What Happened on June 17?

  • Amelia Earhart flew across the Atlantic Ocean. (1928) Earhart flew from Newfoundland to Wales in about 21 hours — she did not pilot this flight, however; Wilmer Stutz was the pilot. Earhart later became the first woman cross the Atlantic on a solo flight. In 1937, during an attempt to fly around the globe, she disappeared. She was legally declared dead two years later on January 5, 1939.

  • The Statue of Liberty arrived in the United States. (1885) The statue, that is actually officially called Liberty Enlightening the World, was a gift from France to the U.S. to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It resides in New York Harbor on Liberty Island.

  • The Watergate burglars were arrested. (1972) The five men, who were later determined to be part of President Richard Nixon's re-election campaign, attempted to break into the Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. There was an attempt to cover up the break-in and the investigation showed President Nixon was involved in the cover-up. The scandal led President Nixon to resign on August 9, 1974, and several members of his staff were indicted and convicted.

  • O.J. Simpson was arrested for murder. (1994) An American professional football player, Simpson was accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ronald Goldman. He later was famously acquitted despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt.

  • The Population Registration Act was repealed in South Africa. (1991) The Act was originally passed in 1950 and required South Africans to be racially classified upon birth. The Parliament's decision to repeal the Act was seen as a big move toward the end of Apartheid which was officially deemed to have happened in 1994 with the first election where all races could participate.

  • The Union Station Massacre occurred. (1933) Four FBI agents and the fugitive they were transporting, Frank Nash, were killed in a shootout with gangsters who were trying to free Nash. After being pardoned twice for murder and burglary, he was arrested and convicted again for assault and was serving a 25-year sentence when he escaped in 1930. The FBI had just recaptured Nash after his three-year run when they were all gunned down.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court decided reading Bible verses and reciting the Lord's Prayer cannot be required in school. (1963) In the Abington School District v. Schempp case, the justices voted 8 to 1 against allowing the requirement. Justice Potter Stewart voiced the only dissent.

  • The U.S. Republican party held its first convention. (1856) The first Republican National Convention, held at Lafayette Hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, established the party on a national level. Their first convention to nominate a candidate for president occurred several months later in Philadelphia. Former California Senator John C. Frémont was the Party's first presidential nominee.

  • Hundreds of gay couples get married in California. (2008) Due to an order from the California State Supreme Court, marriage licenses were awarded to same-sex couples beginning on June 16, 2008. The order was overturned in a state vote on Proposition 8 on November 5, 2008. The couples who were married during those few months are still considered to be legally married according to the state of California.

  • The Taj Mahal construction began. (1631) Upon the death of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, during childbirth, Emperor Shah Jahan I began the 20-year construction of her tomb, the Taj Mahal.

  • American comedian Joe Piscopo was born. (1951) Piscopo is perhaps most famous for his comedy performances on the American television program Saturday Night Live. He is also a noted impersonator, particularly for his impersonations of Frank Sinatra.

  • American politician Newt Gingrich was born. (1943) Gingrich was re-elected to the United States House of Representatives 10 times and was the Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999. He resigned his seat on January 3, 1999.

  • Dutch artist M.C. Escher was born. (1898) Escher is well-known for his renderings of the impossible and drawings that can be looked at in more than one way — in Sky & Water I, fish swim to the right, birds fly to the right and left, all in a complex combination of sky and water.

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