This Week in History: Oct. 9-15, 2023


This Week in History
by Dianne Hermann

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

Oct. 9-15, 2023

October 9

1635 – Dissident Roger Williams is banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his religious beliefs. In 1636, he purchased land from the Narragansett Indians and founded the colony of Rhode Island.

1872 – Aaron Montgomery Ward starts his mail-order business. His first catalog contained 163 products. Ward died in 1913 at age 69.

1888 – The Washington Monument opens for public admittance. Construction began in 1848 but the completion was delayed by the Civil War. It is still the tallest stone structure in the world at 555 feet.

1930 – Aviator Laura Ingalls lands in Glendale, California, to complete the first solo transcontinental flight across the U.S. by a woman. Amelia Earhart completed the flight non-stop in 1932.

1973 – Elvis and Priscilla Presley divorce after 6 years of marriage. They had one daughter, Lisa Marie, who died in 2023 at age 54.

1986 – The Senate impeaches U.S. District Judge Harry E. Claiborne after he is convicted in a Nevada court of tax evasion in 1984. The Senate started impeachment hearings because Claiborne did not resign and continued to receive his salary when he began serving two years in prison in March of 1986.

2009 – President Obama is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize nine months after taking office. Nomination for the prize closed just 11 days after he took office and included 204 other nominees. Obama was nominated by the Nobel Committee, in part, for calling for “a new start to relations between the Muslim world and the West based on common interests and mutual understanding and respect.” Watch Obama’s short acceptance speech.

2017 – Harvey Weinstein is fired from his own company amid allegations of sexual abuse. Although the “Me Too” movement was started in 2006 by Tarana Burke, the movement started using #MeToo following the Weinstein allegations.

October 10

1845 – The Naval School (now the U.S. Naval Academy) opens in Annapolis, Maryland. It is the second oldest military academy in the U.S. The Military Academy at West Point was founded in 1802.

1913 – President Woodrow Wilson triggers the explosion of the Gamboa Dike that ends the construction of the Panama Canal. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed the Panama Canal Treaty, giving control of the canal to Panama in 2000.

1963 – The U.S., U.K., and U.S.S.R. sign a treaty banning atmospheric nuclear tests.

1973 – Vice President Spiro T. Agnew pleads no contest to tax evasion and resigns. President Nixon nominated Gerald Ford as Vice President on October 12th to replace Spiro Agnew. Gerald Ford became president when Nixon resigns in 1974 amid the Watergate scandal.

1978 – Congress approves the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin. About 900 million coins were minted from 1979 to 1981 and again in 1999. The 11-sided coin was not well received, due in large part to its confusion with the size of the quarter. Women’s suffragette Susan B. Anthony was the first woman to be honored by having her likeness appear on a circulating U. S. coin.

1983 – NBC premieres the true life drama “Adam,” based on the 1981 murder of John Walsh’s son. Walsh launched “America’s Most Wanted” in 1988. Watch an A&E story about Adam (Note: parts of this video are disturbing).

1991 – Greyhound emerges from bankruptcy reorganization after filing for Chapter 11 protection in 1990. The company names Frank Schneider as its new CEO. Dave Leach has been the CEO since 2007.

October 11

1809 – Explorer Meriwether Lewis dies at age 35 under mysterious circumstances at an inn called Grinder’s Stand along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee. He was shot multiple times and his death remains an unsolved mystery.

1869 – Thomas Edison files for a patent on his first invention. It was an electric machine used for counting votes in Congress, but Congress did not buy it.

1890 – The Daughters of American Revolution (DAR) is founded. It is a lineage-based service organization for women who are directly descended from someone who fought in the Revolutionary War.

1929 – JC Penney opens store #1252 in Milford, Delaware, making it a nationwide company with stores in all lower 48 states. James Cash Penney died in 1971 at age 95.

1950 – The Federal Communications Commission issues the first license to broadcast television in color to CBS.

1958 – The U.S. launches the lunar probe Pioneer 1. The probe did not reach its destination and fell back to Earth, burning up in the atmosphere.

1968 – Apollo 7 is launched as the first manned Apollo mission in which live television broadcasts are received from orbit.

1975 – “Saturday Night Live” premieres with George Carlin as its guest host. Carlin died in 2008 at age 71. Watch the first show with Carlin’s classic monologue comparing football and baseball.

1984 – Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan is the first American woman to walk in space. She flew on three Space Shuttle missions and logged 532 hours in space. Sullivan, age 71, is now the Charles Lindbergh Chair of Aerospace History at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.

1984 – Vice Presidential candidates Geraldine Ferraro (D) & George H. W. Bush (R) participate in a debate. Ferraro was the first woman from a major political party to be nominated as Vice President. Ferraro died in 2011 at age 75.

2018 – A Russian Soyuz spacecraft makes an emergency landing when the rocket failed just two minutes after liftoff. Both the Russian cosmonaut and American astronaut survived after parachuting from the spacecraft.

October 12

1692 – The Massachusetts Bay Colony discontinues the witch trials in Salem. A total of 20 “witches” were executed, including eight women who were hanged on September 22nd.

1773 – America’s first insane asylum opens in Williamsburg, Virginia, for “Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds.” The building was destroyed in an 1885 fire. The grounds were excavated in 1972, the building was reconstructed, and it opened as a museum in 1985.

1792 – The first monument honoring Christopher Columbus is dedicated in Baltimore, Maryland. In August 2017, the monument was vandalized. A Columbus monument dedicated in 1984 was torn down by protesters in July 2020. Watch a 2017 news report that includes a video made by the vandals.

1892 – The original version of the Pledge of Allegiance is first recited in public schools in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Columbus landing. The pledge was written by Francis Bellamy.

1920 – Man O’War runs his last race and wins. He retired and sired 379 foals, including future Triple Crown winner War Admiral (1937).

1928 – The iron lung, invented by Philip Drinker and Louis Shaw, is first used at the Boston Children’s Hospital. It was used to successfully treat a girl suffering from polio.

1961 – The first video memoirs by a U.S. president are made when Walter Cronkite interviews Dwight D. Eisenhower on the 20th anniversary of D-Day.

1977 – The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the “reverse discrimination” case of Allan Bakke, a white student twice denied admission to the University of California Medical School. In June 1978, the Supreme Court ruled that affirmative action was constitutional, but it invalidated the use of racial quotas. Bakke eventually graduated from medical school and became an anesthesiologist.

2000 – The USS Cole is badly damaged in Yemen by two suicide bombers, killing 17 crew and wounding at least 39.

2017 – The long-lost bust of Napoleon by famed sculptor August Rodin is found in the town hall in Madison, New Jersey. The 700-pound sculpture, on display there for 85 years, is valued at over $4 million. The bust is now on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

October 13

1775 – The Continental Congress creates the U.S. Navy. The U.S. Army was created on June 14, 1775.

1792 – Robert B. Thomas publishes “The Farmer’s Almanac.” The word “Old” was added to the title after 39 years. It is the oldest continuously published periodical in America.

1792 – George Washington lays the cornerstone of the Executive Mansion. President Teddy Roosevelt renamed the presidential residence the White House in 1901.

1947 – “Kukla, Fran & Ollie” premieres on TV and airs until 1947. Kukla (a clown) and Ollie (a dragon) were puppets with Fran Allison as the hostess. Burr Tillstrom was the show’s creator and puppeteer. Burr died in 1985 at age 68 and Fran died in 1989 at age 81. Watch part of a very early episode.

1982 – The International Olympic Committee Executive Committee approves the reinstatement of Jim Thorpe’s gold medals from the 1912 Olympics. Thorpe was stripped of his medals after his amateur status is nullified. Thorpe died in 1953 at age 64.

2016 – Bob Dylan is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” He refused to accept the prize until March 2017.

2019 – Simone Biles becomes the world’s most decorated gymnast in history after winning her 25th medal at the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.

October 14

1773 – The United Kingdom’s East India Company ship’s cargo of tea on the ship Peggy Stewart is burned at Annapolis, Maryland. The Boston Tea Party was December 16th.

1912 – Presidential candidate Teddy Roosevelt is shot while campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The bullet struck Roosevelt’s metal eyeglasses case before entering his chest. He delivered his 90-minute speech before going to the hospital. The would-be assassin John Schrank was deemed insane and confined for life to an asylum. Woodrow Wilson won the 1912 election.

1947 – Chuck Yeager, in a Bell X-1, makes the first supersonic flight at Mach 1.015, becoming the first person to break the sound barrier. Yeager died in 2020 at age 97. Watch a report on his flight.

1960 – Senator John F. Kennedy first suggests creating the Peace Corps while campaigning at the University of Michigan. Newly elected President Kennedy signs Executive Order 10924 establishing the Peace Corps in March of 1961.

1962 – U.S. U-2 espionage planes locate Soviet-supplied missile launchers in Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis started when Cuban anti-aircraft gunners opened fire on the U.S. reconnaissance planes on October 27th. Khrushchev in Russia blinked first.

1968 – The first live telecast from space to Earth is made from the manned U.S. spacecraft Apollo 7.

2003 – Baseball fan Steve Bartman deflects the ball away from Chicago Cubs outfielder Moises Alou. Bartman was escorted from the stadium under police protection. The Cubs, who were leading in the game, gave up eight runs in the inning and lose to the Florida Marlins 8-3. The Bartman incident was seen as the turning point in their loss of the National League Championship Series. After the Cubs won the 2016 World Series, they claimed they would give a ring to Bartman, who declined. Watch the incident.

2017 – Harvey Weinstein is expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after revelations of decades of sexual misconduct. Weinstein was convicted on two felony counts of rape in 2020 and sentenced to 23 years in prison.

October 15

1883 – The Supreme Court declares unconstitutional the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which guaranteed equal treatment in public accommodations and transportation.

1924 – President Calvin Coolidge declares the Statue of Liberty a national monument. The statue, built by Gusave Eiffel, was dedicated in October 28, 1886.

1949 – Billy Graham begins his ministry with a crusade in Los Angeles, California. Graham died in 2018 at age 99. Watch a short ABC interview with America’s pastor.

1951 – “I Love Lucy” starring real-life married couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz debuts on TV and airs until 1957. Lucille Ball also starred in “The Lucy Show,” 1962-1968, and “Here’s Lucy,” 1968-1974. Ball and Arnaz divorced in 1960.

1965 – The Senate passes the Freedom of Information Act. President LBJ signed it into law on July 4, 1966.

1966 – Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale create the Black Panther Party. Seale was one of the Chicago 7 who protested at the 1968 Democrat National Convention.

1997 – Former U.S. Representative Dan Rostenkowski is released from prison after serving 15 months of a 17 month sentence for mail fraud. The fraud case was led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Rostenkowski died in 2010 at age 82.

2011 – Legoland Florida (the world’s largest Legoland theme park) opens in Winter Haven, Florida. Watch a video tour of the park.

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