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.
Click on image to enlarge
May 18 is the 138th day of the year (139th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 227 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1917, U.S. Congress passes Selective Service Act.
Some six weeks after the United States formally entered the First World War, the U.S Congress passes the Selective Service Act on May 18, 1917, giving the U.S. president the power to draft soldiers.
When he went before Congress on April 2, 1917, to deliver his war message, President Woodrow Wilson had pledged all of his nation’s considerable material resources to help the Allies-France, Britain, Russia and Italy-defeat the Central Powers. What the Allies desperately needed, however, were fresh troops to relieve their exhausted men on the battlefields of the Western Front, and these the U.S. was not immediately able to provide. Despite Wilson’s effort to improve military preparedness over the course of 1916, at the time of Congress’s war declaration the U.S. had only a small army of volunteers-some 100,000 men-that was in no way trained or equipped for the kind of fighting that was going on in Europe.
To remedy this situation, Wilson pushed the government to adopt military conscription, which he argued was the most democratic form of enlistment. To that end, Congress passed the Selective Service Act, which Wilson signed into law on May 18, 1917. The act required all men in the U.S. between the ages of 21 and 30 to register for military service. Within a few months, some 10 million men across the country had registered in response to the military draft.
The World War I Draft
During World War I there were three registrations.
The first, on June 5, 1917, was for all men between the ages of 21 and 31.
The second, on June 5, 1918, registered those who attained age 21 after June 5, 1917. A supplemental registration, included in the second registration, was held on August 24, 1918, for those becoming 21 years old after June 5, 1918.
The third registration was held on September 12, 1918, for men age 18 through 45.
After the signing of the armistice of November 11, 1918, the activities of the Selective Service System were rapidly curtailed. On March 31, 1919, all local, district, and medical advisory boards were closed, and on May 21, 1919, the last state headquarters closed operations. The Provost Marshal General was relieved from duty on July 15, 1919, thereby finally terminating the activities of the Selective Service System of World War I.
332 – Constantine the Great announced free distributions of food to the citizens in Constantinople.
1152 – Henry II of England marries Eleanor of Aquitaine.
1268 – The Principality of Antioch, a crusader state, falls to the Mamluk Sultan Baibars in the Battle of Antioch.
1302 – Bruges Matins, the nocturnal massacre of the French garrison in Bruges by members of the local Flemish militia.
1498 – Vasco da Gama reaches the port of Calicut, India.
1593 – Playwright Thomas Kyd’s accusations of heresy lead to an arrest warrant for Christopher Marlowe.
1631 – In Dorchester, Massachusetts, John Winthrop takes the oath of office and becomes the first Governor of Massachusetts.
1652 – Rhode Island passes the first law in North America making slavery illegal.
1756 – The Seven Years’ War begins when Great Britain declares war on France.
1763 – Fire destroys a large part of Montreal, Quebec.
1783 – First United Empire Loyalists reach Parrtown (later called Saint John), New Brunswick, Canada after leaving the United States.
1803 – Napoleonic Wars: The United Kingdom revokes the Treaty of Amiens and declares war on France.
1804 – Napoleon Bonaparte is proclaimed Emperor of the French by the French Senate.
1811 – Battle of Las Piedras: The first great military triumph of the revolution of the Rio de la Plata in Uruguay led by Jose Artigas.
1812 – John Bellingham is found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging for the assassination of British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval.
1843 – The Disruption in Edinburgh of the Free Church of Scotland from the Church of Scotland.
1848 – Opening of the first German National Assembly (Nationalversammlung) in Frankfurt, Germany.
1860 – Abraham Lincoln wins the Republican Party presidential nomination over William H. Seward, who later becomes the United States Secretary of State.
1863 – American Civil War: The Siege of Vicksburg begins.
1896 – The United States Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson that the “separate but equal” doctrine is constitutional.
1896 – Khodynka Tragedy: A mass panic on Khodynka Field in Moscow during the festivities of the coronation of Russian Tsar Nicholas II results in the deaths of 1,389 people.
1900 – The United Kingdom proclaims a protectorate over Tonga.
1910 – The Earth passes through the tail of Comet Halley.
1917 – World War I: The Selective Service Act of 1917 is passed, giving the President of the United States the power of conscription.
1926 – Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson disappears while visiting a Venice, California beach.
1927 – The Bath School Disaster: forty-five people are killed by bombs planted by a disgruntled school-board member in Michigan.
1933 – New Deal: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs an act creating the Tennessee Valley Authoity.
1944 – World War II: Battle of Monte Cassino – Conclusion after seven days of the fourth battle as German paratroopers (“Fallschirmjäger”) evacuate Monte Cassino.
1944 – Deportation of Crimean Tatars by the Soviet Union government.
1948 – The First Legislative Yuan of the Republic of China officially convenes in Nanking.
1953 – Jackie Cochran becomes the first woman to break the sound barrier.
1955 – Operation Passage to Freedom, the evacuation of 310,000 Vietnamese civilians, soldiers and non-Vietnamese members of the French Army from communist North Vietnam to South Vietnam following the end of the First Indochina War, ends.
1956 – First ascent of Lhotse 8,516 metres, by a Swiss team.
1958 – An F-104 Starfighter sets a world speed record of 2,259.82 km/h (1,404.19 mph).
1959 – Launch of the National Liberation Committee of Côte d’Ivoire in Conakry, Guinea.
1969 – Apollo program: Apollo 10 is launched.
1974 – Nuclear test: under project Smiling Buddha, India successfully detonates its first nuclear weapon becoming the sixth nation to do so.
1974 – Completion of the Warsaw radio mast, the tallest construction ever built at the time. It collapsed on August 8, 1991.
1980 – 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens: Mount St. Helens erupts in Washington, United States, killing 57 people and causing $3 billion in damage.
1980 – Gwangju Massacre: students in Gwangju, South Korea begin demonstrations calling for democratic reforms.
1983 – In Ireland, the government launches a crackdown, with the leading Dublin pirate Radio Nova being put off the air.
1990 – In France, a modified TGV train achieves a new rail world speed record of 515.3km/h (320.2 mph).
1991 – Northern Somalia declares independence from the rest of Somalia as the Republic of Somaliland but is not recognised by the international community.
1992 – The Archivist of the United States officially announces the Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution.
1993 – EU – riots in Nørrebro, Copenhagen caused by the approval of the four Danish exceptions in the Maastricht Treaty referendum.
Police opened fire against civilians for the first time since World War II and injured 11 demonstrators. In total 113 bullets are fired.
2006 – The post Loktantra Andolan government passes a landmark bill curtailing the power of the monarchy and making Nepal a secular country.
2009 – Sri Lankan Civil War: The LTTE are defeated by the Sri Lankan government, ending almost 26 years of fighting between the two sides.
* Battle of Las Piedras Day (Uruguay)
* Christian Feast Day:
Alfgifu of Shaftesbury
Eric IX of Sweden
Felix of Cantalice
Pope John I
Venantius of Camerino
May 18 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)
* Flag and Universities Day (Haiti)
* Independence Day (Somaliland (unrecognized))
* International Museum Day (International)
* Revival, Unity, and Poetry of Magtymguly Day (Turkmenistan)
* World AIDS Vaccine Day (International)