This Week in History, September 18 – 24 2017


This Week in History

by Dianne Hermann

“Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past,

for human events ever resemble those of preceding times.”


Week of Sept. 18-24, 2017

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 its newspaper. Each paper sells for 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.”

1932 – Actress Peg Entwistle commits suicide by jumping from the letter “H” in the Hollywoodland sign in California. She was 24 years old. The letters “land” were removed during renovations in 1949.

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

1955 – The “Ed Sullivan Show” premiers on TV and airs until 1971. The show had been called “The Toast of the Town” since 1948. Watch an act from one of the earliest shows:

1997 – Ted Turner announces he will donate $1 billion to the United Nations over the next 10 years.

2001 – The first in a series of anthrax letters is mailed from Trenton, New Jersey, in the anthrax attacks. Five people die and 17 others are infected from anthrax exposure.

September 19


1778 – The Continental Congress passes the first budget of the U.S.

1928 – Mickey Mouse makes his screen debut as Steamboat Willie at New York City’s Colony Theater. Watch the primitive animated movie:

1934 – Bruno Hauptmann is arrested for the 1932 kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby. The body of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s baby is found two months after the kidnapping. Hauptmann is convicted and then 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. Robinson died in 1972 at age 53.

1955 – Chicago Cubs slugger Ernie Banks hits a record 5th grand slam of the season. The co-record holders with 6 grand slams in a season are Tom Mattingly (Yankees) in 1987 and Travis Hafner (Indians) in 2006.

1959 – Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev is denied access to Disneyland during his visit to the U.S. Watch Walt Disney describe what the tour would have included:

1961 – Betty and Barney Hill claim they saw a mysterious craft in the sky and that the UFO abducted them. The Hills were interviewed extensively by the Air Force and the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena. They were also hypnotized by Boston psychiatrist Benjamin Simon, who concluded their case was a singular psychological aberration.

1982 – Scott Fahlman is the first person to use the sideways smiley face 🙂 in an online message.

1986 – Federal health officials announce that the drug 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 57 years old. Watch the accident:


1995 – The Senate passes the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act welfare overhaul bill. President Clinton signed the bill in 1996 fulfilling his 1992 campaign promise to “end welfare as we have come to know it.”

2011 – Ashton Kutcher replaces Charlie Sheen on the TV show “Two and a Half Men.” Sheen was replaced after he entered drug rehab for the third time in 12 months. The show ended in February 2015.


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.

1973 – Billie Jean King (age 29) beats Bobby Riggs (age 55) in the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match. King is now 73 years old. Riggs died in 1995 at age 77. Watch a report about the match:

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

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

1985 – Walt Disney World admits its 200-millionth guest. The park opened on October 1, 1971. The 600-millionth guest entered Walt Disney World on June 24, 1998. Disneyland/ Disney World is the #1 theme park in the world by attendance.

2001 – President George W. Bush declares a “war on terror” in an address to a joint session of Congress and the American people. Watch part of the speech:

2011 – The U.S. ends its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the military for the first time.

2013 – “Grand Theft Auto” becomes the entertainment product that reaches $1 billion in sales the fastest. (3 days)

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.

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 U.S.

1922 – President Warren G. Harding signs a joint resolution of approval to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

1948 – “Texaco Star Theater” with Milton Berle premieres on TV and airs until 1956.

1954 – The first nuclear submarine, USS Nautilus, is commissioned under the Command of Eugene P. Wilkinson. It was named for Jules Verne’s fictional submarine in “Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea.” The Nautilus was the first vessel to navigate the North Pole. It was decommissioned in 1980.

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

1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor becomes the first female Supreme Court Justice. She serves until retirement on January 31, 2006. O’Connor is now 87 years old. Watch a brief bio:

1981 – The IBM-PC computer is introduced. When is goes on sale to the public in August it costs $1,565.

1996 – John F. Kennedy Jr. marries Carolyn Bessette in a secret ceremony on Cumberland Island, Georgia. They are killed in a plane crash in 1999.

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.


2007 – Ventriloquist Terry Fator wins Season 2 of America’s Got Talent. Watch Fator’s amazing audition:

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.

September 22


1789 – The Office of Postmaster General is created under the Treasury Department. Ben Franklin is the first Postmaster General.

1863 – President Lincoln makes his Emancipation Proclamation speech. It is published in Northern newspapers the following day.

1893 – The Duryea brothers build America’s first automobile in Springfield, Massachusetts. It has a one-cylinder engine, three speeds, and travels at 10 miles an hour.

1911 – Baseball pitcher Cy Young, age 44, wins his 511th and final game. The best pitcher of the year award is named for Cy Young, who died in 1955. Don Newcombe was first Cy Young winner in 1956.

1922 – Congress passes the Cable Act, under which an American women who marries an “alien” will not lose her citizenship, neither will a women marrying an American automatically become a U.S. citizen.

1950 – The Nobel peace prize awarded to Ralph J. Bunche for his mediation between Jews and the Arabs. He is the first black person to win the peace prize.

1966 – The unmanned spacecraft Surveyor 2, launched on September 20th, crashes on the Moon in a failed landing attempt.

1975 – Sara Jane Moore tries to assassinate President Gerald Ford in San Francisco, California, just 17 days after Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme’s assassination attempt. Moore is convicted and given a life sentence. She is released in 2007 after serving 32 years. Moore is now 87 years old.

1985 – Willie Nelson’s first Farm Aid concert is held in Champaign, Illinois. The concert is attended by 80,000 people and raises $9 million. Watch Willie perform at the first concert:

1993 – Nolan Ryan pitches his last game at age 46. He holds the record for the most strikeouts of all time (5,714), the most no-hitters of all time (7), and the fastest “officially recorded” pitch thrown in a baseball game (100.9 miles per hour). Ryan is the only player to have his number retired by three baseball teams (Angels, Astros, and Rangers). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999 with the second highest percentage of votes of all time (98.7% of ballots). Amazingly, Nolan Ryan never won the Cy Young Award.

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 a report of the silent movies with actual movie footage:

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 is buried. The capsule contains such items as a Life Magazine, kewpie doll, slide rule, Sears Roebuck catalog, a pack of Camel cigarettes, seeds, and microfilm.

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

1957 – “That’ll Be Day” by Buddy Holly & the Crickets reaches #1 on the music charts. February 3, 1959, is the day the music died when Holly is killed in a plane crash. v=kVGM86XIilw

1961 – “How to Marry a Millionaire” airs on TV as the first movie to become a TV series.

1962 – “The Jetsons” cartoon premieres on TV and airs until 1988. It is the first program on the ABC-TV network to be broadcast in color.

1992 – Manon Rheaume, at age 20, is the first female to play in a National Hockey League exhibition game. She plays goalie for the Tampa Bay Lightning and gives 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.

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.

1869 – Panic on Wall Street results from Jay Gould and Jim Fisk’s attempt to corner the gold market. The price of gold plummets in what is referred to as Black Friday.

1929 – Lt. James H. Doolittle guides a Consolidated N-Y-2 Biplane over Mitchell Field in New York in the first all-instrument (IFR) flight.

1938 – American Don Budge becomes the first tennis player to win all four of the major titles when he wins the U.S. Tennis Open. He had already won the Australian Open, French Open, and British Open.

1955 – President Eisenhower suffers his first of several heart attacks while on vacation in Denver, Colorado.

1957 – President Eisenhower orders U.S. troops to desegregate schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. Desegregation was blocked by the Democrat Arkansas governor Orval Faubus.

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.

1968 – “60 Minutes” premieres on TV and is still on the air.

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, is declared a mistrial and the remaining group becomes the “Chicago 7.” On February 19, 1970, they are found not guilty of conspiracy, five are convicted of lesser crimes, and all (plus two of their attorneys) are cited for criminal contempt and sentenced to anywhere from three months to four years in prison.

1976 – Newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst sentenced to 7 years in prison for her part in a 1974 bank robbery while a captive of the SLA. Hearst is released by President Carter after 22 months. Hearst is now 63 years old.

1977 – “The Love Boat” debuts on TV and airs until 1987. The show features 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:

1998 – The Federal Reserve releases into circulation $2 billion in new harder-to-counterfeit $20 bills.

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.

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