This Week in History: Oct 25-31, 2021

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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 25-31, 2021




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).

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 now 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 87 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.


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, 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.


October 30

1873 – The P. T. Barnum’s circus debuts in New York City. In 1919, the Barnum & Bailey Circus merged with Ringling Brothers to become “The Greatest Show on Earth”. The circus closed in May 2017 citing lower attendance and higher operating costs. Watch a CBS This Morning report on the end of an American institution.



1900 – The first-ever major U.S. auto show opens in Madison Square Garden in New York City. The cars ranged in price from $280 to $4,000. None of the 66 automakers whose cars were on display exist today, including the Electric Vehicle Company, Columbia Automobile Company, Winton Motor Carriage Company, Stanley Motor Carriage Company, Locomobile Company of America, and Oldsmobile. The car show has been held annually in New York since 1900.

1938 – Orson Welles creates a national panic with his radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds.” The radio drama was an adaptation of the 1897 novel “The War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells. Announcements were made four times during the broadcast that it was an adaptation of a work of fiction. Orson Welles and H.G. Wells met in October 1940 for a radio interview two years after the broadcast. H.G. Wells died in 1946 at age 79 and Orson Welles died in 1985 at age 70.

1945 – Branch Rickey signs Jackie Robinson to the Montreal Royals baseball team to break the major league color barrier.

1974 – California Angels pitcher Nolan Ryan throws the fastest recorded baseball pitch at 100.9 MPH. On September 24, 2010, San Diego Padres pitcher Aroldis Chapman bested that by throwing a 105.1 MPH pitch. Watch a video of the top 5 fastest throwing pitchers in MLB history.



2012 – Walt Disney purchases Lucasfilm Ltd. and its rights for Star Wars and Indiana Jones for $4.05 billion.


October 31

1846 – The Donner party, unable to cross the Sierra Nevada pass, constructs a winter camp. Only 48 of the 90 people who left Illinois arrived in California the following spring after three rescue attempts. Some of them resorted to cannibalism to survive.

1913 – The first U.S. paved coast-to-coast highway, the Lincoln Highway, is dedicated. It ran from Lincoln Park, California, to New York City, New York, and spanned 3,389 miles.

1926 – Magician Harry Houdini dies of gangrene and peritonitis resulting from a ruptured appendix. His appendix had been damaged twelve days earlier when a student unexpectedly punched Houdini in the stomach. Houdini was 52 years old.

1941 – Mount Rushmore in South Dakota is declared complete after 14 years of work. It shows the 60-foot busts of U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

1950 – Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola of Puerto Rico attempt to kill President Truman at his Blair House residence in Washington, DC. Torresola shot and mortally wounded police guard Leslie Coffelt, but not before the officer shot and killed Torresola. Collazo was captured, tried, and sentenced to death. His sentence was later commuted to life in prison. In 1979, President Carter reduced his sentence to time served (27 years) and Collazo was released. He died in Puerto Rico in 1994 at age 80.

1959 – Lee Harvey Oswald announces from Moscow that he will never return to the U.S. Oswald returned to the U.S. and then assassinated President Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

1968 – President Lyndon B. Johnson orders a halt to all U.S. bombing of North Vietnam, which started in June of 1965.

2002 – A federal grand jury in Houston, Texas, formally indicts former Enron Corp. chief financial officer Andrew Fastow on 78 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice related to the collapse of his company Enron. In 2006, Fastow was sentenced to only six years in prison and was released in 2011. Fastow is now 59 years old.

2003 – Bethany Hamilton, age 14, has her arm bitten off by a shark while surfing in Hawaii. Her story was the basis for the 2011 inspirational movie “Soul Surfer.” Hamilton is now 31 years old. Watch Bethany tell her own story.




Image from: history.com


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