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This Day in U.S. History: May 16


1771 – The Battle of Alamance, a pre-American Revolutionary War battle between local militia and a group of rebels called The "Regulators", occurs in present-day Alamance County, North Carolina.

1843 – The first major wagon train heading for the Pacific Northwest sets out on the Oregon Trail with one thousand pioneers from Elm Grove, Missouri.

1866 – The U.S. Congress eliminates the half dime coin and replaces it with the five cent piece, or nickel.

1868 – United States President Andrew Johnson is acquitted in his impeachment trial by one vote in the United States Senate.

1874 – A flood on the Mill River in Massachusetts destroys much of four villages and kills 139 people.

1888 – Nikola Tesla delivers a lecture describing the equipment which will allow efficient generation and use of alternating currents to transmit electric power over long distances.

1914 – The first ever National Challenge Cup final is played. Brooklyn Field Club defeats Brooklyn Celtic 2–1.

1918 – The Sedition Act of 1918 is passed by the U.S. Congress, making criticism of the government during wartime an imprisonable offense. It will be repealed less than two years later.

1929 – In Hollywood, the first Academy Awards are awarded.

1943 – The Holocaust: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising ends.

1951 – The first regularly scheduled transatlantic flights begin between Idlewild Airport (now John F Kennedy International Airport) in New York City and Heathrow Airport in London, operated by El Al Israel Airlines.

1953 – American journalist William N. Oatis is released after serving 22 months of a ten-year prison sentence for espionage in Czechoslovakia.

1988 – A report by the Surgeon General of the United States C. Everett Koop states that the addictive properties of nicotine are similar to those of heroin and cocaine.

1991 – Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom addresses a joint session of the United States Congress. She is the first British monarch to address the U.S. Congress.

2011 – STS-134 (ISS assembly flight ULF6), launched from the Kennedy Space Center on the 25th and final flight for Space Shuttle Endeavour.


1801 – William H. Seward, American lawyer and politician, 24th United States Secretary of State (d. 1872)

1824 – Levi P. Morton, American banker and politician, 22nd United States Vice President (d. 1920)

1905 – Henry Fonda, American actor, singer, and producer (d. 1982)

1912 – Studs Terkel, American historian and author (d. 2008)

1913 – Woody Herman, American singer, saxophonist, and clarinet player (d. 1987)

1919 – Liberace, American pianist and entertainer (d. 1987)

1929 – John Conyers, American lawyer and politician

1955 – Jack Morris, American baseball player and sportscaster

1957 – Joan Benoit, American runner

1966 – Janet Jackson, American singer-songwriter, producer, dancer, and actress

1973 – Tori Spelling, American actress, reality television personality, and author

1986 – Megan Fox, American actress


1920 – Levi P. Morton, American politician, 22nd United States Vice President (b. 1824)

1956 – H. B. Reese, American candy-maker and businessman, created Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (b. 1876)

1957 – Eliot Ness, American federal agent (b. 1903)

1979 – A. Philip Randolph,  American union leader and activist (b. 1889)

1984 – Andy Kaufman, American actor, comedian, and screenwriter (b. 1949)

1985 – Margaret Hamilton, American actress (b. 1902)

1990 – Sammy Davis Jr., American singer, dancer, and actor (b. 1925)

1990 – Jim Henson, American puppeteer, director, producer, and screenwriter, created The Muppets (b. 1936)

2000 – Bodacious, American bull (b. 1988)

2008 – Robert Mondavi, American winemaker, co-founded the Opus One Winery (b. 1913)