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This Day in U.S. History: May 13


1780 – The Cumberland Compact is signed by leaders of the settlers in early Tennessee.

1846 – Mexican–American War: The United States declares war on Mexico.

1861 – American Civil War: Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom issues a "proclamation of neutrality" which recognizes the breakaway states as having belligerent rights.

1862 – The USS Planter, a steamer and gunship, steals through Confederate lines and is passed to the Union, by a southern slave, Robert Smalls, who later was officially appointed as captain, becoming the first black man to command a United States ship.

1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Resaca: The battle begins with Union General Sherman fighting toward Atlanta.

1865 – American Civil War: Battle of Palmito Ranch: In far south Texas, more than a month after Confederate General Robert E. Lee's surrender, the last land battle of the Civil War ends with a Confederate victory.

1880 – In Menlo Park, New Jersey, Thomas Edison performs the first test of his electric railway.

1939 – The first commercial FM radio station in the United States is launched in Bloomfield, Connecticut. The station later becomes WDRC-FM.

1950 – The first round of the Formula One World Championship is held at Silverstone.

1954 – The original Broadway production of The Pajama Game opens and runs for another 1,063 performances. Later received three Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical, and Best Choreography.

1958 – During a visit to Caracas, Venezuela, Vice President Richard Nixon's car is attacked by anti-American demonstrators.

1958 – The trademark Velcro is registered.

1960 – Hundreds of University of California, Berkeley students congregate for the first day of protest against a visit by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Thirty-one students are arrested, and the Free Speech Movement is born.

1963 – The U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland is decided.

1980 – An F3 tornado hits Kalamazoo County, Michigan. President Jimmy Carter declares it a federal disaster area.

1985 – Police release a bomb on MOVE headquarters in Philadelphia to end a stand-off, killing 11 MOVE members and destroying the homes of 250 city residents.

1994 – Johnny Carson makes his last television appearance on Late Show with David Letterman.


1922 – Bea Arthur, American actress and singer (d. 2009)

1931 – Jim Jones, American cult leader, founder of the Peoples Temple (d. 1978)

1933 – John Roseboro, American baseball player and coach (d. 2002)

1943 – Mary Wells, American singer-songwriter (d. 1992)

1945 – Magic Dick, American harmonica player (The J. Geils Band)

1945 – Lou Marini, American saxophonist and composer (The Blues Brothers)

1946 – Marv Wolfman, American author

1950 – Stevie Wonder, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and producer

1951 – Sharon Sayles Belton, American politician, 45th Mayor of Minneapolis

1952 – John Kasich, American talk show host and politician, 69th Governor of Ohio

1961 – Dennis Rodman, American basketball player, wrestler, and actor

1964 – Stephen Colbert, American comedian, actor, and talk show host

1987 – Carrie Prejean, American model and author, Miss California USA 2009


1878 – Joseph Henry, American physicist and academic (b. 1797)

1884 – Cyrus McCormick, American businessman, co-founded the International Harvester Company (b. 1809)

1961 – Gary Cooper, American actor (b. 1901)

1972 – Dan Blocker, American actor (b. 1928)

1975 – Bob Wills, American singer-songwriter and actor (Light Crust Doughboys) (b. 1905)

1977 – Mickey Spillane, American mobster (b. 1934)

1999 – Gene Sarazen, American golfer and journalist (b. 1902)

2005 – George Dantzig, American mathematician and academic (b. 1914)

2011 – Stephen De Staebler, American sculptor and educator (b. 1933)

2012 – Donald "Duck" Dunn, American bass player, songwriter, and producer (Booker T. & the M.G.'s, The Blues Brothers, and The Mar-Keys) (b. 1941)

2013 – Joyce Brothers, American psychologist, author, and actress (b. 1927)