1527 – Florence becomes a republic
1792 – Denmark abolishes slave trade
1817 – Mississippi River steamboat service begins
1861 – Kentucky proclaims its neutrality
1862 – Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir a Belgian engineer developed the internal combustion engine in 1858. Prior designs for such engines were patented as early as 1807, but none were commercially successful.
1868 – By one vote, US Senate fails to impeach President Andrew Johnson
1874 – First recorded dam disaster in the US, in Williamsburg, Massachusetts
1891 – George A Hormel & Co introduce Spam
1903 – First transcontinental motorcycle trip begins at San Francisco by George Wymann
1918 – The Sedition Act of 1918 is passed by the U.S. Congress, making criticism of the government an imprisonable offense.
1927 – Supreme Court ruled bootleggers must pay income tax
1963 – Gordon Cooper completes 22 orbits in the spacecraft Faith 7.
His was the final manned space mission of the U.S. Mercury program. 22 Earth orbits before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, piloted by astronaut Gordon Cooper, then an Air Force major. The Atlas rocket was No. 130-D, and the Mercury spacecraft was No. 20. Splashdown was at 34 hours 19 minutes 49 seconds after liftoff. Even though there were systems failures, Cooper managed to manually bring the capsule down to within four miles of the USS Kearsarge. He was orbiting the Earth every 88 minutes 45 seconds
Cooper liked to race cars and boats. In 1968, he entered the 24 Hours of Daytona, but NASA management ordered him to withdraw due to the dangers involved.
1977 – 5 die as NY Airway helicopter topples on Pan Am building in midtown.
In its report about the accident, the National Transportation Safety Boarddescribed the event and its probable cause:
“About 1735 e.d.t., on May 16, 1977, the right landing gear of a New York Airways, Inc., Sikorsky Model S-61L helicopter, N619PA, failed while the aircraft was parked, with rotors turning, on the rooftop heliport of the Pan Am Building in New York, New York.
The aircraft rolled over on its right side and was substantially damaged. Four passengers had boarded the aircraft and other passengers were in the process of boarding. The passengers and the three crew members onboard received either minor or no injuries; however, four passengers who were still outside the aircraft and were waiting to board were killed and one was seriously injured. One pedestrian on the corner of Madison Avenue and 43rd Street was killed and another was seriously injured when they were struck by a separated portion of one of the main rotor blades of the aircraft.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the fatigue failure of the upper right forward fitting of the right main landing gear tube assembly. Fatigue originated from a small surface pit of undetermined source. All fatalities were caused by the operating rotor blades as a result of the collapse of the landing gear. The heliport was permanently closed after the accident.
1988 – US Surgeon Gen C Everett Koop reports nicotine as addictive as heroin
1988 – US Supreme Court rules trash may be searched without a warrant
1989 – Soviet president Mikhail S Gorbachev and Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping ended a 30-year rift when they formally met in Beijing
1995 – Japanese police arrest cult leader Shoko Asahara and charge him with Nerve-gas attack on Tokyo’s subways two months earlier
2004 – The Day of Mourning at Bykivnia forest, just outside of Kiev, Ukraine. Here, during the 1930s and early 1940s communist bolsheviks executed over 100,000 Ukrainian civilians.
2013 – Pope Francis calls for ethical financial reform to fight speculation
2013 – Human stem cells are successfully cloned
1763 – Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin, chemist (discovered chromium, beryllium)
1801 – William H. Seward, United States Secretary of State, bought Alaska at 2 cents an acre (d. 1872)
1831 – David Edward Hughes, inventor (microphone, teleprinter)
1905 – Henry Fonda, Nebraska, actor
1912 – Studs Terkel, NYC, author/host (Stud’s Place, Working)
1919 – Wladziu Valentino aka Liberace, West Allis Wisconsin, pianist
1955 – Olga Korbut, Belorussia, gymnast (Olympic-2 golds-1972)
1770 – Marie Antoinette (14) marries future King Louis XVI (15) of France
1836 – Edgar Allan Poe (26) marries his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm
1691 – Jacob Leisler, becomes first American colonist hanged for treason
1703 – Charles Perrault, French author/fairy tale writer, dies at 75
1864 – Lean Bear, Cheyenne chief, murdered
1892 – John Banvard, painted world’s largest painting (3 mile canvas)
1954 – Werner Bischof, Swiss photographer, dies at 38
1955 – James Agee, US critic/writer (Death in Family), dies in NY
1957 – Eliot Ness, American federal agent (b. 1903)
1984 – Andy Kaufman, comedian (Latka-Taxi), dies of cancer at 35
1985 – Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch from Wizard of Oz, dies at 82
1990 – Jim Henson, puppeteer (Sesame Street, Muppet Show), dies at 53
1990 – Sammy Davis Jr, singer/actor (Golden Boy), dies at 64
This information was culled from various internet sources, including Wikipedia, the New York Times and other special interest sites.