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
Sept 20-26, 2021
1797 – The U.S. frigate Constitution (Old Ironsides) is launched in Boston. The Constitution was retired from service in 1881 and designated a museum ship in 1907. It sailed under its own power in 1997 to commemorate its 200th anniversary and is berthed in Boston.
1814 – “The Star Spangled Banner” is published as a song. Francis Scott Key wrote the poem “The Defence of Fort McHenry” during the War of 1812. John Stafford Smith wrote the tune. It became our National Anthem in 1929.
1884 – The Equal Rights Party is the first political party to nominate female candidates for both President (Belva Ann Lockwood) and Vice President (Marieta Stow). Belva Ann Lockwood, a lawyer, was also the first woman to argue before the Supreme Court.
1924 – Carl Mays becomes the first pitcher to win 20 games in each season for 3 different teams. He also holds the dubious distinction of being the only player to cause the death of another player. In 1920, Mays hit batter Ray Chapman in the head with a pitch and Chapman died the next day.
1973 – Billie Jean King (age 29) beats Bobby Riggs (age 55) in the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match. King is now 76 years old. Riggs died in 1995 at age 77. Watch a report about the match.
2001 – President George W. Bush declares a “war on terror” in an address to a joint session of Congress and the American people.
2011 – The U.S. ends its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the military for the first time. The policy was initiated by the Clinton Administration in 1994.
1780 – Benedict Arnold gives British Major John Andre the plans for an attack on West Point. Major Andre was captured and was hanged on October 2nd. Benedict Arnold escaped and became an officer in the British Army.
1897 – The New York Sun runs the famous “Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus” editorial in response to a letter written by 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon. Virginia met Santa Claus in 1969. She died in 1971 at age 81. Santa Claus is still living.
1922 – President Warren G. Harding signs a joint resolution of approval to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
1954 – The first nuclear submarine, USS Nautilus, is commissioned under the Command of Eugene P. Wilkinson. It was named for Jules Verne’s fictional submarine in “Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea.” The Nautilus was the first vessel to navigate the North Pole. It was decommissioned in 1980.
1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor becomes the first female Supreme Court Justice. She served until retirement on January 31, 2006. O’Connor is now 91 years old. Watch a brief bio.
1981 – The IBM-PC computer is introduced. When it went on sale to the public in August it cost $1,565.
2008 – Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the two last remaining independent investment banks on Wall Street, become bank holding companies as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis.
1789 – The Office of Postmaster General is created under the Treasury Department. Ben Franklin was the first Postmaster General.
1863 – President Lincoln makes his Emancipation Proclamation speech. It was published in Northern newspapers the following day.
1893 – The Duryea brothers build America’s first automobile in Springfield, Massachusetts. It had a one-cylinder engine, three speeds, and traveled at 10 miles an hour.
1911 – Baseball pitcher Cy Young, age 44, wins his 511th and final game. The best pitcher of the year award is named for Cy Young, who died in 1955. Don Newcombe was first Cy Young winner in 1956.
1922 – Congress passes the Cable Act, under which an American woman who marries an “alien” will not lose her citizenship, neither will a women marrying an American automatically become a U.S. citizen.
1966 – The unmanned spacecraft Surveyor 2, launched on September 20th, crashes on the Moon in a failed landing attempt.
1975 – Sara Jane Moore tries to assassinate President Gerald Ford in San Francisco, California, just 17 days after Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme’s assassination attempt. Moore was convicted and given a life sentence. She was released in 2007 after serving 32 years. Moore is now 91 years old.
1985 – Willie Nelson’s first Farm Aid concert is held in Champaign, Illinois. The concert was attended by 80,000 people and raised $9 million. There have been a total of 34 concerts with various performers at different venues. Watch Willie perform at the first concert.
1993 – Nolan Ryan pitches his last game at age 46. He holds the record for the most strikeouts of all time (5,714), the most no-hitters of all time (7), and the fastest “officially recorded” pitch thrown in a baseball game (100.9 miles per hour). Ryan is the only player to have his number retired by three baseball teams (Angels, Astros, and Rangers). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999 with the second highest percentage of votes of all time (98.7% of ballots). Amazingly, Nolan Ryan never won the Cy Young Award.
2016 – Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby is charged with manslaughter for fatally shooting Terence Crutcher during a traffic stop. Autopsy results showed Crutcher had PCP and TCP in his system. Shelby was found not guilty of “unlawfully and unnecessarily” shooting Crutcher. She later resigned from the Tulsa Police Department and became an Oklahoma Sheriff’s Deputy.
1806 – Meriwether Lewis and William Clark return to St. Louis from the first overland journey from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Northwest and back.
1845 – The first official baseball team, the New York Knickerbockers, organizes and adopts a 20-rule code. The club started playing in Manhattan in 1842.
1938 – A time capsule is buried at World’s Fair in New York City. It is to be opened in 6939, some 5,000 years after it was buried. The capsule contained such items as a Life Magazine, kewpie doll, slide rule, Sears Roebuck catalog, a pack of Camel cigarettes, seeds, and microfilm. Watch the burial.
1961 – “How to Marry a Millionaire” airs on TV as the first movie to become a TV series. The movie starred Marilyn Monroe, Berry Grable, and Lauren Bacall. The TV show starred Barbara Eden, Merry Anders, and Lori Nelson and lasted for two seasons.
1992 – Manon Rheaume, at age 20, is the first female to play in a National Hockey League exhibition game. She played goalie for the Tampa Bay Lightning and gave up 2 goals on 9 attempts in 1 period. Watch her debut in a regular season game.
2002 – The first public version of the web browser Mozilla Firefox (“Phoenix 0.1”) is released.
2012 – Twenty Iranian visas are denied by the U.S., including diplomats and ministers, ahead of the UN general assembly meeting in New York City.
1657 – The first autopsy and coroner’s jury verdict in the U.S. is recorded in the colony of Maryland.
1789 – President George Washington nominates John Jay as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He served until 1795, when he resigned to become the second governor of New York.
1869 – Panic on Wall Street results from Jay Gould and Jim Fisk’s attempt to corner the gold market on the New York Gold Exchange. The price of gold plummeted in what is referred to as Black Friday.
1929 – Lt. James H. Doolittle flies a Consolidated N-Y-2 Biplane over Mitchell Field in New York in the first all-instrument (IFR) flight, using aeronautical technology he developed. Doolittle received the Medal of Honor for planning and leading bombing raids over Tokyo, Japan, during WWII, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1989. Doolittle was the first American to receive both awards.
1960 – The first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, launches from Newport News, Virginia. It was the oldest active ship in the U.S. Navy until it was decommissioned in December 2014.
1969 – The trial of the “Chicago 8” begins (protesters at the 1968 Democrat National Convention). The case of Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panthers, was declared a mistrial and the remaining group becomes the “Chicago 7.” On February 19, 1970, they were found not guilty of conspiracy, five were convicted of lesser crimes, and all (plus two of their attorneys) were cited for criminal contempt and sentenced to anywhere from three months to four years in prison.
2007 – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gives a controversial speech on the campus of Columbia University in New York City. His comments included, “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals, like in your country.” The university defended its decision citing “free speech.” Watch an AP report on the speech and protests.
1493 – Christopher Columbus sets sail with 17 ships on his second voyage to America.
1775 – American Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen, who captured Fort Ticonderoga from the British, is arrested and imprisoned in England. He was released and returned to America in 1778.
1789 – Congress adopts the Bill of Rights, which are written largely by James Madison.
1867 – Congress creates Howard University in Washington DC, the first all-black university in America.
1919 – President Woodrow Wilson is paralyzed by a stroke, but he served the rest of his second term (1917-1921). Wilson died in 1924 at age 67.
1933 – “Tom Mix” premiers on the radio and airs until 1950. Tom Mix was a real cowboy and silent screen actor, but his character was played on the radio by Art Dickson. The real Tom Mix died in an auto accident in 1940 at age 60. Watch a biography of the incomparable Tom Mix.
1957 – About 300 U.S. Army troops from the 101st Airborne Division guard 9 black students who return to Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. President Eisenhower had ordered U.S. troops to desegregate Arkansas schools. Desegregation had been blocked by the Democrat Arkansas governor Orval Faubus when he denied entrance to the high school three weeks earlier.
1992 – Gregory Kingsley, age 12, is the first American child to win the right to divorce his parents. He sued because of parental neglect and abandonment. He went to live with his foster parents and changed his name to Shawn Russ.
2018 – Bill Cosby is sentenced to 3-10 years for a 2004 sexual assault. Cosby, now 84, was the first celebrity to be sentenced to prison in the #MeToo era. Cosby was released from prison in June after his conviction was overturned.
1789 – Thomas Jefferson is appointed the first U.S. Secretary of State. Jefferson served as President from March 1801 to March 1809.
1892 – John Philip Sousa’s band makes its first public appearance at Stillman Music Hall in Plainfield, New Jersey. The March King died in 1932 at the age of 77. In 1987, “The Stars and Stripes Forever” was designated as the national march of the U.S.
1955 – The New York Stock Exchange suffers its worst decline since 1929 when the word is released concerning President Eisenhower’s heart attack.
1960 – The first of four presidential TV debates between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy takes place in Chicago. They were the first televised presidential debates. Kennedy won the election in 1960. Nixon went on to become president in 1972.
1985 – Shamu is born at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, and becomes the first killer whale to survive being born in captivity. SeaWorld announced in 2016 that it would end the controversial breeding and public shows of killer whales. Watch the birth of Shamu.
1991 – Four men and four women begin their two-year stay inside the “Biosphere II” in Oracle, Arizona. The project was intended to develop technology for future space colonies. After being plagued with problems, the mission ended prematurely in September 1994. Management of the Biosphere was transferred to Columbia University in 1995, then to the University of Arizona in 2007.
1995 – “George,” a magazine published by John F. Kennedy Jr. premieres. Kennedy died in a plane crash at the age of 38 along with his wife and sister-in-law in July of 1999.
2000 – The House of Representatives passes the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. The act states that an infant is considered to have been born alive if he or she is completely extracted or expelled from the mother, breathes, has a beating heart, and definite movement of the voluntary muscles.
2006 – Facebook, founded in 2004, officially opens to everyone at least 13 years or older with a valid email address. Facebook currently has over 2.9 billion monthly active users.
Image from: history.com