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This Day in U.S. History: May 7


1718 – The city of New Orleans is founded by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville.

1763 – Pontiac's War begins with Pontiac's attempt to seize Fort Detroit from the British.

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1840 – The Great Natchez Tornado strikes Natchez, Mississippi killing 317 people. It is the second deadliest tornado in United States history.

1846 – The Cambridge Chronicle, America's oldest surviving weekly newspaper, is published for the first time in Cambridge, Massachusetts

1847 – The American Medical Association is founded in Philadelphia.

1864 – American Civil War: The Army of the Potomac, under General Ulysses S. Grant, breaks off from the Battle of the Wilderness and moves southwards.

1915 – World War I: German submarine U-20 sinks RMS Lusitania, killing 1,198 people, including 128 Americans. Public reaction to the sinking turns many formerly pro-Germans in the United States against the German Empire

1942 – During the Battle of the Coral Sea, United States Navy aircraft carrier aircraft attack and sink the Imperial Japanese Navy light aircraft carrier Shōhō. The battle marks the first time in the naval history that two enemy fleets fight without visual contact between warring ships.

1945 – World War II: General Alfred Jodl signs unconditional surrender terms at Reims, France, ending Germany's participation in the war. The document takes effect the next day.

1960 – Cold War: U-2 Crisis of 1960: Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev announces that his nation is holding American U-2 pilot Gary Powers.

1964 – Pacific Air Lines Flight 773, a Fairchild F-27 airliner, crashes near San Ramon, California, killing all 44 aboard; the FBI later reports that a cockpit recorder tape indicates that the pilot and co-pilot had been shot by a suicidal passenger.

1992 – Michigan ratifies a 203-year-old proposed amendment to the United States Constitution making the 27th Amendment law. This amendment bars the U.S. Congress from giving itself a mid-term pay raise.

1992 – The Space Shuttle Endeavour is launched on its first mission, STS-49.

1998 – Mercedes-Benz buys Chrysler for US$40 billion USD and forms DaimlerChrysler in the largest industrial merger in history.

2004 – American businessman Nick Berg, is beheaded by Islamic militants. The act is recorded on videotape and released on the Internet.


1826 – Varina Davis, American wife of Jefferson Davis (d. 1906)

1885 – George "Gabby" Hayes, American actor (d. 1969)

1892 – Archibald MacLeish, American poet, playwright, and lawyer (d. 1982)

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

1909 – Edwin H. Land, American scientist and inventor, co-founded the Polaroid Corporation (d. 1991)

1913 – John Spencer Hardy, American general (d. 2012)

1913 – Simon Ramo, American physicist and engineer

1931 – Teresa Brewer, American singer (d. 2007)

1931 – Gene Wolfe, American author

1933 – Johnny Unitas, American football player and sportscaster (d. 2002)

1936 – Jimmy Ruffin, American singer (d. 2014)

1950 – Tim Russert, American journalist and lawyer (d. 2008)

1954 – Amy Heckerling, American director, producer, and screenwriter

1962 – Judith Donath, American computer scientist and academic

1976 – Michael P. Murphy, American lieutenant, Medal of Honor recipient (d. 2005)


1876 – William Buell Sprague, American clergyman, historian, and author (b. 1795)

1978 – Mort Weisinger, American journalist and author (b. 1915)

1987 – Paul Popham, American soldier and activist, co-founded Gay Men's Health Crisis (b. 1941)

2000 – Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., American captain, actor, and producer (b. 1909)

2005 – Peter Rodino, American captain and politician (b. 1909)