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. 9-15, 2019
1675 – The New England colonies declare war on the Wampanoag Indians, who live in what is now Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It is believed that Thanksgiving is based on the interaction between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians years earlier.
1776 – The Continental Congress renames the “United Colonies” the “United States.”
1830 – Charles Durant, the first U.S. aeronaut, flies a hot air balloon from Castle Garden in New York City to Perth Amboy, New Jersey. An estimated 20,000 people paid to watch the flight.
1861 – Sally Tompkins becomes the only female Confederate Army commissioned officer during the Civil War. Captain Tompkins, called “The Angel of the Confederacy,” founded and directed Robertson Hospital in Richmond, Virginia.
1945 – Grace Hopper discovers the first “bug” in a computer while working with her associates at Harvard. A moth was removed from a relay with tweezers.
1955 – Elvis Presley makes his first of three appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. Actor Charles Laughton hosts for Ed, who is recovering from a serious car accident. Watch Elvis in a 1956 performance:
1963 – Gov. George Wallace (D-AL) is served with a federal injunction to stop his orders that state police bar black students from enrolling in white schools in Alabama.
2008 – The iTunes Music Store reaches 100 million applications downloaded.
2009 – The iTunes Music Store reaches 1.8 billion applications downloaded.
2014 – Apple unveils the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition.
1608 – John Smith is elected president of the Colony Council in Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent British colony in North American.
1858 – John Holden hits the first recorded home run during a baseball game between the Brooklyn Eckfords and the New York Mutuals.
1913 – The Lincoln Highway opens as the first paved coast-to-coast highway. It measures 3,389 miles from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, California. Over the years the Lincoln Highway was replaced with numbered highways.
1924 – Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb are found guilty of murdering Bobby Franks, a 14-year-old acquaintance. Their lawyer was Clarence Darrow. (The following year Darrow represented a teacher in the Scopes Monkey Trial.) Leopold and Loeb, teenagers at the time of the murder, were sentenced to life in prison. Loeb was killed in prison in 1936. In 1958, after thirty-four years of confinement, Leopold was released from prison. He moved to Puerto Rico, where he died in 1971 at the age of 65.
1948 – Mildred “Axis Sally” Gillars is indicted for treason in Washington, DC. She was convicted and spent 12 years in prison. Gillars was a Nazi radio propagandist during World War II.
1953 – Swanson sells its first “TV dinner.” It was a turkey dinner. Watch a 1955 commercial:
1979 – President Carter grants clemency to four Puerto Rican nationalists who had been imprisoned for an attack on the House of Representatives in 1954 and an attempted assassination of President Truman in 1950.
1984 – Alex Trebek hosts his first episode of daily syndicated version of the game show Jeopardy! Art Fleming was the first Jeopardy! host. Trebek, now 79, was recently diagnosed with cancer.
1992 – Lucy Van Pelt in the Peanuts comics raises her Psychiatric Help from 5 cents to 47 cents.
2012 – Teachers in Chicago go on strike, affecting 350,000 students. The strike by 29,000 teachers ended on September 18th.
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 hijacked another passenger plane and crashed it into the Pentagon, killing of 125 people. A fourth hijacked airplane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers and crew attempted to regain control of the aircraft. All 64 people on board were 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 was 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.
1935 – Millionaire Howard Hughes sets a speed record of 352.46 mph in the H-1 Racer, an airplane of his own design. He went 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 aired in 1974. A total of nine collies played Lassie, all males, and all descendants of the original Lassie, named Pal, who died in 1958. Watch the preview of the first show:
1983 – Security guard Victor Gerena robs a Wells Fargo armored car facility of $7 million. He was placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list in 1984 but was 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, was 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 fled to England to avoid prosecution, but 18 others were arrested and convicted of fourth-degree manslaughter. Lilly returned to the U.S., escaped to Honduras, and was 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. Watch a newsreel of the helicopter being flown to the Henry Ford Museum in 1943:
1948 – Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) is elected as a senator, making her the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress.
1977 – The first TV “viewer discretion” warning is issued before the airing of “Soap,” a sitcom featuring Billy Crystal as a gay ventriloquist.
2001 – Civilian aircraft traffic resumes in the U.S. after the September 11, 2001 attack.
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 was 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 was renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and put to music written by English composer John Stafford Smith. The song became 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 was struck and killed by a taxi when he stepped off a streetcar in New York City. Manslaughter charges against the taxi driver were 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 was completed in 1952. Representatives from 50 member countries signed the U.N. Charter in June of 1945.
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. She was the founder of the first American group of religious nuns, the Sisters of Charity.
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 took 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 was 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 turned out to be a hoax. Mark Zuckerberg and President Barack Obama sent 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 arrived at Plymouth Rock on December 21st.
1789 – The Department of Foreign Affairs is renamed the Department of State.
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 – Google.com is registered as a domain name.
2008 – Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 protection with $691 billion in assets. It was the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.
Image from breitbart.com