Today in 1817, the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason, which was the first private mental health hospital in the United States, opened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It’s now known as (as the much more suitably named) Friends Hospital.
Today in 1862, the S. Department of Agriculture was created by an act of Congress.
Today in 1869, National Woman Suffrage Association was founded by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Today in 1897, the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, the first-ever LGBT rights organization, was founded in Berlin by Magnus Hirschfeld.
Today in 1905, Las Vegas, Nevada was founded.
Today in 1918, the first flights for the new U.S. airmail service began between Washington, Philadelphia and New York.
Today in 1940, McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in San Bernardino, California. Dick and Morris "Mac" McDonald opened McDonald’s Bar-B-Q restaurant with a drive in featuring a large menu and carhop service. It wasn’t until 1948, after restaurant repairs, that the partners made McDonalds into a self-service drive-in restaurant with a smaller menu of nine items: hamburgers, cheeseburger, soft drinks, milk, coffee, potato chips and a slice of pie. The 15 cent hamburger became a staple for McDonalds.
Today in 1942, gas rationing went into effect across 27 U.S. states as part of the war effort.
Today in 1942, Congress created the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WACS) during the war. General Douglas MacArthur claimed the WACs as his best soldiers claiming they worked harder, complained less, and were more disciplined than men. Similar women’s units were set up in the next six months including Navy WAVES, the SPARS of the Coast Guard and the (civil) Women Airforce Service Pilots.
Today in 1958, Sputnik III, the first space laboratory, was launched by the Soviet Union.
Today in 1963, the last Project Mercury space flight was launched – it was the United States' first man-in-space program.
Today in 1969,Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas resigned…under threat of impeachment over ethics violations.
Today in 1970, black students Phillip Lafayette Gibbs and James Earl Green were killed and 12 others were injured at Jackson State University in Mississippi, when police opened fire on student during protests about the recent Kent State incident.
Today in 1972, George C. Wallace was shot by Arthur Bremer and left paralyzed while campaigning for the Democratic Presidential nomination in Laurel, Maryland.
Today in 1973, the first issue of “Playgirl” magazine went on sale – 600,000 copies were sold.
Today in 1990, Vincent Van Gogh's "Portrait of Doctor Gachet" was sold for $82.5-million, a new world record.
Today in 1991, President Bush took Queen Elizabeth to an Oakland A's versus Baltimore Orioles game.
Today in 1997, Attorney General Janet Reno requested the death penalty for "Unabomber" suspect Theodore Kaczynski. However, under an arrangement in which he admitted his guilt, Kaczynski later agreed to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He remains incarcerated at the ADX Florence Supermax prison in Colorado. But he’s still got a sense of humor, apparently. In May 2012, Kaczynski submitted his current information to the Harvard University alumni association. He listed his eight life sentences as “awards” and his current occupation as “prisoner.”
Today in 2000, by a five-to-four vote, the US Supreme Court threw out a key provision of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, saying that rape victims could not sue their attackers in federal court.
Today in 2000, George W. Bush proposed letting Americans invest Social Security taxes in the stock market, appealing for support from the millions of people who have thrived in a booming market. Presidential rival Al Gore condemned the idea as a dangerous gamble that would turn the solemn obligations of the 65-year-old retirement plan into "a system of winners and losers."
Today in 2006, the United States State Department announced it would be restoring diplomatic relations with the Libya and they would be taking the North African country off their list of countries that sponsor terrorism, after being on the list for 30 years.
Today in 2008, California became the second U.S. state after Massachusetts in 2004 to legalize same-sex marriage after the state's own Supreme Court rules a previous ban unconstitutional.
Today in 2010, Jessica Watson from Australia became the youngest person to sail, non-stop and unassisted around the world solo. She was 16-years-old at the time of her journey and was awarded the prestigious Young Australian of the Year title. In 2012, Watson was announced in the Australia Day Honours list, receiving an OAM (Order of Australia Medal) for her services to sailing and being a role model for the country’s youth. She’ll now be a consultant on the film “True Spirit” which will be released in 2016.
Today in 2013, a painting by artist Gerhard Richter was auctioned in New York for $37.1-million dollars, breaking the record for the highest auction price of a work of a living artist. Richter also held the previous record for such a sale.
Today in 2013, under mounting pressure, President Barack Obama released a trove of documents related to the Benghazi attack.
Today in 2013, scientists announced they had successfully cloned human stem cells.
Today in 2017, the United States accused Syria of executing thousands of imprisoned political opponents and burning their bodies in a crematorium to hide the evidence.