This Day in History — May 18

Today is the 138th day of 2021. There are 227 days left in the year.


1765: About one-fourth of Montreal, Canada, is destroyed by a fire.



1642: The Canadian city of Montreal is founded by French colonists.

1781: Peruvian revolutionary Tupac Amaru II is forced to witness the execution of his family by the Spanish in the main plaza in Cuzco and is then tortured and beheaded.

1804: Napoleon Bonaparte is proclaimed emperor of France.

1830: Edwin Budding of England signs an agreement for the manufacture of his invention, the lawnmower.

1860: Abraham Lincoln is nominated for US president.

1896: The US Supreme Court endorses the concept of “separate but equal” racial segregation with its Plessy vs Ferguson decision, a ruling that is overturned 58 years later in Brown vs Board of Education.

1897: A public reading of Bram Stoker’s new horror novel, Dracula, is staged in London.

1899: International peace conference is convened at The Hague in the Netherlands. It adopts conventions on warfare and creates the Permanent Court of Arbitration, now the UN International Court of Justice.

1910: Halley’s comet is seen from Earth as it moves across the sun.

1926: Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson vanishes while visiting a beach in Venice, California. (McPherson reappears more than a month later, saying she’d escaped after being kidnapped and held for ransom, an account that is greeted with scepticism.)

1933: US President Franklin D Roosevelt signs a measure creating the Tennessee Valley Authority.

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

1944: Monte Cassino monastery, a German stronghold that held up the Allied advance in Italy, is taken by Polish troops after bitter fighting.

1951: The United Nations, previously without a permanent home, begins to move into headquarters in New York City.

1953: Jacqueline Cochran becomes the first woman to break the sound barrier as she piloted a Canadair F-86 Sabre jet over Rogers Dry Lake, California.

1954: European Convention of Human Rights goes into effect.

1967: United Nations agrees to Egyptian demand to withdraw UN forces from Gaza Strip.

1969: Astronauts Eugene A Cernan, Thomas P Stafford and John W Young blast off aboard Apollo 10 on a mission to orbit the moon.

1970: Khmer Rouge forces advance to within 40 kilometres (25 miles) of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. They are repulsed, but take the capital five years later.

1972: Four bomb-disposal experts parachute into Atlantic from Royal Air Force plane and board liner Queen Elizabeth II after bomb threat.

1973: Harvard law professor Archibald Cox is appointed Watergate special prosecutor by US Attorney General Elliot Richardson.

1974: India explodes a nuclear bomb for the first time, in the deserts of Rajasthan.

1991: Helen Sharman becomes the first Briton to rocket into space as she flies aboard a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft with two cosmonauts on an eight-day mission to the Mir space station.

1993: Violent riots break out in Copenhagen, Denmark, after a majority of Danes in a referendum approve the Maastricht treaty calling for a closer European Union.

1994: Israel’s three decades of occupation in the Gaza Strip ends as Israeli troops complete their withdrawal and Palestinian authorities take over.

1997: Rebels led by Laurent Kabila take control of Kinshasa, capital of Zaire — now the Democratic Republic of the Congo — after overrunning the country in seven months.

1999: Sierra Leone’s Government and the country’s rebels agree to a ceasefire to end seven years of savage fighting.

2003: Philippine military begins bombing positions of Moro Islamic Liberation Front holdouts on the southern island of Mindanao. The Government holds the Muslim separatist group responsible for recent violence on the island.

2006: Visiting one of the busiest crossing sectors between the US and Mexico, President George W Bush says in Yuma, Arizona, that it makes sense to put up fencing along parts of the border, but not to block off the entire 2,000-mile length to keep immigrants from entering the US illegally.

2007: The Vatican confirms that Pope Benedict XVI will loosen restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass, reviving a rite that was essentially swept away by the revolutionary reforms of the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council.

2008: Mobs rampage through poor suburbs of Johannesburg in a frenzy of anti-foreigner hatred, killing at least seven people, injuring dozens and forcing hundreds to seek refuge at police stations.

2010: President Dmitry Medvedev says Russia will not scrap prospective pipeline routes bypassing Ukraine, but it is ready to discuss other energy projects with the new Ukrainian leadership.

2011: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, resigns, saying he wants to devote all his energy to battling the sexual assault charges he faces in New York. The charges are later dropped.

2012: Social network Facebook made its trading debut with one of the most highly anticipated inital public offers in Wall Street history; however, by day’s end, Facebook stock closes up only 23 cents from its initial pricing of US$38.

2015: An 11-judge panel of the ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco says a three-member panel of the same court should not have forced YouTube to take down an anti-Muslim film that sparked violence in the Middle East and death threats to actors.

2016: In an unusual move, Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump releases a list of 11 potential Supreme Court justices he would consider if elected president (not included was Trump’s eventual first pick for the nation’s highest bench, Neil Gorsuch).



Omar Khayyam, Persian poet, astronomer and mathematician (1048-1131); Bertrand Russell, English philosopher (1872-1970); Walter Gropius, German architect/director of Bauhaus (1883-1969); Frank Capra, US movie director (1897-1991); John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla), Polish-born pope (1918-2005); Dame Margot Fonteyn, English ballerina (1919-1991); George Strait, US country singer (1952- ); Tina Fey, US comedian and actress (1970- ); Chow Yun-Fat, Hong Kong-born actor (1955- ); Robert Morse, actor (1931- ); Reggie Jackson, baseball hall-of-famer (1946- ); Page Hamilton, rock singer-musician (1960- ); Martika, singer-actress (1969- ); Spencer Breslin, actor (1992- )

— AP

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