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On May 17th...
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1727 Empress Catherine of Russia died.
1733 England passed the Molasses Act, putting high tariffs on rum and molasses imported to the colonies from a country other than British possessions.
1749 Edward Jenner, physician who developed a vaccine against rabies, was born.
1756 Britain declared war on France.
1792 The New York Stock Exchange was founded by 24 brokers in New York City.
1814 Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden.
1829 John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, died.
1836 Astronomer Norman Lockyer was born.
1838 French Revolutionary leader Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord died.
1865 The International Telegraph Union was established.
The first Kentucky Derby was run.
1877 Edwin T. Holmes installed the first telephone switchboard burglar alarm.
1883 "Buffalo Bill" Cody staged his first Wild West show.
1884 The District of Alaska was established.
1902 Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais discovered the Antikythera mechanism, believed to be an ancient mechanical analog computer.
1915 The National Baptist Convention was chartered.
1931 Cult leader Marshall Applewhite was born.
1936 Actor Dennis Hopper was born.
1946 U.S. President Harry Truman seized control of the nation's railroads to delay a strike.
1948 The Soviet Union recognized Israel.
1949 The British government recognized the Republic of Ireland.
1951 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools are unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education.
1956 Boxer Sugar Ray
Leonard was born.
1961 Fidel Castro offered to exchange Bay of
Pigs prisoners for 500 bulldozers.
1968 The European Space Research Organization launched its first satellite.
1973 The Senate Watergate Committee began hearings.
1983 Israel and Lebanon signed a peace treaty.
1987 The U.S.S. Stark, a Navy frigate on patrol in the Persian Gulf, was struck by missiles fired by an Iraqi warplane, resulting in the deaths of 37 sailors.
1990 The World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.
1992 Band leader Lawrence Welk died.
2004 Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage.
2005 Actor Frank Gorshin died.
2011 Baseball player Harmon Killebrew died.
2012 Singer Donna Summer died.
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This page was last updated on May 16, 2017.