Today in History: May 17

Posted at 12:49 PM, May 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-17 13:49:08-04

Today is Sunday, May 17, the 138th day of 2020. There are 228 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On May 17, 1792, the New York Stock Exchange had its beginnings as a group of brokers met under a tree on Wall Street and signed the Buttonwood Agreement.

On this date:

In 1510, early Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli died in Florence, Italy; he was probably in his mid 60s.

In 1536, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer declared the marriage of England's King Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn invalid after she failed to produce a male heir; Boleyn, already condemned for high treason, was executed two days later.

In 1946, President Harry S. Truman seized control of the nation's railroads, delaying - but not preventing - a threatened strike by engineers and trainmen.

In 1954, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision which held that racially segregated public schools were inherently unequal, and therefore unconstitutional.

In 1973, a special committee convened by the U.S. Senate began its televised hearings into the Watergate scandal.

In 1980, rioting that claimed 18 lives erupted in Miami's Liberty City after an all-white jury in Tampa acquitted four former Miami police officers of fatally beating black insurance executive Arthur McDuffie.

In 1987, 37 American sailors were killed when an Iraqi warplane attacked the U.S. Navy frigate Stark in the Persian Gulf. (Iraq apologized for the attack, calling it a mistake, and paid more than $27 million in compensation.)

In 1992, orchestra leader Lawrence Welk died in Santa Monica, Calif., at age 89.

In 1995, Jacques Chirac was sworn in as president of France, ending the 14-year tenure of Socialist Francois Mitterrand.

In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed a measure requiring neighborhood notification when sex offenders move in. ("Megan's Law," as it's known, was named for Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old New Jersey girl who was raped and murdered in 1994.)

In 2002, former President Jimmy Carter ended a historic visit to Cuba sharply at odds with the Bush administration over how to deal with Fidel Castro, saying limits on tourism and trade often hurt Americans more than Cubans.

In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex marriages.

Ten years ago: The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that young people serving life prison terms should have "a meaningful opportunity to obtain release" provided they didn't kill their victims. Laura Silsby, the last of 10 Americans detained while trying to take 33 children out of Haiti after the Jan. 2010 earthquake, was freed after a judge sentenced her to time already served.

Five years ago: A shootout erupted between bikers and police outside a restaurant in Waco, Texas, leaving nine of the bikers dead and 20 people injured. The contested city of Ramadi, capital of Iraq's largest province, fell to the Islamic State group in a major loss despite intensified U.S.-led airstrikes. Pope Francis canonized Sisters Mariam Bawardy and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas, two nuns from what was 19th-century Palestine, in hopes of encouraging Christians across the Middle East who were facing a wave of persecution from Islamic extremists.

One year ago: Herman Wouk, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of "The Caine Mutiny" and "The Winds of War," died at his California home; he was 103. With a score of 128 after the second round of the PGA Championship, Brooks Koepka achieved the lowest 36-hole score in major championship history, and the largest lead (seven shots) of anyone at the halfway point of a Grand Slam event in 85 years. (Koepka would win the event for a second straight year.) Taiwan's legislature voted to legalize same-sex marriage, making Taiwan the first place in Asia with a law that allowed and spelled out the terms of same-sex marriage. The owners of the pet known as Grumpy Cat, an internet sensation because of her sourpuss expression, announced on social media that the feline had died at her Arizona home at the age of seven.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Peter Gerety is 80. Singer Taj Mahal is 78. Rock musician Bill Bruford is 71. Singer-musician George Johnson (The Brothers Johnson) is 67. TV personality Kathleen Sullivan is 67. Boxing Hall of Famer Sugar Ray Leonard is 64. Actor-comedian Bob Saget is 64. Sports announcer Jim Nantz is 61. Producer Simon Fuller (TV: "American Idol") is 60. Singer Enya is 59. Actor-comedian Craig Ferguson is 58. Rock singer-musician Page McConnell is 57. Actor David Eigenberg is 56. Singer-musician Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) is 55. Actress Paige Turco is 55. Rhythm-and-blues musician O'Dell (Mint Condition) is 55. Actor Hill Harper is 54. TV personality/interior designer Thom Filicia is 51. Singer Jordan Knight is 50. Rhythm-and-blues singer Darnell Van Rensalier (Shai) is 50. Actress Sasha Alexander is 47. Rock singer-musician Josh Homme is 47. Rock singer Andrea Corr (The Corrs) is 46. Actor Sendhil Ramamurthy is 46. Actress Rochelle Aytes is 44. Singer Kandi Burruss is 44. Actress Kat Foster is 42. Actress Ayda Field is 41. Actress Ginger Gonzaga is 37. Folk-rock singer/songwriter Passenger is 36. Dancer-choreographer Derek Hough is 35. Actor Tahj Mowry is 34. Actress Nikki Reed is 32. Singer Kree Harrison (TV: "American Idol") is 30. Actress Leven Rambin is 30. Actress Samantha Browne-Walters is 29. Actor Justin Martin is 26.

Thought for Today: "If an article is attractive, or useful, or inexpensive, they'll stop making it tomorrow; if it's all three, they stopped making it yesterday." - Mignon McLaughlin, American journalist (1913-1983).

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