This Week In History, Week of July 6-12, 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 July 6-12, 2015


July 6

1699 – The pirate Captain William Kidd is captured in Boston and sent to England for trial. He is convicted of piracy and murder and hanged in May 1701. He was 56 years old.

1785 – Congress unanimously resolves that the U.S. currency be named the “dollar” and adopts decimal coinage.

1848 – The Mexican-American War ends with the Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo.

1858 – Lyman Blake patents a shoe-manufacturing machine that sews the upper part of the shoes to the soles.

1903 – George Wyman completes the first motorized transcontinental trip when he arrives in New York City by motorcycle after driving from San Francisco in 51 days. Wyman made the trip on a 1.25-horsepower, 90cc California motorcycle designed by Roy Marks. Wyman died in 1959 at age 82.


1905 – Fingerprints are exchanged for the first time between officials in Europe and the U.S. The person in question is John Walker.

1908 – Robert Peary’s expedition, with a crew of 23, sails from New York City for the North Pole.

1924 – The first photo is sent experimentally across the Atlantic by radio from the U.S. to England.

1932 – The postage rate for first class mail increases from 2 cents to 3 cents.

1945 – Abbott and Costello’s film “The Naughty Nineties” is released and features the longest version of their “Who’s on First” routine. Watch the sketch from the movie:Daily Motion

1945 – President Truman signs an executive order establishing the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is awarded “for especially meritorious contribution to 1) the security or national interests of the United States, or 2) world peace, or 3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

1960 – Dr. Barbara Moore completes a 3,207-mile walk from Los Angeles to New York City in 46 days. Of the people who are documented to have walked or ran across the U.S., Moore did it in the shortest amount of time. Moore, a Russian-born British engineer, died in 1977 at age 73.

1971 – President Nixon forms the White House Plumbers unit to plug news leaks after the “Pentagon Papers” are released to the New York Times.

1983 – The Supreme Court rules that retirement plans can’t pay women smaller monthly payments solely because of their gender.

1993 – John F. Kennedy Jr. gives notice he is quitting as Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan. In 1995 he launches the magazine “George.” Kennedy, his wife, and sister-in-law die in a plane crash in July 1999.

2010 – NASA Administrator Charles Bolden tells al-Jazeera news that President Obama told him “he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.” See it for yourself:


July 7

1863 – The first military draft in the U.S. is held. Exemptions to service during the Civil War cost $100.

1898 – President McKinley signs the resolution of annexation of the Hawaiian Islands.

1946 – Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini is canonized as the first American citizen to become saint. Mother Frances is born in Italy but becomes an American citizen.
She died in Chicago in 1917.


1948 – The Cleveland Indians sign 42-year-old Satchel Paige to a baseball contract. He is the oldest rookie in baseball history. Paige died in 1982 at age 75. Watch a short bio:

1949 – “Dragnet” starring Jack Webb premieres on NBC radio. Dragnet is also a TV series in 1951 and 1967, also starring Jack Webb.

1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor is nominated as the first woman Supreme Court Justice. She is unanimously confirmed by Congress on July 8. She submits her letter of resignation from the Court in 2005. O’Connor is now 85 yers old.

1983 – Eleven-year-old Samantha Smith of Manchester, Maine, leaves for a visit to the Soviet Union at the personal invitation of Soviet leader Yuri Andropov after she writes him a letter. Watch Ted Koppel’s interview with Samantha:

1987 – Lt. Col. Oliver North begins public testimony at the Iran-Contra hearing.

1994 –, Inc. is founded in Seattle, Washington, by Jeff Bezos under the name “Cadabra” but the name is quickly changed to Amazon.


July 8

1693 – New York City authorizes the first police uniforms in the American colonies.

1776 – Col. John Nixon gives the first public reading of Declaration of Independence. It is read aloud at the State House in Philadelphia.

1796 – The U.S. State Department issues the first American passport.

1797 – William Blount of Tennessee becomes the first U.S. senator to be expelled by impeachment. He is allegedly part of a conspiracy to assist England in taking possession of Louisiana and parts of Florida. Blount fails to appear before the Senate to answer the charges.

1889 – The Wall Street Journal begins publishing.

1911 – Nan Aspinwall is the first woman to complete a solo transcontinental trip by horse when she arrives in New York City. She leaves San Francisco on her horse Lady Ellen on September 1, 1910. Aspinwall makes the ride on a bet by Buffalo Bill Cody. Aspinwall died in 1968 at age 88.


1932 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes at its lowest during the Depression (41.22).

1948 – The Milton Berle Show (“Texaco Star Theater”) premieres on NBC TV. The show runs under various names on various TV networks until 1956. Berle died in 2002 at age 93. Watch the show’s opening and closing:

1950 – Gen. Douglas MacArthur becomes commander-in-chief of UN forces in Korea by order of President Truman. MacArthur is relieved of his command by Truman in April of 1951. MacArthur later tells Congress, “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”

1963 – All Cuban-owned assets in the U.S. are frozen.

1975 – President Ford announces he will seek the Republican nomination for president. Ford is the only person to serve as both vice president and president without being elected to either office. Ford is nominated vice president to replace Spiro Agnew after he resigns for tax evasion and bribery and replaces Richard Nixon when he resigns after the Watergate scandal.

1988 – Blind singer Stevie Wonder announces he will run for mayor of Detroit in the 1992 election. He does not follow through with the mayoral campaign. Wonder is now 65 years old.

2011 – The Space Shuttle Atlantis is launched on the final mission of the U.S. Space Shuttle program. There are a total of 135 flights starting with the Columbia on April 12, 1981. Watch a 7-minute video of the 30-year history of the Space Shuttle:


July 9

1776 – The American Declaration of Independence is read aloud to Gen. George Washington’s troops in New York.

1868 – The 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, granting citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” which included former slaves recently freed. In addition, it forbids states from denying any person “life, liberty or property, without due process of law.”

1872 – The doughnut cutter is patented by John Blondel of Thomaston, Maine. His original design is made of wood.

1893 – Dr. Daniel Williams performs the first successful open heart surgery in the U.S. Dr. Williams treats a man who had been stabbed in the chest.

1910 – Walter Brookins, who worked with the Wright brothers, becomes the first pilot to fly an airplane over 1 mile high. Brookins flies to an altitude of 6,234 in a Wright Model A over Atlantic City, New Jersey.


1922 – Johnny Weissmuller (the future Tarzan) becomes the first person to swim the 100 meters freestyle in less than a minute.

1932 – The Washington Redskins (then the Boston Braves) forms. The football team moves to Fenway Park in July 1933 and changes their name to the Redskins. They move to DC in 1937. A movement to get the team to change their name has been unsuccessful.


1948 – Satchel Paige, baseball’s oldest rookie at 42, debuts in the major league. He pitches 2 scoreless innings for Cleveland Indians. Watch a short video of his career:

1951 – President Harry Truman asks Congress to formally end the state of war with Germany.

1956 – Dick Clark’s makes his first appearance as host of “American Bandstand.” The show runs until 1989. Dick Clark died in 2012 at age 82.

1973 – Secretariat becomes the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years by winning horse racing’s Belmont Stakes. (The previous winner is Citation in 1948.) Secretariat is inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in 1974. He is euthanized in 1989 at age 19 because of Laminitis, a painful inflammation of the sensitive tissue beneath the hoof wall. Watch his amazing record-setting Triple Crown win:

1997 – Mike Tyson is banned from the boxing ring and fined $3 million for biting the ear of opponent Evander Holyfield.


July 10

1850 – Vice President Fillmore becomes president when Zachary Taylor dies in office after a brief illness.

1866 – The indelible pencil is patented by Edson P. Clark of Northampton, Massachusetts.

1900 – “His Master’s Voice” is registered with the U.S. Patent Office. The logo of the Victor Recording Company, and later, RCA Victor, shows the dog, Nipper, looking into the horn of a gramophone machine.


1913 – The highest temperature ever recorded in the U.S. is 134° F in Death Valley, California.

1919 – President Wilson personally delivers Treaty of Versailles to the U.S. Senate. The treaty is rejected by the Senate and never ratified.

1938 – Howard Hughes sets a new record when he flies around the world in 91 hours.

1950 – “Your Hit Parade” premiers on NBC (later CBS) TV and airs until 1959.

1962 – The Telstar I Communications satellite is launched. Later that same day it transmits the first live television images from the United States to France.

1984 – Dwight ‘Doc’ Gooden of the New York Mets becomes the youngest baseball player to appear in an All-Star Game as a pitcher. He is 19 years, 7 months, and 24 days old. He is named the 1984 Rookie of the year. Gooden is now 50 years old.


1985 – Coca-Cola resumes selling the old formula of Coke that is renamed “Coca-Cola Classic.” It is also announced that they will continue to sell “New” Coke. Watch Coke president Donald Keough make a hasty retreat:

1997 – RJR Nabisco announces it will replace cigarette logo Joe Camel in new ads.

1998 – The U.S. military delivers the remains of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Blassie to his family in St. Louis, MO. Blassie is shot down over South Vietnam in 1972. He had been placed in Arlington Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown in 1984. His identity is confirmed with DNA tests.


July 11

1798 – President John Adams signs the bill establishing the U.S. Marine Corps as a permanent military force under the jurisdiction of the Department of Navy.

1804 – Vice President Aaron Burr kills Alexander Hamilton in a pistol duel near Weehawken, New Jersey. Burr is indicted for murder, but the charges are later dropped. Burr and Hamilton had been bitter political and personal rivals for years.

1914 – Babe Ruth debuts as a pitcher for Boston Red Sox and he beats Cleveland 4-3.

1918 – Enrico Caruso records George M. Cohan’s song “Over There.” Listen to Caruso as you watch WWI images:

1934 – FDR becomes the first president to travel through the Panama Canal.

1944 – Franklin Roosevelt announces that he will run for a fourth term as President of the United States. He is re-elected, but dies in office in 1945 at the age of 63. Congress passes the 22nd Amendment in 1947 limiting a president to two terms in office.

1967 – Singer Kenny Rogers forms the group The First Edition and they release their first album later that year.


1967 – In the longest baseball All-Star Game to date the National League beats the Amerian League 2-1 in 15 innings at Anaheim Stadium in California. Also, all the runs scored are home runs.

1977 – Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. is posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter. King was assassinated on April 4,1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.

1979 – The abandoned U.S. space station Skylab returns to Earth. It burns up in the atmosphere and showers debris over the Indian Ocean and Australia.

1981 – Neva Rockefeller is the first woman ordered to pay alimony to her husband. She is the great-granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller.

1984 – The U.S. government orders air bags to be required in all cars by 1989.

1987 – Bo Jackson signs a contract to play football for the L.A. Raiders for 5 years. He also continues to play baseball for the Kansas City Royals. He is the only athlete to be named an All-Star in two major sports. Bo is now 52 years old.

1999 – A U.S. Air Force jet flys over the Antarctic and drops off emergency medical supplies for Dr. Jerri Nielson at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Research Center after she discovered a lump in her breast. Nielson performs a biopsy on herself and then treats herself with chemotherapy using supplies parachuted by the Air Force the following month. Nielson died of cancer in 2009 at age 57.


July 12

1630 – New Amsterdam’s governor buys Gull Island from the Indians for cargo and renames it Oyster Island. It is later known as Ellis Island.

1774 – Citizens of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, pass a declaration of independence.

1862 – Congress authorizes the Medal of Honor. A total of 3,471 medals have been awarded to service men and women.

1909 – The resolution proposing the 16th Amendment (income tax) is passed by the 61st Congress and submitted to the state legislatures. The resolution reads simply “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” The 16th Amendment is voted on by each state legislature and subsequently ratified on February 3, 1913.

1912 – “Queen Elizabeth” is the first foreign feature film shown in U.S. Watch a portion of the silent film:

1933 – Congress passes the first minimum wage law (25 cents per hour) as part of the National Industrial Recovery Act. The Supreme Court rules the act unconstitutional in 1935.

1946 – “The Adventures of Sam Spade” debuts on ABC radio.

1957 – Dwight Eisenhower is the first President to fly in a helicopter.

1978 – The U.S. performs a nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site. Underground testing of weapons continues until September of 1992.

1982 – The last of the distinctive-looking Checker taxi cabs rolls off the assembly line in Kalamazoo, Michigan.


1984 – U.S. Rep. Geraldine A. Ferraro (D-NY) is chosen by Democrat presidential candidate Walter Mondale to be his running mate. Ferraro becomes the first woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket. Ferraro died in 2011 at age 75.

1996 – Michael Jordan signs a National Basketball Association contract for 1 year for $25 million.

2009 – All television broadcasts in the U.S. switch from analog NTSC to digital ATSC transmission.

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