This Week in History: Oct. 2-8, 2023


This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann

“History is a vast early warning system.” Norman Cousins

Oct. 2-8, 2023

October 2

1871 – The Mormon leader Brigham Young is arrested for “lewd and lascivious cohabitation” with his 16 wives. President Lincoln signed the Anti-Bigamy Law in 1862. Young was reported to have had 55 wives.

1889 – The first International Conference of American States (Pan-American) is held in Washington, DC. It lasted until April 1890. It took nearly 10 years to be arranged by Secretary of State James G. Blaine.

1916 – Dr. Harry Wegeforth establishes the San Diego Zoo as a result of the abandonment of exotic animals following the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

1936 – The first alcohol power plant forms in Atchison, Kansas. It produced a corn-based biofuel called Agrol.

1980 – Larry Holmes TKOs 38-year-old Muhammad Ali in 11 rounds for the heavyweight boxing title. This fight was said to have contributed to Ali’s Parkinson’s disease. Ali fought only one more time in December 1981 in the Bahamas. Ali died in 2016 at age 74.

2002 – The Beltway Sniper attacks begin in the Washington, DC area, extending over three weeks. Ten people were killed and three others wounded before John Allen Muhammad and 17-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo were arrested. In 2003, Malvo was sentenced to six consecutive life terms without possibility of parole and Muhammed was sentenced to death. Muhammed was executed in 2009. Malvo, who is now 38 years old, had his sentence overturned in May 2017 after the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that life sentences for juveniles was unconstitutional. Boyd is awaiting resentencing. In March 2020, Malvo married heiress Sable Noel Knapp, age 30, in a prison ceremony. The self-described “trust-fund-baby” was arrested in 2016 during a BLM protest. Watch a report about Malvo on the 10-year anniversary of the attacks.

2005 – The National Football League plays its first regular season game outside United States. The Arizona Cardinals defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-14 in Mexico City, Mexico. Its predecessor, the American Football League, played the first ever game outside the U.S. in November 1926 in Toronto, Canada, when the New York Yankees defeated the Los Angeles Wildcats 28-0.

October 3

1789 – George Washington proclaims the first national Thanksgiving Day will be on November 26th. In 1863, President Lincoln changed Thanksgiving to the last Thursday in November. FDR changed Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday in 1941.

1849 – American author Edgar Allan Poe is found delirious in a gutter in Baltimore, Maryland, under mysterious circumstances. It was the last time he was seen in public before his death on October 7th at age 40.

1904 – Educator and activist Mary McLeod Bethune opens the Daytona Normal & Industrial School in Florida, which later becomes Bethune-Cookman College. She was also the founder of the National Council of Negro Women in 1935 and served as an advisor to FDR. Mary died in 1955 at age 79.

1945 – Elvis Presley makes his first public appearance at age 10 in a
singing contest at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. He sang
“Old Shep.”

1955 – “Captain Kangaroo” premieres on TV and airs until 1992. Bob Keeshan (a.k.a. Captain Kangaroo) was also the original Clarabelle on the Howdy Doody Show. Bob served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves during World War II. The Captain died in 2004 at age 76.

1955 – The “Mickey Mouse Club” premieres on TV with 39 kids and 3 adults in the cast. The show aired until 1959, but was revived in the 1970, and again in the 1990s. Among the original cast were actress Annette Funicello and future Lawrence Welk dancer Bobby Burgess. Watch part of the first episode.

1967 – Air Force pilot William Knight set the highest speed ever recorded by a manned, powered aircraft when he flew the X-15 at 4,520 miles per hour (Mach 6.72). The record still stands.

1984 – The government shuts down (again) due to lack of Congressional agreement over the passage of bills. The bills were passed the following day. The U.S. government has shut down a total of 21 times due to budgetary or funding issues.

1995 – OJ Simpson is found not guilty in the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in Los Angeles, California. On this day in 2008, OJ Simpson was found guilty of charges of kidnapping and armed robbery. He was just paroled after serving 9 years in prison. Watch the not guilty verdict being read and OJ’s reaction.

2003 – Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy is attacked by one of the show’s tigers. His severe injuries led to the permanent cancelation of their Las Vegas show. The tiger died of an illness in 2014 at age 17. Roy Horn died in May 2020 at age 75. Siegfried Fischbacher is 81. The team reunited for one show in 1999.

2008 – President George W. Bush signs the $700 billion bailout bill for the U.S. financial system.

October 4

1648 – Peter Stuyvesant, governor of New Amsterdam (later New York), establishes America’s first volunteer firemen when he appoints four men to act as fire wardens.

1924 – The New York Giants become first baseball team to appear in four consecutive World Series.

1965 – Pope Paul VI becomes the first Pope to visit the Western Hemisphere when he addresses the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York City.

1976 – The Supreme Court lifts a 1972 ban on the death penalty for convicted murderers.

2004 – SpaceShipOne, designed by Burt Rutan, wins the $10 million Ansari X Prize. This prize was awarded to a privately built spacecraft that could safely carry a pilot and the equivalent weight of two passengers to the edge of space and then repeat the feat within two weeks. SpaceShipOne cost over $20 million to design and build. Watch a video of the flights.

2011 – The State Department lists ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist with a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture. He was killed in October 2019 by order of the Trump administration.

October 5

1892 – The Dalton Gang’s daylight 2-bank holdup in Coffeville, Kansas, ends in a shoot-out when townspeople recognize the gang and organize the town to confront them. All the gang members except Emmett Dalton were killed. Emmett was tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison but was paroled after 14 years. He used his notoriety to become a Hollywood screenwriter. He died in 1937 at age 66.

1923 – Astronomer Edwin Hubble identifies Cepheid as a variable star. His measurements placed “M31” one million light-years away, far outside the Milky Way, making it a galaxy containing millions of stars. The Hubble Space Telescope was named for the Rhodes Scholar Edwin Hubble. He died in 1953 at age 63.

1945 – “Meet the Press” premieres on the radio. It began airing on TV in November of 1947, making it the longest running TV show in U.S. history. Early hosts included Martha Roundtree, Lawrence Spivek, Garrick Utley, and Tim Russert, Sr.

1953 – The New York Yankees win their record 5th consecutive World Series. The record still stands. They also have the most World Series appearances with 40, winning 27 of them. Watch footage with commentary from the series against the Dodgers.

1998 – The U.S. pays $60 million for Russia’s research time on the International Space Station to keep the cash-strapped Russian space agency afloat.

2015 – The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is announced by trade ministers of 12 countries in Atlanta, Georgia. The agreement was never ratified and never took effect.

October 6

1781 – American and French troops begin the siege of Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia, the last battle of Revolutionary War.

1866 – John and Simeon Reno stage the first train robbery in the U. S. when they stop a moving train. The brothers stole $13,000 from an Ohio and Mississippi train in Indiana. The Reno Brothers gang went on to rob several other trains. Vigilantes at the New Albany jail hanged the brothers on December 12, 1868.

1927 – “The Jazz Singer,” the first movie with a sound track, premieres in New York City. The movie was based on the life of singer Al Jolson. Watch Jolson at his best.

1949 – President Truman signs the Mutual Defense Assistance Act which was passed by Congress. It was the first U.S. military foreign aid legislation of the Cold War era.

1961 – President Kennedy advises American families to build or buy bomb shelters to protect them in the event of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union.

1991 – Elizabeth Taylor gets married for the 8th (and last) time to Larry Fortensky at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. They got divorced in 1996. Liz Taylor died in 2011 at age 79. Fortensky died in 2016 at age 64.

2010 – Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launch Instagram as a free mobile app. Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion.

October 7

1765 – Nine American colonies send a total of 28 delegates to New York City for the Stamp Act Congress. The delegates adopted the “Declaration of Rights and Grievances.”

1913 – Ford Motor Company institutes the world’s first moving assembly line for production of the Model T Ford. By 1914, it reduced the time it took to build a car from 12 hours to 93 minutes. By 1925, the Model T was manufactured at a rate of nearly 10,000 a day.

1940 – The McCollum memo proposes bringing the U.S. into the war in Europe by preparing for a possible attack by the Japanese. Lt. Commander Arthur McCollum sent an “Eight Action Memo” to President FDR outlining an eight-part plan to counter Japanese power.

1944 – Australian-born opera singer Marjorie Lawrence sings at the White House at the request of President FDR. Lawrence was stricken by polio and paralyzed from the waist down at the height of her career. She recovered but encountered obstacles when she returned to singing. FDR encouraged her to “carry on.” Watch a 1947 performance.

1968 – The Motion Picture Association of America adopts the film-rating letter system to rate a film’s thematic and content suitability for certain audiences.

1991 – Law Professor Anita Hill accuses Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of making sexually inappropriate comments to her. Then-Senator Joe Biden was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that conducted the hearings. Thomas was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice, where he is the longest current serving jurist. Justice Thomas is now 75 years old.

2001 – The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan starts with an air assault and covert operations on the ground. It became America’s longest war.

2003 – Gray Davis is recalled as governor of California, three years before the official end of his office term. Movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor. The only other governor successfully recalled was Lynn Frazier of North Dakota in 1921.

2015 – President Obama apologizes to the head of Doctors Without Borders for the bombing of their hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, four days earlier that killed 42 people and injured over 30.

October 8

1871 – The Great Chicago Fire kills 200 people, destroys over 4 square miles of buildings, and burns the original Emancipation Proclamation.

1918 – During World War I, Sgt. Alvin York single-handedly kills 25 Germans and captures 132 others. Sergeant York is awarded his nation’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions. The film “Sergeant York” starring Gary Cooper becomes one of the top grossing Warner Brothers films of the entire war era and earns Cooper the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1942. Watch a short interview with the grandson of Sgt. York.

1969 – The opening 3-day riots of the “Days of Rage” occurs in Chicago, Illinois. The largely unsuccessful events are organized by the Weather Underground faction of Students for a Democratic Society. There were 34 injuries and over 250 arrests. One of the main organizers was Tom Hayden, who was once married to Jane Fonda.

1993 – The U.S. government issues a report absolving the FBI of any wrongdoing in its final assault in Waco, Texas, on the Branch Davidian compound. The fire that ended the siege killed 85 men, women, and children.

2001 – President George W. Bush announces the establishment of the Office of Homeland Security. Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge was sworn in as its director.

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