Today in 1907 Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory was admitted into the Union as a single 46th state, also making all Indians in the state U.S. citizens. Representatives of the two territories drafted a constitution that was approved by voters of both on September 17, 1907.
Today in 1973 President Richard Nixon urged Congress to pass Senate Bill 1081, the construction of a pipeline to access oil from Alaska’s North Slope to the port at Valdez. Nixon sought to assure an increasingly vocal environmental movement that the planned pipeline—which he called the “single largest endeavor ever undertaken by private enterprise”–would be constructed and operated “under the most rigid environmental safeguards ever devised.”
He asked Congress not to attach amendments to the bill that would have given federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Fish and Game regulatory power over the pipeline’s construction. Oil began flowing through the pipeline on June 20, 1977. Although the pipeline increased domestic oil supplies, America continued to rely primarily on crude exports from the Middle East.
Today in 1959 the Broadway musical “The Sound of Music” opened and was an instant smash success.
Maria von Trapp was a former nun, and she did marry Count Georg von Trapp and became stepmother to his brood of children, but nearly all of the particulars she related in her 1949 book, “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers,” were ignored by the creators of the Broadway musical her memoir inspired. The liberties taken by the show’s writers, Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse, and by its composer and lyricist, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, caused some consternation to Maria von Trapp and her stepchildren, according to many later reports.
The “New York Times” said the show “lack[ed] the final exultation that marks the difference between a masterpiece and a well-produced musical entertainment.” Masterpiece or not, the musical was a phenomenon. Songs from the score (“Do Re Mi,” “My Favorite Things,” “Climb Every Mountain,” among others) were recorded a week after the premiere by Columbia Records; the album shot to the top of “Billboard” album charts and sold 3 million copies worldwide.
Today in1957, Notre Dame beat Oklahoma 7-0, ending the Sooners 47-game, 1,512-day college football winning streak. The game also marked the first time in more than 120 games that Oklahoma didn’t score a single point. Sooners fans were stunned. Some cried; some sat in the stadium for more than an hour after the game was over. But, as Sooners coach Bud Wilkinson said in the locker room after the game, “There wasn’t anything mysterious about it. We just got beat.” A newspaper wrote, “Even the nuns were astounded.”
Oklahoma still holds the NCAA record for the most consecutive wins by a major college football team. (Division III Mt. Union in Pennsylvania has broken the Sooners’ record twice.) Since World War I only four Division I teams have won more than 30 games in a row: Toledo won 35 from 1969-1971, the University of Miami won 34 from 2000-2002, and the Sooners won 31 from 1948-50.
Today, William Becknell arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, sold his goods at an enormous profit, and made plans to return the next year over the route that became known as the Santa Fe Trail.
Becknell was the first businessman to revive the American trade with Santa Fe. Fearing American domination of the region, the Spanish had closed their Southwest holdings to foreigners following the Pike expedition more than a decade earlier. They threw the few traders who violated the policy into prison and confiscated their goods. However, Becknell and other merchants continued to trade with the Indians on the American-controlled eastern slope of the southern Rockies. While on such an expedition in the fall of 1821, Becknell encountered a troop of Mexican soldiers. They informed Becknell that they had recently won their independence in a war with Spain, and the region was again open to American traders. Becknell immediately sped to Santa Fe, where he found a lucrative market for his goods, and his saddlebags were heavy with Mexican silver when he returned to his base in Franklin, Missouri.
The next summer Becknell traveled to Santa Fe again, with three wagonloads of goods. Instead of following the old route that passed over a dangerous high pass, however, Becknell blazed a shorter and easier cutoff across the Cimarron Desert. While much of the route he followed had been used by Mexican traders for decades, Becknell’s role in reopening the short-cut earned him the title of “Father of the Santa Fe Trail.” It became one of the most important and lucrative of the Old West trading routes; merchants and other travelers continued to follow the trail blazed by Becknell until the arrival of trains in the late 1870s.