This Week in History

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Cat Madish, Editor-in-Chief

  • On Oct. 25, 1929, Albert B. Fall was found guilty of accepting bribes from oil companies in what became known as the Teapot Dome Scandal. These bribes, totaling at $404,000 (about $5.79 million today), ensured that these oil companies would have exclusive rights to drill on federal land. This shocked the nation; they had never experienced this amount of corruption and greed. Ultimately, it drove Congress to conduct more investigation into government corruption and was known as the most appalling example of high-level corruption until the Watergate scandal.
  • On Oct. 30, 1938, the American public became- convinced that the US was under Alien attack. It happened on Sunday evening when most Americans had their radio on. This broadcast started off normal but increasingly became more and more chaotic as the reporter described a crash site—wriggly, awful creatures in the darkness with weapons. It eventually became a full-on war and even employed realistic sound effects and voice acting. However, this was all a science fiction story by Orson Welles about a Martian invasion called “War of the Worlds”. It was so well-done that it caused widespread panic; thousands were calling their local police departments, national guardsmen wanted to know if they should report to duty, and one midwestern down even had a mob take to the streets.
  • On Oct. 29, 1948, smog enveloped the town of Donora, Pennsylvania, and caused the death of 20 elderly people as well as many a thousand people seriously ill. Donora was surrounded by hills and had steel mills and a zinc smelting plant that emitted excessive amounts of sulphuric acid, carbon monoxide for years prior to this incidence. This caused a problem with air pollution. In fact, 20 years earlier, residents had been paid off for damages done by air pollution. Despite this, little to no regulation of air pollution was put in place to protect the citizens of Donora. Due to this incident, air pollution was put into the public eye and this incident can be credited for the creation of the Clean Air Act of 1955.
  • On Oct. 26, 1984, Dr. Leonard L. Bailey performed the first successful baboon-to-human heart transplant. This procedure was performed on a 14-day-old girl, “Baby Fae”, who was born with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, meaning all or some of this newborn’s left heart was missing. This was an extremely experimental procedure, as all other people who had received an animal-to-human heart transplant had died within 3 and a half days. Dr. Bailey argued that, due to her infant underdeveloped immune system, she would be more likely to survive. However, after 312days, her body began rejecting it. Baby Fae died after 20 days.