May 15 2011

On This Day In History May 15

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

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May 15 is the 135th day of the year (136th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 230 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1776, the Virginia Convention instructs its Continental Congress delegation to propose a resolution of independence from Great Britain, paving the way for the United States Declaration of Independence.

The Virginia Conventions were a series of five political meetings in the Colony of Virginiaduring the American Revolution. Because the House of Burgesses had been dissolved in 1774 by Royal Governor Lord Dunmore, the conventions served as a revolutionary provisional government until the establishment of the independent Commonwealth of Virginia in 1776.

The fifth convention began May 6, 1776 and met in Williamsburg. On May 15, the convention declared independence from Britain and adopted a set of three momentous resolutions: one calling for a declaration of rights for Virginia, one calling for establishment of a republican constitution, and a third calling for federal relations with whichever other colonies would have them and alliance with whichever foreign countries would have them. It also instructed its delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia to declare independence. Virginia’s congressional delegation was thus the only one under unconditional positive instructions to declare independence; Virginia was already independent, and so its convention did not want their state, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, to “hang separately.” According to James Madison’s correspondence for that day, Williamsburg residents marked the occasion by taking down the Union Jack from over the colonial capitol and running up a continental union flag.

On June 7, Richard Henry Lee, one of Virginia’s delegates to Congress, carried out these instructions and proposed independence in the language the convention had commanded him to use: that “these colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.” This paved the way for the American Declaration of Independence, which also reflected the idea that not one nation, but thirteen free and independent states were aborning on the east coast of North America.

The convention amended, and on June 12 adopted, George Mason‘s Declaration of Rights, a precursor to the United States Bill of Rights. On June 29, the convention approved the first Constitution of Virginia, which was also the first written constitution adopted by the people’s representatives in the history of the world. The convention chose Patrick Henry as the first governor of the new Commonwealth of Virginia, and he was inaugurated on June 29, 1776. Thus, Virginia had a functioning, permanent, republican constitution before July 4, 1776 — uniquely among the thirteen American colonies.

 1252 – Pope Innocent IV issues the papal bull ad exstirpanda, which authorizes, but also limits, the torture of heretics in the Medieval Inquisition.

1525 – The battle of Frankenhausen ends the German Peasants’ War.

1536 – Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, stands trial in London on charges of treason, adultery and incest. She is condemned to death by a specially-selected jury.

1567 – Mary, Queen of Scots, marries James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, her third husband.

1602 – Bartholomew Gosnold becomes the first European to see Cape Cod.

1618 – Johannes Kepler confirms his previously rejected discovery of the third law of planetary motion (he first discovered it on March 8 but soon rejected the idea after some initial calculations were made).

1701 – The War of the Spanish Succession begins.

1718 – James Puckle, a London lawyer, patents the world’s first machine gun.

1755 – Laredo, Texas is established by the Spaniards.

1776 – American Revolution: the Virginia Convention instructs its Continental Congress delegation to propose a resolution of independence from Great Britain, paving the way for the United States Declaration of Independence.

1791 – Maximilien Robespierre proposes the Self-denying Ordinance.

1792 – War of the First Coalition: France declares war on Kingdom of Sardinia.

1793 – Diego Marin Aguilera flies a glider for “about 360 meters”, at a height of 5-6 meters, during one of the first attempted flights.

1796 – First Coalition: Napoleon enters Milan in triumph.

1800 – George III of the United Kingdom survives an assassination attempt by James Hadfield, who is later acquitted by reason of insanity.

1811 – Paraguay declares independence from Spain.

1817 – Opening of the first private mental health hospital in the United States, the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason (now Friends Hospital) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1836 – Francis Baily observes “Baily’s beads” during an annular eclipse.

1849 – Troops of the Two Sicilies take Palermo and crush the republican government of Sicily

1850 – The Bloody Island Massacre takes place in Lake County, CA, in which a large number of Pomo Indians in Lake County are slaughtered by a regiment of the United States Cavalry, led by Nathaniel Lyon.

1858 – Opening of the present Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London.

1862 – President Abraham Lincoln signs a bill into law creating the United States Bureau of Agriculture. It is later renamed the United States Department of Agriculture.

1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Resaca, Georgia ends.

1864 – American Civil War: Battle of New Market, Virginia – students from the Virginia Military Institute fight alongside the Confederate Army to force Union General Franz Sigel out of the Shenandoah Valley.

1869 – Woman’s suffrage: in New York, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form the National Woman Suffrage Association.

1905 – The Russian minelayer Amur laid a minefield about 15 miles off Port Arthur and sank Japan’s battleship Hatsuse, 15,000 tons, with 496 crew.

1905 – Las Vegas, Nevada, is founded when 110 acres, in what later would become downtown, are auctioned off.

1911 – In Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States, the United States Supreme Court declares Standard Oil to be an “unreasonable” monopoly under the Sherman Antitrust Act and orders the company to be broken up.

1919 – The Winnipeg General Strike begins. By 11:00 a.m., almost the whole working population of Winnipeg, Manitoba had walked off the job.

1919 – Greek invasion of Izmir. During the invasion, the Greek army kills or wounds 350 Turks. Those responsible are punished by the Greek Commander Aristides Stergiades.

1928 – Mickey Mouse premiered in his first cartoon, Plane Crazy

1932 – The May 15 Incident: in an attempted Coup d’état, the Prime Minister of Japan Inukai Tsuyoshi is killed.

1934 – Karlis Ulmanis establishes an authoritarian government in Latvia.

1935 – The Moscow Metro is opened to public.

1936 – Amy Johnson arrives back in England after a record-breaking return flight to Cape Town

1940 – USS Sailfish (SS-192) recommissioned, originally the USS Squalus.

1940 – World War II: After fierce fighting, the poorly trained and equipped Dutch troops surrender to Germany, marking the beginning of five years of occupation.

1940 – McDonald’s opens its first restaurant in San Bernardino, California.

1942 – World War II: in the United States, a bill creating the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) is signed into law.

1943 – Joseph Stalin dissolves the Comintern (or Third International).

1945 – World War II: The final skirmish in Europe is fought near Prevalje, Slovenia.

1948 – Following the demise of the British Mandate of Palestine, Egypt, Transjordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia invade Israel thus starting the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

1951 – The Polish cultural attache in Paris, Czeslaw Milosz, asks the French government for political asylum.

1957 – At Malden Island in the Pacific, Britain tests its first hydrogen bomb in Operation Grapple. The device fails to detonate properly.

1958 – The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 3.

1960 – The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 4.

1963 – Project Mercury: The launch of the final Mercury mission, Mercury-Atlas 9 with astronaut L. Gordon Cooper on board. He becomes the first American to spend more than a day in space.

1966 – After a policy dispute, Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky of South Vietnam’s ruling junta launches a military attack on the forces of General Ton That Dinh, forcing him to abandon his command.

1969 – People’s Park: California Governor Ronald Reagan has an impromptu student park owned by University of California at Berkeley fenced off from student anti-war protestors, sparking a riot called Bloody Thursday.

1970 – President Richard Nixon appoints Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington the first female United States Army Generals.

1972 – The island of Okinawa, under U.S. military governance since its conquest in 1945, reverts to Japanese control.

1972 – In Laurel, Maryland, Arthur Bremer shoots and paralyzes Alabama Governor George Wallace while he is campaigning to be become President.

1987 – The Soviet Union launches the Polyus prototype orbital weapons platform. It fails to reach orbit.

1988 – Soviet war in Afghanistan: After more than eight years of fighting, the Red Army begins its withdrawal from Afghanistan.

1990 – Portrait of Doctor Gachet by Vincent van Gogh is sold for a record $82.5 million, the most expensive painting at the time.

1991 – Edith Cresson becomes France’s first female prime minister.

1997 – The United States government acknowledges the existence of the “Secret War” in Laos and dedicates the Laos Memorial in honor of Hmong and other “Secret War” veterans.

2008 – California becomes the second U.S. state after Massachusetts in 2004 to legalize same-sex marriage after the state’s own Supreme Court rules a previous ban unconstitutional.

2010 – Jessica Watson becomes the youngest person to sail, non-stop and unassisted around the world solo.

Holidays and observances

   * Aoi Matsuri (Kyoto)

   * Christian Feast Day:

       Achillius of Larissa

       Pachomius (Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches)

       Athanasius of Alexandria (Coptic Church)


       Hilary of Galeata

       Isidore the Laborer, celebrated with festivals in various countries, the beginning of bullfighting season in Madrid.

       Jean-Baptiste de la Salle (Roman Catholic Church)

       Reticius (Roman Catholic Church)

       Peter, Andrew, Paul, and Denise (Roman Catholic Church)

       Hallvard Vebjørnsson (Norway)

       May 15 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

   * Constituent Assembly Day (Lithuania)

   * Day of Slovenian Army (Slovenia)

   * Earliest date on which Armed Forces Day can fall, while May 21 is the latest; celebrated on the third Saturday of May. (United States)

   * Earliest date on which Bike-to-Work Day can fall, while May 21 is the latest; celebrated on the third Friday of May. (United States)

   * Independence Day, celebrates the independence of Paraguay from Spain in 1811. Celebrations for the anniversary of the independence begin on Flag Day, 14 May.

   * International Conscientious Objectors’ Day (International)

   * International Day of Families (International)

   * Kanda Matsuri, held on Saturday and Sunday closest to May 15, every odd years. (Kanda Shrine)

   * La Corsa dei Ceri begins on the eve of the feast day of Saint Ubaldo. (Gubbio)

   * Mercuralia, in honour of Mercury. (Roman Empire)

   * Nakba Day (Palestinian communities)

   * Peace Officers Memorial Day (United States)

   * Slovenian Army Day (Slovenia)

   * Teacher’s Day (Mexico and South Korea)

1 comment

  1. TMC

    Dalai Lama

    Rather than working only to acquire wealth, we need to focus on the welfare of humanity as a whole.

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