1692 – Eight convicted “witches” were hanged in Salem, Ma. They were the last of the 20 victims of the infamous mass hysteria.
1776 – Nathan Hale, a Connecticut schoolteacher and captain in the Continental Army, was executed by the British for spying.
1789 – The office of United States Postmaster General was established.
1862 – President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, in which he said he would order the emancipation of all slaves in any state (or part of a state) that did not end their rebellion against the Union by January 1, 1863. None of the Confederate states restored themselves to the Union, and Lincoln’s executive order, signed and issued January 1, 1863, took effect.
1927 – The night of the long count: Jack Dempsey failed to return to a neutral corner after knocking down champ Gene Tunney in a title match in Chicago.
Dempsey waited five precious seconds before heading to the neutral corner, at which point the referee began the 10-count as the rules dictated. As the referee reached nine seconds, Tunney got back up to his feet. He had actually been down for what amounted to 14 seconds. Tunney went on to win the bout in a 10-round decision.
1943 – Singer Kate Smith finished her War Bond radio appeal. For 13 continuous hours Smith had stayed on the air, collecting $39 million dollars in bond pledges.
1945 – Gen. George S. Patton told reporters that he does not see the need for “this denazification thing” and compared the controversy over Nazism to a “Democratic and Republican election fight.” Once again, “Old Blood and Guts” had put his foot in his mouth.
His statements questioning the policy resulted in General Dwight Eisenhower’s removing him as U.S. commander in Bavaria. He was transferred to the 15th Army Group, but in December 1945 he suffered a broken neck in a car accident and died less than two weeks later at the age of 60.
1957 – Maverick premiered on ABC. Eight episodes into the first season, James Garner – who played Bret Maverick – was joined by Jack Kelly as his brother Bart, and from that point on, Garner and Kelly alternated leads from week to week, sometimes teaming up for the occasional two-brother episode.
1958 – Peter Gunn premiered on NBC. The series lasted three years.
1966 – The New York Yankees, mired in 10th place in the American League, drew a record low crowd of 413 fans at Yankee Stadium (which had a capacity of 65,000).
WPIX announcer Red Barber asked the TV cameras to pan the empty stands as he commented on the low attendance. Although denied the camera shots on orders from the Yankees’ head of media relations, he said, “I don’t know what the paid attendance is today, but whatever it is, it is the smallest crowd in the history of Yankee Stadium, and this crowd is the story, not the game.”
A week later, Barber was invited to breakfast where he was told his contract wouldn’t be renewed after 12 seasons with the team.
1969 – The Music Scene and The New People – both 45-minute programs – debuted on ABC. Both shows were canceled after 17 weeks.
1970 – In the wake of the unrest at Kent State earlier that year, President Richard Nixon requested 1,000 new FBI agents for college campuses. Virtually every college was affected by the legislation, which moved Federal agents into affected colleges and universities even if they had been requested to stay away by college administrators.
1973 – Henry Kissinger took the oath as U.S. Secretary of State.
1975 – Just seventeen days after the first attempt on his life, President Gerald Ford was the subject of another assassination attempt when Sara Jane Moore fired a single shot at him in San Francisco.
1976 – Charlie’s Angels premiered on ABC. Somehow it lasted five seasons.
1980 – The Republic of Iraq invaded the Islamic Republic of Iran. The ensuing war – which lasted nearly eight years – cost both sides in lives and economic damage: half a million Iraqi and Iranian soldiers, as well as civilians, are believed to have died.
1982 – Family Ties debuted on NBC. The series, which focused primarily on the the relationship between young Republican Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) and his ex-hippie parents, Steven and Elyse Keaton (Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter-Birney) lasted seven seasons.
1985 – The first Farm Aid concert was telecast from Champaign, Illinois on TNN.
1987 – NFL players voted to strike in a dispute with the league’s free-agent policy. The strike only canceled one week of the season but for three weeks, the NFL staged games with hastily assembled replacement teams.
Given the willingness of the networks to broadcast the replacement games, the union failed to achieve their demands and the strike ended on October 15 without a collective bargaining agreement in place.
1989 – Baywatch premiered on NBC. The series was canceled after one season but was saved when it was picked up on a syndication basis. It continued to run until 2001. Don’t ask me how … or why.
1993 – Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan retired after 27 seasons.
1994 – Friends premiered on NBC, beginning a 10-year run. Along the way, the series was nominated for 62 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning six. Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow were the only main cast members to win an Emmy, while Courtney Cox was the only member not to be nominated.
1995 – An Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) jet, one of the world’s most advanced surveillance airplanes, crashed in Alaska after two left-wing engines ingested several Canada geese. All 24 crew members perished.
2003 – David Kim Hempleman-Adams became the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean in an open wicker basket balloon. No big deal, really, for the man who is the first person in history to reach the Geographic and Magnetic North and South Poles as well as climb the highest peaks in all seven continents.
2003 – Gordon Jump (best known as the clueless radio station manager Arthur “Big Guy” Carlson in the TV series WKRP in Cincinnati) died from pulmonary fibrosis, leading to respiratory failure. He was 71.
2010 – Singer Eddie Fisher died from complications from hip surgery. He was 82.
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