In 1975, the Metric Conversion Act was passed by Congress declaring the preferred weight and measure system for U.S. commerce and trade.
In 1970, the World Trade Center, under construction in New York, reached its tallest point, 1,348 feet (411 meters) above street level.
In 1958, Alvin, Simon and Theodore reached No. 1 with their Chipmunk Song.
In 1956, Colo, a baby gorilla, was born in Ohio’s Columbus Zoo – the first gorilla to be born in captivity.
In 2001, Australian native Russell Crowe starred in A Beautiful Mind.
In 1946, an earthquake hit Honshu, Japan, leaving a half-million people homeless.
In 1989, the U.S. invaded Panama as part of Operation Just Cause, with the intention to depose dictator Manuel Noriega.
In 1957, the king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley, received a draft notice for the United States Army.
In 1997, Titanic opened in theaters; the movie directed by James Cameron later won 11 Academy Awards.
In 1941, Adolf Hitler took command of the German army.
In 1972, the Miami Dolphins became the first undefeated team in NFL history by beating the Washington Redskins in the Super Bowl.
In 1997, President Bill Clinton named his dog Buddy.
In 1993, Steven Spielberg’s historic drama Schindler’s List was released.
In 1976, the island of Samoa became a member of the United Nations.
In 2005, a remake of the 1933 film King Kong debuted in Germany, becoming the fourth-highest-grossing film in Universal Pictures history.
In 1799, George Washington died of acute laryngitis in Mount Vernon, Virginia.
In 2000, Vice President Al Gore conceded the race for president to Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
In 1621, the first fur export from the American continent left for England.
In 1913, the Mona Lisa was recovered two years after being stolen.
In 1787, the Constitution was ratified by Pennsylvania, the second state to do so.
In 1957, singer Donny Osmond was born in Utah.
In 1835, the victorious Texan Army took possession of the city of San Antonio from Mexico.
In 1980, musician John Lennon was shot and killed by an obsessed fan in New York.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction.
In 1787, Delaware became the first state of the modern United States.
In 1956, basketball star Larry Bird, whose name was used by Twitter in creating its logo, was born in Indiana.
In 1864, the 13th Amendment was ratified, ending the institution of slavery.
In 1877, Thomas Edison completed the first recording of the human voice, reciting “Mary Had A Little Lamb.”
In 1933, the 21st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was ratified, ending the prohibition of alcohol in the nation.
In 1945, an aircraft squadron mysteriously disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle.
In 1901, the Gillette razor was patented as the first razor to have a permanent handle and disposable razor blades.
In 1982, the world’s first operation to implant a permanent artificial heart took place at the University of Utah.
In 1913, Henry Ford installed the world’s first moving assembly line, reducing car production time from more than 12 hours to 2 1/2 hours.
In 1835, author Hans Christian Andersen published his first book of fairy tales.
In 2004, “Jeopardy” record-holder Ken Jennings ended his winning streak – 74 games in a row.
In 1974, Elton John’s “Greatest Hits” album started its 10-week run atop the Billboard charts.
In 1963, the Beatles released their song “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
In 1898, Christian author C.S. Lewis was born in the UK.
In 1520, Ferdinand Magellan became the first European explorer to reach the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic.
In 1995, President Bill Clinton passed legislation ending the 55 mph federal speed limit.
In 1952, Agatha Christie’s play The Mousetrap opened in London; it would go on to have the longest initial run of any play in theater history.
In 1947, the Hollywood Ten were blacklisted during the Cold War’s Red Scare after refusing to answer questions about their involvement with communism.
In 1993, Mrs. Doubtfire, starring Robin Williams, opened in movie theaters.
In 1932, the FBI crime lab first opened in Washington, D.C.
In 1889, the first jukebox debuted in San Francisco.
In 1990, author Roald Dahl, who wrote James and the Giant Peach, died.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as he rode in a motorcade in Dallas.
In 1984, Fred Rogers of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” presented one of his iconic sweaters to the Smithsonian.
In 1976, the movie Rocky premiered, starring Sylvester Stallone.
In 1983, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video premiered at various movie theaters in Los Angeles.
In 1928, Steamboat Willie, the first successful “talking” cartoon, premiered.
In 1990, musician Paul McCartney’s birth certificate was auctioned, selling for $18,000.
In 2001, Toys R Us opened its giant store in New York’s Times Square.
In 1978, the Indiana Colts player Reggie Wayne was born.
In 1959, The Sound of Music premiered on Broadway, starring Mary Martin.
In 1981, a vaccine for hepatitis B was finally approved.
In 2006, Andy Warhol’s painting Sixteen Jackies, a pop art piece of Jacqueline Kennedy, sold for $15.6 million.
In 1851, Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick was published.
In 1832, the first streetcar – which was horse-drawn and carried 30 people – began operation in New York City.
In 1974, actor Leonardo DiCaprio was born.
In 1940, the world’s first Jeep debuted.
In 1775, the United States Marine Corps was created.
In 1969, Gene Autry received a gold record for his song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which had been released 20 years earlier.
In 1940, musician John Lennon was born.
In 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt left for Panama on the first official diplomatic foreign trip taken by a U.S. president.
In 1895, German scientist Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen discovered X-rays.
In 2005, popular video game “Guitar Hero” was released in the U.S.
In 1980, actor and “The King of Cool” Steve McQueen died.
In 1940, the Tacoma Bridge collapsed.
In 1922, the entrance to King Tut’s tomb was discovered.
In 1879, famous cowboy singer Will Rogers was born in Oklahoma.
In 1507, Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to paint the Mona Lisa.
In 2014, the new One World Trade Center opened in New York City.
In 1983, Ronald Reagan announced Martin Luther King Day as a federal holiday.
In 2001, the Disney/Pixar film Monsters Inc. opened and had the best debut ever for an animated film.
In 1952, the United States performed the world’s first hydrogen bomb test.
In 1512, the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling first opened to the public for viewing.
In 1926, famous magician Harry Houdini died.
In 2005, iTunes Music reached 1 million videos purchased.
In 1965, the Gateway Arch reached completion in St Louis.
In 1956, Elvis Presley’s song “Love Me Tender” reached the top of the Billboard charts.
In 1858, Theodore Roosevelt was born.
In 1904, the New York City subway system opened.
In 1774, the United States’ First Continental Congress adjourned in Philadelphia.
In 1949, President Harry Truman raised the hourly minimum wage from 40 cents to 75 cents.
In 1881, famous artist Pablo Picasso was born in Spain.
In 1764, John Adams wed Abigail Smith.
In 1949, the cornerstone for the United Nations Headquarters was laid in New York City.
In 1788, Sarah Hale, who wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” was born.
In 1917, famous jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie was born.
In 1959, the Guggenheim Museum first opened in New York City.
In 1980, the Philadelphia Phillies won their first World Championship.
In 1947, Congress investigates Hollywood for Communists during the Red Scare.
In 1962, the Four Seasons released the famous song “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”
In 1985, the first Blockbuster movie store opened.
In 1914, a car was first used by the U.S. Postal Service to collect and deliver mail.
In 1967, Disney’s animated film The Jungle Book was released.
In 1931, inventor Thomas Edison died.
In 1933, Albert Einstein first arrived in the United States as a refugee from Nazi Germany.
In 2006, the population of the United States reached 30 million.
In 1792, the White House cornerstone was laid.
In 1950, the movie Harvey premiered, starring Jimmy Stewart.
In 1492, Columbus finally reached the New World.
In 1983, singer Karen Carpenter received her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 1890, John Owen completed the first 100-yard dash under 10 seconds, finishing in 9.8 seconds.
In 1975, the television show “Saturday Night Live” premiered.
In 1951, famous baseball player Joe DiMaggio played his final game with the New York Yankees.
In 1978, musician Steve Perry joined the band Journey.
In 1913, Ford Motor Company invented the world’s first assembly line for production of its Model T Ford.
In 1982, the musical Cats opened on Broadway for a run of almost 18 years.
In 1927, the first talking picture, The Jazz Singer, was released in New York City.
In 1893, famous breakfast Cream of Wheat was invented.
In 1962, the Beatles’ first album, Love Me Do, was released in the U.K.
In 1924, the first “Little Orphan Annie” comic was published in the New York Daily News.
In 1957, Sputnik, the world’s first satellite, was launched from the Soviet Union.
In 1822, Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th president of the United States, was born in Delaware, Ohio.
In 1863, President Lincoln announced a national Thanksgiving holiday in the midst of the Civil War.
In 1995, O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder in one of the most publicized criminal trials in the history of the United States.
In 1947, the World Series was televised for the first time, bringing in 3.9 million viewers over about 100,000 television sets.
In 1954, famous actress Julie Andrews made her first appearance on Broadway in The Boy Friend.
In 1907, singing cowboy Gene Autry was born in Tioga, Texas.
In 1927, telephone service between the United State and Mexico began.
In 1924, the first flight around the world was completed, after 175 days and about 27,550 miles.
In 1902, TV legend Ed Sullivan, of the Ed Sullivan Show, was born in Harlem, New York.
In 1995, the United States government unveiled a newly redesigned $100 bill.
In 1779, John Adams was appointed to negotiate peace with the British empire.
In 1960, a presidential debate was televised for the first time (John F. Kennedy-Richard Nixon), beginning an era of television-dominated politics.
In 1898, George Gershwin, composer of songs such as “Rhapsody in Blue,” “I Got Rhythm” and “Embraceable You,” was born in Brooklyn, New York.
In 1875, Billy the Kid was arrested for the first time in Silver City, New Mexico, after he was caught holding a bag of clothes his friend had stolen.
In 1806, famous explorers Lewis and Clark returned to Missouri from their 2½-year journey to the Pacific Coast.
In 1862, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
In 1987, Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies) was born in the United Kingdom.
In 1897, the New York Sun first ran the editorial “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” as a response to a letter from 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon.
In 1937, J.R.R. Tolkien published The Hobbit, the prequel to the Lord of the Rings series.
In 1984, NBC TV premiered The Cosby Show.
In 1878, Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle, a book that would lead to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act, was born.
In 1957, the world’s first underground nuclear explosion was set off during testing in Nevada.
In 1949, Twiggy, one of the most famous models of all time, was born in London.
In 1620, the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, in search of opportunities in the New World.
In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved the U.S. military draft.
In 1963, the Ku Klux Klan planted dynamite in the basement of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, murdering four young African-American girls with the resulting explosion.
In 1978, Muhammad Ali defeated Leon Spinks in New Orleans to reclaim the heavyweight champion title.
In 1964, the U.S. Medal of Freedom went to writer John Steinbeck.
In 1999, Hurricane Floyd’s disruptive winds in Florida caused Disney World to close down for the first time.
In 1943, military and political leader Chiang Kai-Shek became president of China.
In 1941, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) of America was formed.
In 1953, U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier.
In 1609, explorer Henry Hudson sailed the waters of what we now call the Hudson River.
In 1893, President Grover Cleveland’s wife gave birth in the White House to the first and only child of a sitting president to be born there.
In 1939, Gone With the Wind was shown for the first time to an audience in a surprise screening. The film producer, David O. Selznick, observed audience members’ reactions from the back row.
In 1974, President Gerald Ford granted a presidential pardon for the defamed Richard Nixon. The controversial executive action excused Nixon of all illegal activities connected to the Watergate scandal.
In 1917, Eugene Bullard became the first African-American combat aviator. He flew a reconnaissance mission over Metz, France, and was credited with one kill.
In 1776, the Americans sought to bomb the hull of a British flagship with a submarine. This was the first case of warfare using a submarine.
In 1950, the United Nations defeated the Soviet motion to condemn the American bombing of North Korea.
In 1901, President William McKinley was shot twice in the chest. He died eight days later from gangrene that resulted from the gunshot wound.
In 1979, President Jimmy Carter created an official Grandparents Day, which is the first Sunday after Labor Day each September.
In 1945, Japan formally surrendered in ceremonies aboard the USS Missouri, ending World War II.
In 1969, America’s first automatic teller machine (ATM) made its public debut, dispensing cash to customers in Rockville Center, New York.
In 1939, World War II began as Nazi Germany invaded Poland with more than 2,000 tanks and over 1,000 planes. The Polish army was defeated within weeks of the invasion.
In 1897, the first section of the nation’s first subway system was opened in Boston.
In 1897, Thomas Edison patented his movie camera, which at the time was called a Kinetograph.
In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt laid out his progressive philosophy as he delivered the “New Nationalism” speech at Osawatomie, Kansas. The speech was interpreted as an assault upon the conservatism of the Taft administration.
In 1780, General Benedict Arnold betrayed the American revolutionaries when he promised to surrender the fort at West Point to the British army. Arnold’s name has become synonymous with treason.
In 2005, Britain announced plans to ban the downloading and possession of violent sexual images – the first such plans by any Western country.
In 1991, the Supreme Soviet, the parliament of the USSR, suspended all activities of the Communist Party, bringing an end to the institution.
In 1958, Michael Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana. He sold 750 million albums worldwide and was awarded 13 Grammys and 26 American Music Awards.
In 1910, William James, an American psychologist and philosopher, died. His work included The Varieties of Religious Experience.
In 1945, Japanese diplomats boarded the Missouri to receive instructions on Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II.
In 1825, Uruguay declared its independence from Brazil. This led to the 500-day-long Cisplatine War.
In 1835, Ann Rutledge, said to be Lincoln’s first love, died at age 22 in New Salem, Illinois, of typhoid fever. There were reports that Lincoln plunged into a deep depression after her death.
In A.D. 79, Pliny the Elder witnessed the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The fumes overcame him as he tried to rescue others. The eruption buried the Roman cities of Pompeii, Stabiae, Herculaneum, and others. An estimated 20,000 people died.
In 1993, NASA’s Mars Observer, which was meant to map the surface of Mars, was declared lost.
In 1784, eastern Tennessee settlers declared their area an independent state and named it Franklin. A year later the Continental Congress rejected it.
In 1973, a bank robbery-turned-hostage standoff began in Stockholm. The four hostages had come to empathize with their captors by the end of the crisis, a psychological condition that came to be known as “Stockholm Syndrome.”
In 1762, Ann Franklin became the first female editor of an American newspaper, the Mercury in Newport, Rhode Island.
In 1984, Ronald Reagan won the Republican Party’s convention nomination, for the last time, in Dallas.
In 1909, the first race was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the Indianapolis 500 is held each year. Louis Schwitzer won the race at an average speed of 57.4 miles per hour.
In 1561, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, returned to her homeland after spending 13 years in France. She was the only surviving daughter of James V, who died when she was 6 days old.
In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation saying the United States would remain neutral in WWI. It wasn’t until April 1915 – after numerous attacks by German submarines – that the United States declared war on Germany.
In 1587, Virginia Dare was born – the first child born to English parents in America. Her parents were among the first group to arrive at Roanoke Island, Virginia.
In 1786, Davy Crockett, dubbed “King of the Wild Frontier,” was born in Limestone, Tennessee. He was a frontiersman, politician and soldier who died while defending the Alamo.
In 1978, a hot air balloon crossed the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in history. It traveled 3,233 miles over six days – from Presque Isle, Maine, to Paris.
In 1896, George Carmack found nuggets of gold in a creek in Klondike, Alaska. The discovery sparked “Klondike Fever,” with as many as 50,000 miners arriving over the next two years.
In 1977, Elvis Presley died in Memphis, Tennessee at the age of 42. The “King of Rock and Roll” became a national sensation after his first record, “Heartbreak Hotel.”
In 1040, King Duncan I of Scotland was killed in a battle with Macbeth, his cousin and rival. Although it didn’t happen quite like the portrayal in Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth did become Duncan’s successor.
In 1947, India and Pakistan became independent nations. The Indian Independence Bill, which took effect on that day, ended 200 years of British rule.
In 1990, the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex was discovered near Faith, South Dakota. The skeleton is the largest on record – 13 feet high and 42 feet long.
In 1898, the Spanish-American War ended when the United States signed a peace treaty with Spain. It was a short war that marked the end of Spain’s Western empire.
In 1934, the first civilian prisoners arrived on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. The prison was designed to hold the most dangerous prisoners in the system.
In 1992, The Mall of America, the biggest mall in the United States, opened in Bloomington, Minnesota. The mall has 4.3 miles total in storefront footage.
In 1776, news of America’s Declaration of Independence first reached London. The London Gazette informed readers that “the Continental Congress [had] declared the United Colonies free and independent States.”
In 1821, Missouri became the 24th state to join the Union, and the first state located west of the Mississippi. Congress had to arrange certain compromises to maintain the balance between the number of slave and non-slave states.
In A.D. 345, a Roman army led by Emperor Valens was overrun by a cavalry of barbarians in present-day Turkey. Twenty thousand men, including the emperor, died in the battle.
In 1944, “Smokey Bear” began his career as fire prevention spokesman. The campaign was actually a result of WWII, since there was a shortage of able-bodied men available to fight forest fires.
In 1974, Richard M. Nixon became the first U.S. president to resign from office. In his farewell address, he said that he hoped his resignation would allow the nation to heal from the divisions created by the Watergate scandal.
In 1863, Confederate General Robert E. Lee sent a letter of resignation to Jefferson Davis after losing a battle in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. President Davis refused his request, saying that it would be impossible to find someone more fit to command.
In 1963, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed by representatives of the United States, Soviet Union and Great Britain. The treaty prohibited testing nuclear weapons in outer space, underwater or in the atmosphere.
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan made good on his threat to fire striking air traffic controllers who didn’t return to work within 48 hours. He said that the strike, which began on August 3, was illegal.
In 1735, John Peter Zenger was acquitted in a landmark trial that paved the way for freedom of the press. He spent a year in jail, charged with printing false accusations against the governor of New York, before the jury declared him not guilty.
In 1914, Germany refused to withdraw from Belgium, and Great Britain entered WWI. A war telegraph from Winston Churchill to British fleets declared, “Commence hostilities against Germany.”
In 1914, Germany declared war on France and invaded the neutral country of Belgium, prompting Britain to send Germany an ultimatum. British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey remarked: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”
In 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain in search of a western sea route to Asia. Although he never made it to Asia, Columbus discovered the New World, landing first in the Bahamas.
In 2010, the Census for Marine Life was published, reporting data from 2,700 scientists over 10 years of exploration. They recorded more than 250,000 species of marine life existing in even the most extreme of habitats.
In 1892, Charles A. Wheeler patented the first practical escalator. He joined forces a few years later with inventor Charles D. Seeberger – the man credited with giving the escalator its name.
In 1774, Englishman John Priestley discovered oxygen by heating a lump of red mercuric oxide in a glass container. He found that the gas emitted from the experiment was “five or six times as good as common air.”
In 1790, the first U.S. Census began. It reported a total of 3.9 million inhabitants within the original 13 states and the districts of Kentucky, Maine, Vermont and Tennessee.
In 1805, Alexis de Tocqueville, author of Democracy in America, was born in Paris, France. In the book, he states, “nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom.”
In 1981, more than 750 million people watched on television as Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer. She was the first British citizen to marry an heir to the throne in 300 years.
In 1750, baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach died in Leipzig, Germany. Many of his more than 1,000 compositions are sacred works.
In 1945, the U.S. Senate approved the United Nations Charter. President Harry S. Truman felt that the “action of the Senate substantially advance[d] the cause of world peace.”
In 1921, the hormone insulin was isolated for the first time by Frederick Banting and Charles Best, two Canadian scientists at the University of Toronto. Within a year, insulin was being used to treat the previously fatal disease of diabetes.
In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee recommended that the current president of the United States, Richard Nixon, be impeached and removed from office. It was the first of three articles of impeachment charging the president with obstruction of justice.
In 1775, the U.S. postal system was established by the Second Continental Congress. Benjamin Franklin was appointed as the first Postmaster General, which made him responsible for all post offices from Massachusetts to Georgia.
In 1947, President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act, which reorganized U.S. foreign policy and military establishments. The act created the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
In 1933, American Wiley Post became the first aviator to fly solo around the world. The flight took him 7 days, 18 hours, and 49 minutes in his plane Winnie Mae.
In 1987, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said he would negotiate a ban on intermediate-range nuclear missiles with President Ronald Reagan. This resulted in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty signed later that year.
In 1865, what may be the first true Western showdown occurred in Springfield, Missouri. In the duel, Wild Bill Hickok shot Dave Tutt but was not charged with manslaughter because he had followed the “code of the West.”
In 2011, NASA’s space shuttle program completed its final mission. The five orbiters – Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour – completed 135 missions and traveled more than 500 million miles.
In 1881, Sitting Bull, chief of the Sioux nation, surrendered to the U.S. Army. He had been a leader at the Battle of Little Bighorn, when the Indians defeated General Custer and his men.
In 1948, increasing Cold War tensions caused President Harry S. Truman to institute a military draft. The proclamation called for 10 million men to register in the next two months.
In 1799, the Rosetta Stone was found 35 miles north of Alexandria. The stone was significant in understanding Egyptian language and culture because it contains the same passage written in three scripts: Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian demotic.
In 1809, writer, critic and editor Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts. “The Raven” is one of his most famous poems.
In A.D. 65, a fire spread through Rome, destroying nearly two-thirds of the city. Emperor Nero was blamed for starting the fire, since it allowed him to rebuild Rome in the Greek style that he preferred.
In 1925, Adolf Hitler published the first volume of his autobiography Mein Kampf, which sold almost 10,000 copies in the first year. The book outlined his political agenda, including the elimination of “impure” races and his plans for Germany.
In 1606, Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn was born in Leiden. He was a master of a technique called chiaroscuro, which highlights the relationship between light and shadow.
In 1979, President Jimmy Carter delivered a famous speech on the energy crisis in America. He admonished the people’s self-indulgence and consumption, saying that the solution to the energy crisis could also “help us to conquer the crisis of the spirit in our country.”
In 1099, Jerusalem was captured after a seven-week siege. This was the first of many crusades undertaken by European Christian knights.
In 1798, the Sedition Act was passed by Congress, allowing prosecution of those who printed or spoke malicious opinions about the government or president. This unconstitutional policy, backed by the Federalists, expired on the last day of President John Adams’ term.
In 1787, Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance, which established precedent for the settlement and admission of new states to the nation.
In 1985, a worldwide rock concert called Live Aid was held to raise money for starving people in Africa. The 16-hour concert raised more than $125 million.
In 100 B.C., Julius Caesar was born in Rome. Caesar, who became dictator for life, was murdered in 44 B.C. His name lives on in this month’s name: July.
In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower called for a “grand plan” of interstate highways during a speech in New York. He felt that there was a great need, due to increased motor traffic, for highways to be modernized and expanded.
In 1804, Federalist Party leader Alexander Hamilton was shot in a duel with his political rival, Vice President Aaron Burr. He died the next day.
In 1960, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee was published. The novel has become a classic of modern literature, addressing important issues like racial inequality and moral integrity.
In 1951, the city of Paris turned 2,000 years old. The city’s birth might be traced back even further, to 250 B.C., though it didn’t become the capital of France until more than a thousand years later.
In 1918, Ernest Hemingway was wounded in Italy while serving as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross. His experience there inspired his famous novel A Farewell to Arms.
In 1930, construction began on the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. The dam, which was completed five years later, generates enough energy to serve over a million people each year.
In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female Supreme Court Justice in U.S. history. She was nominated by President Ronald Reagan and unanimously endorsed by the Senate.
In 1971, jazz singer and trumpeter Louis Armstrong died in New York City. “Ambassador Satch,” as he was commonly known, is considered the pioneer of jazz improvisation.
In 1957, Althea Gibson became the first African-American to win the women’s singles tennis title at Wimbledon. Her autobiography, I Always Wanted to be Somebody, was published the next year.
In 1687, Isaac Newton’s Principia was published by the Royal Society in England. The book outlined his three laws of motion and the principle of gravitation.
In 1865, The Christian Mission, later known as the Salvation Army, was founded by William Booth and his wife, Catherine. The ministry provided both physical and spiritual assistance to the needy in London; today it has branches in more than 75 countries.
In 1831, 500 Sunday school children sang “My Country ’Tis of Thee” – the song’s debut performance – in Boston, Massachusetts. Samuel Smith wrote the anthem, also known as “America,” in about 30 minutes on a rainy day.
In 1997, NASA’s Pathfinder landed on Mars using a cost-effective procedure involving parachutes and airbags. Its remote control rover took almost 10,000 images of Martian landscape during its 30-day mission.
In 1903, the first Tour de France bicycle race was held. Originally begun as a publicity stunt, the three-week bike race has become one of the greatest athletic events in the world.
In 1963, the U.S. Postal Service introduced the five-digit Zoning Improvement Plan (ZIP) code. A more efficient sorting system was needed to keep up with the ever-increasing volume of mail.
In 1936, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell was published. The heroine in this best-selling novel, Scarlett O’Hara, was originally named Pansy.
In 1953, the first Corvette rolled off the production line in Flint, Michigan. The car, with a “Polo White” exterior, red interior and black canvas top, cost $3,490.
In 1613, London’s Globe Theatre burned down during a performance of Henry VIII. The theater, built in 1599, debuted most of Shakespeare’s plays.
In 1995, an American space shuttle docked on the Russian space station Mir, creating the largest man-made satellite ever to orbit Earth. NASA chief Daniel Goldin called it the beginning of “a new era of friendship and cooperation” between the U.S. and Russia.
In 1519, Charles I, grandson of Ferdinand II and Isabella of Spain, was elected Holy Roman emperor. Due to the Protestant Reformation and other political issues, his dream of building a universal empire was never fulfilled.
In 1836, James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, died on his plantation in Virginia. Besides his service as president, Madison also drafted the Constitution, recorded the Constitutional Convention, and wrote the Federalist Papers.
In 1844, Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was murdered at the jail in Carthage, Illinois. He was only 38 years old.
In 1927, the U.S. Marine Corps adopted the English Bulldog as its mascot. The idea originated with the Germans, who called the Marines “Devil Dogs” because of their fierceness and tenacity.
In 1948, the Soviets blockaded West Berlin, cutting off all road and rail access to and from the city. In response, Great Britain and the United States organized the Berlin Airlift, a massive delivery of supplies to West Berlin.
In 1997, the United States Air Force released a report on the “Roswell Incident” – a controversial UFO sighting in Roswell, New Mexico, that had occurred 50 years earlier. The report said that it was actually a top-secret balloon project known as Project Mogul.
In 1784, 13-year-old Edward Warren became the first person in the United States to ride in a hot air balloon. He was a last-minute substitution for the engineer, who was too large for the basket.
In 1989, the superhero movie Batman was released. The film, directed by Tim Burton, starred Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson.
In 1893, the original Ferris wheel, designed by George Ferris Jr. for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, opened to the public. It measured 250 feet in diameter and carried more than 1.4 million people over the following 19 weeks.
In 2003, J.K. Rowling’s fifth Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” was released. Eager fans bought 5 million copies in the first 24 hours.
In 1782, Congress approved the Great Seal of the United States, designed by Charles Thomas. The banner displays the phrase “E Pluribus Unum,” which means “Out of Many, One.”
In 1863, West Virginia became the 25th state to join the Union. Virginia seceded when the Civil War began, but western Virginians wanted to stay with the Union and were granted statehood by President Lincoln.
In 1579, Sir Francis Drake landed on the coast of California while circumnavigating the globe. He called the land New Albion because the limestone cliffs reminded him of his homeland of Britain, and claimed it for the Queen of England.
In 1928, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic as a passenger. She traveled on the Friendship for the 20-hour flight.
In 1884, the first roller coaster in America opened at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. It was a hit, costing a nickel to ride and traveling approximately 6 miles an hour.
In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova of the Soviet Union became the first woman to travel in space. Her previous experience as an accomplished parachutist was especially useful during re-entry, when she was ejected from the Vostok 6 capsule at 20,000 feet.
In 1775, George Washington was commissioned to lead the Continental Army. He served faithfully for eight years and then resigned from the position.
In 1846, the Oregon Treaty was signed, establishing the border between the United States and Canada in a disputed area of the Pacific Northwest. President James Polk agreed to the compromise, which set the 49th parallel from the Rocky Mountains to the Strait of Georgia (which lies between Vancouver Island and what is now British Columbia) as the boundary.
In 1777, the Continental Congress adopted a new national flag, “Stars and Stripes,” with 13 alternating red and white stripes and 13 stars. One hundred years later, U.S. flags were flown from every public building across the country for the first Flag Day.
In 1811, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was born. The book’s anti-slavery message was so influential that Abraham Lincoln greeted Stowe in 1862 by saying, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”
In 1966, the Miranda rights were established in a Supreme Court decision. Police were thereafter required to tell all criminal suspects their rights, the first of which is the “right to remain silent.”
In 1381, a discontented peasant army marched on London, demanding rights and equality from the government. The next day, 14-year-old King Richard II appeased them by abolishing serfdom.
In 328 B.C., Alexander the Great died at the age of 34. The Macedonian king’s conquest of Persia helped him create one of the largest empires of the ancient world.
In 1928, Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator of the children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, was born in Brooklyn, New York. Although at first the book was banned from libraries, it has since been given the award of “most distinguished American picture book for children.”
In 1856, 500 Mormon pioneers left Iowa City on a 1,000-mile westward trek. Families loaded all their food and possessions onto two-wheeled handcarts that they pulled or pushed all the way to Salt Lake City, Utah.
In 1934, Donald Duck made his debut appearance in The Wise Little Hen. His nearly unintelligible speech and mischievous personality have made him one of the greatest cartoon characters of all time.
In 632, Muhammad, the founder of Islam, died in Medina, in what is now Saudi Arabia. Today Islam is the second-largest religion in the world.
In 1968, Senator Robert Kennedy was buried in Arlington Cemetery following his assassination. His grave lies just 30 yards from that of his older brother, President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated five years earlier.
In 1654, 15-year-old King Louis XIV was crowned King of France in Reims. France became the leading world power during the reign of the “Sun King.”
In 1893, Mahatma Gandhi committed his first act of civil disobedience. He refused to give up his first-class train seat when asked to move because of his skin color, and was subsequently pushed off the train in the middle of the night.
In 1755, American patriot Nathan Hale was born in Coventry, Connecticut. He was sentenced to hang after being captured by the British on a dangerous spy mission, saying: “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
In 1933, Richard Hollingshead opened Park-In Theaters, the world’s first drive-in movie theater. His mother, who couldn’t sit comfortably in traditional theater seats, inspired the idea.
In 1781, John Jouett rode rode 40 miles in the middle of the night to warn Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia Legislature that the British Cavalry were coming. He has been dubbed the “Paul Revere of the South” for his courageous ride that may have saved the future U.S. President from hanging.
In 1800, President John Adams became the first U.S. president to live in Washington, D.C. The White House, however, was not yet finished, so he and his wife took up residence in a nearby tavern until the building’s completion in November.
In 1774, the Quartering Act was passed, requiring local governments in the American colonies to provide food and lodging for British soldiers. Declared an “Intolerable Act” by American patriots, the Quartering Act was another step toward revolution.
In 1865, Confederate Gen. Edmund Smith signed the Union surrender terms, officially ending the Civil War. During the four years of bloody warfare, 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died.
In 1968, author and activist Helen Keller died, a few weeks before her 88th birthday. The life story of Keller, who was blind and deaf from her youth, has inspired millions of Americans.
In 1980, the news network CNN debuted on television. Critics who thought it wouldn’t last called it the “Chicken Noodle Network,” but today CNN reaches over 40 percent of American homes.
In 1809, classical composer Franz Joseph Haydn died at the age of 77. He wrote 106 symphonies and influenced numerous musicians, including Mozart and Beethoven.
In 1913, the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was formally adopted. From then on, senators were elected by popular vote rather than by state legislators.
In 1431, 19-year-old Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in Normandy. Born a peasant, she aided the dauphin, Charles VI, in recapturing Reims and the French throne. Joan refused to submit to the church’s demands after being captured and was sentenced to death for heresy.
In 1922, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated. Dr. Robert Moton shared Lincoln’s own words in the first of many civil rights speeches to take place at the memorial: “With malice toward none, with charity for all we dedicate ourselves and our posterity, with you and yours, to finish the work which he so nobly began, to make America an example for all the world of equal justice and equal opportunity for all.”
In 1703, Peter the Great founded St. Petersburg as the new capital of Russia. The czar wanted the city, built in the Russian Baroque style by thousands of serfs, to be a “window to the West.”
In 2013, Romania claimed the Guinness World Record for the largest flag ever made. The flag weighed 5 tons and took weeks to sew, requiring nearly 44 miles of thread.
In 1521, the Edict of Worms declared Martin Luther a notorious heretic for his religious beliefs and writings. The edict banned anyone from supporting him and offered a reward for his capture.
In 1896, the last czar of Russia, Nicholas II, was crowned in Moscow at the Ouspensky Cathedral. He had recently married Alexandra, a German-born princess.
In 1787, the Constitutional Convention began in Philadelphia, with George Washington presiding. The convention was called to revise the Articles of Confederation in order to address inadequacies of the central government.
In 1935, 21-year-old Jesse Owens set four world records in just 45 minutes. He went on to become one of the greatest Olympic legends in history.
In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus, the founder of modern astronomy, died in Poland. He was the first European scientist to say that the Earth and other planets revolve around the sun.
In 1844, the world’s first telegraph message was sent by Samuel Morse from the U.S. Capitol to a railroad station in Baltimore, Maryland. The text, “What Hath God Wrought?” was selected from the Bible.
In 1934, outlaws Bonnie and Clyde were shot to death by state police in Louisiana. This oft-romanticized couple, who had started their life of crime together two years earlier, are believed to have caused the deaths of 13 people.
In 1701, British privateer William Kidd was hanged for piracy and murder. Originally commissioned to protect British vessels from pirates, he allegedly became one himself, although he maintained his innocence. There are still tales of Kidd’s buried treasure.
In 1873, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis were given a patent for work pants with reinforced metal rivets – also known as blue jeans. “Waist overalls,” as they were originally called, became the top-selling men’s pants by the 1920s.
In 1932, Amelia Earhart took off on her famous solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. She became the first woman to accomplish the feat, landing 15 hours later in Ireland despite “fatigue, a leaky fuel tank, and a cracked manifold that spewed flames out the side of the engine cowling.” (Quote from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum)
In 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope sent its first photograph back to Earth. Since its launch, the telescope has traveled more than 3 billion miles, taking pictures of stars, planets and galaxies.
In 1536, Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII, was beheaded on charges of adultery, incest, witchcraft and conspiracy. Her daughter, Elizabeth I, became one of England’s greatest queens.
In 1780, New Englanders experienced an otherworldly “dark day,” forcing them to light candles in the middle of the afternoon. Unsure of the cause, many people thought that the end of the world had come. Centuries later, it was determined that Canadian forest fires caused the day of darkness.
In 1967, the Soviet Union ratified an agreement banning nuclear weapons from space, easing fears of such a frightening escalation in the “space race” between the Soviet Union and the United States.
In 1920, Pope John Paul II was born in Wadowice, Poland. He is remembered for his efforts opposing communist rule in Europe, as well as for his dedication to building relations with other faiths.
In 1953, Jacqueline Cochran became the first woman to fly faster than the speed of sound. She flew in an F-86 Sabre plane over California at an average speed of 652 mph.
In 1980, Mount Saint Helens erupted. Ash from the eruption in Washington state shot 10,000 feet in the air and landed up to 300 miles away. Fifty-seven people were killed.
In 1756, England declared war on France, officially beginning the Seven Years’ War. Known in the United States as the French and Indian War, it determined who controlled North American land.
In 1954, racial segregation in schools was declared unconstitutional in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. This landmark ruling by the Supreme Court paved the way for racial equality in all public areas.
In 2013, a meteor traveling 56,000 mph collided with the moon – the largest lunar impact ever recorded. Although the object was only the size of a small boulder, the explosion could be seen with the naked eye.
In 1770, 14-year-old Marie Antoinette married 15-year-old Louis XV, the future king of France. The marriage was arranged in the hope of strengthening France’s alliance with Austria.
In 1929, the first Academy Awards ceremony was held in Hollywood. Sound had recently been introduced to the film world, but due to their “unfair advantage,” films with sound were not considered for the awards.
In 1975, Japanese climber Junko Tabei became the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The tallest mountain in the world, Everest stands 29,035 feet above sea level.
In 1637, the table knife was invented by Cardinal Richelieu of France. Perhaps in an effort to refine table manners, Richelieu ordered the blades of his dinnerware be ground down and rounded off. The knife became all the rage in France, spreading afterward to Europe and the American colonies.
In 1846, the United States, under President James Polk, declared war against Mexico. Fighting was already underway between the two countries in a dispute over Texas.
In 1992, the first three-person spacewalk took place. After two failed attempts to capture the Interstate VI satellite, the trio of NASA astronauts successfully hand captured the satellite and moved it into their space shuttle’s cargo bay.
In 1820, Florence Nightingale, credited as the founder of modern nursing, was born in Florence, Italy. Known as “Lady with the Lamp,” she reduced the death count at her British hospital base by two-thirds during the Crimean War.
In 1907, actress Katharine Hepburn was born. Famous for her independence, strong will and unconventional beauty, she had a film career that lasted from 1932 -1994.
In 1970, Ernie Banks hit his 500th home run. Nicknamed “Mr. Cub” or “Mr. Sunshine,” he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977.
In 1812, the waltz was introduced in the English ballroom. Its “closed” dance position led many to consider it shocking and immoral – not words usually associated with what we now consider the elegant waltz!
In 1820, Charles Darwin first launched his ship, the HMS Beagle, on the River Thames. The ship would take part in three expeditions, including a five-year voyage to South America and the Galapagos Islands. Darwin developed his theory of evolution during his time aboard the Beagle, making it one of the most famous ships in history.
In 1858, Minnesota became the 32nd state in the Union. The area was originally populated by the native Ojibwe and Dakota people; white settlement began in 1820.
In 1934, a massive dust storm swept through the Great Plains, taking 350 million tons of dust to the East Coast. The storm lasted two days. According to history.com, even ships 300 miles offshore reported that dust collected on their decks.
In 1775, the second Continental Congress convened in Pennsylvania. George Washington was named Supreme Commander.
In 1869, the last spike was ceremonially driven into the rails of the Transcontinental Railroad, at Promontory, Utah, connecting the East and West coasts of the United States.
The two railroads selected for the task had built right past each other in their haste to finish, and a new meeting point had to be negotiated. The rail crews worked long hours in miserable conditions, but their efforts made possible the rapid westward expansion of the United States.
In 1940, William Churchill became prime minister of Great Britain. The former Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, lost the confidence of the House of Commons in the face of Hitler’s rising power, and Churchill was appointed in his place. Churchill upheld his promise to his country and the world that Britain would “never surrender” to Nazi Germany.
In 1671, an Irish adventurer known as Captain Blood was captured attempting to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. The king was so impressed by Blood’s audacity that instead of ordering his execution, he restored Blood’s estate in Ireland and made him a member of his court.
In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing Mother’s Day as a national holiday. In his first Mother’s Day proclamation, Wilson said the holiday offered a chance to “[publicly express] our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”
In 1926, Richard E. Byrd and co-pilot Floyd Bennett completed the first successful flight over the North Pole. Both men were awarded the Medal of Honor and acclaimed as national heroes, although writings discovered in Byrd’s diary 70 years later suggest the flight may have been 150 miles short of the North Pole due to an oil leak.
In 1513, Explorer Ponce de Leon and his expedition landed in Florida, claiming the land for himself and for Spain. The King of Spain gave Ponce de Leon 3 years for the expedition, offering no funding, requiring the explorer to pay for the whole trip himself. Ponce de Leon took with him 3 ships and more than 200 men, including other explorers. Due to a heavy storm the explorers were thrown of course navigating there ships westward instead of the intended northwestward course to the Caribbean islands. On April 7th the spotted Florida on the horizon, a long stretch of flat land. The next day they took out their ship’s tender boats to go survey the land. Even after they had arrived on shore, the men still believed that Florida was a big island. Landing on Easter weekend Ponce de Leon named the land La Florida, meaning flowery in reference to the Spanish translation for Easter, “Pascua Florida”. Have you ever heard of the Legend of the fountain of youth? It is rumored that Ponce de Leon was looking for the fountain that gives everlasting youth, not to increase the longevity of his life, but for political gain. It is unknown if he really searched Florida for the fountain of youth, but the legend is still associated with Ponce de Leon and the claiming of Florida for Spain, in history today.
In 1766, the English man Daniel Maseres received the first known patent for a fire escape. His invention consisted of a large wicker basket on a pulley and chain. The chain for his invention was designed by a watchmaker in London. At the time this method of escape was the preferable method for home owners. During the case of a fire people were to escape the building by being lowered through an open window in the basket. Although not very effective at transporting very many people, Maseres escaped saved countless lives from perishing in fires. It wasn’t until 1887 that the baskets were disregarded with the invention of escape bridges, allowing residents to cross into another building if there was a fire in their own.
In 1913, the way in which United States Senators are elected was changed. Originally the framers of the Constitution wanted senators to be elected by state legislatures, but in 1913 this changed with the ratification of the 17th amendment. The ratification required senators to be directly elected by the people, enabling the public to vote for the senator they choose in the voting booth. This action was made because of the call for reform after the ending of the Civil War. State Legislators could elect someone who had virtually no public backing. On this day reformers gained 2/3 approval when Connecticut gave its approval for the ratification. It was the state of Georgia that elected the first senator under the newly ratified 17th Amendment in July of that same year.
In 1933, beer with an alcohol content level of 3.2% became available for 20 states, moving the country one step closer to the end of Prohibition. This date is often considered the end of Prohibition, but the 18th Amendment was not fully repealed until eight months later, on Dec. 5. Just a month after Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in as president, he and the anti-Prohibition majority in Congress began to permit the consumption of alcohol first through the Cullen-Harrison Act. This act is what allowed the level of alcohol in beer to increase from 0.5 percent to 3.2 percent. With the act taking effect at 12:01 a.m. on April 7, trucks delivering alcohol dispatched from breweries began distributing their contents to all the states allowing the increase. Beer sales were wildly successful after 13 years of Prohibition. This day is now considered a national beer day. Utah is accompanied by Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, and Minnesota in selling 3.2 percent beer in grocery stores.
In 1927, idea for long-distance television transmission became a reality when the image and voice of Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover was broadcast from Washington D.C. to New York City, more than 200 miles away. This was the first public demonstration of long distance television transmission, generating a lot of excitement all over the country. During the demonstration Hoover looked into a small black box that recorded and transmit his image, while speaking into the mouth piece of a telephone. The transmission traveled through the telephone lines, ending in the auditorium at AT&T Bell Telephone Laboratories, in New York City. Reporters gathered around the small screen in the auditorium, watching the tiny image of the Secretary of Commerce. Audio transmission was sent from the auditorium in Midtown Manhattan in New York, back to Hoover in Washington D.C. This event demonstrated AT&T’s transmission system and its potential use for long distance networks. It was not intended to present the television as means of entertainment. Secretary Hoover proclaimed during the broadcast that “Human genius has now destroyed the impediment of distance in a new respect, and in a manner hitherto unknown.” News articles referred to the new technology of the television as the “telephone with eyes”. Just one year later Herbert Hoover was elected president of the United States in the election of 1928. It took more than ten years after Hoover’s broadcast before televisions became commercially popular in stores and homes across America.
In 1940 Booker T. Washington was the first African American to be honored on a US postal stamp 25 years after his death. Born as a slave on April 5th 1856, Washington came a long way in his life, becoming the founder and first president of Tuskegee University. After emancipation his family moved from Franklin County Virginia to Malden West Virginia. As a boy he was determined to become educated, working in coal mines, and doing other odd jobs to pay for his education. Washington began working as a teacher in 1875 and founded Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in 1881, which became a University in 1985. During the post-reconstruction era Washington was an advocate for educating the African Americans. At the 1895 Atlanta Exposition Booker summed up his beliefs in a speech at the Atlanta Exposition in 1895 he explained his beliefs saying that “In all things that are purely social we can be separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” He received an honorary degrees from both Harvard and Dartmouth and is still recognized today as an influential human rights leader.
In 648 B.C., the first recorded total solar eclipse was chronicled in ancient Greece in a poem by Greek poet Archilochus. Today there is only one section of the poem left for historians to study, giving us a window into the minds of the early Greeks and their interpretation of an eclipse. Translated into English, it reads, “Nothing can be surprising anymore or impossible or miraculous, now that Zeus, father of the Olympians, has made night out of noonday, hiding the bright light of the shining Sun, and sore fear has come upon mankind. After this, men can believe anything, expect anything.” This poem describes the effect the natural phenomenon had on the people of ancient Greece. At this point in history people were often terrified by eclipses of the sun and moon. They were often seen as bad omens, or acts of unhappy gods. In remote islands of the world, they often performed sacrifices in order to protect themselves from the wrath of the gods, or some sort of monster, during a solar or lunar eclipse. Now, with the help of science and technology, we anticipate eclipses with excitement.
In 1896, Athens hosted the first modern Olympic Games, inspired by the ancient Greek games. Twelve countries participated in the Games, including the United States. At least 280 athletes, all of whom were male, competed. The Games had nine different sports: athletics (track and field), cycling, swimming, gymnastics, wrestling, weightlifting, fencing, shooting and tennis. It was also during these Olympic Games that the first marathon was featured, originating in the Greek legend of Pheidippides. The highest honor at these Games was a silver medal. (Gold medals were not awarded as the first-place prize until the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri.) The first champion of the first modern Olympic Games was an American college student who went the farthest in the triple jump. At the time he was a student at Harvard. Unfortunately, even after becoming the triple jump champion, he was expelled from school for breaking the rule against traveling during the semester.
In 1930, Twinkies were first created in an experiment by James Dewar, a Hostess bakery executive. During the off-season for strawberries, the machinery for putting cream fillings into strawberry shortcakes with cream fillings. Dewar, looking to better utilize the machinery, created the Twinkie, a “golden sponge cake with creamy filling.” Instead of the vanilla cream filling we see today, he used banana cream. (After the United States entered World War II and began rationing bananas, Hostess switched the filling to vanilla cream.) While heading to a meeting Dewar saw a billboard advertising “Twinkle-Toe-Shoes,” which inspired him to name the snack cakes Twinkies. Twinkies hold a special place in American culture, serving as a classic junk food as well as a social icon. Do you remember the closing of Hostess in 2012, and the public’s reaction? Less than a year later the cakes were back on the shelf after new owners acquired the brand.
In 1614, Pocahontas married John Rolfe after converting to Christianity. At the time, Pocahontas, as the favorite daughter of the Powhatan chief, was being held captive by colonists seeking negotiations with her father. After the chief refused to comply with their requests, Pocahontas began living among the colonists and learning the ways of the English. While learning about Christianity, she met Rolfe, a Virginia farmer who had lost his wife and child on the journey to the colony. In the beginning Rolfe struggled with the idea of marrying a “heathen” Native American, but after she accepted Christianity he put his fears aside. Once baptized, Pocahontas took on the English name of Rebecca, symbolic of her role in creating peace between the Powhatans and the colonists as it referenced Isaac’s wife Rebekah, the Biblical “mother of two nations.” When Rolfe asked the governor for permission to marry her, he explained that it would be good for England, the colony, and both Pocahontas’ and his own salvation. The Powhatan people granted permission for the marriage and sent an uncle of Pocahontas to represent the tribe at the ceremony. The marriage led to peace between the Powhatan nation and the colonists. Pocahontas and Rolfe had a child the following year and named him Thomas.
In 1792, President George Washington exercised the executive power of the veto – the first one in U.S. history. Washington was concerned about the constitutionality of the bill in question and its potential for abuse. It would have divided the seats in the House of Representatives, increasing the number of representatives for the northern states. This change would have raised the number of representatives for some states to a ratio higher than that specified in the Constitution. However, Washington was concerned Congress would misconstrue his intent and interpret his veto as siding with the South, his home, especially when two sides of an issue were split geographically. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson convinced Washington that vetoing the bill on terms of unconstitutionality was viable. He then suggested that the number of representatives be selected for each state through an exact mathematical formula that required little interpretation, ensuring no abuse of power. Congress then proposed a bill that specified a ratio of one representative for every 33,000 people living in a state. During his time in office, Washington vetoed only one other bill.
In 1887, Anne Sullivan finally had a breakthrough with her student, Helen Keller. As a recent graduate from the Perkins School for the Blind, Sullivan had been hired by the Kellers after their struggles with Helen. The child often threw tantrums and screamed uncontrollably when she was angry, and many relatives suggested they institutionalize her. But on this day Sullivan, the “miracle worker,” successfully communicated the word “water” to Helen. She took Helen outside to the water pump, putting one of the girl’s hands under the water and in the other signing the word water. The connection between the objects Sullivan had been giving Helen and the signing in her hand finally clicked, opening the world to the deaf and blind child. By the end of the day Helen was able to learn 30 more words. The two developed a close relationship during the 49 years Sullivan mentored Helen. They were so close that when Sullivan died, Helen expressed her excitement about being reunited with her teacher in heaven, failing to mention anything about her sight or hearing.
In 1917, the U.S. Senate voted 90-6 to enter World War I on the Allied side. The U.S. entered the war two days later, on April 6, declaring war on Germany after the House of Representatives voted 373-50 in favor. Two days previously, on April 2, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war, after Germans sank five American merchant ships, beginning with the Housatonic. Wilson explained to a joint Congress that the U.S. must go to war to “make the world safe for democracy.” America was reluctant to enter the war, but it joined the Allies, fighting with the intent to preserve democracy. Over the course of the war 2 million American soldiers served, with more than 500,000 losing their lives.
In 1949, 12 countries signed on to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), creating a military collective defense to combat the spread of communism. After World War II, the economically weak countries of Europe needed to be strengthened to prevent security threats from the Soviet Union. The countries involved in the original signing of the treaty were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. NATO provided the countries with a defense system in which all the countries were sworn to support each other and stand together. If one of the countries was attacked, it was to be considered an attack against all of them. NATO now serves as a political and military alliance that creates crisis plans, acts as a place of consultation, works as cooperative security, and functions as a trans-Atlantic link. In 2001, Article 5 was invoked for the first time in response to the terror attacks of 9/11. NATO now encompasses 28 countries.
In 1968, shortly after 6 p.m., Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated outside his motel room in Memphis, just before a scheduled dinner with several leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The civil rights leader, concerned about economic inequality and the treatment of the interracial poor, was visiting Tennessee to help with a peaceful march for sanitation workers. After leaving Memphis in March when a strike turned violent, King had vowed to come back and help with another protest. He was shot while standing on the balcony of the room he was sharing with fellow civil-rights leader Ralph Abernathy at the black-owned Lorraine Motel. King died when a bullet entered and broke his jaw, then severed his spinal cord. He was pronounced dead at St. Joseph Hospital at 7:05 p.m. An autopsy confirmed King, 39, was killed by a single gunshot wound.
In 1719, the first edition of Mother Goose nursery rhymes was published in Boston. The author, English immigrant Thomas Fleet, was inspired to write the book by his mother-in-law, Elizabeth Goose. As she attended to his son – her grandson – she would sing songs she had learned from her own childhood. (This was a great annoyance to Fleet and many of their neighbors.) Fleet compiled all these songs in the book Mother Goose’s Melodies for Children. He did not come up with any of the nursery rhymes; he recorded them from his mother-in-law’s account. The name Goose in the title actually referenced his mother-in-law’s last name, not the large bird. As a prominent printer in Boston, Fleet produced the book at his own printing house on Pudding Lane. A few years after Fleet produced the book, pirated versions started showing up in book stores.
In 1748, ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii were found south of Naples, Italy, by explorers digging for ancient artifacts. Fifteen years after the beginning of the excavation, the inscription “Rei publicae Pompeianorum” was found, identifying the location as the Roman city of Pompeii. Only five miles from Mount Vesuvius, the city was buried in ash and debris after the volcano erupted in the late summer of A.D. 79, killing an estimated 2,000 people. This tragedy froze Pompeii in time, leaving it untouched for over 1,500 years and allowing archaeologists extraordinary insight into what life was like in the ancient world. With the longest excavation in the history of the world, it is still a hot spot for tourists and treasure hunters, as well as a place of study for architects, archaeologists and scientists. One-third of the city is still buried under volcanic ash. One of most dangerous volcanoes in the world, Mount Vesuvius is due for another eruption, which would be even more disastrous with 3 million people living within 20 miles of its crater.
In 1913, the first moving assembly line for large-scale manufacturing was installed and began operating, producing flywheel magnetos for Henry Ford’s Model T. Before then, a magneto was assembled by one individual, taking about 20 minutes per part. Assembly lines increased the speed of production to about 13 minutes per part, cutting seven minutes off the original time. Charles Sorensen, who served 40 years as Ford’s production chief, is responsible for engineering modern-day assembly lines. Although Henry Ford often gets the credit, he was the sponsor, not the father, of the innovation. Large-scale assembly lines for manufacturing are still a widely used method for production today, allowing for faster and more efficient industry.
In 1889, the Eiffel Tower opened its doors to a select group of government officials and journalists. With the elevators not yet installed, these visitors endured an hourlong climb up the tower’s staircase to the top. The 984-foot tower did not open to the public until mid-May, after the decks were in place and its elevators were running. The Eiffel Tower had its genesis in the spring of 1884, when engineers Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier conceived the idea of a massive latticework tower to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, a key event in the French Revolution. The ground was broken and construction began in early 1887. Nicknamed the Iron Lady, the Eiffel Tower was constructed as the centerpiece of the 1889 Exposition Universelle, an international world fair held in Paris. Today 127 years later, the Eiffel Tower sees around 7 million tourists each year and is one of the most-visited attractions in the world.
In 1918, daylight saving time first went into effect in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, the term is “daylight saving time,” not “daylight savings time.” Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada, was the first place to use daylight saving time, beginning in July 1908. Soon afterward other parts of Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France followed. It was not originally proposed to help farmers, nor was it invented by Benjamin Franklin (although he did suggest changing sleeping schedules). It was a fuel-conservation measure. When the U.S. first adopted DST, during World War I, it was referred to as “war time.” After the war it was repealed on a national level and was left as an option on the local level, and then was re-enacted during World War II. Today 48 states participate in daylight saving time; Hawaii and Arizona have opted out of daylight saving through state legislation.
In 1923, New York City held the first U.S. Dance Marathon, beginning a dance marathon craze that continued through the rest of the 1920s and ’30s. During the marathon, 32-year-old Alma Cummings set a new world record, dancing on her feet for 27 hours. In the 1920s strange fads phased in and out, as people let loose and enjoyed the “Age of Prosperity.” The dance marathon entertainment mixed both elements of reality and theater – a precursor of today’s reality TV. During the Great Depression dance marathons became increasingly popular, paralleling the endurance and struggle of everyday Americans in the marathon of their lives. Contestants were given food, shelter, and the opportunity to win a cash prize, all of which were scarce resources at the time.
In 1867, the treaty relinquishing Russian North American to the United States was signed. This territory would become the state of Alaska in 1946, almost 80 years later. Russia sold Alaska to the U.S. for $7.2 million, equaling about 2 cents per acre. This purchase increased the United States’ land mass by almost 20 percent. Alaska proved to have an abundance of natural resources such as oil and gold, bringing attention and people to what is now the largest state in the U.S. At the time of purchase, many were skeptical of the land’s worth. It proved difficult to convince the Senate that obtaining Alaska would benefit the country; the purchase passed by only one vote. Alaska has paid for itself many times over through its natural resources.
In 1870, almost a year after the end of the Civil War, the 15th Amendment was formally adopted. The amendment states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” It gave black men the right to vote but did not grant the same right to white or black women. Southern states did all they could to prevent black people from voting. Some states created laws requiring poll taxes and literacy tests. Newly freed slaves did not know how to read or did not have the money to pay a poll tax, making it almost imposible for them to vote. Some states held white-only primary elections or even encouraged violent intimidation of black would-be voters. It took almost 100 years to get the majority of black people living in the South registered to vote.
In 1987, the oil painting “Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers,” by Vincent van Gogh, was sold for $39.7 million. The 1888 artwork was the first modern painting to take the position of highest price paid for a painting. All previous records had been broken through the sale of an Old Master painting. Since 1987, many paintings have broken the “Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers” record, including many more by van Gogh, others by Picasso, one by Monet, and one by Renoir. Today van Gogh’s paintings are considered some of the most valuable in the world. “Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers” is now estimated to be worth $74.5 million.
In 1795, Ludwig van Beethoven debuted as a pianist, playing his own work at his first Akademie, a benefit concert in Vienna. His invitation to the Akademie was a bit of a surprise because it was held by his mentor Joseph Haydn, who often disapproved of him. (He had hoped to study with his childhood hero, Wolfgang Mozart, but after Mozart’s sudden death he was forced to study with Haydn, the best composer after Mozart at the time.) This was Beethoven’s first public appearance as a pianist in Vienna, at age 24. Scholars believe that Beethoven played his Second Piano Concerto at this event, which was one of the first major successes for Beethoven in his career as a concert pianist. Thirty-two years later, on the same day in 1827, Beethoven was buried in Vienna, with an audience of 20,000 people who wanted to pay respects to the pianist, composer and man.
In 1867, Congress approved the creation of the Lincoln Monument Association. However, Congress could not come to agreement on the type or location of the memorial, engaging in fierce debate. They fought over the right way to honor the 16th president, some believing that Abraham Lincoln would have preferred a quaint log cabin for his monument rather than the elaborate Greek temple style they decided upon. It was not until 1913 that Congress finally agreed to put the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, after weighing many other options. In May 1922 the memorial was completed and dedicated, 57 years after President Lincoln’s death. When it was finally finished, only one of one Lincoln’s children was still alive to see it. Today millions of visitors see the Lincoln Memorial every year.
In 1973, the United States withdrew the last of its combat troops from Vietnam after signing a peace agreement in Paris on Jan. 27. Even before all the American troops could be withdrawn from Vietnam, the communists violated the cease-fire. After 58,000 Americans lost their lives, and more than 1,000 Americans went missing in action, the most controversial war at the time in U.S. history came to an end.
In 1797, Nathaniel Briggs patented what is believed to be the first American-made washing machine. At the time the U.S. was far behind Europe in laundry technology; some models of washing tubs went on sale in London as early as 1752. In 1791 English publicist Edward Beetham’s washing machine made it to the United States, but it wasn’t until six years later that Briggs became the first American to patent one. The patent was later destroyed in a fire, along with many other early U.S. patents.
In 1957, the first National Curling Championships were held in Chicago. The game, favored by Scottish-Americans, was originally played with stones on frozen marshes in Scotland. The National Championship were just for men, even though curling is supposed to be one of the few sports where men and women can compete alongside each other on even terms. Success at the sport, which does not require great strength, is based on skill. Chicago was chosen in a drawing among 10 states to host the championship. The following year, 125 clubs were organized into the United States Curling Association.
In 1983, Mount Kilauea on Hawaii’s Big Island had an eruptive episode that lasted 290 hours. The main eruption, which lasted until 2005, had started almost three months earlier, on Jan. 3. The lava flow of the episode, which covered 7.9 square kilometers, was the third episode of this eruption and the biggest until July 1986. Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, having mostly effusive eruptions of basaltic lava with the occasional explosive eruption. According to Hawaiian legend, the volcano is the home of the volcano goddess Pele.
In 1863, six of Andrews’ Raiders – a group of Union Army volunteers led by James Andrews – were the first men to be awarded the Medal of Honor, given for their bravery during the Civil War. Andrews and his raiders commandeered a locomotive and traveled 70 miles, cutting telegraph wire, burning bridges and uprooting train tracks to harm the Confederate Army. The raiders were eventually captured, and the Confederates hanged Andrews and seven of his men. Six of the remaining men were freed in a prisoner exchange and given the Army Medal of Honor by the treasury secretary and Vice President Andrew Johnson. The Medal of Honor was the first medal anyone enlisted in the military could receive regardless of service or rank.
In 1934, the 21-year-old golfer Horton Smith won the first Masters Tournament. At the time the tournament was called Augusta National Invitation Tournament, but it was nicknamed “The Masters.” The tournament has been held at the same course each year, the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. In 1939 the tournament was officially renamed The Masters. In 1934, Smith won the championship by 1 point with a score of 284 with four under. Smith, who is in the World Golf Hall of Fame, was known as a very skilled putter. Today the Masters is considered one of the four most prestigious professional golf championships in the world.
In 1961, Elvis Presley performed at the USS Arizona Memorial Benefit Concert in Honolulu. Elvis, along with other popular artists at the time, helped raise money for the Pearl Harbor Memorial. The concert raised over $54,000, all going straight to the memorial fund. Other donations for the memorial came from the public and private sector, raising a total of $500,000. The concert took place one year after Elvis had finished his time in the Army entertaining troops and serving as a regular soldier.
In 1765, the British Parliament passed an act requiring American colonists to house British soldiers in their colony’s barracks and, if necessary, their inns, stables, barns and other public houses. This Act, known as the Quartering Act, did not actually require the colonists to house the soldiers in their own homes. Many colonists were very upset by this law, especially New Yorkers desiring to be asked rather than to be forced to house British soldiers. Although there was little compliance by the colonists, the response to this act was overshadowed by the anger toward the British from the Stamp Tax Act.
In 1898, Robert Allison bought the first American-made automobile from the Winton Motor Carriage Co. in Cleveland. He paid $1,000 for the hand-built and hand-painted car, or “horseless carriage.” B.F. Goodrich supplied the tires for this vehicle, allowing for a top speed of 33 miles per hour.
In 1947, Congress officially proposed the 22nd Amendment, which limited a president’s service to two terms. Even though the limit was not official until the amendment was passed, it had been a tradition observed by U.S. presidents since the country’s founding. George Washington decided to serve only two terms as president, and until FDR, every subsequent president followed suit. Many cite the widely held respect for Washington and his humble leadership as the genesis of the tradition. However, President Franklin D. Roosevelt served four consecutive terms, believing it to be best for the country because of the intense difficulties America experienced during the Great Depression and World War II.
In 1775, Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” while presenting his proposal to the Virginia Convention to organize a volunteer militia. This ignited the passion and patriotism that drove the Revolutionary War forward. He knew that war would soon be upon them and that he had to persuade the other delegates to begin organizing cavalry. This declaration left a legacy for Americans demonstrating the importance of fighting to protect liberty and freedom.
In 1839, the Boston’s Morning Post invented the word “OK,” or at least provided its first recorded use. The word was created for a satirical newspaper editorial — a joke about the trend in abbreviations among writers. The abbreviation was first used for “oll korrect,” as in all correct. In the 1840s, “OK” was also used to mean Old Kinderhook, Martin van Buren’s nickname during the election. In the 1870s it was the way that telegraph operators would confirm they received messages. Today “OK” is one of the most-used words in the English language.
In 1929, President Rutherford B. Hayes installed the first telephone in the White House. The telephone was placed in the telegraph room, with its uses limited to communication with the Treasury. The phone number for the White House telephone was just the number 1. The phone was so slowly accepted in the White House that it took over 50 years to get a telephone onto the desk of the president in the Oval Office. It is believed that Hayes was not an early adopter of new inventions, preferring to rely on more traditional ways of doing things.
In 1621, Massasoit, the leader of the Wampanoag tribe, visited the Pilgrims in Plymouth for the first time. Colonist leader Edward Winslow, who had been given responsibility for creating friendly relationships with the natives in the area, presented Massasoit with knives and a copper chain as gifts. He explained to Massasoit that the Pilgrims desired peace, friendship, and trading opportunities with the Wampanoag. Massasoit agreed after being told that the king of England wanted him as an ally, believing the king would give him great power over his enemies. At this time Massasoit, his tribe, and the Pilgrims agreed to enter a league of friendship.
In 1903, tickets went on sale for the first baseball game played by the New York Highlanders, now known as the Yankees. The team was brand-new to New York; it had just been purchased from Baltimore and moved to Manhattan. After the relocation it changed its name from the Orioles to the Highlanders. After the fans’ nickname for the team, the Yankees, became popular, the team officially followed suit and adopted it.
In 1960, Charles Townes and his brother-in-law Arthur Schawlow were given a patent for what they called the optical master. Today we call this invention the laser, an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” Einstein first introduced the idea of stimulated emission, creating a path for future scientists for further study and eventual creation of the laser. After the optical master patent was awarded, a 30-year patent war with the scientist Gordon Gould ensued, with Gould eventually winning 48 patents related to the laser. Today we use lasers in the medical field, manufacturing, scientific research, entertainment, and many other industries.
In 1790, Thomas Jefferson returned to the U.S. from France, where he spent five years as Minister to France. President George Washington then appointed Jefferson the first secretary of state under the new Constitution. As secretary, Jefferson worked to build America’s geographical position in land and in commerce, but he remained very cautious about increasing the power of the federal government. During his three years in that position, he laid the foundations for American diplomacy.
In 1963, the federal penitentiary at Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay closed after 29 years of operation. Contrary to popular belief, Alcatraz did not close because of the disappearance of the three inmates featured in the movie Escape from Alcatraz, but because of high operation and maintenance costs. All supplies, including water, had to be transported from the mainland
In 2011, Dallas Wiens became the first person in the U.S. to receive a full facial transplant. Wiens lost his entire face when it was burned off by a high-voltage wire while he was working on a painting project at his church in 2008. He was left with only a slit for his mouth. Two years later he received a full facial transplant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His surgery lasted more than 15 hours, requiring a team of more than 30 doctors, nurses and residents. He later married Jamie Nash, also a burn survivor.
In 1966, Scott Paper began selling a dress made of paper. At the time, paper and disposable products had been recently introduced, so the idea of disposable clothing seemed like the next step. Other makers soon followed Scott Paper, believing that paper clothing was the attire of the future. But the trend quickly crumpled when the hippie movement became a popular subculture, pushing against waste.
In 1966, the Supreme Court announced its Miranda v. Arizona ruling, which protects suspects from self-incrimination. The court’s decision resolved the concerns of four different cases in which suspects were not notified of their rights before interrogation. Miranda means that police must read the Fifth Amendment to a person being taken into custody. Thanks to our crime-show-filled culture, the majority of Americans can recite the first few sentences of the “Miranda rights” after hearing it so often during fictional arrests on TV. The Fifth Amendment has 4 parts: the right to remain silent; anything you say can be used against you in a court of law; the right to an attorney; and if you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for you.
In 1965, the first human Soviet cosmonaut, Alexei Leonov, walked in outer space. This mission, which took place during the Space Race between the Soviets and the U.S., nearly took Leonov’s life. The Soviets sent Leonov and his pilot up into space in a huge rush, beating the Americans who were also preparing for a spacewalk. The spacewalk took a turn for the worse when Leonov’s spacesuit stiffened and began leaking oxygen. After making it back into his spacecraft Leonov suffered through decompression sickness. When the mission was complete, the spacecraft malfunctioned, requiring the cosmonauts to manually fire the engine for re-entry. The orbital module did not separate from the pod, meaning the pod would be dragged down to earth with no hope that the cosmonauts would survive. Luckily, Earth’s atmosphere separated the pod and the module, saving the cosmonauts’ lives and enabling the parachutes to deploy. The cosmonauts were rescued two days after landing in the Siberian forest.
In 461, St. Patrick died at Saul Church in Northern Ireland. His body is believed to be buried at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, Ireland. During his life St. Patrick used the three leaves of a shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. He was very successful at converting the Irish to Christianity. For over a thousand years, St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated as a religious feast by families in Ireland. It was during the 1970s that Irish-Americans, trying to get in touch with their roots, altered Saint Patrick’s Day from a day of religious observance to the party it is today. The day became a celebration of Irish heritage, featuring good luck charms, beer, parades, and the color green. In 1995 Ireland adopted American St. Patrick’s Day traditions to drive up tourism and share Irish culture with the world.
In 1766, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, lighting the fuse for the American Revolution. At the same time as the repeal, the British delivered an Act restating their power of legislation over the colonies. Through this Declaratory Act, Parliament flexed its muscles at the colonists, forcefully affirming that it had the right to tax in whatever manner it wanted. This only added to the building resentment towards Great Britain. It was less than 10 years later that the colonists took up arms against the British and the American Revolution began.
In 1930, construction on the Empire State Building began on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York City, with 3,000 men working on the project. William Lamb was the architect. The construction progressed with the framework rising about four-and-a-half stories each week. The building was finished May 1, 1931, taking only a little over a year to complete. At the time of completion, the Empire State Building was the world’s tallest building, at 103 stories, and had 73 elevators.
In 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s first recognized work was published, “The Scarlet Letter.” This historical romance was one of the first mass-produced books in the U.S. The novel – the first one he published that was not anonymous – brought Hawthorne recognition as an accomplished American author. Full of symbolism, the book explores sin, shame, moral law, and the Puritan beliefs popular at the time of the book’s conception. After his wife finished reading the last few pages of the book, she had a headache and felt heartbroken – and Hawthorne knew he had created a masterpiece. In schools the controversial book is often used to discuss the functions of symbolism.
In 1915, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of the U.S. set up shop after President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Trade Commission Act on Sept. 26, 1914. The FTC was created to protect consumers from unfair business practices and promote competition and the public’s understanding of the competitive process. Current controversy surrounding the FTC involves the regulation of business practices that can be perceived as anti-competitive, ironically going against the very purpose for which it was created.
In 1941, the National Gallery of Art opened its doors in Washington, D.C., with 126 paintings and 26 sculptures donated by Andrew Mellon. In 1936 Mellon had written a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, donating his personal art collection and the funds to construct a national art museum. Mellon died in 1937. At the museum’s dedication, Mellon’s son presented it as a gift to the nation on his father’s behalf.
In 44 B.C., Marcus Junius Brutus stabbed Julius Caesar to death. Have you ever heard the saying “beware the ides of March”? The phrase originated in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, in which a seer foretells Caesar’s death on March 15. Because of this context, the saying has become associated with superstition and death. But before Shakespeare, the phrase “the ides” was merely a way of referring to a date in the middle of a month. Although it is believed that Shakespeare created the superstition connected with this date, there are other significant tragedies that occurred on March 15, including the Samoan cyclone that wrecked three U.S. and three German warships in 1889, and the forced abdication of Russia’s Czar Nicholas II in 1917. (He and his family were later executed by the Bolsheviks.)
In 1937, the first American blood bank was established, enabling the preservation and storing of blood, at the Cook County Hospital in Chicago. The hospital’s director of therapeutics, Bernard Fantus, termed the laboratory where the blood was to be stored the “blood bank.” Fantus’ bank made it possible to save more lives through easier blood typing and increasing the storage life of blood to more than just a few hours. Ten years after the first blood bank opened, in 1947, the American Association of Blood Banks was established.
In 2004, Martha Stewart was forced to resign from multiple positions on the Martha Steward Omnimedia Inc. board, 10 days after her conviction on charges of insider trading. One juror was happy about the conviction, saying it was an example of the principle that no one is above the law. Stewart was released from prison in 2005 and immediately boarded a private jet for home.
In 1743, the first official American town hall meeting took place at Faneuil Hall in Boston. Faneuil Hall earned its nickname, the “cradle of liberty,” because of the numerous meetings it accommodated along the road to American independence. Two hundred seventy-three years later, we see “town halls” nationally broadcasted on news channels reaching millions of viewers and tele-town halls using technology to reach legislators in Washington, D.C.
In 1900, President William McKinley signed the act of Congress that set gold as the United States standard for currency. This meant that each paper dollar had the same value as a gold dollar. Before this act, both silver and gold were considered standard currency. The gold standard was suspended in 1933 during the Great Depression, then stayed at a fixed value until the 1970s. Although it is no longer used today, some political candidates talk about bringing the gold standard back.
In 1967, the National Football League and the American Football League had the first combined common draft, where defensive tackle Bubba Smith was the first pick, selected by the NFL’s Baltimore Colts. A few years later, the AFL merged with the NFL. This joint draft was one step closer to creating the sports empire that the NFL is today. Teams that were once part of the AFL include the Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, and the San Diego Chargers.
In 1930, President William Howard Taft was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia — the first president to be buried there. Taft is the only man who served both as U.S. president and chief justice of the U.S. Other positions he held were secretary of war and governor of the Philippines. He was buried three days after his death in the northeastern part of the cemetery.
In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Act, enabling the U.S. to begin providing aid and supplies to allies in the years before the U.S. entered World War II. This help was given to other countries with the intent of proactively defending and protecting U.S. citizens, and it brought the U.S. a step closer to entering the war.
In 1969, Levi Strauss and Co. introduced a line of bell bottom pants. If you aren’t old enough to remember, these pants were the unofficial hippie uniform. In the beginning, bell bottoms were only manufactured in denim, but as hippie styles became more popular, they were made in all types of fabrics. Watch the old TV show “The Brady Bunch” and you’ll see at least one pair of bell bottom pants in every episode.
In 1785, Thomas Jefferson was appointed Minister to France, only a few years after his wife, Martha, passed away. Grieving his wife and needing a change of location, Jefferson took the position. During his time as Minister to France, he was responsible for managing the United States’ debt and negotiating treaties.
In 1969, James Earl Ray was found guilty of killing civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. – almost a year after the assassination – and sentenced to 99 years in prison. King’s death was not Ray’s first offense; he had been convicted of mail fraud and multiple robberies. After escaping the Missouri State Penitentiary in 1967, the fugitive killed King. He was tracked down and arrested two months after the assassination. The FBI investigation was at the time considered the most expensive in history.
In 1971, the 26th Amendment passed, lowering the voting age from age 21 to 18. The proposal to lower the voting age first came up in 1942, and came up every year from that point forward. Young Americans united under the saying “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote,” since 18-year-olds could be drafted into the military. At this time 18-year-olds were also tried as adults for criminal acts, so it made sense to consider this the age of adulthood.
In 1959, the Barbie doll made her debut at the American International Toy Fair. Barbie, which would become the world’s most popular doll, was priced at $3. The doll was invented by Ruth Handler, who had the idea of creating an adult doll that could be dressed up after noticing her daughter Barbara’s obsession with dressing paper dolls. Barbie has long been a subject of controversy and criticism, but after more than 50 years she is still a heavyweight in the toy industry. Because of never-ending controversy over her unrealistic body proportions, Barbie now has three new friends: Curvy Barbie, Tall Barbie and Petite Barbie.
In 1974, engineers began working on the Alaskan Oil Pipeline. It took three years and two months to build the 800-mile pipeline, now known as the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. The pipeline transports 2 million barrels of oil every day, making up 14 percent of U.S. crude oil supplies.
In 1618, Johannes Kepler created the Law of Harmonies, which compares the motion of different planets via a formula he created. His discovery still provides an accurate description of the period and distance for a planet’s orbit around the sun. Kepler’s ratio can also be used to describe the orbit of a satellite or a moon. Kepler’s publication of this law (not an apple!) led Sir Isaac Newton to discover the laws of gravitation.
In 1884, Susan B. Anthony stood before the House Judiciary Committee petitioning for women’s right to vote. Anthony faced great opposition while fighting for women’s rights, including being abandoned by civil rights activist and good friend Frederick Douglass. Douglass’ Equal Rights organization was in favor of the 15th Amendment, which allowed all men to vote regardless of race but did not allow women to vote. It was not until June 1919, 13 years after Susan B. Anthony’s passing, that Congress finally approved the 19th Amendment, giving women the vote. It was called the Anthony Amendment in her honor.
In 1857, the Knickerbocker baseball club changed the game-ending rule from 21 runs to nine innings. Prior to the establishment of the nine-inning rule, a game would often be called before reaching 21 runs because the game had outlasted the daylight. Some have speculated that the Knickerbockers changed the number of innings to nine because that was the traditional number of players on a team.
In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for the telephone. As with most free market inventions, the telephone was an attempt to improve an already existing technology — the telegraph, in this case. Bell was met with hundreds of court challenges from others who believed the patent was rightly theirs. In the end, Bell kept the telephone patent and was awarded an additional 17 patents in his lifetime.
In 1994, the Supreme Court ruled that artists could parody the work of others without fear of copyright infringement. This made a safety zone for parodies used for commercial use. Today parodies are used in advertising all the time, by setting different lyrics to existing songs. Have you heard of Weird Al Yankovic? He’s an artist that makes a living solely on satire, creating only songs that are parodies. Without this ruling the entertainment and advertising industries would be drastically different than they are today.
In 1789, the first Federal Congress convened in New York City, the nation’s capital at the time. Congress met at Federal Hall on 26th and Wall streets, with only nine senators and 13 representatives present. Because it took so long for many of them to travel there, the House was unable to get the necessary quorum until April 1, and the Senate had to wait until April 6.
In 1902, a group of nine automobile clubs met in Chicago and formed the American Automobile Association. At this time, there were only 23,000 operating cars in the United States, with most people were still relying on horses for transportation. Today, more than a century later, AAA is still involved in promoting road and driver safety.
In 1979, a photograph revealing Jupiter’s rings was taken by the U.S. spacecraft Voyager I. The rings are so thin that we are unable to see them from Earth, but they are visible in space from precise angles. (Jupiter is known as the most high-maintenance planet because it is always telling the photographer to get its good side…)
In 1923, the first issue of Time magazine was published. Although the publication lacked the classic red border Time is known for today and contained few photos or illustrations, the 32-page issue had sections that are still featured in the magazine today, including weekly news, national affairs, art reviews, and local tidbits.
In 1931, President Herbert Hoover officially deemed “The Star-Spangled Banner” the national anthem. This was its first formal recognition, although it had been considered the national anthem by most government and military groups since the early 1900s. Nonetheless, Hoover gets some credit.
In 1776, Gen. George Washington ordered the artillery troops of the Continental Army to reclaim Boston. The troops surrounded the city and attacked with their cannons, while other soldiers stormed the British ships in the harbor. When the British realized they were surrounded and could not win, they made an arrangement with Washington, promising not to destroy anything if the Americans let them leave the city without attacking them. Known as the Siege of Boston today, this event was a turning point in the Revolutionary War.
In 1933, the motion picture King Kong premiered at two theaters in New York City: Radio City Music Hall and the RKO Roxy Theatre. The movie is now preserved in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, considered a “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant film.” There have been two remakes, most recently in 2005, and many sequels.
In 1984, McDonald’s closed its flagship location in Des Plaines, Illinois. After tearing the historic location down, the company opened a new location across the street. The new restaurant, almost an exact replica of the original, is now the McDonald’s Museum.
In 1692, the Salem witch hunt began in the small village of Salem, Mass., when three women were brought before the court and accused of witchcraft. After two months of trial, the village courtroom was packed with suspected witches. Those suspected would point to others who were supposedly witches as well in an attempt to avoid execution. Nineteen innocent people were executed, and many others died while imprisoned and awaiting trial. During these trials people were tried under the belief of “guilty until proven innocent,” instead of the presumption of innocence we use today.
In 1872, Yellowstone was authorized by Congress as a national park. As the first national park in the world, Yellowstone inspired many other countries to create their own national parks. More than 4 million people visited Yellowstone last year alone.
In 45 B.C., Leap Day was created by Julius Caesar to keep the Roman calendar aligned with the seasons in the year. He had solicited help from the top astronomers of the time, who found Leap Day to be the best solution. Aside from the usual once-every-four-years rule, leap year is skipped every 200 years. The next skipped leap day will be in 2100. Only one person still alive experienced the skipped leap day in 1900.
In 1288, a law was passed in Scotland that enabled a woman to propose to a man on Leap Day, and if the man rejected the proposal he would be required to pay a fine. We are sure that medieval Scottish feminists were particularly happy about this! Since this decree, a woman proposing on Leap Day has become a well-known tradition in Scotland, Ireland and much of the British Isles. There is even a 2010 romantic film called Leap Year.
In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt created a seven-member committee to study the Panama Canal. The committee was tasked with deciding the best place for the canal and later managing construction of the canal. Through their work, the dream of connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans became a reality.
In 1616, the Spanish Inquisition delivered an injunction to Galileo telling him to stop spreading his ideas about science and the solar system. Many religious leaders persecuted him for his work because his findings conflicted with their beliefs. Eventually he was put under house arrest and was no longer allowed to write or publish anything. Weirdly, Galileo’s middle finger is now on display at the Florence History of Science Museum.
In 1993, a bomb built by Islamic extremists exploded in a parking garage beneath the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York City. The explosion killed six people and injured more than 1,000. The 1,200-pound bomb was transported to the parking garage in a rental van, stolen the day before. The terrorists’ suspected goal was to cause the north tower to fall onto the south tower. The explosion caused damage but did not cause either tower to collapse. At the time, this was one of the most alarming terrorist attacks to happen on U.S. soil.
In 1862, Congress passed the Legal Tender Act, ending the policy that allowed only gold and silver to be used for transactions, in order to finance the Civil War. This act allowed the use of paper notes to pay government bills, which worked so well that they were later considered legal tender. Financial experts and bankers at the time were concerned about having paper money that was not backed by gold or silver and predicted economic doom if there were public misgivings about the money.
In 1932, Adolf Hitler, born in Austria, became a German citizen. His naturalization allowed him to run for Reichspräsident (head of state) in the election that year. In his youth, Hitler had dreams of becoming an artist and applied twice to the Vienna Academy of Art twice, but was denied.
In 1964, 22-year old heavyweight boxer Cassius Clay beat world champion Sonny Liston, earning the world heavyweight boxing crown. Clay had won the light heavyweight Olympic medal as a rookie in 1960. By 1965 Clay had become a member of the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
In 1803, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Marbury v. Madison. This case is thought to be the most important Supreme Court case in history because it applied “judicial review,” meaning the courts had the power to review acts of Congress for their constitutionality. The plaintiff, William Marbury, petitioned for a legal order to receive his pay when President Thomas Jefferson did not provide commissions to appointed justices of peace. Although Marbury did not receive his commission due to a constitutional conflict, this case changed the nation by giving incredible power to SCOTUS.
In 2002, the Winter Olympics ended with the Closing Ceremonies at the Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. The city and Olympic Committee pulled off the hugely successful 19th Olympic Winter Games, awarding 234 medals. The cost for the fireworks at the Closing Ceremonies? A whopping $1 million! American athletes won 34 medals in the 2002 Winter Games, beating their previous Winter Olympics record of 13.
In 1455, Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the movable-type printing press, produced the world’s first printed book – a Bible, written in Latin – in Mainz, Germany. This invention made it possible for books to be produced quickly and efficiently in large quantities, more than five centuries before the Kindle came around.
In 1846, the Liberty Bell tolled for the last time. As it was rung in honor of George Washington’s birthday, the existing crack expanded far enough to make the bell un-ringable. No one knows exactly when the crack first appeared.
In 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln slipped into Washington, D.C., at night to escape assassins in Baltimore. With the help of Allan Pinkerton (aka the spy that never slept), Lincoln was able to avoid the would-be killers and arrive in Washington safely.
In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge was the first president to give a radio-specific speech to the American people. His inaugural radio speech reached 23 million Americans – especially impressive when compared to the 26 million viewers of President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address in 2006.
In 1980: Remember the Disney movie “Miracle On Ice”? That “miracle” happened 36 years ago today! The U.S. hockey team beat the Soviet Olympic team, 4-3, at the 13th Olympic Winter Games, Lake Placid, N.Y. At the time the Soviet hockey team had been undefeated for over 10 years and held the previous four gold medals. Defeating the Soviets was not only an Olympic win, but also a moral victory for America during the Cold War.