This Day in American History
1691 – Yorktown, VA was founded, named for the ancient city of York in Yorkshire, Northern England, as a port on the York River for English colonists to export tobacco to Europe. The lawyer Thomas Ballard was the principal founder of the city along with Joseph Ring. It was called “York” until after the American Revolutionary War, when the name “Yorktown” came into common use. The town reached the height of its development around 1750, when it had 250 to 300 buildings and a population of almost 2,000 people. It was the base of British General Cornwallis during the 1781 siege, which was the last major battle of the Revolutionary War, resulting in his surrender to Gen. George Washington.
1777 – The Battle of Bennington was a major victor for the Colonial Army, primarily because the battle was delayed by rain. The rain delayed British reinforcements, and allowed the Vermont Militia to arrive in time, enabling the Americans to win a victory by defeating two enemy forces, one at a time.
1780 – In the Battle of Camden, S.C., American forces under Gen. Horatio Gates were defeated by the British under Gen. Charles Cornwallis. Baron Johann de Kalb, a Prussian officer who was commissioned a general in the Continental Army, was mortally wounded in the battle. Gates suffered disastrous losses. Nearly 1,000 Americans killed and another 1,000 captured by the British. British losses about 325. One of America’s worst defeats in the war. General Washington replaced gates with Nathaniel Greene, who is credited with brilliance in turning the war situation around as outlined on his birthday, August 7.
1812 – A mass meeting in NYC denounces the War of 1812.
1812 – Brigadier General William Hull surrendered Detroit to British forces under General Isaac Brock, making no attempt to defend the city though the attacking force was smaller than his own. Hull was court-martialed two years later for yielding without resistance.
1829 – Taking the country by storm, Robert Hung of Boston, MA, brought the Siamese twins Chang and Eng into the United States. They were born on April 15, 1811, in Bangesau, Siam, of a Chinese father and a Siamese mother. They were joined at the waist by a cartilaginous band about four inches long and eight inches in circumference. They grew to be about 5 feet 2 inches in height, and, since they faced in the same direction, could walk, run, and swim. They were exhibited throughout the United States and later in Europe. They were married in April, 1843 to two sisters, Sarah and Adelaide Yates. Chang had 10 children and Eng nine children. They died within three hours of each other on January 17, 1874. The name “Siamese twins,” meaning twins whose bodies are connected in any of a variety of ways, is derived from them.
1841 – President John Tyler vetoed a bill which called for the re-establishment of the Second Bank of the United States. Enraged Whig Party members rioted outside the White House in the most violent demonstration on White House grounds in U.S. history. Tyler became president with the death of William Henry Harrison. This was the first test of the Constitutional succession and his acclimation of the title of president riled many who thought he should take the title of acting or interim president. He also was resolute in his decisions and rather than acceding to the majority, chose to take their counsel and decide on his own. Many believe this protest was a result of continuing acrimony rather than the subject of the veto itself. He initially sought election to a full term as president, but after failing to gain the support of either Whigs or Democrats, he withdrew. When the Civil War began in 1861, Tyler sided with the Confederate government, and won election to the Confederate House shortly before his death. Although some have praised Tyler’s political resolve, his presidency is generally held in low esteem by historians. He is considered an obscure president, with little presence in American cultural memory
1861 – Several newspapers in the Union states were brought to court for alleged pro-Confederate sympathies, including the Brooklyn Eagle, the New York Journal of Commerce, and the New York Daily News. On August 19, an editor for the Essex County Democrat in Haverhill, Massachusetts was tarred and feathered for his Southern leanings expressed in the newspaper.
1861 – President Lincoln issued orders forbidding Union states from trading with the Confederacy.
1881 – WILLIAMS, MOSES, Wartime Medal
Rank and organization: First Sergeant, Company I, 9th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At foothills of the Cuchillo Negro Mountains, N. Mex., 16 August 1881. Entered service at. ——. Birth: Carrollton, La. Date of issue: 12 November 1896. Citation: Rallied a detachment, skillfully conducted a running fight of 3 or 4 hours, and by his coolness, bravery, and unflinching devotion to duty in standing by his commanding officer in an exposed position under a heavy fire from a large party of Indians saved the lives of at least 3 of his comrades.
1904 – Construction began on the Grand Central terminal in NYC. The original Grand Central Depot was opened in 1871 to serve the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, the New York and Harlem Railroad, and the New York and New Haven Railroad together in one large station. A 1902 crash killed 15 people, causing the chief engineer of the New York Central to propose the replacement of the steam trains with electrified service. The terminal cost $35 million and the railroad’s board of directors, including Cornelius Vanderbilt, William K, Vanderbilt, William Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan, approved the project on June 30, 1903. New York Central set up a design competition to decide the firms who would design the new terminal and construction began. The new terminal opened on February 2, 1913.
1909 – A dry spell began in San Bernardino County of southern California that lasted until the 6th of May in 1912, a stretch of 994 days! Another dry spell, lasting 767 days, then began in October of 1912.
1915 – Birthday of singer Al Hibbler (d. 2001), Little Rock, AR.
916 – Altapass, NC was deluged with 22.22 inches of rain in 24 hours to establish a state record
1920 – Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman was hit in the head with a pitch thrown by Yankees pitcher Carl Mays and died 12 hours later. He remains the only Major League Baseball player to have died from an injury received during an MLB game. His death led to Major League Baseball establishing a rule requiring umpires to replace the ball whenever it became dirty, and it was partially the reason the spitball was banned after the 1920 season. Chapman’s death was also one of the examples used to emphasize the need for wearing batting helmets, although the rule was not adopted until over 30 years later.
1922 – Louis Lomax (d. 1970), author, born Valdosta, GA. http://www.alan-lomax.com/about_bio.html
1923 – Carnegie Steel Corporation implemented the eight-hour workday for its employees.
1926 – Birthday of pianist Mal Waldron (d. 2002), New York City.
1929 – Pianist Bill Evans (d. 1980) birthday, Plainfield, NJ.
1930 – The first color sound cartoon, “Fiddlesticks,” was made by Ub Iwerks. This was the first animated sound cartoon that was photographed in two-strip Technicolor and was Iwerks’ first cartoon since he departed from Walt Disney’s studio. Iwerks was considered by many to be Walt Disney’s oldest friend, and spent most of his career with Disney. The two met in 1919 and would eventually start their own commercial art business together. While working for the Kansas City Film Ad Company, Disney decided to take up work in animation, and Iwerks soon joined him. He was responsible for the distinctive style of the earliest Disney animated cartoons and was also responsible for designing Mickey Mouse. Eventually, Iwerks and Disney had a falling-out; their friendship and working partnership were severed when Iwerks accepted a contract with Disney competitor Pat Powers to leave Disney and start an animation studio under his own name.
1931 – Birthday of Eydie Gorme (d. 2008), born Edith Gormezano in Manhattan. A pop vocalist, she was a popular nightclub and recording star. She often appeared with her husband Steve Lawrence, but she maintained a much better separate recording career that kept her near the top of the charts for a long, long time. The duo had a TV show (1959).
1936 – Jesse Owens leaves Berlin Olympics with four gold medals.
1938 – Benny Goodman and his band, and a quartet, brought jazz to Carnegie Hall in New York City. When asked how long an intermission he wanted, Benny said, “I don’t know. How much does Toscanini get?”
1942 – For Columbia Records, Kay Kyser and the band recorded “A Zoot Suit,” about the problems associated with wearing the garish, fashion.
1942 – A TWA transport carrying film actress Carole Lombard, her mother, and 20 other passengers, crashed near Las Vegas, Nevada. All aboard were killed.
1944 – General Dwight Eisenhower was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Expeditionary Force and asked to plan the launch of a second front in Western Europe.
1950 – Nat “King” Cole with the Stan Kenton Band, records “Orange Colored Sky,” Los Angeles.
1950 – Birthday of drummer Alvin Queen, The Bronx.
1951 – Top Hits
“Too Young” – Nat King Cole
“Come on-a My House” – Rosemary Clooney
“My Truly, Truly Fair” – Guy Mitchell
“Hey, Good Lookin’” – Hank Williams
1952 – SHUCK, WILLIAM E., JR., MEDAL of HONOR
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, Company G, 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.). Place and date: Korea, 3 July 1952. Entered service at: Cumberland, Md. Born. 16 August 1926, Cumberland, Md. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a squad leader of Company G, in action against enemy aggressor forces. When his platoon was subjected to a devastating barrage of enemy small-arms, grenade, artillery, and mortar fire during an assault against strongly fortified hill positions well forward of the main line of resistance, S/Sgt. Shuck, although painfully wounded, refused medical attention and continued to lead his machine gun squad in the attack. Unhesitatingly assuming command of a rifle squad when the leader became a casualty, he skillfully organized the 2 squads into an attacking force and led 2 more daring assaults upon the hostile positions. Wounded a second time, he steadfastly refused evacuation and remained in the foremost position under heavy fire until assured that all dead and wounded were evacuated. Mortally wounded by an enemy sniper bullet while voluntarily assisting in the removal of the last casualty, S/Sgt. Shuck, by his fortitude and great personal valor in the face of overwhelming odds, served to inspire all who observed him. His unyielding courage throughout reflects the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
1953 – Birthday of Kathie Lee Gifford, born Kathryn Lee Epstein in Paris, France. U.S. TV personality who starred for many years in the hit daytime show “Live with Regis & Kathie Lee.” She retired from the show in 2000 to concentrate on her acting and singing but returned to television in 2008 as co-host with Hoda Kotb in the fourth hour of “Today.”
1953 – Birthday of singer James “JT” Taylor, Laurens, South Carolina.
1954 – The first issue of “Sports Illustrated” appeared on newsstands. There was no large-base, general, weekly sports magazine with a national following on actual active events. It was then that Time magazine patriarch Henry Luce began considering whether his company should attempt to fill that gap. It was not profitable (and would not be so for 12 years) and not particularly well run at first, but Luce’s timing was good. The popularity of spectator sports in the United States was about to explode, and that popularity came to be driven largely by three things: economic prosperity, television, and Sports Illustrated.
1958 – Birthday of Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone, known popularly as “Madonna,” born Bay City, MI. Having sold more than 300 million records worldwide, Madonna is recognized as the best-selling female recording artist of all-time by Guinness World Records. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) listed her as the best-selling female rock artist of the 20th century and the second-highest female artist in the US with 64.5 million album units. Madonna is the highest-grossing solo touring artist of all-time, earning $1.31 billion from her concerts since 1990. Madonna was ranked at number one on VH1’s list of 100 Greatest Women in Music and number two (behind only The Beatles) on Billboard’s Greatest hot 100 Artists of All Time.
1952 – Baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, with Chet Baker, cuts first piano less quarter, Los Angeles (Pacific Jazz is born!!!)
1957 – Buddy Holly and The Crickets, still being billed by the band name only, begin a six-night engagement at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater, the first white rock act to play the venue. Although crowds boo a little at first — many, including the venue, assumed they’d be seeing R&B vocal group, The Crickets — by the third night of the engagement Buddy’s energy and songs have won them over. This is a memorable scene in the 1978 movie “The Buddy Holly Story.”
1957 – Ricky Nelson releases “Be-Bop Baby.”
1957 – The Everly Brothers release “Wake Up Little Susie,” which becomes their number one big hit, although banned by many radio stations as it is about a couple who fall asleep in his car at the movies and awake
at 4am, well after her 10PM curfew.
1959 – Top Hits
“A Big Hunk o’ Love” – Elvis Presley
“My Heart is an Open Book” – Carl Dobkins, Jr.
“There Goes My Baby” – The Drifters
“Waterloo” – Stonewall Jackson
1961 – Mickey Mantle signed the contract that made him the American League’s highest paid baseball player. “The Mick” played the 1961 season for $75,000. In the National League, Willie Mays, made more money than any other baseball player with a contract for $85,000.
1962 – Two years and four days after joining, Pete Best was fired from The Beatles by manager Brian Epstein, who was told by record producer George Martin that he wanted to use a more experienced session drummer on the band’s recordings. Incredibly, Epstein then asks Best to fulfill his commitment and play the group’s show that night in Cheshire’s Riverpark Ballroom, but when he doesn’t show, the group is ready with a replacement: Johnny Hutchinson of fellow Merseybeat group, The Big Three. John, Paul and George had long admired the work of Rory Storm and The Hurricanes’ drummer Ringo Starr, who jumped at the chance to join them. Fans will react badly to the news, pummeling the group at their next few shows, sending petitions to local papers, and shouting “Pete Best forever, Ringo never!” at the Cavern. After his dismissal, Pete Best would never have any further communication with his former mates.
1962 – The first single by Little Stevie Wonder, “I Call It Pretty Music” was released. Marvin Gaye played drums on the track that failed to gain much attention. Twelve-year-old Stevie would have his first hit a year later with “Fingertips Pt. 2.”
1962 – Peter, Paul and Mary released their first US Top 10 hit, “If I Had a Hammer,” written by Pete Seger and Lee Hays. 1964 – In New York City, “Hello Dolly!” starring Carol Channing opened at the St. James Theatre. A musical adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s play, “The Matchmaker,” the show, was called the “possible hit of the season” by critics. “Hello Dolly!” played for 2,844 performances, before returning to in the 1990s with, again star, Carol Channing.
1965 – Reportedly, the San Francisco Giants continued to pay Willie Mays $105,000 a year. In exchange, he gave them a .317 batting average, a slugging percentage of .645, and 52 home runs, winning the NL MVP award.
1967 – Top Hits
“Light My Fire” – The Doors
“All You Need is Love” – The Beatles
“Pleasant Valley Sunday” – The Monkees
“I’ll Never Find Another You” – Sonny James
1968 – The Jackson Five perform their first official live gig, opening for Diana Ross and the Supremes at the (Great Western) Forum in Los Angeles.
1969 – The second day of three for The Woodstock Music and Art Fair on Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York. Over 400,000 attend, most without tickets, which prompts officials to say the festival is open and free. Those up on stage include Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, the Who, the Grateful Dead, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Canned Heat, Crosby, Still Nash & Young and the Jefferson Airplane among others. Things that helped make Woodstock a unique event included, but were not limited to, rampant drug use, not enough food, and sanitation, three deaths, two births and four miscarriages.
1975 – Top Hits
“Jive Talkin’” – Bee Gees
“One of These Nights” – Eagles
“Someone Saved My Life Tonight” – Elton John
“Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” – Freddy Fender
1976 – A&M Records released the album, “Frampton Comes Alive.” The double LP soon reached the top spot of the album charts for a 17 week stay. Its first year out, it sold 19 million copies.
1977 – TCB (Taking Care of Business): Elvis Presley leaves Earth, as he was pronounced dead at the Memphis Baptist Hospital at 3:30pm, Eastern time, at the age of 42. In the first “Men in Black,” we see him leave our planet. Here it is the anniversary of his death is an occasion for pilgrimages by admirers to Graceland, his home and gravesite at Memphis, Tennessee. (official site for “live” coverage and movies: http://www.elvis-presley.com). After an examination of the body, it is revealed that Presley’s body contained butabarbital, codeine, morphine, pentobarbital, Placidyl, Quaalude, Valium and Valmid. Amidst mounting pressure in 1994, the Presley autopsy was reopened. Coroner Dr. Joseph Davis declared, “There is nothing in any of the data that supports a death from drugs. In fact, everything points to a sudden, violent heart attack. Whether or not combined drug intoxication was in fact the cause, there is little doubt that polypharmacy contributed significantly to Presley’s premature death.” It had been five years since the King had a US Top Ten hit with the number 2 song, “Burning Love.” His last US number 1 was 1969’s “Suspicious Minds.” He left an estate valued at $4.9 million that continues to earn millions annually, decades after his death.
1979 – The biggest single of the summer is The Knack’s “My Sharona,” which goes gold. The success of the group is the gimmick of Beatle-esque posturing which the group treats as tongue-in-cheek. The Knack disbands less than two years later.
1983 – Paul Simon and actress Carrie Fisher get married. They would divorce in 1985
1983 – Top Hits
“Every Breath You Take” – The Police
“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” – Eurythmics
“She Works Hard for the Money” – Donna Summer
“He’s a Heartache (Looking for a Place to Happen)” – Janie Fricke
1984 – The U.S. Jaycees voted to admit women to full membership in the organization.
1984 – At the 11th annual American Music Awards, Michael Jackson received eight awards, including favorite pop and soul male vocalist, pop and soul album winner for “Thriller”, pop and soul video winner for “Beat It” and best pop song for “Billie Jean”.
1985 – Madonna and actor Sean Penn get married in Malibu, as helicopters with photographers hovered overhead. They would divorce in 1989
1985 – Hugh Hefner took the staples out of “Playboy” magazine, ending its 30-year tradition of stapling centerfold models in the bellybutton. The decision made the centerfold more difficult to remove it.
1984 – Los Angles federal jury acquits auto maker John Z DeLorean on cocaine charges.
1986 – Madonna’s “True Blue,” album goes #1 for 5 weeks & her single “Papa Don’t Preach,” goes #1 for 2 weeks
1988 – IBM introduces software for artificial intelligence.
1991 – Top Hits
“(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” – Bryan Adams
“P.A.S.S.I.O.N.” – Rhythm Syndicate
“Every Heartbeat” – Amy Grant
“She’s in Love with the Boy” – Trisha Yearwood
1999 – Top Hits
“Genie In A Bottle” – Christina Aguilera
“Bills, Bills, Bills” – Destiny’s Child
“Tell Me It’s Real” – K-Ci
“Summer Girls” – LFO
2001 – After piloting the team 13 games above .500 in spite of numerous injuries to key players, manager Jimmy Williams is fired by the Red Sox. The ousted skipper is replaced by the club’s well respected pitching coach, Joe Kerrigan.
2001 – Barry Bonds’ second home run of the game and 53rd of the season breaks the franchise record established by his godfather, Willie Mays. With his first homer, the left fielder eclipses the National League record for home runs by a left-handed batter established in 1947 by another Giant, Johnny Mize.
2002 – After four days of delaying the decision, the executive board of the Major League Players’ Association votes 57-0 to set an August 30 strike date. All eight previous negotiations since 1972 have resulted in work stoppages in the national pastime.
2003 – The USPS unveils a new commemorative postage stamp of recently-deceased composer Henry Mancini, famous for the Pink Panther theme and several other film works.
2008 – The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago topped off at 1,389 feet, at the time becoming the world’s highest residence above ground-level.
2009 – With his 3-for-4 performance in the Yankees’ 10-3 loss in Seattle, Derek Jeter passes Luis Aparicio for most hits ever compiled by a Major League shortstop. The Yankees captain, collecting career hits #2,673 and #2,674 his first two at-bats, surpasses the Hall of Famer’s total, who spent his 18-year career, ending in 1973, with the White Sox, Orioles, and Red Sox.
2014 – Continued riots in Ferguson, Missouri over the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown by a police officer have resulted in the announcement of a state of emergency and a curfew by Governor Jay Nixon.