This Week in History: 12/3/18-12/7/18

 On Dec. 4, 1875, William Tweed escaped from jail and fled overseas to avoid jurisdiction. Tweed was nicknamed “Boss Tweed” for his involvement in Tammany Hall, the Democratic political machine based in New York. ( Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons )

On Dec. 4, 1875, William Tweed escaped from jail and fled overseas to avoid jurisdiction. Tweed was nicknamed “Boss Tweed” for his involvement in Tammany Hall, the Democratic political machine based in New York. (Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

Over the coming days we will see the anniversary of several important events that helped shape the world we live in. Here is a quick rundown of this week in history.

On Dec. 3, 1947, “A Streetcar Named Desire” opened on Broadway for the first time in New York City. Written by playwright Tennessee Williams, it follows the story of a poor couple in New Orleans and the wife’s sister, who moves in with them. Considered a towering achievement in American drama, it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948. It was adapted to film in 1951 starring much of the same cast from its stage production, including Karl Malden, Kim Hunter and Marlon Brando. The movie was a critical success, winning four Academy Awards and is still seen as one of the best movies in American film history today.

On the same day in 1967, the first successful human-to-human heart transplant took place in Cape Town, South Africa. Dr. Chris Barnard headed the talented cardiac surgery team willing to take on the challenge. The patient’s name was Louis Washkansky, a 53-year old man who suffered from a heart condition. The organ was donated from a woman who had been hit by a car and pronounced brain dead the day prior. The operation lasted about six hours and Louis was brought back to consciousness. Unfortunately, Louis contracted pneumonia and passed away just 18 days after the transplant. Despite his death, this marked a huge breakthrough in the medical world and helped push the capabilities of medicine into the future.

On Dec. 4, 1875, William Tweed escaped from jail and fled overseas to avoid jurisdiction. Tweed was nicknamed “Boss Tweed” for his involvement in Tammany Hall, the Democratic political machine based in New York. He had widespread influence and won election after election to both the House of Representatives and State Senate. Tweed was at the height of his power as the head of several committees that handed out prestigious positions and support to his followers. Eventually it all came tumbling down as Tweed was convicted of stealing millions of dollars from tax payers and sent to prison. His involvement in mass corruption was showcased heavily in popular political cartoons draw by Thomas Nast and printed in Harper’s Weekly. He was able to escape prison and flee to Spain, but was caught upon arrival and subsequently sent back to America where he would die in Ludlow Street Jail in 1878

Lastly, on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese air forces attacked American naval ships stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The surprise attack was devastating, with over 2,000 American servicemen killed and four major vessels sunken. The attack shocked the American public, and it led President Roosevelt to declare Dec. 7 as “a date which will live in infamy.” Over the following days, Congress would declare war on Japan, Germany and Italy, marking America’s full entrance into World War II. Three of the four ships sunk would be raised and reused in the war efforts, with only the USS Arizonaremaining below water. Pearl Harbor completely mobilized the American public and had the exact opposite effect intended by Japanese leaders. Within a few years, America possessed the strongest navy in the world and was retaking islands in the Pacific one by one from Japanese control. After President Truman directed US Armed forces to use atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan officially surrendered on Sep. 2, 1945.


Seamus McKeever is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at seamus.mckeever@uconn.edu.