Today in 1967, before a non-sell-out crowd of 61,946 people at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in the first-ever world championship game of American football.
Postseason college games were known as “bowl” games, and AFL founder Lamar Hunt suggested that the new pro championship be called the “Super Bowl.” The term was officially introduced in 1969, along with roman numerals to designate the individual games. In 1970, the NFL and AFL merged into one league with two conferences, each with 13 teams. Since then, the Super Bowl has been a face-off between the winners of the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC) for the NFL championship and the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy, named for the legendary Packers coach.
Super Bowl Sunday has become an unofficial American holiday, complete with parties, betting pools and excessive consumption of food and drink. On average, 80 to 90 million people are tuned into the game on TV at any given moment, while some 130-140 million watch at least some part of the game. The commercials shown during the game have become an attraction in themselves, with TV networks charging as much as $2.5 million for a 30-second spot and companies making more expensive, high-concept ads each year. The game itself has more than once been upstaged by its elaborate pre-game or halftime entertainment, most recently in 2004 when Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” resulted in a $225,000 fine for the TV network airing the game, CBS, and tighter controls on televised indecency.
Today in 1777 a convention of future Vermonters assembled at Westminster and declared independence from the crown of Great Britain and the colony of New York.
Delegates first named the independent state New Connecticut and, in June 1777, finally settled on the name Vermont, an imperfect translation of the French for green mountain. One month later, on July 2, 1777, a convention of 72 delegates met in Windsor, Vermont, to adopt the state’s new—and revolutionary—constitution; it was formally adopted on July 8, 1777. Vermont’s constitution was not only the first written national constitution drafted in North America, but also the first to prohibit slavery and to give all adult males, not just property owners, the right to vote.
Congress refused to acknowledge Vermont a separate state independent of New York. In response, frustrated Vermonters inquired if the British would readmit their territory to the empire as part of Canada. Vermont remained an independent nation for two years after George Washington became president under the Constitution.
As the politics of slavery threatened to divide the U.S., Vermont was finally admitted as the 14th state in 1791, serving as a free counterbalance to slaveholding Kentucky, which joined the Union in 1792.
Today in1936 Edsel Ford formed a philanthropic organization called the Ford Foundation with a donation of $25,000. The foundation, which was established in part as a legal way for the Ford family to avoid the hefty inheritance taxes that President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration imposed on large estates, grew into a multi-billion dollar institution that today supports programs in the U.S. and over 50 other countries around the globe for the purpose of the “advancement of human welfare.”
Edsel Ford died of cancer at the age of 49 in 1943. Henry Ford II (1917-1987), became president of the Ford Motor Company in 1945. He also served as the Ford Foundation’s second president, from 1943 to 1950, and remained active with the organization as board chairman then a trustee until 1976. Under his leadership, the foundation grew into the planet’s wealthiest philanthropy. Today, the Ford Foundation– headquartered in New York City and completely separate from the Ford Motor Company–supports a range of causes, from the arts and public broadcasting to civil rights, education, health care and fighting poverty. It continues to rank among the world’s wealthiest charitable organizations.
Today in 1919 the bolts holding the bottom of a 58-foot-high tank exploded, shooting out like bullets, and a 58-foot-high tank with 2.5 million gallons of crude hot molasses flooded the streets of Boston, killing 21 people and dozens of horses and injuring scores of others. The molasses burst from a huge tank at the United States Industrial Alcohol Company building in the heart of the city.
An eight-foot-high wave of molasses swept away freight cars and caved in the doors and windows. The few workers in the building’s cellar had no chance as the liquid poured down and overwhelmed them. The huge quantity of molasses then flowed into the street outside. It literally knocked over the local firehouse and then pushed over the support beams for the elevated train line. The hot and sticky substance then drowned and burned five workers at the Public Works Department. This disaster also produced an epic court battle, as more than 100 lawsuits were filed. A special auditor finally determined that the company was at fault because the tank used had not been strong enough to hold the molasses. Nearly $1 million was paid in settlement of the claims.
Today in1870, a donkey representing the Democratic Party appeared in “Harper’s Weekly,” drawn by illustrator Thomas Nast. The cartoon was entitled “A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion.” The jackass (donkey) is tagged “Copperhead Papers,” referring to the Democrat-dominated newspapers of the South, and the dead lion represents the late Edwin McMasters Stanton, Lincoln’s secretary of war.
Four years later, in a cartoon title “Third Term Panic” – the possibility of Grant running for a third term –Nash originated a berserk elephant, labeled “Republican vote,” tottering above a chasm labeled “Chaos” as it tosses to the right and the left the few remaining platform planks holding its weight. The caption of the cartoon reads: “An Ass having put on the Lion’s skin, roamed about the Forest, and amused himself by frightening all the foolish Animals he met with in his wanderings.”
The donkey represented the Democratic party as early as 1837. Nast also rendered the image of Santa Claus in 1863.
No, it is not true Nast’s often unflattering cartoons begat the word “nasty.”
Today in 2009, a potential disaster turned into a heroic display of skill and composure when Captain Chesley Burnett Sullenberger III safely landed the plane he was piloting on New York City’s Hudson River after a bird strike caused its engines to fail. Governor David Paterson called the incident the “miracle on the Hudson.” Sullenberger, received a slew of honors for his actions, including an invitation to Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration and resolutions of praise from the U.S. Congress.
Known to his friends as “Sully,” he published a book “Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters” (2009). He retired from US Airways after 30 years in the airline industry on March 3, 2010, and has since devoted his time to consulting, public speaking and advocating for aviation safety.
Happy birthday Martin Luther King Jr., minister, orator, civil rights activist, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, who was born today in at 1929 at Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1964 the 24th Amendment (abolished poll tax) was ratified and Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. He was age 39. King is entombed at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, Atlanta.
In 1983, the third Monday in January was designated a legal holiday in the U.S. to celebrate his birthday.