This Week in History, September 15 – 21, 2014


This Week In History

by Dianne Hermann


“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” ~ Winston Churchill             


Week of September 15-21, 2014


September 15

1620 – The Mayflower departs from Plymouth, England, with 102 pilgrims on board. They arrive at Plymouth Rock on December 21st.

1789 – The Department of Foreign Affairs is renamed the Department of State.

1853 – Antoinette Blackwell becomes the first woman in the United States ordained as a minister.


1930 – The first international bridge match is held in London. The U.S. team defeats England.

1949 – “The Lone Ranger” premieres on ABC-TV. The last show airs in 1957. (See September 1, 1979)


1963 – A church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, kills 4 African-American girls.

1966 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, responding to a sniper attack at the University of Texas at Austin, writes a letter to the United States Congress urging the enactment of gun control legislation.

1982 – The Gannett Company publishes the first issue of the USA Today newspaper.


September 16

1782 – The Great Seal of United States is used for first time. In June of 1782 Congress commissions Charles Thomson to create the final design after three different committees fail to agree on a design.

1863 – American philanthropist Christopher Robert becomes the founder of Robert College of Istanbul-Turkey, the first American educational institution outside the United States.

1908 – Carriage-maker William Durant becomes the founder of General Motors with $2,000 of his own money.


1919 – The American Legion is incorporated by an act of Congress.

1940 – Samuel T. Rayburn of Texas is elected Speaker of House of Representatives, where he serves until his death in 1961. The Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC, completed in 1965, is named for him.

1968 – Presidential candidate Richard Nixon appears on the “Laugh-in” TV show.

1983 – Body builder, actor, and future California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes a U.S. citizen. Schwarzenegger is elected governor in 2003 and serves two terms.


1990 – Iraq televises an 8-minute uncensored speech from President George Bush.


September 17

1778 – The first treaty between the United States and an Indian tribe is signed at Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania, with the Lenape Indians.

1787 – The U.S. constitution is adopted by the Philadelphia convention.

1849 – Harriet Tubman escapes slavery in Maryland with two of her brothers. Over a ten-year time span Tubman makes 19 trips to the South and escorts over 300 slaves to freedom.

1859 – Joshua Norton of San Francisco declares himself Norton I, emperor of America. Norton died in 1880 at age 61.

1908 – Army Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge becomes the first person to die in a plane crash. He is a passenger with the Wright Brothers.


1911 – The first transcontinental airplane flight from New York to California takes 82 hours 4 minutes.

1920 – The National Football League organizes in Canton, Ohio. Twelve teams pay $100 each to join American Professional Football Association.

1934 – RCA Victor releases the first 33 1/3 rpm recording (Beethoven’s 5th).

1947 – The U.S. Department of Defense forms, with James Forrestal as the first Secretary of Defense.

1964 – “Bewitched” premieres on TV and airs until 1972.

1972 – “M*A*S*H” premieres on TV and airs until 1983. The TV show lasts three times longer than the Korean War it represents.

1983 – Twenty-year-old Vanessa Williams (Miss New York), crowned the 56th Miss America, is the first black Miss America. In July 1984 nude photos taken of Williams in her freshman year of college are published in Penthouse Magazine. She is asked to resign and is allowed to keep her crown, title, and scholarship money but loses millions worth of endorsements. She now has a successful music, TV, and movie career.

1997 – Dr. Sam Sheppard’s body is exhumed for DNA test, which proves he did not murder his pregnant wife in 1954. Sheppard serves 10 years of a life sentence and is freed after the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the conviction citing the “carnival atmosphere” of the trial. Sheppard is acquitted in a 1966 retrial. The case is the basis for the TV show “The Fugitive.” Sheppard died in 1970 at age 46.


2010 – The 54-year run of the soap opera “As the World Turns” ends as its final episode is broadcast.

2011 – The Occupy Wall Street movement begins in Zucotti Park, New York City.


September 18

1793 – President George Washington lays the cornerstone of the Capitol building. It isn’t completed until 1826 because of construction issues and the War of 1812.

1850 – Congress passes the Fugitive Slave Acts as part of the Compromise of 1850. It allows for the capture and return of escaped slaves. Congress repeals the laws in 1864.

1851 – The New York Times starts publishing their newspaper at 2 cents a copy.

1891 – Harriet Maxwell Converse is the first white woman to become an Indian chief and is given responsibility of the welfare of the Seneca Nation. She is given the name “Gaiiwanoh” meaning “The Watcher.”


1927 – The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) goes on the air with 18 stations.

1932 – Actress Peg Entwistle commits suicide by jumping from the letter “H” in the Hollywood sign in California. She was 24 years old.


1947 – The United States Air Force becomes a separate branch of the military.

1957 – “Wagon Train” premiers on TV and airs until 1965.

1977 – NASA’s Voyager I takes the first space photograph of the earth and moon together.

1990 – Atlanta is chosen to host the centennial 1996 Summer Olympics.

1997 – Ted Turner gives $1 billion to the United Nations.

2009 – The 72-year run of the soap opera “The Guiding Light” ends as its final episode is broadcast.


September 19

1778 – The Continental Congress passes the first budget of the United States.

1796 – George Washington delivers his farewell address when he leaves office as America’s first president.

1876 – Melville Bissell of Grand Rapids, Michigan, patents the first carpet sweeper.

1928 – Mickey Mouse makes his screen debut as Steamboat Willie at New York City’s Colony Theater.

1934 – Bruno Hauptmann arrested for the 1932 kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby. The body of Charles Lindbergh’s baby is found two months after the kidnapping. Hauptmann is convicted and executed in 1936.

1947 – Jackie Robinson is named baseball’s “Rookie of Year.” In 1949 he is named the most valuable player (MVP). Robinson is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

1959 – Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev is denied access to Disneyland during his visit to the U.S.

1961 – Betty and Barney Hill claim that they saw a mysterious craft in the sky and that the UFO abducted them.


1986 – Federal health officials announce that AZT will be available to AIDS patients.

1988 – U.S. Olympic diver Greg Louganis cuts his head on diving board at the Seoul Summer Olympics, causing a concussion. Louganis did not reveal at the time that he was HIV positive. Louganis is now 54 years old.

1995 – The Washington Post and The New York Times publish the Unabomber’s manifesto.



September 20

1797 – The U.S. frigate Constitution (Old Ironsides) is launched in Boston.

1814 – “The Star Spangled Banner” is published as a song. Francis Scott Key writes the lyrics and John Stafford Smith writes the tune.

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, is also the first woman to argue before the Supreme Court.

1924 – Carl Mays is 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. Mays hits batter Ray Chapman in the head with a pitch and Chapman dies the next day.


1968 – Mickey Mantle hits final career home run (# 536) at Yankee Stadium.

1973 – Billie Jean King beats Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match.


1979 – Lee Iacocca is elected president of the Chrysler Corporation. He agrees to be paid $1 a year.

1980 – Spectacular Bid runs in the Belmont Stakes (third race on the Triple Crown) alone after three horses drop out.

1984 –A suicide car bomb attack on the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut, Lebanon, kills 23.

1985 – Walt Disney World admits its 200-millionth guest. The park opens on October 1, 1971. The 600-millionth guest enters Walt Disney World on June 24, 1998.

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 United States ends its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, allowing gay men and women to serve openly for the first time.


September 21

1780 – Benedict Arnold gives British Major John Andre the plans for an attack on West Point. Major Andre is captured and is hanged on October 2nd. Benedict Arnold escapes and becomes an officer in the British Army.

1814 – “The Star Spangled Banner” is published as a poem. (See September 14, 1814)

1827 – According to Joseph Smith, Jr., the angel Moroni gave him a record of gold plates, one-third of which Joseph translated into The Book of Mormon.

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 meets Santa Claus in 1969. She died in 1971 at age 81. Santa Claus is still living.

1903 – The first western film “Kit Carson” premieres in the United States.

1948 – “Texaco Star Theater” with Milton Berle premieres on NBC-TV. The final shoe airs in 1956.

1957 – “Perry Mason” starring Raymond Burr premiers on TV and airs until 1966.


1970 – “Monday Night Football” premieres on TV. The Browns beat the Jets 31-21.

1981 – Sandra Day O’Conner becomes the first female Supreme Court Justice. She serves until retirement on January 31, 2006.

2003 – The Galileo mission is terminated by sending the probe into Jupiter’s atmosphere, where it is crushed by the pressure of the planet’s lower altitudes.

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.



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