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May 18, 2013

Today in History

Today is Saturday, May 18, the 138th day of 2013. There are 227 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight in history:

On May 18, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a measure creating the Tennessee Valley Authority.

On this date:

In 1642, the Canadian city of Montreal was founded by French colonists.

In 1765, about one-fourth of Montreal was destroyed by a fire.

In 1863, the Siege of Vicksburg began during the Civil War, ending July 4 with a Union victory.

In 1896, the Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson, endorsed “separate but equal” racial segregation, a concept renounced 58 years later in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

In 1910, Halley’s Comet passed by earth, brushing it with its tail.

In 1926, evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson vanished while visiting a beach in Venice, Calif. (McPherson reappeared more than a month later, saying she’d escaped after being kidnapped and held for ransom.)

In 1944, during World War II, Allied forces finally occupied Monte Cassino in Italy after a four-month struggle with Axis troops.

In 1953, Jacqueline Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier as she piloted a Canadair F-86 Sabre jet over Rogers Dry Lake, Calif.

In 1969, astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, Thomas P. Stafford and John W. Young blasted off aboard Apollo 10 on a mission to orbit the moon.

In 1973, Harvard law professor Archibald Cox was appointed Watergate special prosecutor by U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson.

In 1980, the Mount St. Helens volcano in Washington state exploded, leaving 57 people dead or missing.

In 1991, Helen Sharman became the first Briton to rocket into space as she flew aboard a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft with two cosmonauts on an eight-day mission to the Mir space station.

Ten years ago: A Hamas suicide attacker disguised as an observant Jew killed seven Israeli bus passengers. Pope John Paul II celebrated his 83rd birthday with an open-air Mass and requests for prayers so he could continue his papacy. “Les Miserables” closed on Broadway after more than 16 years and 6,680 performances.

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