Today in History

  • Tue May 22nd, 2012 1:15pm
  • Life

Today is Wednesday, May 23, the 144th day of 2012. There are 222 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight:

On May 23, 1937, industrialist and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, founder of the Standard Oil Co. and the Rockefeller Foundation, died in Ormond Beach, Fla., at age 97.

On this date:

In 1430, Joan of Arc was captured by the Burgundians, who sold her to the English.

In 1533, the marriage of England’s King Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon was declared null and void.

In 1701, William Kidd was hanged in London after he was convicted of piracy and murder.

In 1788, South Carolina became the eighth state to ratify the United States Constitution.

In 1873, Canada’s Parliament voted to establish the North West Mounted Police force.

In 1911, the newly completed New York Public Library was dedicated by President William Howard Taft, Gov. John Alden Dix and Mayor William Jay Gaynor.

In 1934, bank robbers Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were shot to death in a police ambush in Bienville Parish, La.

In 1945, Nazi official Heinrich Himmler committed suicide while imprisoned in Luneburg, Germany.

In 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) was established.

In 1962, the movie version of “The Miracle Worker,” with Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft reprising their Broadway roles as Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, opened in New York.

In 1967, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships, an action which precipitated war between Israel and its Arab neighbors the following month.

In 1984, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop issued a report saying there was “very solid” evidence linking cigarette smoke to lung disease in non-smokers.

Ten years ago: During visits to Germany and Russia on the same day, President George W. Bush told wary European leaders “we’ve got to use all means at our disposal to deal with Saddam Hussein,” and he denounced anyone who would appease terrorists or ignore threats to Europe. Golfing legend Sam Snead died in Hot Springs, Va., four days short of his 90th birthday.

Five years ago: President George W. Bush, speaking at the U.S. Coast Guard commencement, portrayed the Iraq war as a battle between the U.S. and al-Qaida and said Osama bin Laden was setting up a terrorist cell in Iraq to strike targets in America. Iraqi police dragged from the Euphrates River a body identified as that of Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr., who had disappeared during a May 12 ambush. Jordin Sparks was crowned the new “American Idol” on the Fox reality show.

One year ago: President Barack Obama opened a six-day European tour in Ireland, where he paid tribute to his Irish ancestors before heading to Britain. The European Union imposed sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad over the continuing crackdown on anti-government protesters. Pakistani commandos recaptured a major naval base from Taliban attackers after a bloody 18-hour standoff.

Comments, questions and suggestions can be emailed to history@ap.org

Associated Press