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 27-Oct 3, 2021
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.”
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. 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.
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.
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 are 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 wins 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, retires.
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.
1871 – The Mormon leader Brigham Young is arrested for “lewd and lascivious cohabitation” with his 16 wives. President Lincoln signed the Anti-Bigamy Law in 1862. Young was reported to have had 55 wives.
1889 – The first International Conference of American States (Pan-American) is held in Washington, DC. It lasted until April 1890. It took nearly 10 years to be arranged by Secretary of State James G. Blaine.
1916 – Dr. Harry Wegeforth establishes the San Diego Zoo as a result of the abandonment of exotic animals following the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.
1936 – The first alcohol power plant forms in Atchison, Kansas. It produced a corn-based biofuel called Agrol.
1980 – Larry Holmes TKOs 38-year-old Muhammad Ali in 11 rounds for the heavyweight boxing title. This fight was said to have contributed to Ali’s Parkinson’s disease. Ali fought only one more time in December 1981 in the Bahamas. Ali died in 2016 at age 74.
2002 – The Beltway Sniper attacks begin in the Washington, DC area, extending over three weeks. Ten people are killed and three others wounded before John Allen Muhammad and 17-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo were arrested. In 2003, Malvo was sentenced to six consecutive life terms without possibility of parole and Muhammed was sentenced to death. Muhammed was executed in 2009. Malvo, who is now 35 years old, had his sentence overturned in May 2017 after the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that life sentences for juveniles was unconstitutional. In March 2020, Malvo married heiress Sable Noel Knapp, age 30, in a prison ceremony. Watch a report about Malvo on the 10-year anniversary of the attacks.
2005 – The National Football League plays its first regular season game outside United States. The Arizona Cardinals defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-14 in Mexico City, Mexico. Its predecessor, the American Football League, played the first ever game outside the U.S. in November 1926 in Toronto, Canada, when the New York Yankees defeated the Los Angeles Wildcats 28-0.
1789 – George Washington proclaims the first national Thanksgiving Day will be on November 26th. In 1863, President Lincoln changed Thanksgiving to the last Thursday in November.
1849 – American author Edgar Allan Poe is found delirious in a gutter in Baltimore, Maryland, under mysterious circumstances. It was the last time he was seen in public before his death on October 7th at age 40.
1904 – Educator and activist Mary McLeod Bethune opens the Daytona Normal & Industrial School in Florida, which later becomes Bethune-Cookman College. She was also the founder of the National Council of Negro Women in 1935 and served as an advisor to FDR. Mary died in 1955 at age 79.
1945 – Elvis Presley makes his first public appearance at age 10 in a
singing contest at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. He sang
1955 – “Captain Kangaroo” premieres on TV and airs until 1992. Bob Keeshan (a.k.a. Captain Kangaroo) was also the original Clarabelle on the Howdy Doody Show. Bob served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves during World War II. The Captain died in 2004 at age 76.
1955 – The “Mickey Mouse Club” premieres on TV with 39 kids and 3 adults in the cast. The show aired until 1959, but was revived in the 1970, and again in the 1990s. Among the original cast were actress Annette Funicello and future Lawrence Welk dancer Bobby Burgess. Watch part of the first episode.
1967 – Air Force pilot William Knight set the highest speed ever recorded by a manned, powered aircraft when he flew the X-15 at 4,520 miles per hour (Mach 6.72). The record still stands.
1971 – Tennis player Billie Jean King becomes the first female athlete to earn $100,000 in a year. By comparison, tennis player Serena Williams earned almost $7 million in 2016.
1984 – The government shuts down (again) due to lack of Congressional agreement over the passage of bills. The bills were passed the following day. The U.S. government has shut down a total of 17 times since 1976 due to budgetary or funding issues.
1995 – OJ Simpson is found not guilty in the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in Los Angeles, California. On this day in 2008, OJ Simpson was found guilty of charges of kidnapping and armed robbery. He was just paroled after serving 9 years in prison. Watch the not guilty verdict being read and OJ’s reaction.
2003 – Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy is attacked by one of the show’s tigers. His severe injuries led to the permanent cancelation of their Las Vegas show. The tiger died of an illness in 2014 at age 17. Siegfried Fischbacher is 81. Roy Horn died in May 2020 at age 75. The team reunited for one show in 1999.
2008 – President George W. Bush signs the $700 billion bailout bill for the U.S. financial system.
Image from: rollingout.com