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This Day in History - May 16

May 16

1717 – Writer Francois-Marie Arouet, aka Voltaire, is imprisoned in the Bastille for his politically satirical writings

1770 – Marie Antoinette marries future King Louis XVI of France

1777 – Georgia Patriot and signer of the Declaration of Independence, Button Gwinnett, receives a bullet wound in a duel with his political rival, Georgia city Whig, Lachlan McIntosh, which will kill him three days later

1801 – William Henry Seward, US Secretary of State from 1861 through 1869, is born

1804 – Founder of the first US kindergarten, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, is born

1824 – Confederate General Edmund Kirby-Smith is born

1831 – Scientist who co-invented the microphone, David Edward Hughes, is born

1849 – The New York City Board of Health establishes a hospital to deal with a cholera epidemic that will kill over 5,000

1850 – Polish surgical pioneer Johannes von Mikulicz-Radecki is born

1863 – At the Battle of Champion’s Hill, Union General Ulysses Grant repulses the Confederates, driving them into Vicksburg

1868 – President Andrew Johnson is acquitted during Senate impeachment, by one vote, cast by Edmund Ross

1879 – The Treaty of Gandamak between Russia and England sets up the Afghan state

1881 – Outlaw Dick Fellows is released from San Quentin after a five-year stretch for robbing stagecoaches

1886 – Journalist, historian, and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, Douglas Southall Freeman, is born

1905 – Actor Henry Fonda is born

1912 – Author and historian Studs Terkel is born

1913 – Jazz bandleader Woody Herman is born

1918 – The US Congress passes the Sedition Act, designated to protect America’s participation in WWI

1919 – Albert Cushing Read takes off on the first transatlantic flight in history

1919 – Singer, pianist, and actor, Liberace is born

1920 – Joan of Arc is canonized in Rome

1928 – The first Academy Awards are held in Hollywood

1929 – Jazz singer Betty Carter is born

1929 – Poet Adrienne Rich is born

1943 – A specially trained and equipped Royal Air Force squadron destroys two river dams in Germany

1943 – In Poland, the Warsaw Ghetto uprising comes to an end as Nazi soldiers gain control of Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto

1944 – The first of more than 180,000 Jews reach Auschwitz

1951 – Chinese Communist Forces launch the second phase of the Chinese Spring Offensive in the Korean War and gain up to 20 miles of territory

1953 – Actor, singer, and producer, Pierce Brosnan is born

1953 – Belgian guitarist and composer, Django Reinhardt dies

1955 – Olympic gymnast, Olga Korbut, is born

1960 – A Big Four summit in Paris collapses because of the American U-2 spy plane affair

1960 – Theodore Maiman fires the first functional laser

1963 – After 22 Earth orbits, Gordon Cooper returns to Earth, ending the last mission of Project Mercury

1965 – An accidental explosion of a bomb on one aircraft that spread to others at the Bien Hoa air base, kills 27 US servicemen and 4 South Vietnamese and injures some 95 Americans. The blast also destroyed over 40 US and South Vietnamese planes

1966 – The Cultural Revolution begins in China with the intent of strengthening communism

1966 – Singer, songwriter, producer, actress and dancer Janet Jackson is born

1968 – Leftist protestors lead a general strike, shutting down newspaper distribution, air transport and two major railroads in France

1968 – Corpsman US Navy, Donald Ballard, receives the Medal of Honor for action in Quang Tri Province for throwing himself on a grenade. Luckily, the grenade failed to detonate

1975 – Norma Jean Armistead checks herself into Kaiser Hospital in Los Angeles, California, with a newborn that she claims to have given birth to at home. Having worked at the hospital, Armistead had falsified her own record to make it appear she was pregnant and had located another woman ready to give birth. She showed up at the woman’s apartment and stabbed her to death, before cutting the baby from her womb. Armistead was convicted of murder and sent to prison for life

1975 – Japanese mountaineer Junko Tabei becomes the first woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest

1977 – First President of Mali, Modibo Keita dies

1980 – Los Angeles point guard Earvin “Magic” Johnson fills in for an injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and scores 42 points, leading the Lakers to a four-games-to-two series win over the Philadelphia 76ers for their first championship since 1972

1990 – Puppeteer and founder of The Company, Jim Henson, dies

1990 – Actor, singer, and dancer, Sammy Davis Jr. dies

2012 – Moldovan opera singer Maria Biesu dies

2014 – Broadcast journalist Barbara Walters retires from ABC News and as the co-host of “The View”


Written by Crystal McCann

Crystal is the owner of Madison's Media, Madison's CPC and the Chief Administrative Officer for Lanterns. She lives in Texas with her husband and dogs and has two adult children. Writers seeking additional exposure: Ask how you can contribute!


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