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This Day in History: June 6


1586 – Francis Drake's forces raid St. Augustine in Spanish Florida.

1813 – War of 1812: Battle of Stoney Creek: A British force of 700 under John Vincent defeats an American force twice its size under William Winder and John Chandler.

1833 – Andrew Jackson becomes the first U.S. President to ride on a train.

1862 – American Civil War: Battle of Memphis: Union forces capture Memphis, Tennessee, from the Confederates.

1889 – The Great Seattle Fire destroys all of downtown Seattle.

1892 – The Chicago "L" commuter rail system begins operation

1894 – Governor Davis H. Waite orders the Colorado state militia to protect and support the miners engaged in the Cripple Creek miners' strike.

1912 – The eruption of Novarupta in Alaska begins. It is the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century.

1918 – World War I: Battle of Belleau Wood: The U.S. Marine Corps suffers its worst single day's casualties while attempting to recapture the wood at Château-Thierry.

1932 – The Revenue Act of 1932 is enacted, creating the first gas tax in the United States, at a rate of 1 cent per US gallon (14¢/L) sold.

1933 – The first drive-in theater opens, in Camden, New Jersey, United States.

1934 – New Deal: The U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Securities Act of 1933 into law, establishing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

1939 – Judge Joseph Force Crater, known as the "Missingest Man in New York", is declared legally dead.

1942 – World War II: Battle of Midway. U.S. Navy dive bombers sink the Japanese cruiser Mikuma and four Japanese carriers.

1944 – World War II: The Battle of Normandy begins. D-Day, code named Operation Overlord, commences with the landing of 155,000 Allied troops on the beaches of Normandy in France. The allied soldiers quickly break through the Atlantic Wall and push inland in the largest amphibious military operation in history.

1946 – The National Basketball Association is created with eleven teams.

1968 – Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: Robert F. Kennedy, Democratic Party senator from New York and brother of 35th President John F. Kennedy, dies from gunshot wounds inflicted on June 5.

1971 – A midair collision between a Hughes Airwest Douglas DC-9 jetliner and a United States Marine Corps McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II jet fighter near Duarte, California, claims 50 lives.

1985 – The grave of "Wolfgang Gerhard" is opened in Embu, Brazil; the exhumed remains are later proven to be those of Josef Mengele, Auschwitz's "Angel of Death". Mengele is thought to have drowned while swimming in February 1979.

1997 – Prom Mom incident: While attending her senior prom in Lacey Township, New Jersey, Melissa Drexler gives birth in a bathroom stall, leaves the baby to die in a trash can and then returns to the prom.

2005 – In Gonzales v. Raich, the United States Supreme Court upholds a federal law banning cannabis, including medical marijuana.


1622 – Claude-Jean Allouez, French-American missionary and explorer (d. 1689)

1755 – Nathan Hale, American soldier (d. 1776)

1867 – David T. Abercrombie, American surveyor and businessman, founded Abercrombie & Fitch (d. 1931)

1925 – Maxine Kumin, American poet and author (d. 2014)

1934 – Roy Innis, American activist and politician

1936 – Levi Stubbs, American singer (Four Tops) (d. 2008)

1939 – Gary U.S. Bonds, American singer-songwriter

1943 – Richard Smalley, American chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2005)


1799 – Patrick Henry, American lawyer and politician, 1st Governor of Virginia (b. 1736)

1941 – Louis Chevrolet, Swiss-American race car driver and businessman, founded Chevrolet and Frontenac Motor Corporation (b. 1878)

1968 – Robert F. Kennedy, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 64th United States Attorney General (b. 1925)

1976 – J. Paul Getty, American businessman, founded the Getty Oil Company (b. 1892)

1991 – Stan Getz, American saxophonist (b. 1927)

2005 – Anne Bancroft, American actress (b. 1931)

2006 – Billy Preston, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and actor (b. 1946)

2013 – Jerome Karle, American chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1918)

2013 – Esther Williams, American swimmer, actress, and singer (b. 1921)

2015 – Vincent Bugliosi, American lawyer and author (b. 1934)