Today in History: May 18, Mount St. Helens erupts

By The Associated Press

Today is Saturday, May 18, the 139th day of 2024. There are 227 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On May 18, 1980, the Mount St. Helens volcano in Washington state exploded, leaving 57 people dead or missing.

On this date:

In 1652, Rhode Island became the first American colony to pass a law abolishing African slavery; however, the law was apparently never enforced.

In 1863, the Siege of Vicksburg began during the Civil War, ending July 4 with a Union victory.

In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson, endorsed “separate but equal” racial segregation, a concept renounced 58 years later by Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

In 1910, Halley’s Comet passed by earth, brushing it with its tail.

In 1927, in America’s deadliest school attack, part of a schoolhouse in Bath Township, Michigan, was blown up with explosives planted by local farmer Andrew Kehoe, who then set off a bomb in his truck; the attacks killed 38 children and six adults, including Kehoe, who’d earlier killed his wife. (Authorities said Kehoe, who suffered financial difficulties, was seeking revenge for losing a township clerk election.)

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a measure creating the Tennessee Valley Authority.

In 1934, Congress approved, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed, the so-called “Lindbergh Act,” providing for the death penalty in cases of interstate kidnapping.

In 1973, Harvard law professor Archibald Cox was appointed Watergate special prosecutor by U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson.

In 1981, the New York Native, a gay newspaper, carried a story concerning rumors of “an exotic new disease” among homosexuals; it was the first published report about what came to be known as AIDS.

In 1998, the U.S. government filed an antitrust case against Microsoft, saying the powerful software company had a “choke hold” on competitors that was denying consumers important choices about how they bought and used computers. (The Justice Department and Microsoft reached a settlement in 2001.)

In 2013, French President Francois Hollande signed a law authorizing same-sex marriages and adoption by gay couples.

In 2015, President Barack Obama ended long-running federal transfers of some combat-style gear to local law enforcement in an attempt to ease tensions between police and minority communities, saying equipment made for the battlefield should not be a tool of American criminal justice.

In 2017, Chris Cornell, who was lead singer with rock bands Soundgarden and Audioslave, took his own life in a Detroit hotel room; he was 52.

In 2018, a 17-year-old armed with a shotgun and a pistol opened fire at a Houston-area high school, killing eight students and two teachers.

In 2020, President Donald Trump said he’d been taking a malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, and a zinc supplement to protect against the coronavirus despite warnings from his own government that the drug should be administered only in a hospital or research setting.

In 2022, nearly 1,000 last-ditch Ukrainian fighters who had held out inside Mariupol’s pulverized steel plant surrendered, Russia said, as the battle that turned the city into a worldwide symbol of defiance and suffering drew toward a close.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Priscilla Pointer is 100. Actor Candice Azzara is 83. Bluegrass singer-musician Rodney Dillard (The Dillards) is 82. Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson is 78. Former Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is 76. Country singer Joe Bonsall (The Oak Ridge Boys) is 76. Rock musician Rick Wakeman (Yes) is 75. Rock singer Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo) is 74. Actor James Stephens is 73. Country singer George Strait is 72. Actor Chow Yun-Fat is 69. International Tennis Hall of Famer Yannick Noah is 64. Rock singer-musician Page Hamilton is 64. Contemporary Christian musician Barry Graul (MercyMe) is 63. Contemporary Christian singer Michael Tait is 58. Singer-actor Martika is 55. Comedian-writer Tina Fey is 54. Rock singer Jack Johnson is 49. Country singer David Nail is 45. Actor Matt Long is 44. Actor Allen Leech is 43. Christian singer Francesca Battistelli is 39. Actor Spencer Breslin is 32. Actor Violett Beane is 28. Actor Hala Finley is 15.


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