This Week in History: November 17-23

Featured Article, History, This Week in History
on November 18, 2013

The nation was captivated this week by the revelation of who, indeed, did shoot J.R. on the CBS primetime soap “Dallas.” Dignitaries watched and commented as bookies placed their bets. Find out who done it below.

November 17:
John Peter Zenger Arrested
The press began to earn some freedom on this day in 1734 with the arrest of John Peter Zenger. Zenger, a printer and publisher of “The New York Weekly Journal,” was accused of libel against the colonial governor. The subsequent trial and acquittal of Zenger marked early steps toward freedom of the press in the colonies.

November 18:
Jonestown Massacre
One of the most shocking events of the late 20th century, the mass-suicide at Jonestown, Guyana, took place on this day in 1978. Jim Jones, a controversial preacher, began the People’s Temple cult in California in 1955; the group grew steadily into the ‘70s. Members of the group moved to Guyana in 1976 after building houses on the Jonestown property. Intense scrutiny by the U.S. government coupled with Jones’ declining health, continued paranoia and increasingly outlandish sermons made Jonestown a dangerous place. In a final feat of madness, Jones instructed his members to ingest cyanide-laced Flavor Aid and to inject their children with the drink if they were under a certain age. More than 900 people died, including some 300 children. Jones died from a gunshot wound to the head.

November 19:
Suffragists Test 14th Amendment
Suffragists wanted to see if the 14th Amendment’s assurance that “no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” was truly assured for all citizens. During the 1868 presidential election, 172 women, including four black women, attempted to vote at a New Jersey ballot box. They were denied. This created another wrinkle in the complicated history of the 14th Amendment.

November 20:
Wedding of Elizabeth and Philip
The second-longest reigning Queen of England was married on this day in 1947. Then Princess Elizabeth II and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh were married at London’s Westminster Abbey in a ceremony broadcast over BBC radio to an estimated audience of 200 million. Elizabeth took the throne five years later after the death of her father, George VI. She remains extremely popular in Britain and around the world.

November 21:
Who shot J.R.?
That question was finally answered on this day in 1980 on the CBS drama “Dallas.” In March 1980, an unseen assailant shot J.R. Ewing, the character portrayed by actor Larry Hagman, ending the season with a cliffhanger finale. That summer, the world waited to see who shot the primetime soap opera villain. “Who shot J.R.?” became a cultural touchstone, with people making shirts and merchandise with the phrase as well as notable celebrities and politicians capitalizing on the mystery. Oddsmakers around the world placed bets on who the killer was. An estimated audience of 86.6 million people tuned in on this date to see the answer.

November 22:
John F. Kennedy Assassination
While visiting Dallas, President John F. Kennedy was fatally shot in the head as he rode through the city in an open convertible. He died from his injuries at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital. Lee Harvey Oswald had shot Kennedy. Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby while in police custody. Vice President Lyndon Johnson, who was sworn in as president aboard Air Force One, declared November 25 a day of mourning for the slain president. Questions remained about Kennedy’s death, leading to the Warren Commission, which declared that Oswald was the sole assailant and only person responsible for the assassination.

November 23:
‘Life’ Magazine
“Life” began on this day in 1936. A reincarnation of a humor magazine started in the late 1800s, “Time” magazine bought the title and published the news and photojournalism magazine from 1936 until 2000. The publication is known for its striking photographs of world leaders, celebrities and historical events. “Life” ended print publication in 2000 and has since struggled to find an online presence.