Today in History
On July 18, 1863, during the Civil War, Union troops spearheaded by the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, made up of black soldiers, charged Confederate-held Fort Wagner on Morris Island, S.C. The Confederates were able to repel the Northerners, who suffered heavy losses; the 54th's commander, Col. Robert Gould Shaw, was among those who were killed.
On this date:
In A.D. 64, the Great Fire of Rome began.
In 1536, the English Parliament passed an act declaring the authority of the pope void in England.
In 1792, American naval hero John Paul Jones died in Paris at age 45.
In 1872, Britain enacted voting by secret ballot.
In 1913, comedian Red Skelton was born in Vincennes, Ind.
In 1932, the United States and Canada signed a treaty to develop the St. Lawrence Seaway.
In 1940, the Democratic National Convention at Chicago Stadium nominated President Franklin D. Roosevelt for an unprecedented third term in office.
In 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed a Presidential Succession Act, which placed the speaker of the House and the Senate president pro tempore next in the line of succession after the vice president.
In 1969, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., left a party on Chappaquiddick Island near Martha's Vineyard with Mary Jo Kopechne, 28; some time later, Kennedy's car went off a bridge into the water. (Kennedy was able to escape, but Kopechne drowned.)
In 1976, at the Montreal Olympics, Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci received the first-ever perfect score of 10 with her routine on uneven parallel bars. (Comaneci would go on to receive six more 10s at Montreal.)
In 1984, gunman James Huberty opened fire at a McDonald's fast food restaurant in San Ysidro, Calif., killing 21 people before being shot dead by police. Walter F. Mondale won the Democratic presidential nomination in San Francisco.
In 1988, Texas Treasurer Ann Richards, delivering the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, skewered presumed Republican nominee George H.W. Bush as having been "born with a silver foot in his mouth."
Ten years ago: Basketball star Kobe Bryant was charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman at a Colorado spa; Bryant denied the charge, saying he was guilty only of adultery. (Prosecutors later dropped the case.) The body of British scientist David Kelly, a weapons expert at the center of a storm over British intelligence on Iraq, was found a day after he'd committed suicide.
Five years ago: One of the world's largest mobile cranes collapsed at a refinery in southeast Houston, killing four people and injuring seven others. Two French humanitarian aid workers were kidnapped in Afghanistan's Day Kundi province. (They were released about two weeks later.) The epic Batman sequel "The Dark Knight," starring Christian Bale as the caped crusader and Heath Ledger as the Joker, premiered.
One year ago: Rebels penetrated the heart of Syria's power elite, detonating a bomb inside a high-level crisis meeting in Damascus that killed three leaders of the regime, including President Bashar Assad's brother-in-law and the defense minister. A bus bombing at the Burgas airport in Bulgaria killed five Israeli tourists, the bus driver and the alleged perpetrator.
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