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. 7-13, 2019
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.
1916 – Georgia Tech defeats Cumberland College 222-0 in the most lopsided college football game in history.
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 60 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 continues to serve. Justice Thomas is now 71 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.
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.
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 51 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.
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.
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.
1692 – The Massachusetts Bay Colony discontinues the witch trials in Salem. A total of 20 “witches” were executed, including eight women who were hanged on September 22nd.
1773 – America’s first insane asylum opens in Williamsburg, Virginia, for “Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds.” The building is destroyed in an 1885 fire. The grounds were excavated in 1972, the building was reconstructed, and it opened as a museum in 1985.
1792 – The first monument honoring Christopher Columbus is dedicated in Baltimore, Maryland. In August 2017, the monument was vandalized. Watch a news report that includes a video made by the vandals:
1892 – The original version of the Pledge of Allegiance is first recited in public schools in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Columbus landing. The pledge was written by Francis Bellamy.
1920 – Man O’War runs his last race and wins. He retired and sired 379 foals, including future Triple Crown winner War Admiral (1937).
1928 – The iron lung, invented by Philip Drinker and Louis Shaw, is first used at the Boston Children’s Hospital. It was used to successfully treat a girl suffering from polio.
1961 – The first video memoirs by a U.S. president are made when Walter Cronkite interviews Dwight D. Eisenhower on the 20th anniversary of D-Day.
1977 – The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the “reverse discrimination” case of Allan Bakke, a white student twice denied admission to the University of California Medical School. In June 1978 the Supreme Court ruled that affirmative action was constitutional, but it invalidated the use of racial quotas. Bakke eventually graduated from medical school and became an anesthesiologist.
2000 – The USS Cole is badly damaged in Yemen by two suicide bombers, killing 17 crew and wounding at least 39.
2017 – The long-lost bust of Napoleon by famed sculptor August Rodin is found in the town hall in Madison, New Jersey. The 700-pound sculpture, on display there for 85 years, is valued at over $4 million. The bust is now on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
1775 – The Continental Congress creates the U.S. Navy. The U.S. Army is created on June 14, 1775.
1792 – Robert B. Thomas publishes “The Farmer’s Almanac.” The word “Old” was added to the title after 39 years. It is the oldest continuously published periodical in America.
1792 – George Washington lays the cornerstone of the Executive Mansion. President Teddy Roosevelt renamed the presidential residence the White House in 1901.
1947 – “Kukla, Fran & Ollie” premieres on TV and airs until 1947. Kukla (a clown) and Ollie (a dragon) were puppets with Fran Allison as the hostess. Burr Tillstrom was the show’s creator and puppeteer. Burr died in 1985 at age 68 and Fran died in 1989 at age 81. Watch part of a very early episode:
1982 – The International Olympic Committee Executive Committee approves the reinstatement of Jim Thorpe’s gold medals from the 1912 Olympics. Thorpe was stripped of his medals after his amateur status is nullified. Thorpe died in 1953 at age 64.
1987 – The U.S. Navy first uses trained dolphins for military purposes in the Persian Gulf. The dolphins detect and mark underwater mines. The Navy used over 100 dolphins as part of the program. Watch a report about the training:
2016 – Bob Dylan is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” He refused to accept the price until March 2017.
Image from nypost.com