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What Happened on July 19?

  • Christa McAuliffe was chosen as the first school teacher to ride in the space shuttle. (1985) McAuliffe, a social studies teacher from New Hampshire, was chosen from more than 11,000 applicants for the "Teacher in Space" program sponsored by NASA. She was killed along with the other six crew members when the shuttle disintegrated just seconds after launch.

  • "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was introduced by Bill Clinton, allowing gay people to serve in the US military. (1993) The policy allowed non-heterosexuals to serve in the military without harassment from other service members only as long as they don't engage discussion about their sexual orientation. Though still in effect today, the policy is being challenged to allow homosexuals to openly serve in the US military.

  • A meteorite exploded over Arizona, dumping 16,000 pieces of debris on the town of Holbrook. (1912) The meteorite was about 419 pounds (190 kilograms) and dumped pieces of debris that were up to 14.5-pounds (6.6 kilograms). No injuries were reported.

  • Joe Walker set a new altitude record in an X-15 research aircraft. (1963) Walker flew to an altitude of 347,800 feet (106,010 meters). According to the rules of the US Air Force and the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, this height qualifies as "human space flight." Walker performed the feat twice, making him the first person to go into space twice, according to the US Air Force's and FAI's definitions.

  • The first 3-D reconstruction of a human head was performed with a Computed Tomography (CT) machine. (1983) The high-definition images produced by the CT machine has made it an important medical diagnostic tool as well as a research tool. More than 70 million CT scans are performed each year in the US alone.

  • The Sandinistas overthrow the Nicaraguan government. (1979) The Sandinista National Liberation Front was a socialist political party led by Daniel Ortega. The Contras, a rebel group, was the main opposition force against the Sandinistas and were funded in part by the US Government.

  • The Salem Witch Trials continued; five more women were hanged to death. (1692) The trials, which occurred between February 1692 and May 1693 prosecuted people suspected of being witches. During that period, more than 150 people were arrested. Of those, 29 people were convicted and 19 were hanged — 14 women and five men. One additional man was crushed to death with heavy stones as authorities tried to force him to enter a plea in his case.

  • Doc Holliday killed his first man. (1879) Holliday, who was an American dentist and gunfighter, shot Mike Gordon, a US Army scout who yelled at a saloon girl in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Holliday was arrested and tried, but acquitted. The gunfighter gained further fame when he got involved in the historic shootout at the O.K. Corral. He also was the cousin of Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind.

  • Lady Jane Grey's reign as Queen of England ended after just nine days. (1553) Grey's rule, which began on July 10th, is the shortest in England's history. Mary I of England, the rightful heir, took the throne, and remained in power until November 17, 1558.

  • Lizzie Borden was born. (1860) Borden was famously accused of murdering her parents with a hatchet. She was ultimately acquitted, but no one else was ever arrested for the crime.

  • French painter Edgar Degas was born. (1834) Degas was a famous artist and painter and considered one the founders of the impressionist style.

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