This Week In History, Week of August 17-23, 2015


This Week In History

by Dianne Hermann


“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people.

They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

– Thomas Jefferson


Week of August 17-23, 2015


August 17

1807 – Robert Fulton’s steamboat the Clermont begins its first trip up the Hudson River.


1859 – The first airmail flight takes off from Lafayette, Indiana, in a hot air balloon.

1903 – Journalist and publisher Joseph Pulitzer donates $1 million to Columbia University to begin the Pulitzer Prizes. The first Pulitzer Prizes are awarded in 1917 to Herbert Bayard Swope of the New York World newspaper for his articles entitled “Inside The German Empire” and the biography Julia Ward Howe by Laura E. Richards and Maude Howe Elliott. The New York Tribune receives an award for an editorial on the first anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania.

1918 – Samuel Riddle buys future Triple Crown winner Man o’War for $5,000.

1939 – “The Wizard of Oz” starring Judy Garland opens at Loew’s Capitol Theater in New York.

1945 – At the end of World War II North and South Korea are divided along the 38th parallel. The U.S. occupies the area south of the 38th parallel and the Soviet Union occupies the area north of the parallel.

1958 – The U.S. attempts to launch the world’s first Moon probe, Thor-Able, which fails when it explodes at T+77 seconds (77 seconds after takeoff).

1960 – The U-2 spy trial of downed American pilot Gary Powers begins in Moscow. Powers pleads guilty to espionage and is sentenced to three years in prison and seven years hard labor. He serves 21 months and is exchanged for convicted KGB spy Rudolph Abel in February 1962, who serves 4 years of his 45-year sentence.

1978 – Three Americans, Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson, and Larry Newman, make the first successful crossing of the Atlantic in a balloon after 137 hours aboard the Eagle II.

1992 – Actor Woody Allen admits to being romantically involved with 21-year-old Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, Allen’s longtime companion. Allen and Previn get married in 1997 and are still married. Allen is 79 and Previn is 44 years old.


1996 – Ross Perot is announced as the Reform Party’s first-ever presidential candidate. He garners 19 percent of the popular vote in the November election.

1987 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 2,700 for the first time.

1998 – President Bill Clinton admits in taped testimony that he had an “improper physical relationship” with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. He admits before the nation that he “misled people” about his relationship with her.

2002 – The Charles M. Schulz Museum opens to the public in Santa Rosa, California.


August 18

1735 – The Boston Evening Post newspaper begins publishing in Boston, Massachusetts. It is among the oldest newspapers published in America. The last issue is published in April of 1775.

1838 – The Wilkes expedition departs from Hampton Roads, Virginia, and sails to the South Pole with six ships and 433 men. Lt. Charles Wilkes returns to the east coast in 1842, having circumnavigated the globe, logging over 87,000 miles. 

1872 – Aaron Montgomery Ward issues the first mail-order catalog from his Chicago-based company. It offers 163 products. In 1875 Ward announces his products come with “satisfaction guaranteed.”


1914 – President Woodrow Wilson issues The “Proclamation of Neutrality,” aimed at keeping the U.S. out of World War I.

1920 – The 19th Amendment is ratified, giving women the right to vote.

1938 – President FDR dedicates the Thousand Islands Bridge, which connects the U.S. and Canada across the St. Lawrence River.

1940 – Canada and the U.S. establish a joint defense plan against the possible enemy attacks during World War II.

1962 – The singing trio Peter, Paul and Mary release their first hit, “If I Had a Hammer.” Watch the trio nail it:

1969 – The Woodstock Music & Art Fair in New York State closes with Jimi Hendrix as the final act. An estimated 400,000 people attend the 3-day event.

1973 – Drummer Gene Krupa plays for the final time with the Benny Goodman Quartet. Two months later Krupa dies of a heart attack at age 64.

1982 – The New York Stock Exchange passes the 100 million mark for the first time when 132.69 million shares are traded.

1997 – Beth Ann Hogan becomes the first female coed in the Virginia Military Institute’s 158-year history. Hogan drops out of VMI in January 1998.

2000 – A Federal jury finds the U.S. EPA guilty of discrimination against Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, later inspiring passage of the No FEAR Act. The No FEAR (Federal Antidiscrimination And Retaliation) Act is intended to reduce the incidence of workplace discrimination within the federal government by making agencies and departments more accountable.

2004 – Donald Trump unveils his board game (TRUMP the Game) where players bid on real estate, buy big-ticket items, and make billion-dollar business deals.


2005 – Dennis Rader is sentenced to 175 years in prison for the BTK (bind, torutre, and kill) serial killings of 10 people.


August 19

1791 – Benjamin Banneker, born a free black in Maryland, publishes his first Almanac. He is a self-taught astronomer and mathematician.

1812 – The U.S. warship Constitution defeats the British warship Guerriere 400 miles southeast of the British base at Halifax, earning the nickname “Old Ironsides.”

1895 – American frontier murderer and outlaw John Wesley Hardin is killed by an off-duty policeman in a saloon in El Paso, Texas.


1909 – The first automobiles race on the brick track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

1929 – The radio comedy program “Amos and Andy” makes its debut on NBC starring Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll.

1934 – The first All-American Soap Box Derby is held in Dayton, Ohio. The following year the race is moved to Akron because of the central location and hilly terrain. The Derby has run continuously except during World War II.


1940 – The new Civil Aeronautics Administration awards honorary license #1 to 68-year-old Orville Wright.

1960 – American U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers is convicted of espionage in Moscow.

1984 – Ronald Reagan is nominated for president for a second term at the Republican National Convention in Houston, Texas. He is re-elected in November, winning 49 of the 50 states (all but Walter Mondale’s home state of Minnesota).

1984 – California Supreme Court refuses to allow 26-year-old quadriplegic Elizabeth Bouvia to starve herself to death in a public hospital. She appeals and is later granted the right to die. Bouvia changes her mind and is still living.

1987 – Guy Hunt becomes Alabama’s first Republican governor since 1874.

1995 – After five days Shannon Faulkner quits as the first woman admitted to the Citadel, the all-male Military College of South Carolina. She won her battle for admission in a Supreme Court decision. The Citadel drops its gender requirements for admission in July 1996 and admits four women in August 1996.

2004 – Google Inc. stock begins selling on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The initial price is set at $85 and ends the day at $100.34 with more than 22 million shares traded.


2010 – Operation Iraqi Freedom ends with the last of the U.S. brigade combat teams crossing the border to Kuwait.

2011 – The West Memphis Three are released from prison after 18 years when they negotiate Alford plea deals. The Alford plea allows a defendant to admit the prosecution has enough evidence for a conviction without admitting guilt. Then teenagers Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., and Jason Baldwin are convicted in 1993 of murdering three 2nd grade students.


August 20

1619 – The first black slaves are brought by the Dutch to the colony of Jamestown, Virginia.

1741 – Danish explorer Vitus Bering discovers Alaska.


1866 – President Andrew Johnson formally declares that the Civil War is over.

1920 The American Professional Football Association (APFC) forms when Jim Thorpe and six others meet in Canton, Ohio, to organize a professional football league. Thorpe serves as its first president. Canton is the location of the Football Hall of Fame.

1920 – The first U.S. commercial radio station, WWJ am 950 in Detroit, Michigan, begins daily broadcasting. WWJ News-radio still broadcasts from Detroit.

1938 – Lou Gehrig hits his 23rd (and last) grand slam home run. He is diagnosed with ALS the following June.

1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Economic Opportunity Act, a $1 billion anti-poverty measure.

1974 – Vice President Gerald Ford assumes office after President Richard Nixon resigns. Ford becomes the only person to serve as both president and vice president without being elected to either office.

1977 – NASA launches Voyager 2 towards Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.


1998 – The U.S. military launches cruise missile attacks against alleged al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan and a suspected chemical plant in Sudan in retaliation for the August 7th bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum is destroyed in the attack.


August 21

1831 – The Nat Turner slave revolt kills 55 whites in Southampton County, Virginia. Nat Turner and 16 of his conspirators are captured and executed.

1858 – The first of seven Lincoln-Douglas debates is held in Illinois.

1887 – Mighty Casey struck out in a baseball game with the New York Giants. This is the fictional date of the event written about in Ernest L. Thayer’s poem “Casey At The Bat.” Dan Casey is a composite of several people Thayer knew.


1947 – The first Little League World Series is held. The Maynard Midgets of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, defeat a team from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.

1959 – Hawaii becomes the 50th (and last) U.S. state.

1971 – Laura Baugh, at age 16, wins the U.S. Women’s Amateur Golf tournament. She is the youngest winner in the history of the tournament.

1977 – Donna Patterson Brice sets a water skiing speed record at 111 mph.

1982 – Milwaukee Brewers baseball pitcher Rollie Fingers becomes the first pitcher to get 300 saves.


1993 – NASA loses contact with the Mars Observer, which was launched on September 25, 1992. Attempts to re-establish communication with the spacecraft are unsuccessful.

1997 – Hudson Foods Inc. closes a plant in Nebraska after it recalls 25 million pounds of ground beef that is potentially contaminated with E. coli 01557:H7. It is the largest food recall in U.S. history.

2000 – Tiger Woods wins golf’s PGA Championship to become the first golfer since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win three major tournaments in a calendar year. Tiger also wins the U.S. Open and British Open.


August 22

1762 – Ann Franklin is the first female U.S. newspaper editor. She inherited the newspaper “Mercury” from her husband James Franklin, brother of Ben Franklin.

1902 – President Teddy Roosevelt becomes first U.S. chief executive to ride in a car. He rides in a Columbia Electric Victoria Phaeton while on a campaign tour through Connecticut.

1906 – The Victor Talking Machine Company of Camden, New Jersey, begins to manufacture the Victrola. The hand-cranked unit, with horn cabinet, sells for $200.


1921 – J. Edgar Hoover becomes the assistant director of the FBI. He becomes the director in 1924 and leads the FBI for 48 years until his death in 1972.

1938 – Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appear on the cover of “LIFE” magazine.


1946 – Baseball approves a 168-game schedule, but later rescinds it. There are now 162 games in a season.

1962 – Savannah, the world’s first nuclear-powered ship, completes her maiden voyage from Yorktown, Virginia, to Savannah, Georgia. She is decommissioned in 1972 and in 1999 the Savannah is moved to the James River Merchant Marine Reserve Fleet near Newport News, Virginia.

1973 – Henry Kissinger is named Secretary of State by President Nixon. Kissinger wins the Nobel Peace Prize the same year.

1984 – The last Volkswagen Rabbit rolls off the assembly line in New Stanton, Pennsylvania.


1989 – Nolan Ryan becomes the first major league pitcher to strike out 5,000 batters.

1992 – An FBI sniper shoots and kills Vicki Weaver, wife of white separatist Randy Weaver, during an 11-day siege at their home at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. She is holding her infant daughter, who is unharmed. Fourteen-year-old Sammy Weaver and a U.S. Marshall are shot to death the day before.

2003 – Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is suspended after refusing to comply with a federal court order to remove a rock inscribed with the Ten Commandments from the lobby of the Alabama Supreme Court building.

2007 – The Texas Rangers rout the Baltimore Orioles 30-3, the most runs scored by a team in modern baseball history.


August 23

1850 – The first national women’s rights convention convenes in Worcester, Massachusetts.

1869 – The first carload of freight (boots and shoes) arrives in San Francisco from Boston after a 16-day rail trip.

1919 – The “Gasoline Alley” cartoon strip premiers in the Chicago Tribune.

1923 – Capt. Lowell Smith and Lt. John P. Richter perform the first mid-air refueling on a De Havilland DH-4B, setting an endurance flight record of 37 hours.

1947 – President Truman’s daughter Margaret makes her first public singing concert. A poor review after her third performance in 1950 causes the president to write a threatening letter to the Washington Post’s music critic. Listen to a 1950 audio recording of Margaret and judge for yourself:

1966 – Lunar Orbiter 1 takes the first photographs of Earth while orbiting the Moon.

1979 – Soviet dancer Alexander Godunov defects to the U.S. while the Bolshoi Ballet is on tour in New York City.

1984 – Southfork Ranch, the home of the fictitious Ewing clan of the TV show “Dallas” is sold. The ranch is transformed from a tourist site into a hotel resort.


1990 – The U.S. begins to call up 46,000 reservists to serve in the Persian Gulf.

1999 – American Robert Bogucki is rescued after getting lost on July 11 while bicycling in the Great Sandy Desert of Australia. During his 43-day ordeal Bogucki lost 44 pounds.