Lets Talk About America For a Second: This Week in U.S. History

This week in America, we get down and dirty in the roots of The U.S. We’ll talk Homestead and Honest Abe, The Spirit of St. Louis and America’s favorite fugitive couple, Bonnie and Clyde. Even though Gretzky, Messier and the Edmonton Oilers are Canada based, we’re also going to hit you with some puck and the beginning of an NHL dynasty.

May 19th 1984:

Gretzky and Messier lead Oilers to Stanley Cup Championship

On this day in 1984 one dynasty ends while another one begins as the Edmonton Oilers defeat the New York Islanders 5-2 to win the franchises first Stanley Cup.  The young and fast paced Oilers were just too much for the aging Islanders as they won the series four games to one.  In the 1983-84 season Messier and Gretzky would amass a combined 306 points (205 points from Gretzky and 101 from Messier).  Mark Messier’s brilliant play on both ends earned him the Con Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs (classic picture below).  Gretzky would later say, “I’ve held women and babies and jewels and money, but nothing will ever feel as good as holding that cup.”

May 20th 1862:

Lincoln signs Homestead Act

On this day in 1862 President Abraham Lincoln sings the Homestead Act, which would open government-owned land to small family farmers otherwise known as “homesteaders”.  It gave any person who was the head of a family 160 acres to give it a go at farming for five years.  Some requirements included the individual being at least 21 years of age and a house being built on the property.  If a homesteader quit or failed at giving farming a go, his or her land reverted back to the government and was offered up to the public again.  If, after five years a homestead was successful then he would pay an $18 filing fee for deed to the land. With the Civil War raging on and southern slave-owning out of the picture, Lincoln saw this as an opportunity to open up the West to settlement.  By the end of the War in 1864, 15,000 people had homestead claims in territories that now make up the states of Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado.
May 21st 1927:
Lindbergh completes first Solo Nonstop Transatlantic Flight
On this day in 1927 American pilot Charles A. Lindbergh became the first person to successfully complete a solo, nonstop transatlantic flight.  His single engined monoplane, The Spirit of St. Louis, had lifted of from Roosevelet Field in New York and landed in Le Bourget Field in Paris.  The flight 33 1/2 hours long.
May 23rd 1934:
Police kill Bonnie and Clyde

On this day in 1934, famous outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrows are shot dead while driving a stolen car on a rural road in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.  They were ambushed in daylight by a posse of four Texas officers led by Captain Frank Hamer.  Hamer began tracking the pair in February of 1934.  He studied the gang’s movements and found they swung in a circle skirting the edges of five midwest states, exploiting the “state line” rule that prevented officers from one jurisdiction from pursuing a fugitive into another.  Clyde was very consistent in where he would go and that proved to be his downfall as Hamer was able to predict where he would be going next.

On May 21, 1934, the four posse members from Texas were in Shreveport, Louisiana, whenthey learned that Barrow and Parker were to go to Bienville Parish that evening to rendezvous at fellow gang member Henry Metvin’s parents home.  Hamer and his posse set up shop along Louisiana State Highway that night and waited close to 2 days before spotting Clyde’s Ford V8.  The lawmen then opened fire (a combined total of 130 rounds), killing Barrow and Parker putting an end to one of the most infamous crime sprees in American History.

 
May 24th 1883:
Brooklyn Bridge Opens
 

After 14 years and 27 deaths while being constructed, the Brooklyn Bridge over the East River is opened, connecting the great cities of New York and Brooklyn for the first time in history. Thousands of residents of Brooklyn and Manhattan Island turned out to witness the dedication ceremony, which was presided over by President Chester A. Arthur and New York Governor Grover Cleveland. Designed by the late John A. Roebling, the Brooklyn Bridge was the largest suspension bridge ever built to that date.

 

Feature Photo: Sharpwriter