Year
1951
Month Day
September 04

President Truman makes first transcontinental television broadcast

On September 4, 1951, President Harry S. Truman’s opening speech before a conference in San Francisco is broadcast across the nation, marking the first time a television program was broadcast from coast to coast. The speech focused on Truman’s acceptance of a treaty that officially ended America’s post-World War II occupation of Japan.

The broadcast, via then-state-of-the-art microwave technology, was picked up by 87 stations in 47 cities, according to CBS. In his remarks, Truman lauded the treaty as one that would help “build a world in which the children of all nations can live together in peace.” As communism was threatening to spread throughout Pacific Rim nations such as Korea and Vietnam, the U.S. recognized the need to create an ally in a strong, democratic Japan.

Since the end of World War II in 1945, Japan had been occupied and closely monitored by the American military under the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur. By 1951, six years later, Truman considered the task of rebuilding Japan complete. Truman praised the Japanese people’s willingness to go along with the plan and expressed his pride in having helped to rebuild Japan as a democracy. Gone was the old militaristic police state; in its place was a country with a new constitution, unions for protecting the rights of laborers and voting rights for women, among many other positive changes.

The Multilateral Treaty of Peace with Japan, as it was ultimately called, was ratified by the U.S. Congress on March 20, 1952.

READ MORE: How US Presidents Have Communicated with the Public—From the Telegraph to Twitter

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Comedy legend Joan Rivers dies

On September 4, 2014, Joan Rivers, one of the best-known comedians of her era, dies at age 81 in a New York City hospital, a week after she went into cardiac arrest while undergoing a medical procedure on her vocal cords at a Manhattan clinic. During a showbiz career that spanned ...read more

Western Roman Empire falls

Romulus Augustus, the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire, is deposed by Odoacer, a German barbarian who proclaims himself king of Italy. Odoacer was a mercenary leader in the Roman imperial army when he launched his mutiny against the young emperor. At Piacenza, he defeated ...read more

Elizabeth Eckford ignores the hostile screams and stares of fellow students on her first day of school. She was one of the nine negro students whose integration into Little Rock's Central High School was ordered by a Federal Court following legal action by NAACP. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

Arkansas troops block "Little Rock Nine" from entering segregated high school

Arkansas governor Orval Faubus enlists the National Guard to prevent nine African American students from entering Central High School in Little Rock. The armed Arkansas militia troops surrounded the school while an angry crowd of some 400 whites jeered, booed, and threatened to ...read more

Geronimo surrenders

On September 4, 1886, Apache leader Geronimo surrenders to U.S. government troops. For 30 years, the Native American warrior had battled to protect his tribe’s homeland; however, by 1886 the Apaches were exhausted and hopelessly outnumbered. General Nelson Miles accepted ...read more

Radio Hanoi announces the death of Ho Chi Minh

Radio Hanoi announces the death of Ho Chi Minh, who died two days earlier, proclaiming that the National Liberation Front will halt military operations in the South for three days in mourning for Ho.  Ho had been the spiritual leader of the communists in Vietnam since the ...read more

U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz wins 7th gold medal

U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz wins his seventh gold medal at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Spitz swam the fly leg of the 400-meter medley relay, and his team set a new world-record time of 3 minutes, 48.16 seconds. Remarkably, Spitz also established new world records in the six ...read more

Kelly Clarkson wins first “American Idol"

On September 4, 2002, Kelly Clarkson, a 20-year-old cocktail waitress from Texas, wins the first season of American Idol in a live television broadcast from Hollywood’s Kodak Theater. Clarkson came out on top in the amateur singing contest over 23-year-old runner-up Justin ...read more

American troops land at Archangel

On September 4, 1918, United States troops land at Archangel, in northern Russia. The landing was part of an Allied intervention in the civil war raging in that country after revolution in 1917 led to the abdication of Czar Nicholas II in favor of a provisional government; the ...read more