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This Day in History: June 17


1579 – Sir Francis Drake claims a land he calls Nova Albion (modern California) for England.

1673 – French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet reach the Mississippi River and become the first Europeans to make a detailed account of its course.

1775 – American Revolutionary War: Colonists inflict heavy casualties on British forces while losing the Battle of Bunker Hill.

1839 – In the Kingdom of Hawaii, Kamehameha III issues the edict of toleration which gives Roman Catholics the freedom to worship in the Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaii Catholic Church and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace are established as a result.

1861 – American Civil War: Battle of Vienna, Virginia.

1863 – American Civil War: Battle of Aldie in the Gettysburg Campaign.

1876 – American Indian Wars: Battle of the Rosebud: One thousand five hundred Sioux and Cheyenne led by Crazy Horse beat back General George Crook's forces at Rosebud Creek in Montana Territory.

1877 – American Indian Wars: Battle of White Bird Canyon: The Nez Perce defeat the U.S. Cavalry at White Bird Canyon in the Idaho Territory.

1885 – The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York Harbor.

1898 – The United States Navy Hospital Corps is established.

1900 – Boxer Rebellion: Allied Western and Japanese forces capture the Taku Forts in Tianjin, China.

1901 – The College Board introduces its first standardized test, the forerunner to the SAT.

1930 – U.S. President Herbert Hoover signs the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act into law.

1932 – Bonus Army: Around a thousand World War I veterans amass at the United States Capitol as the U.S. Senate considers a bill that would give them certain benefits.

1933 – Union Station massacre: In Kansas City, Missouri, four FBI agents and captured fugitive Frank Nash are gunned down by gangsters attempting to free Nash.

1948 – A Douglas DC-6 carrying United Airlines Flight 624 crashes near Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, killing all 43 people on board.

1960 – The Nez Perce tribe is awarded $4 million for 7 million acres (28,000 km2) of land undervalued at four cents/acre in the 1863 treaty.

1963 – The United States Supreme Court rules 8–1 in Abington School District v. Schempp against requiring the reciting of Bible verses and the Lord's Prayer in public schools.

1972 – Watergate scandal: Five White House operatives are arrested for burgling the offices of the Democratic National Committee, in an attempt by some members of the Republican party to illegally wiretap the opposition.

1985 – STS-51-G Space Shuttle Discovery launches carrying Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the first Arab and first Muslim in space, as a Payload Specialist.

1987 – With the death of the last individual of the species, the dusky seaside sparrow becomes extinct.

1992 – A "joint understanding" agreement on arms reduction is signed by U.S. President George Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin (this would be later codified in START II).

1994 – Following a televised low-speed highway chase, O. J. Simpson is arrested for the murders of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

2015 – Nine people are killed in a mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.


1867 – John Robert Gregg, Irish-American educator, publisher, and humanitarian (d. 1948)

1909 – Elmer L. Andersen, American businessman and politician, 30th Governor of Minnesota (d. 2004)

1923 – Elroy Hirsch, American football player (d. 2004)

1929 – Bud Collins, American journalist and sportscaster (d. 2016)

1931 – John Baldessari, American painter and illustrator

1943 – Newt Gingrich, American historian and politician, 58th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

1943 – Barry Manilow, American singer-songwriter and producer

1947 – Linda Chavez, American journalist and author

1947 – George S. Clinton, American composer and songwriter

1951 – Joe Piscopo, American actor and screenwriter

1963 – Greg Kinnear, American actor and producer

1965 – Dan Jansen, American speed skater and sportscaster

1980 – Venus Williams, American tennis player

1987 – Kendrick Lamar, American rapper (Black Hippy)


1952 – Jack Parsons, American chemist and engineer (b. 1914)

1986 – Kate Smith, American singer and actress (b. 1907)

1987 – Dick Howser, American baseball player, coach, and manager (b. 1936)

1996 – Thomas Kuhn, American historian and philosopher (b. 1922)

1996 – Curt Swan, American illustrator (b. 1920)

2001 – Donald J. Cram, American chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1919)

2002 – Willie Davenport, American sprinter and hurdler (b. 1943)

2008 – Cyd Charisse, American actress and dancer (b. 1922)

2012 – Rodney King, American victim of police brutality (b. 1965)