Here's what happened on May 18th!
- 1804: After what is known as the most remarkable example of a coup d'état, which occurred in 1799, Napoleon I was proclaimed emperor of the French.
- 1864: American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne died suddenly. Among his many works is his best known novel, The Scarlet Letter.
(World Biography, American History)
- 1868: Tsar Nicholas II was born near St. Petersburg, Russia. He was the emperor of Russia during World War I. During the Bolshevik Revolution he was forced to step down, becoming the last ruling member of the Romanov Dynasty.
1896: Justice Henry Billings Brown announced the majority opinion in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson. The 7—1 decision upheld the ruling that racial segregation did not violate the U.S. Constitution, as long as the accommodations provided to black and white citizens were “separate but equal.” Read an excerpt of the controversial ruling here.
- 1912: American pop singer Perry Como was born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Some of his hits include “Till the End of Time,” “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” and “Catch a Falling Star.” He also won seven Emmy Awards for his television show, The Perry Como Show.
- 1920: John Paul II was born in Wadowice, Poland. In 1978 he became the first pope from Poland and the first non-Italian pope since 1523. He called for improved human rights, education, and freedom of speech. He passed away at the Vatican on April 2, 2005. He is only one of three men to serve at least twenty-five years as pope.
(Shapers of Society, World Biography, American History)
- 1933: The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Act was passed by Congress. The TVA was created to help the Tennessee Valley region of the country that had been particularly hard-hit by the Depression. The TVA transformed the entire region within a few years.
(American History, Defining Moments)
- 1946: Professional baseball player Reggie Jackson was born in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. In his 21 seasons, Jackson totaled 2584 hits, 1551 runs, 1702 RBIs, a record 2597 strikeouts, and 563 homers. He also played on five World Series-winning teams.
- 1947: Mike Royko, a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist, went to Wrigley Field as a child to watch his beloved Cubs play the Dodgers. The Dodgers had just signed Jackie Robinson to their team and this game took place only about a month after his first major league appearance. Read Royko's published account of being a part of this historic day in Chicago here!
- 1955: African American educator and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune passed away.She worked to provide equal education and rights for minorities and women. In 1974, a bronze statue of Bethune was dedicated in Washington, D.C. It is the first monument to an African American or woman in the capital.
(Biography for Beginners, Defining Moments)
- 1973: Archibald Cox accepted the offer to become the special prosecutor assigned to the Watergate scandal investigation. He took his oath one week later. Cox launched a vigorous investigation that dismayed President Richard Nixon and the White House. Cox’s dismissal was a part of the Saturday Night Massacre, in which both the attorney general and deputy attorney general resigned instead of firing Cox as Nixon had requested. The solicitor general eventually fired Cox.
- 1980: Mount Saint Helens erupted after lying dormant for 123 years. The eruption of the volcano, located in the Cascade Mountains 100 miles south of Seattle, Washington, was estimated to have been 500 times as powerful as that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II.
(American History, Science, Essential Information)
- 1996: Osama Bin Laden left Sudan after being exiled by the government. He then headed for Afghanistan, where he had made his reputation in the first place and where Islamic religious fanaticism had established a deadly stranglehold over the population since his departure seven years earlier.