This Week In American History: August 28th - September 3rd

August 28

1774

Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born in New York City. Seton taught in order to support her family and believed in free education for all children, male and female. In pursuit of this goal, she founded the nation’s first Catholic school in Baltimore, which had been the capital of the Catholic colony of Maryland. The school, St. Joseph’s Academy and Free School, would eventually become part of Mount Saint Mary’s University. In 1809, Seton took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, along with the moniker “Mother Seton.” She then founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, also in Maryland. Her efforts to establish Catholic institutions in the new United States, protected by the Bill of Rights’ guarantee of freedom of religion, saw her beatified in 1963, and canonized in 1975. Seton Hall University in New Jersey was named in her honor.

1963

On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washing, D.C., the African American civil rights movement reached its high-water mark when Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech to about 250,000 people attending the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The demonstrators—Black and white, poor and rich—came together in the nation’s capital to demand voting rights and equal opportunity for African Americans and to appeal for an end to racial segregation and discrimination. The peaceful rally was the largest assembly for a redress of grievances that the capital had ever seen, and King was the last speaker.

1970

"I'll Be There" was released by The Jackson 5. It was their fourth straight number one hit and is the Billboard Song of the Year. "I'll Be There" is also notable as being the most successful single released by Motown during its "Detroit era" (1959–72). Mariah Carey brought the song back into prominence two decades after its initial release when she recorded it for MTV Unplugged in 1992. It would once again become a #1 hit and Carey's sixth #1 overall. "I'll Be There" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame of 2011.

August 29

1898

Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co was founded in Akron, Ohio by Frank Sieberling and named for Charles Goodyear, the man who developed vulcanized rubber. They initially focus on the manufacturing of bicycle and buggy tires, as well as rubber horseshoes. As of 1901, Goodyear was a supplier of racing tires for Henry Ford, who’s ground-breaking 1908 Model T was equipped with Goodyear tires. The company became the world’s biggest tire manufacturer in 1926 and remains a successful company to this day, with worldwide tire sales that surpass the 20 billion dollar mark.

    

1965

Astronauts L. Gordon Cooper Jr. and Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr complete d120 Earth orbits in Gemini 5, marking the first time the US set an international duration record for a manned space mission. The primary goals of Project Gemini included proving the techniques required for the Apollo Program to fulfill President John F. Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth before the end of the 1960s. Paramount among the techniques demonstrated during Project Gemini was rendezvous and docking necessary to implement the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous method NASA chose for the Moon landing mission.

2005

Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane backed by 145-mile-an-hour-winds. The storm killed more than 1,700 people and displaced hundreds of thousands of others. Causing billions of dollars of damage, Katrina ranks as one of the costliest storms in American history. The surges overwhelmed the levees that protected New Orleans, with 80 percent of the city flooding up to the rooftops of many homes and small buildings. In a 2006 federal report, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers admitted that the flood-control complex surrounding New Orleans had been incomplete, insufficient and improperly maintained. "The hurricane protection system in New Orleans and southeast Louisiana was a system in name only," said the report.

August 30

1963

Hotline communication link between the Pentagon and the Kremlin in Moscow was installed. Often known as the "red telephone," no phones were ever used, relying instead on Teletype equipment, fax machines and, most recently, secure email. The “hotline” was designed to facilitate communication between the president and the Soviet premier in the wake of the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, in which the U.S. and U.S.S.R had come dangerously close to all-out nuclear war. The White House issued a statement that the new hotline would “help reduce the risk of war occurring by accident or miscalculation.” It was agreed that the line would be used only in emergencies, not for more routine governmental exchanges.

1967

Thurgood Marshall became the first African American to be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice in a 69-11 Senate vote. Over the next 24 years, Justice Marshall came out in favor of abortion rights and against the death penalty, as he continued his tireless commitment to ensuring equitable treatment of individuals—particularly minorities—by state and federal governments. He retired for health reasons in 1991, leaving a legacy of upholding the rights of the individual as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

1976

Tom Brokaw became news co-anchor of NBC's "Today Show alongside Jane Pauley. He would stay on "The Today Show" until 1981 before moving to NBC Nightly News as anchor and managing editor. He helmed NBC's flagship news program for 22 years. Along with his competitors Peter Jennings at  ABC News and Dan Rather at CBS News, Brokaw was one of the "Big Three" U.S. news anchors during the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s. Tom Brokaw is the only anchor to have lead all three NBC News flagship programs: TODAY, "NBC Nightly News" and "Meet the Press." He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014, which was awarded to him by President Barack Obama. He retired from the NBC Network in 2021.

August 31

1886

A 7.6 magnitude earthquake, the largest in southeastern US, hits Charleston, South Carolina, leaving more than 100 people dead and hundreds of buildings destroyed. The initial shock lasted for nearly a full minute. The rumbling was felt as far away as Boston, Chicago and Cuba with building damage as far away as Ohio and Alabama. This quake remained a mystery for many years since there were no known underground faults for 60 miles in any direction. However, better science and detection methods have recently uncovered a concealed fault along the coastal plains of Virginia and the Carolinas. Still, a quake of this magnitude remains highly unlikely in this location.

1897

Thomas Edison received a patent for the world's first motion picture camera, the Kinetograph. Edison had developed the camera and its viewer in the early 1890s. Edison’s Kinetoscope and Kinetograph used celluloid film, invented by George Eastman in 1889. In February 1893, Edison built a small movie studio that could be rotated to capture the best available sunlight. He showed the first demonstration of his films—featuring three of his workers pretending to be blacksmiths—in May 1893. The invention inspired French inventors Louis and August Lumiere to develop a movie camera and projector, the Cinematographe, that allowed a large audience to view a film.

1955

William G. Cobb of the General Motors Corp. (GM) demonstrates his 15-inch-long “Sunmobile,” the world’s first solar-powered automobile, at the General Motors Powerama auto show held in Chicago, Illinois. Cobb’s Sunmobile introduced, however briefly, the field of photovoltaics–the process by which the sun’s rays are converted into electricity when exposed to certain surfaces–into the gasoline-drenched automotive industry. Today, more than a half-century after Cobb debuted the Sunmobile, a mass-produced solar car has yet to hit the market. Solar-car competitions are held worldwide, however, in which design teams pit their sun-powered creations against each other in road races such as the 2008 North American Solar Challenge, a 2,400-mile drive from Dallas, Texas, to Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

September 1

1972

In what’s billed as the “Match of the Century,” American chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer defeats Russian Boris Spassky during the World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland. In the world’s most publicized title match ever played, Fischer, a 29-year-old Brooklynite, became the first American to win the competition since its inception in 1866. The victory also marked the first time a non-Russian had won the event in 24 years. Played during the Cold War, the Reykjavik match also carried political undertones. Fischer had already accused the Soviets of rigging the tournament system and didn’t mince words in his feelings about them. Over 21 games, Fischer won seven, Spassky won three, and 11 were draws. Spassky resigned after 40 moves on the 21st game via telephone, with the final score set at 12.5 to 8.5.

1985

73 years after it sank to the North Atlantic ocean floor, the wreck of the RMS Titanic was located. The sunken liner was about 400 miles east of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic, some 13,000 feet below the surface. American oceanographer and former Navy officer Robert D. Ballard, who was based out of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, led a joint U.S.-French expedition with oceanographer Jean-Louis Michel. The Titanic is now routinely explored, and several thousand artifacts have been recovered. Ballard—who was celebrated as a hero after the discovery—has led several more high-profile search expeditions, including of the RMS Lusitania and the USS Yorktown.

1998

The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 finally goes into effect. The law required that all cars and light trucks sold in the United States have air bags on both sides of the front seat. Inspired by the inflatable protective covers on Navy torpedoes, an industrial engineering technician from Pennsylvania named John Hetrick patented a design for a “safety cushion assembly for automotive vehicles” in 1953. The next year, Hetrick sent sketches of his device to Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, but the automakers never responded. Inflatable-safety-cushion technology languished until 1965, when Ralph Nader’s book “Unsafe at Any Speed” speculated that seat belts and air bags together could prevent thousands of deaths in car accidents.

September 2

1945

Aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan formally surrenders to the US and the Allies, bringing an end to World War II. By the summer of 1945, the defeat of Japan was a foregone conclusion. The Japanese navy and air force were destroyed. However, Japan refused to surrender to the terms of the Allies' Potsdam Declaration. Japan's surrender came only after the United States detonated atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the USSR declared war against Japan, attacking Manchuria. On Sunday, September 2, more than 250 Allied warships lay at anchor in Tokyo Bay. The flags of the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, and China fluttered above the deck of the Missouri as representatives from each country signed. As the 20-minute ceremony ended, the sun burst through low-hanging clouds. The most devastating war in human history was over.

1969

America’s first automatic teller machine (ATM) made its public debut, dispensing cash to customers at Chemical Bank in Rockville Centre, New York. ATMs went on to revolutionize the banking industry, eliminating the need to visit a bank to conduct basic financial transactions. By the 1980s, these money machines had become widely popular and handled many of the functions previously performed by human tellers, such as check deposits and money transfers between accounts. Today, ATMs are as indispensable to most people as cell phones and e-mail. Today there are well over 1 million ATMs around the world, with a new one added approximately every five minutes.

2013

64-year-old Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage for protection. Nyad completed the 110-mile swim from Havana to Key West, through the jellyfish-and shark-infested waters of the Straits of Florida, in approximately 53 hours. This was her fifth attempt with the previous four having to be prematurely aborted due to an asthma attack, jellyfish stings, storms and rough currents. A month after her historic achievement, Nyad completed a 48-hour swim in an outdoor pool set up in midtown Manhattan. The event was a fundraiser for victims of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy.

September 3

1777

The American flag was flown in battle for the first time, during a Revolutionary War skirmish at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware. Patriot General William Maxwell ordered the stars and strips banner raised as a detachment of his infantry and cavalry met an advance guard of British and Hessian troops. The rebels were defeated and forced to retreat to General George Washington's main force near Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania.

1783

The American Revolution officially came to an end when representatives of the United States, Great Britain, Spain and France sign the Treaty of Paris. The signing signified America’s status as a free nation, as Britain formally recognized the independence of its 13 former American colonies, and the boundaries of the new republic were agreed upon: Florida north to the Great Lakes and the Atlantic coast west to the Mississippi River. France signed its own preliminary peace agreement with Britain on January 20, 1783, and then in September of that year, the final treaty was signed by all three nations and Spain. The Treaty of Paris was ratified by the Continental Congress on January 14, 1784.

2006

American great and former #1 men's tennis player in the world, Andre Agassi played his last career match in a loss to 112th-ranked Benjamin Becker of Germany 7-5, 6-7, 6-4, 7-5 in the 3rd round at the US Open. The 8-time Grand Slam winner finished his career with a record of 870-274. He was the first of only two men to win a career Golden Slam, winning all Grand Slam tournaments and the Olympic Gold metal. Sciatica and bulging disks forced him into retirement. He is the founder of the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, which has raised over $60 million for at-risk children in Southern Nevada. The Foundation opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, a K–12 public charter school for at-risk children in 2001.