What Happened on July 13?

  • Ruth Ellis was hanged for murder - it was the last time a woman was hanged for murder in Great Britain. (1955) Ellis, a 28-year-old former model, shot David Blakely, her 25-year-old lover after he failed to visit her as he promised. It took a jury less than 30 minutes to deliberate and find her guilty. The relationship had been abusive — Ellis had miscarried once after Blakely hit her in the stomach — and there was a lot of controversy about her death sentence. Thousands of people signed petitions to stop her hanging. She was hanged at Holloway Prison in London.

  • The worst riot in US history started in New York City. (1863) The rioters, mostly working-class men, opposed the military draft. In what became known as the "New York Draft Riots," rioters argued that the draft unfairly affected the working class — the rich could pay $300 US Dollars — about $5,300 US Dollars today — to avoid the draft. The riot lasted three days and left about 120 dead and more than 2,000 injured, though another estimate puts the deaths much higher at 2,000, with 8,000 injured. Property damage from the riots was estimated from $1 million to $5 million US Dollars.

  • The worst flood in US history (at the time) hit Kansas. (1951) More than 30 inches (76 centimeters) of rain fell within a month's time in eastern Kansas. The flood reached its peak on this day, leaving 500,000 people homeless and 24 people dead. The flood also destroyed 2 million acres (8,094 square kilometers) of farmland and caused $760 million US Dollars in damage.

  • The first World Cup soccer matches were held. (1930) In the first matches, France beat Mexico 4-1 and the US beat Belgium 3-0. In that first series, the US made it to the semi-finals. The first series was won by the Uruguay team, which defeated Argentina 4-2.

  • The Hollywood sign was dedicated. (1923) The sign originally said "HOLLYWOODLAND," but the last four of the 50-foot (15.2-meter) letters were removed in 1949 after a renovation, which also reduced the letter sizes to 45 feet (14 meters) tall. The sign was initially set up as an advertisement, but became a tourist attraction after it was left standing.

  • The Live Aid concert was held, benefiting starving people in Ethiopia. (1985) Concerts were held in several cities: Sydney, Moscow, London and Philadelphia. Almost $223 million US Dollars were raised while 400 million people in 60 countries watched the concerts, which were broadcast live on TV.

  • Lightening struck power lines and put New York City in a 25-hour blackout. (1977) Most of the city was affected by the black out which resulted in city-wide looting and mayhem.

  • The biggest tank battle in history ended. (1943) The Germans began the attack, known as the "Battle of Kursk," against the Russians on July 5. Over nine days of battle, about 6,000 tanks, 5,000 aircraft and two million people fought in the battle. The Russians won.

  • Vice President George H.W. Bush became the US President for a day. (1985) Vice President Bush stepped up when President Ronald Reagan had colon surgery to remove polyps.

  • American actor Harrison Ford was born. (1942) Ford became famous in his role as Hans Solo in the Star Wars movies. His other notable films include Indiana Jones, The Fugitive and Presumed Innocent. Ford is ranked as the third-highest earning box office star, with his films earning more than $6 billion US Dollars worldwide.

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