This Week In History

PHOTO: On June 3, 1965, Edward H. White II became the first American to step outside his spacecraft and let go, effectively setting himself adrift in the zero gravity of space.
SSPL/Getty Images

This week had more than its share of important events including the first American space walk, the deaths of two major political figures, and women being granted the right to vote. Read about these events and more in this week's edition of This Week in History.

PHOTO: On June 3, 1965, Edward H. White II became the first American to step outside his spacecraft and let go, effectively setting himself adrift in the zero gravity of space.
SSPL/Getty Images
June 3

1965: First American Astronaut Walks in Space At the height of the Cold War space race between the United States and the Soviet Union, Major Edward H. White II became the first American astronaut to walk in space on June 3, 1965. White walked outside of the Gemini 4 space capsule for a little more than 20 minutes. Soviet cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov became the first man to walk in space three months prior on March 18, 1965.

Although the Gemini program was the least famous of the three space programs implemented by the US, it was the first to use multiple space crews and laid the groundwork for future missions. The program ended the following year in 1966.

1800: President John Adams Takes Residence in DC Tavern President John Adams became the first acting president to live in Washington, D.C., on June 3, 1800 despite being unable to move into the White House. Adams moved into the Tunnicliffe's City Hotel near the Capitol building.

Adams approved of the nation's new capital, but was distressed about not having a permanent residence. In a letter to his wife, Abigail, Adams wrote, "Oh! That I could have a home!...Rolling, rolling, rolling, till I am very nearly rolling into the bosom of Mother Earth."

The president and the first lady would not take residence in the White House until November of that year, but did not occupy the house for long since Adams was defeated by Thomas Jefferson in the election of 1800.

PHOTO: A group of suffragettes campaigning for the right to vote in the United States, march in a parade carrying a banner reading, 'I Wish Ma Could Vote,' circa 1913.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
June 4

1919: Congress Passes 19th Amendment After nearly 70 years of womens' suffrage, Congress finally passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on June 4, 1919 guaranteeing women the right to vote.

The National Women's Party organized to help elect pro-womens' suffrage congressional representatives in 1913. Their efforts proved fruitful since both Republican and Democratic parties endorsed the cause by 1916.

Following the Congressional approval of the 19th Amendment, the legislation was passed on to the states for ratification. Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, tipping the two-thirds majority scale necessary to make the amendment law.

1989: Thousands Killed in Tiananmen Square Massacre Thousands of pro-democracy protesters were killed by Chinese troops on this day in history at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Chinese police forces stormed the square, firing into the crowds which were largely made up of young students. Many of the students attempted to fight back by stoning the police and setting fire to military vehicles.

The incident was well-documented by Western reporters and caused outrage in the United States. Western diplomats estimated that thousands of protesters had been killed and more than 10,000 were arrested.

Due to overwhelming public and political response to the brutality of the massacre, Congress voted to pass economic sanctions against China three weeks later.

PHOTO: Robert Kennedy in London, 1967.
SSPL/Getty Images
June 5

1968: Bobby Kennedy is Assassinated After winning the California primary, Sen. Robert Kennedy was fatally shot as he was exiting a stage at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Kennedy was shot by Sirhan Sirhan, a 22-year-old Palestinian and died the next day.

At the time, the nation was strongly divided on a number of issues including the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, causing President Lyndon B. Johnson to decide not to run for another presidential term. Much of the public believed Robert Kennedy would have been the only politician capable of improving the national sentiment, and he was on his way to earn the Democratic presidential nomination after winning the California primary.

Sirhan Sirhan confessed to assassinating Kennedy and received the death sentence on March 3, 1969. However, the California Supreme Court outlawed death penalty sentences in 1972, leaving Sirhan sentenced to life in prison.

2004: Ronald Reagan Dies The 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, died at age 93 on June 4, 2004. Reagan's death culminated his long battle with Alzheimer's disease, which greatly affected the end of his presidency.

Reagan began his career as a radio sports announcer and actor before becoming the governor of California and eventually winning the 1980 Presidential Election. For many, the Reagan Presidency was largely defined by the Cold War, and his urging Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this [Berlin] wall." Reagan also left a lasting impression on national economic policy through what was popularly called Reaganomics, which involved tax and spending cuts.

He was buried at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

PHOTO: American troops landed on Normandy beaches, June 6, 1944.
STF/AFP/Getty Images
June 6

1944: Allied Forces Land in Normandy on D-Day On this day in history during World War II, allied powers crossed the English Channel to reach Normandy, France and began the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control. The invasion was aided by Soviet forces circling in from the east.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized the mission on June 5, and the next day 176,000 troops began mobilizing from England to carry out the operation. Operation Overlord, as it was officially called, was the largest military operation of its kind in history, carrying troops by both air and water to their invasion destination.

The allied forces were only able to land a small portion of the supplies and vessels, but the operation was still touted as a major success. By the end of the month more than 850,000 soldiers were in Normandy preparing to carry the invasion across Europe.

PHOTO: Richard Henry Lee, 1732 - 1794, signatory of Declaration of Independence.
Universal History Archive/Getty Images
June 7

1776: Lee Resolution for Independence Introduced Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced a resolution for independence to the Continental Congress on June 7, 1776. The resolution would plant the seed for the Declaration of Independence and eventually, the American Revolutionary War.

The Lee Resolution declared that the American colonies were and "out to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."

Leaders from the colonies debated their willingness to declare independence but ultimately voted to declare independence a month later on July 2, 1775.

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