This Week in History: Sept. 23-29, 2019


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 Sept. 23-29, 2019


September 23

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.

1912 – The first of Mack Sennett’s Keystone Cops Comedy movies is released. Watch the first silent movie:

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, pack of Camel cigarettes, seeds, and microfilm.

1952 – The first closed circuit pay-TV telecast of a sporting event, the Marciano-Walcott fight, aired in 49 theaters in 31 cities. Rocky Marciano knocked out the heavyweight champion “Jersey Joe” Walcott in 13 rounds for heavyweight boxing title.

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 2 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:

1997 – The Seattle Mariners break the record for the most home runs in a single season with 258. The record still stands. Although the Mariners led the AL West, the lost their division playoffs.

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.

September 24

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.

1977 – “The Love Boat” debuts on TV and airs until 1987. The show featured the romantic and comedic tales of a star-studded cast of passengers. Watch the show’s opening credits sequence with the theme song by Jack Jones:

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.”

2015 – Pope Francis becomes the first pope to address the U.S. Congress.

September 25

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. He served the rest of his second term (1913-1921). 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 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.

2001 – Michael Jordan, at age 38, announces he will return to the NBA as a player for the Washington Wizards. Jordan became the president of basketball operations for the team in January 2000.

September 26

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.

1973 – Wilt Chamberlain signs with the American Basketball Association’s San Diego Conquistadors as a coach. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959 and ended his playing career with the LA Lakers in 1973. Chamberlain holds an astounding 72 NBA records, including the most number of points scored in a season (4,029). He died in 1999 at the age of 63.

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 billion monthly active users.

September 27

1779 – John Adams negotiates the Revolutionary War peace terms with England.

1908 – The first Ford Model T automobile is built at the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Michigan. The last one came off the assembly line in 1927. About 15 million of the Tin Lizzies were built.

1909 – President Taft sets aside about 3 million acres of oil-rich public land (including Teapot Dome, Wyoming) for conservation purposes. The Teapot Dome Scandal, bribes for oil leases, took place in 1921-9122 during the Warren G. Harding administration.

1937 – Charles W. Howard, an actor and teacher who portrayed Santa Claus in department stores, opens the first Santa Claus School in Albion, New York. The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School is the oldest continuously-operating Santa Claus school in the world. Howard died in 1966 at age 69.

1954 – Steve Allen’s “Tonight Show” premiers on TV and Allen hosts the show until 1957. Jack Parr hosted the show 1957-1962, Johnny Carson hosted 1962-1992, and Jay Leno hosted 1992-2014 (except for 2009-2010 when Conan O’Brian hosted). Jimmy Fallon is the current host. It is the longest-running talk show in TV history. Watch the opening of the first episode:

1964 – The Warren Commission releases its findings on the Kennedy assassination and determines that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby on November 24, 1963, as police transferred Oswald to another jail. Ruby (Jacob Rubenstein) died in 1967 at age 55 while awaiting a new trial. Kennedy, Oswald, and Ruby all died at Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

1973 – Vice President Spiro Agnew said he will not resign after he pleads “no contest” to a charge of tax evasion. He resigned on October 10th.

2012 – NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover discovers evidence of a fast-moving streambed in Mars. A Curiosity scientist said, “From the size of gravel it carried, we can interpret the water was moving about 3 feet per second.”

September 28

1850 – The U.S. Navy abolishes flogging as punishment for sailors.

1904 – A woman is arrested for smoking a cigarette in a car on 5th Avenue in New York City.

1920 – Eight White Sox baseball players, including Shoeless Joe Jackson, are indicted for intentionally losing the 1919 World Series. The only player not indicted is third baseman George “Buck” Weaver, who batted .324 in the series. Although all 8 players are acquitted, baseball Commissioner Landis bans them from baseball for life.

1928 – The first music recording session in Nashville is by Warmack’s Gully Jumpers. Hear the recording at:

1944 – “The Boys from Boise” airs as the first TV musical comedy.

1967 – President LBJ appoints Walter Washington as the first commissioner of Washington, DC. Walter Washington was elected mayor in 1975 and served until 1979.

1997 – Newscaster David Brinkley, 74, retires after 54 years in broadcasting. He hosted the Huntley-Brinkley report with Chet Huntley until 1970. Huntley died in 1974 at age 62. Brinkley died in 2003 at age 82. Goodnight David. Goodnight Chet. Watch the final sign-off in 1970:

2008 – SpaceX launches the first-ever private spacecraft, the Falcon 1, into orbit. The space vehicle was launched a total of five times.

September 29

1890 – In the first professional baseball game, the New York Metropolitans beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 in 5 innings at the Polo Grounds in New York City.

1907 – Construction begins on the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. The Cathedral was completed after 83 years of construction and is the tallest structure in DC. Watch a short tour of the cathedral:

1916 – John D. Rockefeller becomes the world’s first billionaire.

1943 – President Eisenhower and Italian Marshal Pietro Badoglio sign an armistice during World War II.

1982 – Mary Kellerman, a 12-year-old girl from a suburb of Chicago, dies after being given one extra-strength Tylenol capsule that, unbeknownst to her mother, was laced with the highly poisonous potassium cyanide. The drug-tampering case killed six other people and remains unsolved. James William Lewis was convicted of extortion for sending a letter taking credit for the deaths and demanding $1 million to stop them.

1983 – Congress invokes the War Powers Act for the first time when it authorizes the deployment of 1,600 American Marines in Beirut, Lebanon, for an additional 18 months.

1983 – “A Chorus Line,” with 3,389 performances, becomes the longest running Broadway show. It closed in 1990 and ranks 6th with over 6,000 performances. The Broadway performance record is now held by “The Phantom of the Opera,” which opened in 1988, with over 12,000 performances.

2008 – Following the bankruptcies of Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closes down 777.68 points or nearly 7 percent, the largest single-day point loss in its history. Eight of the top 20 greatest point or percentages losses occurred between September and December of 2008. Ironically, 7 of the largest point or percentage gains occurred during the same time period in 2008.


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