On May 6, 1954, medical student Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile during a track meet in Oxford, England, in 3:59.4.
On this date:
In 1840, Britain’s first adhesive postage stamp, the Penny Black, officially went into circulation five days after its introduction.
In 1863, the Civil War Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia ended with a Confederate victory over Union forces.
In 1882, President Chester Alan Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese immigrants from the U.S. for 10 years (Arthur had opposed an earlier version with a 20-year ban).
In 1889, the Paris Exposition formally opened, featuring the just-completed Eiffel Tower.
In 1910, Britain’s Edwardian era ended with the death of King Edward VII; he was succeeded by George V.
In 1935, the Works Progress Administration began operating under an executive order signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In 1937, the hydrogen-filled German airship Hindenburg burned and crashed in Lakehurst, N.J., killing 35 of the 97 people on board and a Navy crewman on the ground.
In 1942, during World War II some 15,000 Americans and Filipinos on Corregidor surrendered to Japanese forces.
In 1960, Britain’s Princess Margaret married Antony Armstrong-Jones, a commoner, at Westminster Abbey. (They divorced in 1978.)
In 1962, in the first test of its kind, the submerged submarine USS Ethan Allen fired a Polaris missile armed with a nuclear warhead that detonated above the Pacific Ocean.
In 1981, Yale architecture student Maya Ying Lin was named winner of a competition to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
In 1994, former Arkansas state worker Paula Jones filed suit against President Bill Clinton, alleging he’d sexually harassed her in 1991. (Jones reached a settlement with Clinton in November 1998.) Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and French President Francois Mitterrand formally opened the Channel Tunnel between their countries.
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush apologized for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers, calling it “a stain on our country’s honor”; he rejected calls for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation. The FBI arrested Oregon lawyer Brandon Mayfield as part of the investigation into the Madrid train bombings; however, the bureau later said Mayfield’s arrest had been a mistake, and apologized. The final first-run episode of “Friends” aired on NBC, drawing an average 52.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Five years ago: After a day of meetings at the White House, President Barack Obama declared he’d gotten the commitments he wanted from the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan to more aggressively fight Taliban and al-Qaida militants. Gov. John Baldacci signed a bill making Maine the fifth state to legalize same-sex marriage (however, the law was later overturned by a public vote).
One year ago: Kidnap-rape victims Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, three women who’d gone missing separately about a decade earlier while in their teens or early 20s, were rescued from a house just south of downtown Cleveland. (Their captor, Ariel Castro, hanged himself in prison in September 2013 at the beginning of a life sentence plus 1,000 years.) Grammy-winning singer Lauryn Hill was sentenced by a federal judge in Newark, N.J., to three months in prison for failing to pay about $1 million in taxes over the previous decade. Italian statesman Giulio Andreotti, 94, died in Rome.
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