On May 10, 1994, Nelson Mandela took the oath of office in Pretoria to become South Africa’s first black president.
On this date:
In 1611, Sir Thomas Dale arrived in the Virginia Colony, where, as deputy governor, he instituted harsh measures to restore order.
In 1775, Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys, along with Col. Benedict Arnold, captured the British-held fortress at Ticonderoga, N.Y.
In 1863, during the Civil War, Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson died of pneumonia, a complication resulting from being hit by friendly fire eight days earlier during the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia.
In 1869, a golden spike was driven in Promontory, Utah, marking the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States.
In 1924, J. Edgar Hoover was named acting director of the Bureau of Investigation (later known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI).
In 1933, the Nazis staged massive public book burnings in Germany.
In 1939, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church South and the Methodist Protestant Church merged to form the Methodist Church.
In 1941, Adolf Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, parachuted into Scotland on what he claimed was a peace mission. (Hess ended up serving a life sentence at Spandau Prison until 1987, when he apparently committed suicide.)
In 1960, the nuclear-powered submarine USS Triton completed its submerged navigation of the globe.
In 1977, actress Joan Crawford died in New York.
In 1984, the International Court of Justice said the United States should halt any actions to blockade Nicaragua’s ports (the U.S. had already said it would not recognize World Court jurisdiction on this issue).
In 1994, the state of Illinois executed serial killer John Wayne Gacy, 52, for the murders of 33 young men and boys.
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