This Week in History, Week of April 23-29, 2018


This Week in History

by Dianne Hermann

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” ~George Orwell

Week of April 23-29, 2018


April 23

1635 – The oldest U.S. public institution still in operation, Boston Latin School, is founded.

1789 – President-elect George Washington moves into Franklin House in New York City.

1924 – The U.S. Senate passes the Soldiers Bonus Bill for World War I vets. President Coolidge vetoed the bill in May but Congress overrides the presidential veto. President Harding vetoed a similar bill in 1922. Veterans marched on Washington in 1932 to force Congress to pay the bonuses.

1954 – Hammerin’ Hank Aaron hits the first of his 755 homers. Aaron breaks Babe Ruth’s home run record with 715 during a home game for the Atlanta Braves on April 8, 1974. He hits his final home run as a Milwaukee Brewer on July 20, 1976. Aaron is now 84 years old.

1969 – Sirhan Sirhan is sentenced to death for killing Bobby Kennedy on June 6, 1968. Three years later Sirhan’s sentence is commuted to life in prison because California deems capital punishment of convicted assassins as cruel and unusual punishment. Sirhan is still in prison and is now 74 years old.

1984 – Researchers announce they discovered and isolated a virus they say is likely to be the primary cause of AIDS. Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, about half of the 70 million people infected with the HIV virus have died.

1985 – The Coca-Cola Company announces that it is changing its 99-year-old secret formula. New Coke was not successful, which results in the resumption of the selling the original version. Watch the mea culpa announcement of Coca-Cola returning to the original formula:

1989 – Wine merchant William Sokolin breaks a bottle of 1787 Château Margaux worth $500,000, possibly belonging to Thomas Jefferson, while at the Four Seasons restaurant in New York. The bottle was insured.

1992 – Marion Barry, former mayor of Washington, DC, is released from prison following his conviction for drug possession. Barry was reelected mayor of DC in 1994.

2005 – The first video is uploaded to Watch the first YouTube video with over 48 million views:

2009 – The iTunes Music Store reaches 1 billion apps downloaded. As of 2017, 180 billion apps for all devices have been downloaded.

2010 – Arizona’s governor Jan Brewer signs an immigration bill into law that is seen as one of the toughest in the U.S., despite criticism by President Obama.

April 24

1704 – The “Boston News-Letter” is established. It is the first successful newspaper in the U.S.

1800 – The Library of Congress is established when President John Adams signs a bill that also moves the capital from Philadelphia to Washington, DC. The bill included a $5,000 allocation for a reference library for Congressional use.

1907 – Hersheypark, which was founded by Milton S. Hershey for the exclusive use of his employees, is opened to the public.

1917 – The U.S. Congress passes the Liberty Loan Act, authorizing the Treasury to issue a public subscription for $2 billion in bonds for the war.

1962 – MIT sends a TV signal by satellite for the first time. The signal traveled from California to Massachusetts.

1980 – The U.S. military operation Eagle Claw, ordered by President Jimmy Carter to save 52 hostages in Iran, fails. Eight servicemen died during a refueling stop in bad weather. All the hostages were released moments after President Reagan completes his inauguration speech on January 20, 1981.

1990 – The space shuttle Discovery blasts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida carrying the $1.5 billion Hubble Space Telescope. Watch a brief report on the Hubble and its 1993 repair:

1997 – The U.S. Senate ratifies the Chemical Weapons Convention. The global treaty bans the development, production, storage, and use of chemical weapons.

2015 – Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner announces during a Diane Sawyer interview that he is now a woman. Watch excerpts from the interview:

April 25

1846 – A military skirmish known as the Thornton Affair begins over the disputed border of Texas, triggering the Mexican-American War.

1928 – Morris Frank becomes the first American to use a guide dog. Buddy, a German shepherd, is the first guide dog. Watch a touching video of Morris, in his own words, and Buddy:

1945 – Delegates from about 50 countries meet in San Francisco to organize the United Nations.


1960 – The submarine USS Triton becomes the first submerged vessel to circumnavigate the Earth. The trip took nearly 61 days.

1967 – Colorado Governor John Love signs the first law in the U.S. legalizing abortions. The law was limited to therapeutic abortions when agreed to unanimously by a panel of three physicians.

1974 – The National Football League moves the goal posts to the back of the end zone and adopts the sudden-death playoff.

1998 – First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is questioned by Whitewater prosecutors on videotape about her work as a private lawyer for the failed savings and loan at the center of the investigation. Watch a 1998 interview on Good Morning America:

2007 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 13,000 for the first time.

2011 – At least 300 people are killed in deadliest tornado outbreak in the Southern United States since the 1974 Super Outbreak.

April 26

1607 – The British establish an American colony at Cape Henry near Jamestown, Virginia. It is the first permanent English establishment in the Western Hemisphere.

1859 – New York politician Dan Sickles is acquitted of murdering his wife’s lover on grounds of temporary insanity. It was the first time the insanity defense was used successfully.

1865 – John Wilkes Booth is killed by the U.S. Federal Cavalry at the Garrett Farm in Virginia. Booth assassinated President Lincoln on April 15.

1941 – A tradition of playing organ music during a baseball game begins when the Chicago Cubs use an organ as a one-time gimmick. It was so popular that the Cubs management kept the instrument. Gary Pressy is in his 32nd year as organist at Wrigley Field. Watch an interview with Pressy:

1954 – A nationwide test of Salk anti-polio vaccine begins.

1962 – NASA’s Ranger 4 unmanned spacecraft makes a crash landing on the backside of the moon when its onboard computer fails to deploy the solar panels and navigation system.

1993 – NBC announces that Conan O’Brien will replace David Letterman on late night TV. O’Brien was replaced by Jay Leno. Jimmy Fallon is the current host. Steve Allen was the first.

2000 – Vermont Gov. Howard Dean signs the nation’s first bill allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions. Dean ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004.

2009 – American health officials declare a public health emergency after twenty cases of swine flu (H1N1) have been confirmed. The world-wide pandemic is estimated to have killed over half a million people.

April 27

1805 – U.S. Marines attack the shores of Tripoli at the port city of Derna in present-day Libya at the end of the First Barbary War. “The Halls of Montezuma” refers to the 1847 Battle of Chapultepec during the Mexican-American War when Marines stormed the Chapultepec Castle. Both events were memorialized in the Marine Corps’ official song. The unknown author of the song put the events in reverse chronological order.

1897 – Grant’s Tomb is dedicated. The answer to the age-old question of who’s buried in Grant’s tomb is President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia. It is the largest mausoleum in North America.

1911 – William P. Frye resigns as President Pro Tempore of the Senate. He died before his successor could be named. A compromise was reached to rotate the office of President Pro Tempore between political parties for the next two years.

1953 – The U.S. offers $50,000 and political asylum to any Communist pilot who delivers a MIG jet in Operation Moolah. The plan was not successful.

1956 – Heavyweight champ Rocky Marciano retires undefeated from boxing at the age of 31. He is the only boxer to ever retire undefeated. Marciano died in a plane crash in 1969 at age 45.

1983 – Nolan Ryan becomes baseball’s strikeout leader with 3,509 strikeouts, passing Walter Johnson. Ryan, now 71, still holds the record for the most strikeouts in a career with 5,714. Watch Ryan’s record breaking pitch:

1987 – The U.S. Justice Department bars Austrian President Kurt Waldheim from entering the U.S. claiming he aided in the deportation and execution of thousands of Jews and others as a German Army officer during World War II.

2006 – In New York City, construction begins on the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower on the site of former World Trade Center. Watch an incredible 2-minute time-lapse video of the 9-year construction project:

2011 – On the deadliest day of the 3-day Super Outbreak of tornadoes, 316 of the 321 people killed are killed on this day. It is the largest tornado outbreak in U.S. history.

2011 – President Obama releases his long-form birth certificate from the state of Hawaii in an effort to quell “birther” conspiracy theorists.

April 28

1818 – The U.S. Senate ratifies the Rush-Bagot Pact of 1817, limiting naval forces on the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain except for small patrol vessels. The Convention of 1818 sets the boundary between the Missouri Territory and British North America (which becomes Canada) at the 49th parallel.

1919 – Les Irvin makes the first jump with a U.S. Army Air Corps parachute (rip-cord type).

1967 – Muhammad Ali refuses induction into the army and is stripped of his boxing title.

1972 – Courts award the 1968 Kentucky Derby prize money to 2nd place winner “Forward Pass” after the winner “Dancer’s Image” is disqualified for being given drugs before the race.

1988 – The roof tears off of Aloha Airlines Boeing 737 while in flight after explosive decompression. One flight attendant is killed (her body is never found) and 65 passengers are injured. The plane lands safely. Listen to the actual aviation voice transmissions with still photos:

1994 – Former CIA officer Aldrich Ames and his wife Rosario plead guilty to spying. Aldrich, now 76, is still serving a life sentence. Rosario was deported back to Columbia in 1999 after completing her 5-year sentence.

1996 – President Bill Clinton gives a 4 ½ hour videotaped testimony as a defense witness in the criminal trial of his former Whitewater business partners. Fourteen of Clinton’s associates and friends were convicted or pleaded guilty to various crimes related to Whitewater, including Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker.

2001 – Millionaire Dennis Tito becomes the world’s first space tourist. He spent eight days in space and visited the International Space Station at an estimated cost of $20 million. Tito is now 77 years old. Watch a report about Tito in space:

April 29

1927 – Construction is completed on the “Spirit of St. Louis,” which is designed by Charles Lindbergh. Two weeks later Lindbergh became the first person to fly across the Atlantic. Lindbergh died in 1974 at age 72.

1952 – IBM President Thomas J. Watson, Jr., informs his company’s stockholders that IBM is building “the most advanced, most flexible high-speed computer in the world.” The computer was unveiled 1953 as the IBM 701 Electronic Data Processing Machine.

1974 – President Nixon says he will release the edited Watergate tapes made in the White House that have been subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee. The tapes were finally released in July. Nixon resigned on August 8th.

1975 – The U.S. begins to evacuate U.S. citizens from Saigon during Operation Frequent Wind prior to an expected North Vietnamese takeover. U.S. involvement in the war came to an official end.

1992 – A jury acquits Los Angeles police officers of beating Rodney King. Rioting began in Los Angeles and other U.S. cities.

1997 – American astronaut Jerry Linenger and cosmonaut Vasily Tsibliyev go on the first joint U.S.-Russian space walk. Watch actual footage of the spacewalk:

1998 – The U.S., Canada, and Mexico end tariffs of $1 billion through NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement).

2002 – The United States is re-elected to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights one year after losing the seat it had held for 50 years.

2004 – Oldsmobile builds its final car, an Alero, ending 107 years of production as America’s oldest car brand. The signatures of the Lansing plant employees are written inside the hood of the car.

2004 – The National World War II Memorial, located between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, opens to the public in Washington D.C.

2015 – The White Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-2 at Camden Yards. The game was played without the fans present due to the ongoing riots and protests in Baltimore. This was the first time a Major League Baseball game is played in an empty stadium.

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