This week in history


Cat Madish, Editor-In-Chief

  • On Nov. 10, 1903, Mary Anderson was given a 17-year patent for her new invention: a windshield wiper. During a visit to New York City in the winter, Anderson noticed a driver who was struggling to see out of the sleet covered windows. Her device was hand-operated and was the first windshield wiper to be effective at removing snow, ice, and sleet. Unfortunately, when Anderson tried to sell her invention to a Canadian firm, she was told that her invention had no practical value. Others told her her idea was bound to be distracting and would cause accidents. Despite this, two years after her patent expired, windshield wipers bearing an eerie resemblance to Anderson’s design began being standard equipment for the car.
  • On Nov 11, 1921, Congress approved the Dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Three days prior, an unknown American soldier fell on the World War I battlefield. The unknown soldier was buried in Arlington Cemetery with the highest honor in the presence of President Harding and other government, military, and international dignitaries. Two-inches of soil brought from the battlefield was placed below his coffin so he could rest atop where he died. The tombstone for his grave wasn’t completed until 1932 and bears the words, “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known but to God.” Since then, multiple unknown soldiers have been buried here. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is one of the most well-known tombs in Arlington Cemetery and always has a guard on watch.
  • On Nov 8, 1923, Adolf Hitler began his first attempt to take over the government. Beer Hall Putsch was concocted due to frustration with the political and economic instability of Germany as a result of the war reparations required by the Treaty of Versailles. Inspired by Mussolini, this plan involved kidnapping the state commissioner of Bavaria and two other conservative politicians while Erich Ludendorff, a right-wing World War I general, was used as a figurehead to lead a march in Berlin. This plan failed because Hitler left Ludendorff and another associate in charge. With Hitler gone, the plan fizzled away. Hitler was arrested three days later.
  • During a storm on Nov 10, 1975, the iron ore freighter Edmund Fitzgerald sank at the eastern end of Lake Superior, killing all 29 crew members. The Fitzgerald was the first ship to carry more than a million tons of iron ore through the Soo Locks. The day she departed, she was to make a trip to Detroit, carrying 26,000 tons of ore. Hours before sinking, Captain Ernest McSorely sent a distress signal to a nearby ship, reporting that his ship had encountered, “one of the worst seas he had ever been in”, had lost the radar equipment, and was leaning to one side. When another ship made contact, they were told that the Fitzgerald was fine. Suddenly, the ship disappeared from the radar screens. The Fitzgerald gave no distress signal before sinking, meaning that the ship sank very suddenly. She was the largest ship in the Great Lakes at the time and remains the largest ship to have sunk there.