This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann
“History is a vast early warning system.” Norman Cousins
Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2023
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 85, 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 3.14 acre 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 3 billion monthly active users. Facebook is now known as Meta.
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 with Allen as the host 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 pleading “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.”
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 banned them from baseball for life.
1928 – The first music recording session in Nashville is by Paul Warmack’s Gully Jumpers. Listen to the recording.
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.
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. He founded Standard Oil, which by the 1880s, controlled about 90 percent of U.S. refineries and pipelines.
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 almost 14,000 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.
1777 – Congress flees to York, Pennsylvania, as British forces advance during the Revolutionary War.
1864 – Following the Battle of New Market Heights in Virginia, 13 black soldiers earn the Medal of Honor for their valor in leading the charge against Confederate fortifications after many of their officers were killed or wounded.
1939 – The first televised college football game is broadcast when the Fordham Rams play the Waynesburg Yellow Jackets at Triborough Stadium in New York City. Fordham won the game 34 – 7.
1956 – Chicago White Sox pitcher Jim Derrington, age 16, becomes youngest player to start in a baseball game. He never pitched in another major league game after he turned 17 due to a serious arm injury.
1960 – On Howdy Doody’s last TV show Clarabell the Clown finally speaks saying, “Goodbye Kids.” Hear it for yourself.
2004 – The AIM-54 Phoenix, the primary missile for the F-14 Tomcat, is retired from service. Two years later the Tomcat, introduced in 1974, was retired.
1880 – John Philip Sousa, known as the March King, becomes the new director of the U.S. Marine Corps Band. Sousa died in 1932 at age 77.
1890 – Yosemite National Park forms during the Benjamin Harrison administration. In June 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill ceding the Yosemite Valley area to the state of California with the requirement that it be held as a national public trust “for all time.”
1903 – The first baseball World Series is played between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Pilgrims (now the Red Sox). Boston won the series 5-3.
1908 – Henry Ford introduces the Model T car. It cost $825.
1919 – The Chicago White Sox are accused of intentionally losing the World Series to satisfy gamblers in what is called the Black Sox Scandal. Eight players were eventually acquitted, but they were all kicked out of baseball anyway.
1932 – In the 5th inning of Game 3 of the World Series, Babe Ruth famously points to the outfield and hits a 2-strike pitch into center field bleachers for a home run. Watch the Babe call the shot.”
1957 – “In God We Trust” first appears on U.S. paper currency.
1958 – The U.S. space agency NASA begins operations after incorporating the National Advisory Council on Aeronautics and other agencies.
1964 – The “Free Speech Movement” is launched at University of California at Berkley. Students demanded that the university administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students’ right to free speech and academic freedom.
1982 – EPCOT Center (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) in Orlando, Florida, opens to the public. Watch a preview video of EPCOT.
2004 – Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki gets his 258th hit of the season, breaking George Sisler’s 84-year-old single-season baseball record. He ended the season with 262 hits, a record that still stands.
2013 – Another partial U.S. federal government shutdown occurs as a result of political deadlock over operational spending.
Image from: politico.com