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This Day in U.S. History: May 15


1755 – Laredo, Texas is established by the Spaniards.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

1911 – In Standard Oil Co. 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.

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

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.

1940 – McDonald's opens its first restaurant in San Bernardino, California.

1941 – Joe DiMaggio begins a 56-game hitting streak.

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

1953 – The first pinewood derby, in Manhattan Beach, California.

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

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.

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

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

1972 – Ryukyu Islands, under U.S. military governance since its conquest in 1945, hand over to Japanese control.

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

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.

2006 – Cloud Gate was formally dedicated in Chicago's Millennium Park.

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.

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


1856 – L. Frank Baum, American novelist (d. 1919)

1890 – Katherine Anne Porter, American short story writer, novelist, and essayist (d. 1980)

1902 – Richard J. Daley, American lawyer and politician, 48th Mayor of Chicago (d. 1976)

1905 – Abraham Zapruder, American businessman, filmed the Zapruder film (d. 1970)

1915 – Paul Samuelson, American economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2009)

1937 – Madeleine Albright, Czech-American politician and diplomat, 64th United States Secretary of State

1937 – Trini Lopez, American singer, guitarist, and actor

1938 – Diane Nash, American educator and activist

1942 – K. T. Oslin, American singer-songwriter and actress

1953 – George Brett, American baseball player and coach

1957 – Kevin Von Erich, American football player and wrestler

1958 – Ron Simmons, American football player and wrestler

1961 – Melle Mel, American rapper (Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five)

1967 – Laura Hillenbrand, American journalist and author

1969 – Holly McPeak, American beach volleyball player

1969 – Emmitt Smith, American football player and sportscaster

1975 – Ray Lewis, American football player and sportscaster

1978 – Amy Chow, American gymnast and pediatrician


1700 – John Hale, American minister (b. 1636)

1886 – Emily Dickinson, American poet and author (b. 1830)

1948 – Edward J. Flanagan, Irish-American priest, founded Boys Town (b. 1886)

1954 – William March, American soldier and author (b. 1893)

1967 – Edward Hopper, American painter (b. 1882)

1986 – Theodore H. White, American historian, journalist, and author (b. 1915)

2003 – June Carter Cash, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actress (Carter Family and The Carter Sisters) (b. 1929)

2007 – Jerry Falwell, American pastor, founded Liberty University (b. 1933)

2015 – Elisabeth Bing, German-American physical therapist and author (b. 1914)

2015 – Jackie Brookner, American sculptor and educator (b. 1945)