This Week in History: Oct 5-11, 2020

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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 5-11, 2020




October 5

1892 – The Dalton Gang’s daylight 2-bank holdup in Coffeville, Kansas, ends in a shoot-out when townspeople recognize the gang and organize the town to confront them. All the gang members except Emmett Dalton were killed. Emmett was tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison but was paroled after 14 years. He used his notoriety to become a Hollywood screenwriter. He died in 1937 at age 66.

1923 – Astronomer Edwin Hubble identifies Cepheid as a variable star. His measurements placed “M31” one million light-years away, far outside the Milky Way, making it a galaxy containing millions of stars. The Hubble Space Telescope was named for the Rhodes Scholar Edwin Hubble. He died in 1953 at age 63.

1931 – The first nonstop trans-pacific flight lands in Wenatchee, Washington, having left Misawa, Japan, some 41-hours earlier. Pilots Hugh Herndon and Clyde Pangborn performed a controlled crash landing and emerged unhurt.

1945 – “Meet the Press” premieres on the radio. It began airing on TV in November of 1947, making it the longest running TV show in U.S. history. Hosts included Lawrence Spivek, Tim Russert, Sr., and David Gregory.

1953 – The New York Yankees win their record 5th consecutive World Series. The record still stands. They also have the most World Series appearances. Watch footage with commentary from the series against the Dodgers.


1998 – The U.S. pays $60 million for Russia’s research time on the International Space Station to keep the cash-strapped Russian space agency afloat.

2015 – The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is announced by trade ministers of 12 countries in Atlanta, Georgia. The agreement was never ratified and never took effect.


October 6

1781 – American and French troops begin the siege of Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia, the last battle of Revolutionary War.

1866 – John and Simeon Reno stage the first train robbery in the U. S. when they stop a moving train. The brothers stole $13,000 from an Ohio and Mississippi train in Indiana. The Reno Brothers gang went on to rob several other trains. Vigilantes at the New Albany jail hanged the brothers on December 12, 1868.

1927 – “The Jazz Singer,” the first movie with a sound track, premieres in New York City. The movie was based on the life of singer Al Jolson. Watch Jolson at his best.


1949 – President Truman signs the Mutual Defense Assistance Act which was passed by Congress. It was the first U.S. military foreign aid legislation of the Cold War era.

1961 – President Kennedy advises American families to build or buy bomb shelters to protect them in the event of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union.

1979 – President Carter welcomes Pope John Paul II, the first Pope to visit the White House.

1991 – Elizabeth Taylor gets married for the 8th (and last) time to Larry Fortensky at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. They got divorced in 1996. Liz Taylor died in 2011 at age 79. Fortensky died in 2016 at age 64.

2010 – Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launch Instagram as a free mobile app. Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion.


October 7

1765 – Nine American colonies send a total of 28 delegates to New York City for the Stamp Act Congress. The delegates adopted the “Declaration of Rights and Grievances.”

1816 – The first double-decker, paddle-wheel steamboat, named the Washington, arrives in New Orleans. Shipbuilder Henry Shreve launched the steamboat earlier that year from the Monongahela River near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

1913 – Ford Motor Company institutes the world’s first moving assembly line for production of the Model T Ford. By 1914, it reduced the time it took to build a car from 12 hours to 93 minutes. By 1925, the Model T was manufactured at a rate of nearly 10,000 a day.

1940 – The McCollum memo proposes bringing the U.S. into the war in Europe by preparing for a possible attack by the Japanese. Lt. Commander Arthur McCollum sent an “Eight Action Memo” to President FDR outlining an eight-part plan to counter Japanese power.

1944 – Australian-born opera singer Marjorie Lawrence sings at the White House at the request of President FDR. Lawrence was stricken by polio and paralyzed from the waist down at the height of her career. She recovered but encountered obstacles when she returned to singing. FDR encouraged her to “carry on.” Watch a 1947 performance.


1968 – The Motion Picture Association of America adopts the film-rating letter system to rate a film’s thematic and content suitability for certain audiences.

1985 – Lynette Woodard, 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist in basketball, is chosen as the first woman basketball player for the Harlem Globetrotters. She played with the Globetrotters until 1987 when she joined an Italian pro basketball team. Woodard is now 61 years old. Watch a Globetrotters report.


1991 – Law Professor Anita Hill accuses Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of making sexually inappropriate comments to her. Then-Senator Joe Biden was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that conducted the hearings. Thomas was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice, where he is the longest current serving jurist. Justice Thomas is now 72 years old.

2001 – The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan starts with an air assault and covert operations on the ground. It is now America’s longest war.

2003 – Gray Davis is recalled as governor of California, three years before the official end of his office term. Movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor. The only other governor successfully recalled was Lynn Frazier of North Dakota in 1921.

2015 – President Obama apologizes to the head of Doctors Without Borders for the bombing of their hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, four days earlier that killed 42 people and injured over 30.


October 8

1871 – The Great Chicago Fire kills 200 people, destroys over 4 square miles of buildings, and burns the original Emancipation Proclamation.

1918 – During World War I, Sgt. Alvin York single-handedly kills 25 Germans and captures 132 others. Sergeant York is awarded his nation’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions. The film “Sergeant York” starring Gary Cooper becomes one of the top grossing Warner Brothers films of the entire war era and earns Cooper the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1942. Watch a short interview with the grandson of Sgt. York.


1956 – Donald James Larsen (New York Yankees) pitches the first perfect game in the history of the World Series.

1969 – The opening 3-day riots of the “Days of Rage” occurs in Chicago, Illinois. The largely unsuccessful events are organized by the Weather Underground faction of Students for a Democratic Society. There were 34 injuries and over 250 arrests. One of the main organizers was Tom Hayden, who was once married to Jane Fonda.

1993 – The U.S. government issues a report absolving the FBI of any wrongdoing in its final assault in Waco, Texas, on the Branch Davidian compound. The fire that ended the siege killed 85 men, women, and children.

2001 – President George W. Bush announces the establishment of the Office of Homeland Security. Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge was sworn in as its director.


October 9

1635 – Dissident Roger Williams is banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his religious beliefs. In 1636, he purchased land from the Narragansett Indians and founded the colony of Rhode Island.

1872 – Aaron Montgomery Ward starts his mail-order business. His first catalog contained 163 products. Ward died in 1913 at age 69.

1888 – The Washington Monument opens for public admittance. Construction began in 1848 but the completion was delayed by the Civil War. It is still the tallest stone structure in the world at 555 feet.

1930 – Aviator Laura Ingalls lands in Glendale, California, to complete the first solo transcontinental flight across the U.S. by a woman. Amelia Earhart completed the flight non-stop in 1932.

1973 – Elvis and Priscilla Presley divorce after 6 years of marriage. They had one daughter, Lisa Marie, who is now 52 years old.

1986 – The Senate impeaches U.S. District Judge Harry E. Claiborne after he is convicted in a Nevada court of tax evasion in 1984. The Senate started impeachment hearings because Claiborne did not resign and continued to receive his salary when he began serving two years in prison in March of 1986.

2009 – President Obama is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize nine months after taking office. Nomination for the prize closed just 11 days after he took office and included 204 other nominees. Obama was nominated by the Nobel Committee, in part, for calling for “a new start to relations between the Muslim world and the West based on common interests and mutual understanding and respect.” Watch Obama’s short acceptance speech.


2017 – Harvey Weinstein is fired from his own company amid allegations of sexual abuse. Although the “Me Too” movement was started in 2006 by Tarana Burke, the movement started using #MeToo following the Weinstein allegations.


October 10

1845 – The Naval School (now the U.S. Naval Academy) opens in Annapolis, Maryland. It is the second oldest military academy in the U.S. The Military Academy at West Point was founded in 1802.

1913 – President Woodrow Wilson triggers the explosion of the Gamboa Dike that ends the construction of the Panama Canal. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed the Panama Canal Treaty, giving control of the canal to Panama in 2000.

1963 – The U.S., U.K., and U.S.S.R. sign a treaty banning atmospheric nuclear tests.

1973 – Vice President Spiro T. Agnew pleads no contest to tax evasion and resigns. President Nixon nominated Gerald Ford as Vice President on October 12th to replace Spiro Agnew. Gerald Ford became president when Nixon resigns in 1974 amid the Watergate scandal.

1978 – Congress approves the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin. About 900 million coins were minted from 1979 to 1981 and again in 1999. The 11-sided coin was not well received, due in large part to its confusion with the size of the quarter. Women’s suffragette Susan B. Anthony was the first woman to be honored by having her likeness appear on a circulating U. S. coin.

1983 – NBC premieres the true life drama “Adam,” based on the 1981 murder of John Walsh’s son. Walsh launched “America’s Most Wanted” in 1988. Watch an A&E story about Adam (Note: parts of this video are disturbing).


1991 – Greyhound emerges from bankruptcy reorganization after filing for Chapter 11 protection in 1990. The company names Frank Schneider as its new CEO. Dave Leach has been the CEO since 2007.


October 11

1809 – Explorer Meriwether Lewis dies at age 35 under mysterious circumstances at an inn called Grinder’s Stand along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee. He was shot multiple times and his death remains an unsolved mystery.

1869 – Thomas Edison files for a patent on his first invention. It was an electric machine used for counting votes in Congress, but Congress did not buy it.

1890 – The Daughters of American Revolution (DAR) is founded. It is a lineage-based service organization for women who are directly descended from someone who fought in the Revolutionary War.

1929 – JC Penney opens store #1252 in Milford, Delaware, making it a nationwide company with stores in all lower 48 states. James Cash Penney died in 1971 at age 95.

1936 – The radio show “Professor Quiz” premiers as the first true quiz program and airs until 1948. The Professor was Arthur Earl Baird, who used the name Dr. Craig Earl. Contestants posed a question to Professor Quiz, and if he could not answer the question, the contestant won $25.

1950 – The Federal Communications Commission issues the first license to broadcast television in color to CBS.

1958 – The U.S. launches the lunar probe Pioneer 1. The probe did not reach its destination and fell back to Earth, burning up in the atmosphere.

1968 – Apollo 7 is launched as the first manned Apollo mission in which live television broadcasts are received from orbit.

1975 – “Saturday Night Live” premieres with George Carlin as its guest host. Carlin died in 2008 at age 71. Watch the first show with Carlin’s monologue comparing football and baseball.



1984 – Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan is the first American woman to walk in space. She flew on three Space Shuttle missions and logged 532 hours in space. Sullivan is now the Charles Lindbergh Chair of Aerospace History at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.

1984 – Vice Presidential candidates Geraldine Ferraro (D) & George H. W. Bush (R) participate in a debate. Ferraro was the first woman from a major political party to be nominated as Vice President.

2018 – The world’s longest airline flight flies from Singapore to Newark, New Jersey in just under 18 hours on its inaugural flight.



Image from: upi.org

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