Today in 1963, the Hula-Hoop was patented by the company’s co-founder, Arthur “Spud” Melin. First marketed by Wham-O in 1958, an estimated 25 million Hula-Hoops were sold in its first four months of production alone.
In 1948, friends Arthur Melin and Richard Knerr founded a company in California to sell a slingshot they created to shoot meat up to falcons they used for hunting. The company’s name, Wham-O, came from the sound the slingshots supposedly made. Its first hit toy known as the Frisbee, debuted in 1957.
Melina and Knerr were inspired to develop the Hula-Hoop after they saw a wooden hoop that Australian children twirled around their waists during gym class. Wham-O began producing a plastic version of the hoop and Hula-Hoop mania took off from there.
The enormous popularity of the Hula-Hoop was short-lived, however, the Hula-Hoop never faded away completely and still has its fans today.
Following the Hula-Hoop, Wham-O continued to produce a steady stream of wacky and beloved novelty items, including the Superball, Water Wiggle, Silly String, Slip ‘n’ Slide and the Hacky Sack.
Today in 1770 the Boston Massacre occurred as a group of rowdy Americans harassed British soldiers who then opened fire, killing five and injuring six.
British Captain Thomas Preston and eight of his men were arrested and charged with murder. Their trial took place in October, with colonial lawyer John Adams defending the British. Captain Preston and six of his men were acquitted by a jury of colonists. Two others were found guilty of manslaughter, and had their thumbs branded with an “M” for murder as punishment.
Today in 1766 Antonio de Ulloa arrived in New Orleans as the new Spanish governor of the Louisiana Territory.
Louisiana Territory was originally claimed and settled by the French. In 1763, the French transferred the territory to Spain under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, as a reward for having been an ally in the French war with England. The French colonists of Louisiana, however, had not agreed to the treaty. Many were determined to frustrate any attempt by the Spanish to assert control over their home.
Resistance only strengthened when the Spanish failed to immediately dispatch a new governor for the territory, leaving the administration in the hands of the acting French Governor Philippe Aubry. After a three-year lag, the Spanish crown finally sent one of its most distinguished scientists and explorers to govern the territory. Ulloa proved a timid and ineffective governor. When the French troops of Louisiana refused to recognize his authority, Ulloa did not even attempt to stage a public ceremony marking the formal transfer of power to the Spanish crown. Instead, he decided to execute his orders through Aubry, the acting French governor, preserving the appearance of continued French rule. Possessed of a personality that dangerously combined shyness with arrogance, Ulloa was completely unsuited for the delicate diplomatic task of bringing the people of Louisiana under Spanish control. In 1768 French political leaders revolted, forcing Ulloa to flee to Havana, Cuba.
Subsequent Spanish officials were better able to control the French residents, but control over Louisiana continued to remain tenuous. In 1800, Spain finally abandoned its claim to the territory and handed it back to the French. Three years later, Napoleon Bonaparte sold it to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. Unlike their Spanish predecessors, the Americans eventually succeeded in winning the loyalty of the Louisianians.
Today in 1868 the Senate convened as a court to hear charges against President Andrew Johnson during impeachment proceedings. The House of Representatives had already voted to impeach the President. The vote followed bitter opposition by the Radical Republicans in Congress to Johnson’s reconstruction policies in the South. However, the effort to remove him failed in the Senate by just one vote and he remained in office.
On March 5, 1933 amid a steadily worsening economic situation, newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed a four-day “Bank Holiday” to stop panic withdrawals by the public and the possible collapse of the American banking system.
Rest in peace, David Dunbar Buick, the founder of the Buick Motor Company, who died today in 1929 in obscurity and meager circumstances at the age of 74.
Buick was born in Arbroath, Scotland, September 17, 1854. By 1906, Buick had lost control of the business and sold his stock, which would later be worth millions of dollars. In 1908, Buick’s company became the foundation for the General Motors Corporation; however, by that time David Buick had sold his interest in the company.
After selling his interest in his company, David Buick became involved in a series of unsuccessful oil, real-estate and automotive ventures. He eventually returned to Detroit, where he worked menial jobs before his death. Buick is buried at Detroit, Michigan.
The stock he sold was worth $10,000,000 in 1921.