This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past,
Week of Sept. 11-17, 2017
September 11 (National Day of Service and Remembrance)
1941 – Construction begins on the Pentagon and it is completed on January 15, 1943. The Pentagon is actually located in Northern Virginia just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC.
2001 – Two passenger planes hijacked by terrorists crash into New York City’s World Trade Center Towers, causing the collapse of both buildings and killing of 2,752 people. Terrorists hijack another passenger plane and crash it into the Pentagon, killing of 125 people. A fourth hijacked airplane crashes in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers and crew attempt to regain control of the aircraft. All 64 people on board are killed. Let’s roll!
2002 – The Pentagon is rededicated after repairs are completed, exactly one year after the terrorist attack on the building.
2011 – The Memorial Plaza at the National September 11th Memorial opens for the first time during a ceremony at the World Trade Center site.
1776 – Nathan Hale, recruited by George Washington, slips behind enemy lines on Long Island, New York, on his first spy mission. Hale is arrested by the British on September 21st and hanged the following day. He was 21 years old. Hale is credited with saying, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”
1910 – Alice Stebbins Wells is appointed the world’s first female police officer by the Los Angeles Police Department.
1916 – Adelina and August Van Buren finish the first successful transcontinental motorcycle tour attempted by two women. They start in New York City on July 5th.
1935 – Millionaire Howard Hughes sets a speed record of 352.46 mph in the H-1 Racer, an airplane of his own design. He goes on to design and build the largest aircraft ever flown, the Spruce Goose, in 1947.
1954 – “Lassie” makes its television debut on TV. The last show airs in 1971. A total of nine collies played Lassie, all males. Watch the preview of the first show:
1983 – Security guard Victor Gerena robs a Wells Fargo armored car facility of $7 million. He is placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list in 1984 but is never captured. Gerena holds the distinction of being on the Most Wanted List for the longest period of time. There is still a $1 million reward for info leading to his capture.
1994 – Frank Eugene Corder steals a Cessna airplane and crashes it into White House lawn. Corder, age 38, is killed in the crash.
2001 – Article V of the NATO agreement is invoked for the first and only time in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks against the U.S. Article V states that an attack against one NATO member country is an attack against them all and allows for the use of armed force.
1788 – New York City becomes the capital of the United States. Washington, DC, becomes our nation’s capital in 1790.
1842 – Tom McCoy becomes the first recorded U.S. boxing fatality. His opponent, Christopher Lilly flees to England to avoid prosecution, but 18 others are arrested and convicted of fourth-degree manslaughter. Lilly returns to the U.S., escapes to Honduras, and is executed in 1857.
1934 – Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, baseball’s first commissioner, sells the rights to the World Series broadcast rights (for the first time) to the Ford Motor Company for $100,000.
1939 – Igor Sikorsky makes the first (tethered) flight of the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300, one of the first viable U.S. helicopters.
1948 – Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) is elected as a senator, making her the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress.
1963 – “The Outer Limits” TV show premiers and airs until 1965. Watch the show’s introduction that reaches from the inner mind to the outer limits:
1970 – Gary Muhrcke wins the first New York City Marathon in 2 hours 31 minutes 38 seconds.
1977 – The first TV “viewer discretion” warning is issued before the airing of “Soap,” a sitcom featuring Billy Crystal as a gay ventriloquist.
1983 – The U.S. mint strikes its first gold coin in 50 years. It is the Olympic Eagle.
2001 – Civilian aircraft traffic resumes in the U.S. after the September 11, 2001 attack.
2008 – Hurricane Ike makes landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast, causing heavy damage to Galveston Island, Houston, and surrounding areas.
1752 – Britain and the American colonies adopt the Gregorian calendar. There is no September 3 – September 13.
1807 – Former Vice President Aaron Burr is acquitted of treason and misdemeanor charges for trying to “raise and levy war” against the United States. Burr is also acquitted of murdering Alexander Hamilton in an 1804 duel.
1814 – Francis Scott Key is inspired to write the poem “Defense of Fort McHenry” while he is a prisoner on board a ship near Fort McHenry outside Baltimore, Maryland. The poem is renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and put to music written by English composer John Stafford Smith. The song becomes our national anthem in 1931. That original flag, now restored, is on display of the Museum of American History in Washington, DC.
1872 – Britain pays the U.S. $15 ½ million for damages done to Union ships during the Civil War by ships built by the British for the Confederacy.
1899 – Henry Bliss becomes the first automobile fatality in the U.S. He is struck and killed by a taxi when he steps off a streetcar in New York City. Manslaughter charges against the taxi driver are dropped.
1940 – Congress passes the Selective Service Act, providing the first peacetime military draft in the U.S.
1948 – The groundbreaking ceremony for the United Nations world headquarters building is held in New York City. The building is completed in 1952. Representatives from 50 member countries sign the U.N. Charter in June of 1945.
1963 – Mary Ann Fischer of Aberdeen, South Dakota, gives birth to America’s first surviving quintuplets, four girls and a boy. Fischer died in 2012 at age 79.
1964 – Walt Disney is awarded the Medal of Freedom at the White House by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
1975 – Pope Paul VI canonizes Mother Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton as the first U.S.-born saint.
1983 – The House of Representatives votes 416 to 0 in favor of a resolution condemning Russia for shooting down Korean jetliner flight 007 on September 1st.
1984 – Bette Midler and Dan Aykroyd host the first MTV awards (now called the VMAs) at Radio City Music Hall. Michael Jackson takes home 3 awards for “Thriller.” Watch the show’s opening:
1999 – Disney World closes down for the first time in its 28-year history. The closure is due to Hurricane Floyd heading for Florida.
2001 – An historic National Prayer Service is held at the Washington National Cathedral for victims of the September 11 attacks.
2015 – Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old Texas student, is arrested at school when his home-made clock is thought to be a bomb. It turns out to be a hoax. Mark Zuckerberg and President Barack Obama send out tweets supporting the student. The Mohamed family has since moved to Qatar.
1620 – The Mayflower departs Plymouth, England, with 102 pilgrims on board. They arrive at Plymouth Rock on December 21st.
1789 – The Department of Foreign Affairs is renamed the Department of State.
1853 – Antoinette Blackwell becomes the first woman in the U.S. ordained as a minister.
1949 – “The Lone Ranger” premieres on TV and airs until 1957. The theme song is March of the Swiss Soldiers, Gioachino Rossini’s finale of the William Tell Overture. Watch the intro:
1966 – President Lyndon B. Johnson, responding to a sniper attack at the University of Texas at Austin, writes a letter to Congress urging the enactment of gun control legislation.
1982 – The Gannett Company publishes the first issue of the USA Today newspaper.
1998 – It is announced that 5.9 million people read The Starr Report on the Internet and 606,000 people read the White House defense of President Clinton.
1998 – Google.com is registered as a domain name.
2008 – Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 protection with $691 billion in assets. It is the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.
1782 – The Great Seal of United States is used for first time. In June 1782 Congress commissions Charles Thomson to create the final design after three different committees fail to agree on a design.
1863 – American philanthropist Christopher Robert becomes the founder of Robert College of Istanbul-Turkey, the first American educational institution outside the U.S.
1908 – Carriage-maker William Durant becomes the founder of General Motors with $2,000 of his own money.
1926 – A hurricane that strikes in Florida and Alabama kills 372 people.
1928 – A hurricane that strikes West Palm Beach/ Lake Okeechobee, Florida kills 3,000 people.
1940 – Samuel T. Rayburn of Texas is elected Speaker of House of Representatives, where he serves until his death in 1961. The Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC, completed in 1965, is named for him.
1968 – Presidential candidate Richard Nixon appears on the “Laugh-in” TV show. Watch the 6-second video:
1974 – President Gerald Ford announces conditional amnesty for U.S. Vietnam War deserters.
1994 – Exxon Corporation is ordered by a federal jury to pay $5 billion in punitive damages to the people harmed by the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.
1998 – Universal pays $9 million for the rights to the Dr. Seuss classics “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” The Grinch movie opens in November 2000 and is directed by Ron Howard.
2008 – The failure of numerous U.S. financial institutions is a result of the subprime loans and credit defaults and leads to the “Panic of 2008.”
1778 – The first treaty between the United States and an Indian tribe is signed at Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania, with the Lenape Indians.
1787 – The U.S. constitution is adopted by the Philadelphia Convention.
1849 – Harriet Tubman escapes slavery in Maryland with two of her brothers. Over a ten-year time span Tubman makes 19 trips to the South and escorts over 300 slaves to freedom.
1859 – Joshua Norton of San Francisco declares himself Norton I, Emperor of America, after losing his money trying to corner the rice market. Norton died in 1880 at age 61.
1908 – Army Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge becomes the first person to die in a plane crash. He is a passenger with the Orville Wright.
1911 – Pilot Calbraith Perry Rodgers completes the first transcontinental airplane flight from New York to California is in 82 hours and 4 minutes. He was killed in a plane crash the following April at age 33.
1920 – The National Football League organizes in Canton, Ohio. Twelve teams pay $100 each to join American Professional Football Association. The NFL Hall of Fame opens in Canton in 1963.
1934 – RCA Victor releases the first 33 1/3 rpm recording (Beethoven’s 5th).
1947 – The U.S. Department of Defense forms, with James Forrestal as the first Secretary of Defense.
1972 – “M*A*S*H” premieres on TV and airs until 1983. The TV show lasts three times longer than the Korean War it represents.
1983 – Twenty-year-old Vanessa Williams (Miss New York), crowned the 56th Miss America, is the first black Miss America. In July 1984 nude photos taken of Williams in her freshman year of college are published in Penthouse Magazine. She is asked to resign and is allowed to keep her crown, title, and scholarship money but loses millions of dollars in endorsements. Williams, now 54, has a successful music, TV, and movie career. Watch the crowning:
1997 – Dr. Sam Sheppard’s body is exhumed for DNA test, which proves he did not murder his pregnant wife in 1954. Sheppard serves 10 years of a life sentence and is freed after the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the conviction citing the “carnival atmosphere” of the trial. Sheppard is acquitted in a 1966 retrial. The case is the basis for the TV show “The Fugitive.” Sheppard died in 1970 at age 46.
2007 – AOL, once the largest ISP in the U.S., officially announces plans to refocus the company as an advertising business and to relocate its corporate headquarters from Dulles, Virginia, to New York City, New York.
2011 – The Occupy Wall Street movement begins in Zuccotti Park, New York City. Watch young people trying to explain what they are doing:
2012 – United States and Japanese government officials agree to put a second missile defense system in Japan.
2015 – The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that the 2015 Northern Hemisphere summer was the hottest on record (based on only 150 years of records).