History Book


NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book. Today, the first instance of a new kind of piracy. Plus, the 50-year anniversary of the Special Olympics.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: But first, a gathering in Seneca Falls, New York, that marked the beginning of the women’s-rights movement in the United States. Here’s Paul Butler.

ELIZABETH KNIGHT: (LYRIC) Hark the song of myriad voices rising in the land…

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: We begin today with July 19th, 1848: the first formal convention to discuss the social, civil and religious condition and rights of women.

STRANTON: We are assembled to protest against a form of government, existing without the consent of the governed – to declare our right to be free as man is free…

One of the organizers is Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an abolitionist, who opens the two-day conference by outlining the event’s main objective, read here by Vicky Garcia:

STANTON: …laws attest to such unjust laws as these that we are assembled today, and to have them, if possible, forever erased from our statute-books, deeming them a disgrace…

More than 300 women and men assemble at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York. The Women’s Rights Convention produces a resolution known as the “Declaration of Sentiments,” modeled after the Declaration of Independence. The publication says the nation’s founding documents grant women the same freedoms as men. 1-hundred attendees affix their names to the resolution and the women’s rights movement is born.

ELIZABETH KNIGHT: (LYRIC) Brothers we must share your freedom, help us and we will!

Next, July 16th, 1948, 70 years ago today – four armed pirates attempt to take control of the passenger seaplane: the Miss Macao while on its way to Hong Kong. As the plane rose over the South China Sea, one man walks from his seat, pulls a gun, and orders the pilot to surrender the controls.

When the copilot attempts to disarm the hijacker, the man fires and kills the two pilots. The plane nose-dives, throwing passengers and crew into the aisle. Shortly after, the plane slams into the sea. Only one person survives, the lead hijacker, who dove into the ocean seconds before impact. He was never tried for his crime.

It is the first known instance of a commercial aircraft hijacking.

NEWSREEL: The 9 hour ordeal of terror in El Paso when Continental Airlines jet is hijacked by a father and his son…

Over the next three decades, hijackings become increasingly frequent, mainly as a way of bringing attention to Middle East unrest and violence.

CLIP: By hijacking that plane we can tell them there is a war…

According to the Aviation Safety Network, 1969 saw the most hijackings at 86. More than 120 people died in hijackings in 1977 and 1996, but 2001 remains the deadliest year, with more than 250 deaths, due to the September 11th attacks.

And finally, July 20th, 1968, 50 years ago this week. Chicago’s Soldier Field is the site of the first International Special Olympics Summer Games with nearly 1,000 athletes.

SHRIVER: In ancient Rome, gladiators went into the arena with these words on their lips: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of President John F. Kennedy, addresses the athletes before the competition begins.

SHRIVER: Many of you will win, but even more important, I know you will be brave and bring credit to your parents and to your country. Let us begin the Olympics. Thank you.

A few years earlier, Shriver—who’s sister Rosemary was disabled—started a day camp for children with intellectual disabilities at her home in Maryland, since they had little opportunity to participate in athletic events. The idea grew and other states began running similar camps.

In 1971, The U.S. Olympic Committee gave the Special Olympics official approval to use the name “Olympics” and in 1988, they were recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Today, the Special Olympics reports there are 4.9 million athletes involved in its programs worldwide.

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.


(Photo/Special Olympics)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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