May 15th in History

This day in historyMay 15 is the 135th day of the year (136th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 230 days remaining until the end of the year.



In 495 BC,  A newly constructed temple in honour of the god Mercury was dedicated in ancient Rome on the Circus Maximus, between the Aventine and Palatine hills. To spite the senate and the consuls, the people awarded the dedication to a senior military officer, Marcus Laetorius

In 221,  Liu Bei, Chinese warlord, proclaims himself emperor of Shu Han, the successor of the Han dynasty.

In 392,  Emperor Valentinian II is assassinated while advancing into Gaul against the Frankish usurper Arbogast. He is found hanging in his residence at Vienne.

In 589,  King Authari marries Theodelinda, daughter of the Bavarian duke Garibald I. A Catholic, she has great influence among the Lombard nobility.

In 908,  The three-year-old Constantine VII, the son of Emperor Leo VI the Wise, is crowned as co-emperor of the Byzantine Empire by Patriarch Euthymius I at Constantinople.

In 1252,  Pope Innocent IV issues the papal bull ad extirpanda, which authorizes, but also limits, the torture of heretics in the Medieval Inquisition.

In 1525,  Insurgent peasants led by Anabaptist pastor Thomas Müntzer were defeated at the Battle of Frankenhausen, ending the German Peasants’ War in the Holy Roman Empire.

In 1536,  Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, stands trial in London on charges of treason, adultery and incest. She is condemned to death by a specially-selected jury.

In 1567,  Mary, Queen of Scots marries James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, her third husband.

In 1602,  Bartholomew Gosnold becomes the first recorded European to see Cape Cod.

In 1618,  Johannes Kepler confirms his previously rejected discovery of the third law of planetary motion (he first discovered it on March 8 but soon rejected the idea after some initial calculations were made).

In 1648,  The Treaty of Westphalia is signed.

In 1700,  John Hale, American minister (b. 1636) dies. He commonly referred to as Reverend Hale, was the Puritan pastor of Beverly, Massachusetts, during the Salem witch trials in 1692. He was one of the most prominent and influential clergymen associated with the witch trials, and is most noted as having initially supported the trials, and then changing his mind, publishing a critique of them. The oldest child of Robert Hale, a pig farmer, he was educated at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, graduating in 1657. He began preaching in Bass-river-side, later called Beverly, about 1664, and was ordained as the first minister of the parish church there on September 20, 1667, when the congregation formally separated from Salem, and he remained until his death in 1700. He married his first wife, Rebecca Byly, on December 15, 1664, and she died April 13, 1683, at the age of forty-five. As a child, Hale had witnessed the execution of Margaret Jones, the first of 15 people to be executed for witchcraft in New England, between 1648–1663. He was present at the examinations and trials of various people who were accused of witchcraft in the Salem witch trials of 1692, and supported the work of the court. However, on November 14, 1692, 17-year-old Mary Herrick accused his second wife, Sarah Noyes Hale, and the ghost of executed Mary Esty of afflicting her, but his wife was never formally charged or arrested. A later commentator on the trials, Charles Upham suggests that this accusation was one that helped turn public opinion to end the prosecutions, and spurred Hale’s willingness to reconsider his support of the trials.

In 1701,  The War of the Spanish Succession begins.

In 1718,  James Puckle, a London lawyer, patents the world’s first machine gun.

In 1730,  Robert Walpole effectively became the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

In 1755,  Laredo, Texas is established by the Spaniards.

In 1776,  American Revolution: the Virginia Convention instructs its Continental Congress delegation to propose a resolution of independence from Great Britain, paving the way for the United States Declaration of Independence.

In 1791,  French Revolution: Maximilien Robespierre proposes the Self-denying Ordinance.

In 1792,  War of the First Coalition: France declares war on Kingdom of Sardinia.

In 1793,  Diego Marín Aguilera flies a glider for “about 360 meters”, at a height of 5–6 meters, during one of the first attempted manned flights.

In 1796,  First Coalition: Napoleon enters Milan in triumph.

In 1800,  King George III of the United Kingdom survives an assassination attempt by James Hadfield, who is later acquitted by reason of insanity.

In 1811,  Paraguay declares independence from Spain.

In 1817,  Opening of the first private mental health hospital in the United States, the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason (now Friends Hospital) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In 1836,  Francis Baily observes “Baily’s beads” during an annular eclipse.

In 1849,  Troops of the Two Sicilies take Palermo and crush the republican government of Sicily

In 1850,  The Bloody Island Massacre takes place in Lake County, California, in which a large number of Pomo Indians in Lake County are slaughtered by a regiment of the United States Cavalry, led by Nathaniel Lyon.

In 1858,  Opening of the present Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London.

In 1862,  President Abraham Lincoln signs a bill into law creating the United States Bureau of Agriculture. It is later renamed the United States Department of Agriculture.

In 1864,  American Civil War: Battle of Resaca, Georgia ends.

In 1864 – American Civil War: Battle of New Market, Virginia – students from the Virginia Military Institute fight alongside the Confederate Army to force Union General Franz Sigel out of the Shenandoah Valley.

In 1869,  Women’s suffrage: in New York, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form the National Woman Suffrage Association.

In 1886,  Emily Dickinson, American poet (b. 1830) dies. Dickinson’s chief physician gave the cause of death as Bright’s disease and its duration as two and a half years. She was an American poet. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, to a successful family with strong community ties, she lived a mostly introverted and reclusive life. After she studied at the Amherst Academy for seven years in her youth, she spent a short time at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary before returning to her family’s house in Amherst. Thought of as an eccentric by the locals, she became known for her penchant for white clothing and her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, even leave her room. Most of her friendships were therefore carried out by correspondence. While Dickinson was a prolific private poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly eighteen hundred poems were published during her lifetime.  The work that was published during her lifetime was usually altered significantly by the publishers to fit the conventional poetic rules of the time. Dickinson’s poems are unique for the era in which she wrote; they contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation. Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends. Although most of her acquaintances were probably aware of Dickinson’s writing, it was not until after her death in 1886—when Lavinia, Dickinson’s younger sister, discovered her cache of poems—that the breadth of Dickinson’s work became apparent. Her first collection of poetry was published in 1890 by personal acquaintances Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd, both of whom heavily edited the content. A complete and mostly unaltered collection of her poetry became available for the first time in 1955 when The Poems of Emily Dickinson was published by scholar Thomas H. Johnson. Despite some unfavorable reviews and some skepticism during the late 19th and early 20th century as to Dickinson’s literary prowess, she is now almost universally considered to be one of the most important American poet.

In 1891,  Pope Leo XIII defends workers’ rights and property rights in the encyclical Rerum Novarum, the beginning of modern Catholic social teaching.

In 1904,  Russo-Japanese War: The Russian minelayer Amur lays a minefield about 15 miles off Port Arthur and sinks Japan’s battleships Hatsuse, 15,000 tons, with 496 crew and Yashima.

In 1905,  Las Vegas, is founded when 110 acres (0.45 km2), in what later would become downtown, are auctioned off.

In 1911,  In Standard Oil Company of New Jersey v. United States, the United States Supreme Court declares Standard Oil to be an “unreasonable” monopoly under the Sherman Antitrust Act and orders the company to be broken up.

In 1919,  The Winnipeg General Strike begins. By 11:00, almost the whole working population of Winnipeg, Manitoba had walked off the job.

In 1919,  Greek invasion of Smyrna. During the invasion, the Greek army kills or wounds 350 Turks. Those responsible are punished by the Greek Commander Aristides Stergiades.

In 1928,  Walt Disney character Mickey Mouse premieres in his first cartoon, Plane Crazy

In 1929,  A fire at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio kills 123.

In 1932,  In an attempted coup d’état, the Prime Minister of Japan Inukai Tsuyoshi is murdered.

In 1934,  Kārlis Ulmanis establishes an authoritarian government in Latvia.

In 1935,  The Moscow Metro is opened to the public.

In 1940,  USS Sailfish is recommissioned. It was originally the USS Squalus.

In 1940,  World War II: After fierce fighting, the poorly trained and equipped Dutch troops surrender to Germany, marking the beginning of five years of occupation.

In 1940,  McDonald’s opens its first restaurant in San Bernardino, California.

In 1941,  First flight of the Gloster E.28/39 the first British and Allied jet aircraft.

In 1942,  World War II: in the United States, a bill creating the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) is signed into law.

In 1943,  Joseph Stalin dissolves the Comintern (or Third International).

In 1945,  World War II: The Battle of Poljana, the final skirmish in Europe is fought near Prevalje, Slovenia. Casualty estimates by the Partisans were at least 310 NDH and Axis dead in the two main locations of fighting, and 250 wounded. On the Partisan side, losses were considerably lower, numbering fewer than 100 dead and wounded.

In 1948,  Following the demise of Mandatory Palestine, the Kingdom of Egypt, Transjordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia invade Israel thus starting the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.

In 1951,  The Polish cultural attaché in Paris, Czesław Miłosz, asks the French government for political asylum.

In 1953,  Cubmaster Don Murphy organized the first pinewood derby, in Manhattan Beach, California, by Pack 280c.

In 1957,  At Malden Island in the Pacific Ocean, Britain tests its first hydrogen bomb in Operation Grapple.

In 1958,  The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 3.

In 1960,  The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 4.

In 1963,  Project Mercury: The launch of the final Mercury mission, Mercury-Atlas 9 with astronaut L. Gordon Cooper on board. He becomes the first American to spend more than a day in space.

In 1966,  After a policy dispute, Prime Minister Nguyễn Cao Kỳ of South Vietnam‘s ruling junta launches a military attack on the forces of General Tôn Thất Đính, forcing him to abandon his command.

In 1969,  People’s Park: California Governor Ronald Reagan has an impromptu student park owned by University of California at Berkeley fenced off from student anti-war protestors, sparking a riot called Bloody Thursday.

In 1970,  President Richard Nixon appoints Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington the first female United States Army Generals.

In 1970,  Philip Lafayette Gibbs and James Earl Green are killed at Jackson State University by police during student protests.

In 1972,  Okinawa, under U.S. military governance since its conquest in 1945, reverts to Japanese control.

In 1972,  In Laurel, Maryland, Arthur Bremer shoots and paralyzes Alabama Governor George Wallace while he is campaigning to become President.

In 1974,  Ma’alot massacre: Members of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine attack and take hostages at an Israeli school; a total of 31 people are killed, including 22 schoolchildren.

In 1986,  Elio de Angelis, was killed while testing the Brabham BT55 at the Paul Ricard circuit at Le Castellet.

In 1987,  The Soviet Union launches the Polyus prototype orbital weapons platform. It fails to reach orbit.

In 1988,  Soviet war in Afghanistan: After more than eight years of fighting, the Soviet Army begins its withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In 1991,  Édith Cresson becomes France’s first female premier.

In 1997,  The United States government acknowledges the existence of the “Secret War” in Laos and dedicates the Laos Memorial in honor of Hmong and other “Secret War” veterans.

JohnnyCashJuneCarterCash1969.jpgIn 2003,  June Carter Cash, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actress (Carter Family and The Carter Sisters) (b. 1929) died in Nashville, Tennessee, on May 15, 2003, of complications following heart-valve replacement surgery, in the company of her family and her husband of 35 years, Johnny Cash. At Carter’s funeral, her stepdaughter, Rosanne Cash, stated that “if being a wife were a corporation, June would have been a CEO. It was her most treasured role.” Johnny Cash passed away four months after June’s death. Both are buried in Hendersonville Memory Gardens near their home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. She was an American singer, dancer, songwriter, actress, comedian, and author who was a member of the Carter Family and the second wife of singer Johnny Cash. She played the guitar, banjo, harmonica, and autoharp, and acted in several films and television shows. Carter Cash won five Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame in 2009. She was ranked No. 31 in CMT‘s 40 Greatest Women in Country Music in 2002.

In 2006,  Cloud Gate was formally dedicated in Chicago’s Millennium Park.

Jerry Falwell portrait.jpgIn 2007,  Jerry Falwell, American pastor, founded Liberty University (b. 1933) dies. He was an American evangelical Southern Baptist pastor, segregationist, televangelist, and a conservative political commentator. He was the founding pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church, a megachurch in Lynchburg, Virginia. He founded Lynchburg Christian Academy (now Liberty Christian Academy) in 1967, Liberty University in 1971, and co-founded the Moral Majority in 1979. Falwell and twin brother Gene were born in the Farview Heights region of Lynchburg, Virginia, the son of Helen and Carey Hezekiah Falwell. His father was an entrepreneur and one-time bootlegger who was agnostic. His grandfather was a staunch atheist. Jerry Falwell married the former Macel Pate on April 12, 1958. The couple had two sons and a daughter (Jerry Falwell, Jr., a lawyer; Jonathan Falwell, a pastor; Jeannie, a surgeon). He graduated from Brookville High School in Lynchburg, Va., and from Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri in 1956. This Bible college was unaccredited until 2001. Falwell was later awarded three honorary doctoral degrees. The honorary doctorates were Doctor of Divinity from Tennessee Temple Theological Seminary, Doctor of Letters from California Graduate School of Theology, and Doctor of Laws from Central University in Seoul, South Korea.

In 2008,  California becomes the second U.S. state after Massachusetts in 2004 to legalize same-sex marriage after the state’s own Supreme Court rules a previous ban unconstitutional.

Wayman Tisdale.jpgIn 2009,  Wayman Tisdale, American basketball player and bass player (b. 1964) died at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, where his wife had taken him when he had trouble breathing. She later confirmed that he died after his esophagus ruptured following radiation treatments for his cancer. He was 44. He was an American professional basketball player in the NBA and a smooth jazz bass guitarist. A three-time All American at the University of Oklahoma, he was elected to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

In 2010,  Jessica Watson becomes the youngest person to sail, non-stop and unassisted around the world solo.

In 2013,  An upsurge in violence in Iraq leaves more than 389 people dead over three days.

In 2015, Arne Duncan, Secretary for the US Department of Education spoke at 2015 National Summit on Youth Violence Prevention in Crystal City, VA. Duncan’s controversial ideas about boarding schools made headlines. According to Duncan just “certain kids we should have 24/7“. Duncan proposed developing America’s schools from mere learning places into full-blown community centers open at least 12 hours a day that offer after school activities in a safe environment.


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