Death of George Washington – This Week in History

On December 14th, 1799, George Washington dies in bed in his Mount Vernon home with Martha at his side.

General George Washington, departed this life on the 14th December, '99General George Washington, departed this life on the 14th December, ’99 Tue, Dec 31, 1799 – 2 · The Gleaner (Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, United States of America) · Newspapers.com
The ailment that took the life of this incredibly popular president, general, and founding father remains a matter of debate. Only two days before his death Washington rode on horseback, supervising his property in sleet and snow. A sore throat the next day could not keep him from going out again to continue working the land. Unfortunately, his condition rapidly worsened the night of the 13th. Dr. James Craik, the family physician, attended to his sickness throughout the day without success. Washington died the following night.

Washington’s body remained in the house for three days to ensure he was truly dead, by his wishes. His funeral took place in great solemnity on December 18th, when he was buried in his family vault with those who had gone before him.

George Washington's FuneralGeorge Washington’s Funeral Mon, Jan 6, 1800 – 3 · Farmer’s Museum or Literary Gazette (Walpole, New Hampshire, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Find more on Washington’s life and death with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Attack on Pearl Harbor

On this day in 1941, the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor was devastated by a surprise attack that resulted in over 2,400 American deaths. Today we remember and honor those who perished in the attack.

War! Honolulu Paper Headline, Dec 7 1941War! Honolulu Paper Headline, Dec 7 1941 Sun, Dec 7, 1941 – 1 · Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

War Declared! 3,000 Killed, Wounded | Dec 8. 1941War Declared! 3,000 Killed, Wounded | Dec 8. 1941 Mon, Dec 8, 1941 – Page 1 · The Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, Burleigh, North Dakota, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Pearl Harbor Day Thought | Editorial Cartoon 1946Pearl Harbor Day Thought | Editorial Cartoon 1946 Sat, Dec 7, 1946 – 4 · The Austin American (Austin, Travis, Texas, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Find more on the Pearl Harbor attack and its effects through subsequent years with a search on Newspapers.com.

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This Week in History – 21st Amendment Ends Prohibition

With the ratification of the 21st Amendment on December 5, 1933, nationwide prohibition comes to an end. Utah was the last state needed for a three-fourths majority. With their ratification, thirteen years of speakeasies, illicit stills and large-scale bootlegging came to an end…mostly. Several states used state-level temperance laws to prolong prohibition locally. The last dry state was Mississippi, where prohibition lingered until the mid-60s.

Prohibition Ends TonightProhibition Ends Tonight Tue, Dec 5, 1933 – 1 · Public Opinion (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Prohibition RepealProhibition Repeal Tue, Dec 5, 1933 – Page 1 · The Evening Review (East Liverpool, Columbiana, Ohio) · Newspapers.com

Sidenote: In 1929 Henry Ford claimed he would close his automobile plants if prohibition ended, saying “Gasoline and booze don’t mix; that’s all.”

Find more on the prohibition era with a search on Newspapers.com, or browse through the papers of the 1920s.

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Meteorite Mishap in Mrs. Hodges’ Home

May Be First Known CaseMay Be First Known Case Wed, Dec 1, 1954 – 15 · The Journal Times (Racine, Racine, Wisconsin, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Mrs. Ann Hodges was not the first to claim injury by meteorite, but her unusual story was the first to be verified as true.

The Incident

On November 30, 1954, an explosion in the sky was the only warning the napping Ann would get of the 7-inch, 8 pound meteorite hurtling her way. It crashed through her roof, bounced off a radio, and hit the sleeping woman on her hip.

Meteorite Injures Woman in HomeMeteorite Injures Woman in Home Wed, Dec 1, 1954 – 1 • The Morning Call (Allentown, Lehigh, Pennsylvania, United States of America) • Newspapers.com

The Spectacle

The space rock’s impact led to a big bruise and even bigger publicity. Much of the media attention came from the peculiar nature of the event. What are the chances that with all the open, empty space in the world, the meteorite hit a sleeping woman on a couch in Alabama? But more headlines followed when the meteorite was claimed by both the Hodgeses and their landlord, Birdie (Bertie) Guy. A legal dispute followed over who would get the meteorite. Guy eventually settled out of court; she would give up her claim in return for $500. Ultimately the Air Force returned it to Ann and her husband, who would later donate it to the Alabama Museum of Natural History.

Meteorite FragmentMeteorite Fragment Thu, Dec 2, 1954 – 1 • The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Montgomery, Alabama, United States of America) • Newspapers.com

Mrs. Hewlett Hodges and the meteoriteMrs. Hewlett Hodges and the meteorite Thu, Dec 2, 1954 – 3 • Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Pinellas, Florida, United States of America) • Newspapers.com

Mrs. Hodges, the hole in her roof, and the meteorite fragmentMrs. Hodges, the hole in her roof, and the meteorite fragment Wed, Dec 1, 1954 – 1 • Alabama Journal (Montgomery, Alabama, United States of America) • Newspapers.com

The One in a Million

Ann Hodges remains the only person in history to have been verifiably injured by a meteorite. The offending rock still remains on display in the Alabama museum today, its story summed up in a single line: “Penetrated roof of house and struck Mrs. Hodges on the thigh.”

Find more on the Hodges meteorite and all the many associated headlines with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Lady Astor Elected to Parliament – This Week in History

Lady Astor becomes first woman elected to ParliamentLady Astor becomes first woman elected to Parliament Fri, Nov 28, 1919 – 14 · Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Dane, Wisconsin, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

On November 28, 1919, American-born Lady Nancy Astor becomes the first woman to sit in the House of Commons. Her well-publicized election and individual approach to politics earned her quite a following. Her supporters saw her through another 26 years in Parliament, until her retirement in 1945.

Find more on Lady Astor’s historical election with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Kennedy’s Assassin Killed – This Week in History

On November 24, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald, the man accused of assassinating President John F. Kennedy, is fatally shot.

Kennedy's Assassin is Dead - Nov 25, 1963Kennedy’s Assassin is Dead – Nov 25, 1963 Mon, Nov 25, 1963 – Page 1 · Delaware County Daily Times (Chester, Delaware, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

The event was witnessed by thousands who tuned in to Oswald’s televised departure from Dallas police headquarters. His killer, Jack Ruby, was charged with first-degree murder and sentenced to death. In 1966, the decision was reversed, and Ruby died of lung cancer before he could be retried.

Find more about Kennedy’s assassination and the history surrounding it with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Last American Death of WWI – This Week in History

100 years ago this week, the Armistice of November 11, 1918, officially ended the conflict of WWI. On that same day, an American soldier named Henry Gunther was killed one minute before the armistice was to take effect. Gunther’s was the last American death of the war.

Henry Gunther killed one minute before 11 o'clock, Nov 11 1918Henry Gunther killed one minute before 11 o’clock, Nov 11 1918 Tue, Feb 11, 1919 – 20 · The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Henry Gunther Headline, 1919Henry Gunther Headline, 1919 Sun, Mar 16, 1919 – 16 · The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Gunther’s was killed when he charged alone into a nest of German machine gunners. The gunners tried to wave him back, knowing peace was so near, but shot him when he came too close with bayonet raised. He died instantly, and his final charge was remembered as a last burst of loyalty. A memorial plaque was unveiled in 2010 at the Gunther family plot where he is buried, commemorating his contributions during the war and the unique circumstance of his death.

Final American Casualty of WWIFinal American Casualty of WWI Sat, Apr 1, 2017 – A3 · The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Find more about the armistice, Henry Gunther, and the thousands of other deaths that occurred on the day the armistice was signed with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapses – This Week in History

On November 7, 1940, just four months after its completion, the world’s third-longest suspension bridge snaps in a 42 mph wind and collapses into the waters below. This was the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, a slender, 2-lane creation whose tendency to visibly sway and wobble earned it the name “Galloping Gertie.”

World's Third Largest Suspension Bridge CollapsesWorld’s Third Largest Suspension Bridge Collapses Fri, Nov 8, 1940 – Page 1 · Altoona Tribune (Altoona, Blair, Pennsylvania, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

A single car was on the bridge at the time of the incident, occupied by a newspaper copy editor named Leonard Coatsworth and his cocker spaniel. When the bridge began to violently tip one way and then the other, he abandoned the car—and, after a quick, failed coercion effort, the dog—and crawled his way across the bridge to shore before the bridge snapped. (You can read a full account of his experience in his own words here.)

The dog, still inside the car when it slid off the broken bridge, was the single casualty of the disaster.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse, 1940Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse, 1940 Thu, Nov 28, 1940 – 3 · The Springville Herald (Springville, Utah, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Though a firm consensus hasn’t been reached as to the exact reasons for the collapse, the Tacoma Bridge incident led to better aerodynamics in bridge design and, eventually, the implementation of mandatory wind-tunnel testing. In 1950, a new and improved Tacoma Narrows Bridge (nicknamed “Sturdy Gertie”) was constructed with wider lanes and better resistance to wind.

Old Tacoma Bridge vs New Tacoma BridgeOld Tacoma Bridge vs New Tacoma Bridge Sun, Nov 12, 1950 – Page 46 · Daily Press (Newport News, Newport News, Virginia, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Read more about the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse with a search on Newspapers.com.

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OK Corral Shootout – This Week in History

This week in 1881, a brief but deadly shootout between the Earp brothers and the “cowboys” at OK Corral results in three dead and three wounded. It has since become one of the most famous gunfights of the American Wild West.

Bloody Battle in the Streets of TombstoneBloody Battle in the Streets of Tombstone Sun, Oct 30, 1881 – Page 1 · Arizona Weekly Citizen (Tucson, Pima, Arizona, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Among the dead, as stated in the clipping above, were cowboys Tom (erroneously called Jim) McLaury, Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton. Famous lawman Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Morgan and Virgil, along with friend Doc Holliday, survived with wounds.

Find more on the OK Corral gunfight with a search or browse through the collections of Newspapers.com.

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Marie Antoinette Executed – This Week in History

On October 16, 1793, erstwhile French queen Marie Antoinette is executed by beheading on charges of treason.
Execution of the Queen of FranceExecution of the Queen of France Mon, Oct 21, 1793 – Page 3 · The Evening Mail (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.com

The execution came in the midst of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. Her famed extravagance, along with the fact that she was a symbolic target on which to pin France’s problems, made her unpopular among those who would come to seal her fate. Contemporary papers describe in detail, though with some clear bias, the scene leading up to her execution and their feelings on the whole affair.

Last Moments of the QueenLast Moments of the Queen Mon, Nov 11, 1793 – 3 · The Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland) · Newspapers.com

Marie Antoinette supporters lament her fateMarie Antoinette supporters lament her fate Mon, Oct 21, 1793 – Page 3 · The Evening Mail (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.com

With her beheading, Marie Antoinette followed her husband, King Louis XVI, to the grave. He was executed nine months prior on similar charges.

Find more on Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI, and other events of the French Revolution with a search on Newspapers.com.

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