This Day in History | October 15th

On October 15, 1783, the first manned balloon flight took place in Paris as Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier ascended in a basket attached to a tethered Montgolfier hot-air balloon, rising to about 75 feet.

In 1928, the German dirigible Graf Zeppelin landed in Lakehurst, N.J., completing its first commercial flight across the Atlantic.

In 1945, the former premier of Vichy France, Pierre Laval, was executed for treason.

In 1946, Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering (GEH’-reeng) fatally poisoned himself hours before he was to have been executed.ADVERTISEMENT

In 1954, Hurricane Hazel made landfall on the Carolina coast as a Category 4 storm; Hazel was blamed for some 1,000 deaths in the Caribbean, 95 in the U.S. and 81 in Canada.

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill creating the U.S. Department of Transportation. The revolutionary Black Panther Party was founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California.

In 1976, in the first debate of its kind between vice-presidential nominees, Democrat Walter F. Mondale and Republican Bob Dole faced off in Houston.

In 1991, despite sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, the Senate narrowly confirmed the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court, 52-48.

In 2001, Bethlehem Steel Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In 2003, eleven people were killed when a Staten Island ferry slammed into a maintenance pier. (The ferry’s pilot, who’d blacked out at the controls, later pleaded guilty to eleven counts of manslaughter.)

In 2009, a report of a 6-year-old Colorado boy trapped inside a runaway helium balloon engrossed the nation before the boy, Falcon Heene (HEE’-nee), was found safe at home in what turned out to be a hoax. (Falcon’s parents served up to a month in jail.)

In 2015, President Barack Obama abandoned his pledge to end America’s longest war, announcing plans to keep at least 5,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the end of his term in 2017 and hand the conflict off to his successor.

In 2017, actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted that women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted should write “Me too” as a status; within hours, tens of thousands had taken up the #MeToo hashtag (using a phrase that had been introduced 10 years earlier by social activist Tarana Burke.)

This Day in History | October 14th

On Oct. 14, 1066, Normans under William the Conqueror defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings.

In 1586, Mary, Queen of Scots, went on trial in England, accused of committing treason against Queen Elizabeth I. (Mary was beheaded in February 1587.)

In 1933, Nazi Germany announced it was withdrawing from the League of Nations.

In 1939, a German U-boat torpedoed and sank the HMS Royal Oak, a British battleship anchored at Scapa Flow in Scotland’s Orkney Islands; 833 of the more than 1,200 men aboard were killed.

In 1944, German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel took his own life rather than face trial and certain execution for allegedly conspiring against Adolf Hitler.

In 1964, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev was toppled from power; he was succeeded by Leonid Brezhnev as First Secretary and by Alexei Kosygin as Premier.

In 1968, the first successful live telecast from a manned U.S. spacecraft was transmitted from Apollo 7.

In 1981, the new president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak (HOHS’-nee moo-BAH’-rahk), was sworn in to succeed the assassinated Anwar Sadat. Mubarak pledged loyalty to Sadat’s policies.

In 2001, as U.S. jets opened a second week of raids in Afghanistan, President George W. Bush sternly rejected a Taliban offer to discuss handing over Osama bin Laden to a third country.

In 2008, a grand jury in Orlando, Fla. returned charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter against Casey Anthony in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. (She was acquitted in July 2011.)

In 2014, a second nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas came down with Ebola after contracting it from a dying patient. (The nurse, Amber Joy Vinson, was later declared free of the disease.)

In 2017, a truck bombing in Somalia’s capital killed more than 500 people in one of the world’s deadliest attacks in years; officials blamed the attack on the extremist group al-Shabab and said it was meant to target Mogadishu’s international airport, but the bomb detonated in a crowded street after soldiers opened fire.

This Day in History | October 13th

On Oct. 13, 1775, the United States Navy had its origins as the Continental Congress ordered the construction of a naval fleet.

In 1792, the cornerstone of the executive mansion, later known as the White House, was laid by President George Washington during a ceremony in the District of Columbia.

In 1845, Texas voters ratified a state constitution.

In 1943, Italy declared war on Germany, its one-time Axis partner.

In 1944, during World War II, American troops entered Aachen (AH’-kehn), Germany.

In 1960, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon held the third televised debate of their presidential campaign (Nixon was in Los Angeles, Kennedy in New York).

In 1972, a Uruguayan chartered flight carrying 45 people crashed in the Andes; survivors resorted to feeding off the remains of some of the dead in order to stay alive until they were rescued more than two months later.

In 1974, longtime television host Ed Sullivan died in New York City at age 73.

In 1999, the Senate rejected the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, with 48 senators voting in favor and 51 against, far short of the 67 needed for ratification.

In 2000, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Longtime American communist Gus Hall died in New York at age 90.

In 2003, the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution expanding the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.

In 2006, The United Nations General Assembly appointed South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon the next U.N. secretary-general. Banker Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh won the Nobel Peace Prize for using microcredit to lift people out of poverty.

In 2010, rescuers in Chile using a missile-like escape capsule pulled 33 men one by one to fresh air and freedom 69 days after they were trapped in a collapsed mine a half-mile underground.

This Day in History | October 12th

On Oct. 12, 1792, the first recorded U.S. celebration of Columbus Day was held to mark the tricentennial of Christopher Columbus’ landing.

In 1933, bank robber John Dillinger escaped from a jail in Allen County, Ohio, with the help of his gang, who killed the sheriff, Jess Sarber.

In 1942, during World War II, American naval forces defeated the Japanese in the Battle of Cape Esperance. Attorney General Francis Biddle announced during a Columbus Day celebration at Carnegie Hall in New York that Italian nationals in the United States would no longer be considered enemy aliens.

In 1973, President Richard Nixon nominated House minority leader Gerald R. Ford of Michigan to succeed Spiro T. Agnew as vice president.

In 1976, it was announced in China that Hua Guofeng had been named to succeed the late Mao Zedong as chairman of the Communist Party; it was also announced that Mao’s widow and three others, known as the “Gang of Four,” had been arrested.

In 1984, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher escaped an attempt on her life when an Irish Republican Army bomb exploded at a hotel in Brighton, England, killing five people.

In 1986, the superpower meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, ended in stalemate, with President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev unable to agree on arms control or a date for a full-fledged summit in the United States.

In 1997, singer John Denver was killed in the crash of his privately built aircraft in Monterey Bay, California; he was 53.

In 2000, 17 sailors were killed in a suicide bomb attack on the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen.

In 2002, bombs blamed on al-Qaida-linked militants destroyed a nightclub on the Indonesian island of Bali, killing 202 people, including 88 Australians and seven Americans.

In 2007, former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the Nobel Peace Prize for sounding the alarm over global warming.

In 2017, President Donald Trump lashed out at hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico, saying the federal government can’t keep sending help “forever” and suggesting that the U.S. territory was to blame for its financial struggles.

In 2019, a Black woman, Atatiana Jefferson, was fatally shot by a white Fort Worth, Texas, police officer inside her home after police were called to the residence by a neighbor who reported that the front door was open. (Officer Aaron Dean, who shot Jefferson through a back window, resigned in the days after the shooting and is charged with murder; he has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial in November.)

This Day in History | October 11th

On October 11, on 1779, Polish nobleman Casimir Pulaski, fighting for American independence, died two days after being wounded during the Revolutionary War Battle of Savannah, Georgia.

In 1884, American first lady Eleanor Roosevelt was born in New York City.

In 1906, the San Francisco Board of Education ordered the city’s Asian students segregated in a purely “Oriental” school. (The order was later rescinded at the behest of President Theodore Roosevelt, who promised to curb future Japanese immigration to the United States.)

In 1968, the government of Panama was overthrown in a military coup. Also in 1968, Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission, was launched with astronauts Wally Schirra (shih-RAH’), Donn Fulton Eisele and R. Walter Cunningham aboard.

In 1975, Bill Clinton and Hillary Diane Rodham were married in Fayetteville, Arkansas. “NBC Saturday Night” (later “Saturday Night Live”) made its debut with guest host George Carlin.

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev opened two days of talks in Reykjavik, Iceland, concerning arms control and human rights.

In 1991, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Anita Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her; Thomas re-appeared before the panel to denounce the proceedings as a “high-tech lynching.”

In 2001, in his first prime-time news conference since taking office, President George W. Bush said “it may take a year or two” to track down Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network in Afghanistan, but he asserted that after a five-day aerial bombardment, “we’ve got them on the run.”

In 2002, former President Jimmy Carter was named the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 2005, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it had finished pumping out the New Orleans metropolitan area, which was flooded by Hurricane Katrina six weeks earlier and then was swamped again by Hurricane Rita.

In 2006, the charge of treason was used for the first time in the U.S. war on terrorism, filed against Adam Yehiye Gadahn (ah-DAHM’ YEH’-heh-yuh guh-DAHN’), also known as “Azzam the American,” who’d appeared in propaganda videos for al-Qaida. (Gadahn was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in Jan. 2015.)

In 2014, customs and health officials began taking the temperatures of passengers arriving at New York’s Kennedy International Airport from three West African countries in a stepped-up screening effort meant to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus.

This Day in History | October 10th

On Oct. 10, 1845, the U.S. Naval Academy was established in Annapolis, Maryland.

In 1911, Chinese revolutionaries launched an uprising that led to the collapse of the Qing (or Manchu) Dynasty and the establishment of the Republic of China.

In 1935, the George Gershwin opera “Porgy and Bess,” featuring an all-Black cast, opened on Broadway, beginning a run of 124 performances.

In 1957, the Milwaukee Braves won the World Series, defeating the New York Yankees in Game 7, 5-0.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy, responding to the Thalidomide birth defects crisis, signed an amendment to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requiring pharmaceutical companies to prove that their products were safe and effective prior to marketing.

In 1964, the 18th Summer Olympic Games opened in Tokyo.

In 1973, Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, accused of accepting bribes, pleaded no contest to one count of federal income tax evasion, and resigned his office.

In 1985, U.S. fighter jets forced an Egyptian plane carrying the hijackers of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro (ah-KEE’-leh LOW’-roh) to land in Italy, where the gunmen were taken into custody. Actor-director Orson Welles died in Los Angeles at age 70; actor Yul Brynner died in New York at age 65.

In 1997, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and its coordinator, Jody Williams, were named winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 2001, U.S. jets pounded the Afghan capital of Kabul. President George W. Bush unveiled a list of 22 most-wanted terrorists, including Osama bin Laden.

In 2004, Christopher Reeve, the “Superman” of celluloid who became a quadriplegic after a May 1995 horse riding accident, died in Mount Kisco, New York, at age 52.

In 2014, Malala Yousafzai (mah-LAH’-lah YOO’-suhf-zeye), a 17-year-old Pakistani girl, and Kailash Satyarthi (KY’-lash saht-YAHR’-thee), a 60-year-old Indian man, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for risking their lives for the right of children to receive an education and to live free from abuse.

In 2015, twin bombings in Ankara killed 103 people at a peace rally in the worst terror attack in Turkey’s modern history.

This Day in History | October 7th

On October 7, 1765, the Stamp Act Congress convened in New York to draw up colonial grievances against England.

In 1849, author Edgar Allan Poe died in Baltimore at age 40.

In 1910, a major wildfire devastated the northern Minnesota towns of Spooner and Baudette, charring at least 300,000 acres; some 40 people are believed to have died.

In 1913, for the first time, Henry Ford’s entire Highland Park, Michigan automobile factory is run on a continuously moving assembly line when the chassis–the automobile’s frame–is assembled using the revolutionary industrial technique. A motor and rope pulled the chassis past workers and parts on the factory floor, cutting the man-hours required to complete one “Model T” from 12-1/2 hours to six. 

In 1949, the Republic of East Germany was formed.

In 1954, Marian Anderson became the first Black singer hired by the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York.

In 1985, Palestinian gunmen hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro (ah-KEE’-leh LOW’-roh) in the Mediterranean. (The hijackers shot and killed Leon Klinghoffer, a Jewish-American tourist in a wheelchair, and pushed him overboard, before surrendering on Oct. 9.)

In 1991, University of Oklahoma law professor Anita Hill publicly accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of making sexually inappropriate comments when she worked for him; Thomas denied Hill’s allegations.

In 1992, trade representatives of the United States, Canada and Mexico initialed the North American Free Trade Agreement during a ceremony in San Antonio, Texas, in the presence of President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (muhl-ROO’-nee) and Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

In 1996, Fox News Channel made its debut.

In 1998, Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, was beaten and left tied to a wooden fencepost outside of Laramie, Wyoming; he died five days later. (Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney are serving life sentences for Shepard’s murder.)

In 2001, the war in Afghanistan started as the United States and Britain launched air attacks against military targets and Osama bin Laden’s training camps in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

In 2003, California voters recalled Gov. Gray Davis and elected Arnold Schwarzenegger their new governor.

In 2004, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney conceded that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction as they tried to shift the Iraq war debate to a new issue, arguing that Saddam was abusing a U.N. oil-for-food program.

This Day in History | October 6th

On October 6, 1683, thirteen families from Krefeld, Germany, arrived in Philadelphia to begin Germantown, one of America’s oldest settlements.

In 1889, the Moulin Rouge in Paris first opened its doors to the public.

In 1927, the era of talking pictures arrived with the opening of “The Jazz Singer” starring Al Jolson, a feature containing both silent and sound-synchronized sequences.

In 1928, Chiang Kai-shek became president of China.

In 1939, in a speech to the Reichstag, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler spoke of his plans to reorder the ethnic layout of Europe — a plan which would entail settling the “Jewish problem.”

In 1969, the New York Mets won the first-ever National League Championship Series, defeating the Atlanta Braves, 7-4, in Game 3; the Baltimore Orioles won the first-ever American League Championship Series, defeating the Minnesota Twins 11-2 in Game 3.

In 1973, war erupted in the Middle East as Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel during the Yom Kippur holiday. (Israel, initially caught off guard, managed to push back the Arab forces before a cease-fire finally took hold in the nearly three-week conflict.)

In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford, in his second presidential debate with Democrat Jimmy Carter, asserted that there was “no Soviet domination of eastern Europe.” (Ford later conceded such was not the case.)

In 1979, Pope John Paul II, on a week-long U.S. tour, became the first pontiff to visit the White House, where he was received by President Jimmy Carter.

In 1981, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was shot to death by extremists while reviewing a military parade.

In 2010, social networking app Instagram was launched by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.

In 2014, the Supreme Court unexpectedly cleared the way for a dramatic expansion of gay marriage in the United States as it rejected appeals from five states seeking to preserve their bans, effectively making such marriages legal in 30 states.

In 2018, in the narrowest Senate confirmation of a Supreme Court justice in nearly a century and a half, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by a 50-48 vote; he was sworn in hours later.

This Day in History | September 28th

On September 28, 1066, William the Conqueror invaded England to claim the English throne.

In 1781, American forces in the Revolutionary War, backed by a French fleet, began their successful siege of Yorktown, Va.

In 1787, the Congress of the Confederation voted to send the just-completed Constitution of the United States to state legislatures for their approval.

In 1850, flogging was abolished as a form of punishment in the U.S. Navy.

In 1920, eight members of the Chicago White Sox were indicted for allegedly throwing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. (All were acquitted at trial, but all eight were banned from the game for life.)

In 1924, three U.S. Army planes landed in Seattle, having completed the first round-the-world trip by air in 175 days.

In 1928, Scottish medical researcher Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, the first effective antibiotic.

In 1939, during World War II, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed a treaty calling for the partitioning of Poland, which the two countries had invaded.

In 1962, a federal appeals court found Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett in civil contempt for blocking the admission of James Meredith, a Black student, to the University of Mississippi. (Federal marshals escorted Meredith onto the campus two days later.)

In 1991, jazz great Miles Davis died in Santa Monica, Calif., at age 65.

In 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat signed an accord at the White House ending Israel’s military occupation of West Bank cities and laying the foundation for a Palestinian state.

In 2000, capping a 12-year battle, the government approved use of the abortion pill RU-486.

In 2019, voters in Afghanistan went to the polls to elect a president for the fourth time since a U.S.-led coalition ousted the Taliban regime in 2001; the vote was marred by violence, Taliban threats and widespread allegations of mismanagement. (After a series of delays, the country’s independent election commission announced months later that Ashraf Ghani had won a second term as president.)

This Day in History | September 27th

On September 27, 1779, John Adams was named by Congress to negotiate the Revolutionary War’s peace terms with Britain.

In 1854, the first great disaster involving an Atlantic Ocean passenger vessel occurred when the steamship SS Arctic sank off Newfoundland; of the more than 400 people on board, only 86 survived.

In 1917, French sculptor and painter Edgar Degas died in Paris at age 83.

In 1939, Warsaw, Poland, surrendered after weeks of resistance to invading forces from Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during World War II.

In 1941, the United States launched the first 14 rapidly built “Liberty” military cargo vessels.

In 1964, the government publicly released the report of the Warren Commission, which concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone in assassinating President John F. Kennedy.

In 1979, Congress gave its final approval to forming the U.S. Department of Education.

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush announced in a nationally broadcast address that he was eliminating all U.S. battlefield nuclear weapons, and called on the Soviet Union to match the gesture. The Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked, 7-7, on the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1994, more than 350 Republican congressional candidates gathered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to sign the “Contract with America,” a 10-point platform they pledged to enact if voters sent a GOP majority to the House.

In 1996, in Afghanistan, the Taliban, a band of former seminary students, drove the government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani out of Kabul, captured the capital and executed former leader Najibullah.

In 1999, Sen. John McCain of Arizona officially opened his campaign for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, the same day former Vice President Dan Quayle dropped his White House bid.

In 2016, scientists announced the first baby born from a controversial new technique that combined DNA from three people — the mother, the father and an egg donor. (The goal was to prevent the child from inheriting a fatal genetic disease from his mother.)

In 2018, during a day-long hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Christine Blasey Ford said she was “100 percent” certain that she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when they were teenagers, and Kavanaugh then told senators that he was “100 percent certain” he had done no such thing; Republicans quickly scheduled a recommendation vote for the following morning.

« Older posts

© 2021 Gordon Jones

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑