This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“The most effective way to destroy people is to
deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
Week of Oct. 8-14, 2018
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 report on Sgt. York including an interview with his son:
1956 – Donald James Larsen (New York Yankees) pitches the first perfect game in the history of the World Series. Watch a report, including actual footage and an interview with Larsen:
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 as many as 85 people.
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.
1855 – Joshua Stoddard of Worcester, Massachusetts, patents the first calliope. The musical instrument was used to attract attention for circuses and arriving steamboats.
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 have one daughter, Lisa Marie, who is now 50 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. 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:
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 nominates Gerald Ford as Vice President on October 12th to replace Spiro Agnew. Gerald Ford becomes president when Nixon resigns in 1974 amid the Watergate scandal.
1978 – Congress approves the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin. It is minted from 1979 to 1981 and again in 1999. About 900 million coins were minted in all. 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 Schmeider 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 does not reach its destination and falls 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:
1983 – The last hand-cranked telephones in the U.S. go out of service when 440 telephone customers in Bryant Pond, Maine, are switched over to direct-dial.
1984 – Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan is the first American woman to walk in space. She flew on three Space Shuttle missions and logs 532 hours in space. Sullivan is now the Charles Lindbergh Chair of Aerospace History at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. Watch a brief lecture about how Buzz Aldrin inspired her to become an astronaut:
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.
1994 – The Colorado Supreme Court declares that the anti-gay rights measure in the state is unconstitutional.
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 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.
1915 – Ford Motor Company manufactures its 1 millionth Model T automobile.
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 is 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. Watch one of the video memoirs – 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.
2001 – A special episode of the TV show America’s Most Wanted airs at the request of President George W. Bush and focuses on 22 wanted terrorists.
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” is 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 renames the presidential residence the White House on October 12, 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:
1999 – The U.S. Senate rejects ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
1773 – The United Kingdom’s East India Company ship’s cargo of tea on the ship Peggy Stewart is burned at Annapolis, Maryland. The Boston Tea Party was December 16th.
1912 – Presidential candidate Teddy Roosevelt is shot while campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The bullet struck Roosevelt’s metal eyeglasses case before entering his chest. He delivered his 90-minute speech before going to the hospital. The would-be assassin John Schrank was deemed insane and confined for life to an asylum. Woodrow Wilson won the 1912 election.
1947 – Chuck Yeager, in a Bell XS-1, makes the first supersonic flight at Mach 1.015, becoming the first person to break the sound barrier. Watch a short report on the flight:
1960 – Senator John F. Kennedy first suggests creating the Peace Corps while campaigning at the University of Michigan. Newly elected President Kennedy signs Executive Order 10924 establishing the Peace Corps in March of 1961.
1962 – U.S. U-2 espionage planes locate Soviet-supplied missile launchers in Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis started when Cuban anti-aircraft gunners opened fire on the U.S. reconnaissance planes on October 27th. Khrushchev in Russia blinked first.
1964 – Martin Luther King Jr. wins the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.
1968 – The first live telecast from space to Earth is made from the manned U.S. spacecraft Apollo 7.
1978 – “Rescue from Gilligan’s Island” becomes the first TV movie made from a TV series. Watch a TV ad for CHIPS and the Gilligan’s Island TV movie:
1996 – Dow Jones closes over 6,000 for first time (6,010).
2001 – Toys “R” Us introduces the new version of Geoffrey the giraffe as a life-like giraffe. The toy store redesigned the character again in 2007 as a cartoon giraffe. The national toy retailer closed all of its stores in June of 2018 and filed for bankruptcy.
2003 – Baseball fan Steve Bartman deflects the ball away from Chicago Cubs outfielder Moises Alou. Bartman was escorted from the stadium under police protection. The Cubs, who were leading in the game, gave up eight runs in the inning and lose to the Florida Marlins 8-3. The Bartman incident was seen as the turning point in the National League Championship Series. Watch the incident:
Image from National Park Service