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This Day in U.S. History: May 18


1631 – In Dorchester, Massachusetts, John Winthrop takes the oath of office and becomes the first Governor of Massachusetts.

1652 – Rhode Island passes the first law in English-speaking North America making slavery illegal.

1756 – The Seven Years' War begins when Great Britain declares war on France.

1860 – Abraham Lincoln wins the Republican Party presidential nomination over William H. Seward, who later becomes the United States Secretary of State.

1863 – American Civil War: The Siege of Vicksburg begins.

1896 – The United States Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson that the "separate but equal" doctrine is constitutional.

1917 – World War I: The Selective Service Act of 1917 is passed, giving the President of the United States the power of conscription.

1927 – The Bath School disaster: Forty-five people are killed by bombs planted by a disgruntled school-board member in Michigan.

1933 – New Deal: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs an act creating the Tennessee Valley Authority.

1944 – World War II: Battle of Monte Cassino: Conclusion after seven days of the fourth battle as German paratroopers evacuate Monte Cassino.

1953 – Jackie Cochran becomes the first woman to break the sound barrier.

1958 – An F-104 Starfighter sets a world speed record of 1,404.19 mph (2,259.82 km/h).

1969 – Apollo program: Apollo 10 is launched.

1980 – Mount St. Helens erupts in Washington, United States, killing 57 people and causing $3 billion in damage.

2005 – A second photo from the Hubble Space Telescope confirms that Pluto has two additional moons, Nix and Hydra.


1822 – Mathew Brady, American photographer and journalist (d. 1896)

1897 – Frank Capra, Italian-American director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1991)

1901 – Vincent du Vigneaud, American biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1978)

1902 – Meredith Willson, American playwright and composer (d. 1984)

1912 – Perry Como, American singer and actor (d. 2001)

1924 – Jack Whitaker, American sportscaster

1930 – Warren Rudman, American soldier, lawyer, and politician (d. 2012)

1937 – Brooks Robinson, American baseball player and sportscaster

1943 – Jimmy Snuka, Fijian-American wrestler and actor

1946 – Reggie Jackson, American baseball player, sportscaster, and actor

1950 – Rod Milburn, American hurdler and coach (d. 1997)

1952 – George Strait, American singer, guitarist, producer, and actor

1952 – Jeana Yeager, American pilot

1970 – Tina Fey, American actress, producer, and screenwriter

1983 – Vince Young, American football player


1808 – Elijah Craig, American minister, inventor, and educator, invented Bourbon whiskey (b. 1738)

1927 – Andrew Kehoe, American educator and murderer, committed the Bath School disaster (b. 1872)

1955 – Mary McLeod Bethune, American educator and activist (b. 1875)

1973 – Jeannette Rankin, American social worker and politician (b. 1880)

1975 – Leroy Anderson, American composer and conductor (b. 1908)

1980 – Victims of Mount St. Helens eruption:

Reid Blackburn, American photographer and journalist (b. 1952)

David A. Johnston, American volcanologist and geologist (b. 1949)

Harry Randall Truman, American owner and caretaker of Mount St. Helens Lodge (b. 1896)

1995 – Elizabeth Montgomery, American actress and singer (b. 1933)