 2016 at age 95.

2004 – The Arabic news network Al Jazeera broadcasts an excerpt from a video of Osama bin Laden in which the terrorist leader first admits direct responsibility for the September 11, 2001 attacks and references the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

Image from: Explore St. Louis

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments