This Day in History - May 12

May 12

254 – St. Stephen I begins his reign as Catholic Pope

1588 – King Henry III flees Paris after Henry of Guise enters the city

1641 – The chief advisor to Charles I, Thomas Wentworth, is beheaded in the Tower of London

1780 – Charleston, South Carolina falls to British forces in the worst defeat of the American Revolution for the US

1812 – Poet, painter and the youngest of 21 children, Edward Lear, is born

1816 – Lawyer and architect Edmund Beckett Grimthorpe is born

1820 – English nurse and hospital reformer, Florence Nightingale, is born

1828 – English poet and painter Danta Gabriel Rossetti is born

1832 – Fur trader William Sublette leads a pack train out of Independence, Missouri, heading west for a disastrous rendezvous at Pierre’s Hole, Idaho, where he and some 200 other fur trappers will battle Gros Ventres Indians-although Sublette will survive

1851 – The Tule River War ends

1860 – Architect Charles Barry dies

1863 – With a victory at the Battle of Raymond, Mississippi, Union General Ulysses Grant closes in on Vicksburg

1864 – Union General Benjamin Butler attacks Drewry’s Bluff on the James River

1864 – American army officer J.E.B. Stuart dies

1864 – Hand-to-hand combat and close-range firing at Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia aka Bloody Angle, results in one of the most brutal battles of the Civil War

1865 – The last battle of the Civil War occurs at Palmito Ranch, Texas and ends in Confederate victory

1881 – Tunisia, in North Africa, becomes a French protectorate

1884 – Czech composer Bedrich Smetana dies

1885 – In the Battle of Batoche, French Canadians rebel against the Canadian government

1903 – President Theodore Roosevelt’s trip to San Francisco is captured on moving-picture film, making him the first president to have an official activity recorded in that medium

1907 – Actress Katherine Hepburn is born

1915 – Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Mary Kay Ash is born

1918 – The rulers of Germany and Austria-Hungary, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Emperor Karl I, sign a pact to exploit much needed resources from Ukraine, one of the most fertile and prosperous regions of the former Russian Empire

1921 – Canadian nature writer Farley Mowat is born

1921 – Sculptor and illustrator Joseph Beuys is born

1925 – Baseball player and coach Yogi Berra, aka Lawrence Peter Berra, is born

1926 – The Airship Norge becomes the first vessel to fly over the North Pole

1928 – Pianist, composer, and producer Burt Bacharach is born

1932 – The body of Charles Lindbergh’s baby is found

1933 – Russian poet Andrei Andreyevich Voznesensky is born

1935 – Alcoholics Anonymous is founded in Akron, Ohio by “Bill W.,” a stockbroker, and “Dr. Bob S.,” a heart surgeon

1936 – Newscaster and television host Tom Snyder is born

1936 – Painter Frank Stella is born

1937 – George VI and Lady Elizabeth are crowned king and queen of the UK at London’s Westminster Abbey

1940 – The Nazi conquest of France begins with the crossing Musee River

1941 – Adolf Hitler sends two bombers to Iraq to support Rashid Ali al-Gailani in his revolt against Britain, which is trying to enforce a previously agreed upon Anglo-Iraqi alliance

1941 – The Z3, the world’s first programmable, fully automatic computer, designed by German inventor Konrad Zuse, is presented

1942 – The Soviet Army launches its first major offensive of the war, taking Kharkov in the eastern Ukraine

1943 – Axis forces in North Africa surrender

1946 – American architect Daniel Libeskind is born

1949 – The Berlin Blockade ends

1957 – Race car driver A.J. Foyt, gets his first professional victory in a US Automobile Club midget car race in Kansas City, Missouri

1961 – Vice President Lyndon Johnson meets with South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon while touring Asian countries

1963 – A very young and largely unknown Bob Dylan walks off the set of the country’s highest-rated variety show, The Ed Sullivan Show, after network censors told him that he couldn’t perform his song, “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues,” a satirical piece skewering the ultra-conservative John Birch Society

1969 – Viet Cong sappers try unsuccessfully to overrun Landing Zone Snoopy in Vietnam

1970 – The Senate confirms Judge Harry A. Blackmun to the Supreme Court who will go on to draft Roe v. Wade, surprisingly, after having been hailed as a staunch conservative with carefully drafted opinions prior to his abortion decision

1970 – Chicago Cubs slugger Ernie Banks hits the 500th home run of his career

1971 – The first major battle of Operation Lam Son 720 occurs as North Vietnamese forces hit the same South Vietnamese 500-man marine battalion twice in one day

1975 – The US merchant ship Mayaguez is seized by Cambodian forces

1982 – Juan Maria Fernandez y Krohn, a Spanish priest, attempts to assassinate Pope John Paul II, believing that he was a Communist agent. The Pope escapes with minor injuries

1987 – Firefighters finally contain a fire sweeping eastward across China, after 193 people had been killed

1994 – The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict ends with a ceasefire that had been established a week earlier with the signing of the Bishtek Protocol between Armenian and Azerbaijani diplomats

1998 – Violent riots flowing the killing of four protesters in Jakarta, Indonesia, eventually leading to the resignation of President Suharto

2000 – Adam Petty, son of Winston Cup driver Kyle Petty and grandson of NASCAR icon Richard Petty, is killed after crashing into a wall during a practice for a Grand National race at Loudon, New Hampshire

2001 – Singer and actor Perry Como dies

2008 – Painter and illustrator Robert Rauschenberg dies

Written by Crystal McCann

Crystal is the Chief Operating Officer of Lanterns Media Network and the owner of Madisons Media. She lives in Texas with her husband and dogs and is the proud mother of two adult children.

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