On This Day in History: May 18

On this day in 1980, Mount St. Helens erupts in Washington, United States, killing 57 people and causing $3 billion in damage.

The 24-megaton blast demolished a 230-square-mile area around the mountain. Geologist Dave Johnson was the closest to the eruption when it blew. He was on his radio that morning and was only able to say, “Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it!” before his truck was pushed over a ridge and he was killed.

Millions of trees were scorched and burned by the hot air alone. When the glacier atop the mountain melted, a massive mudslide wiped out homes and dammed up rivers throughout the area. The plume of ash belched out for nine hours; easterly winds carried it across the state and as far away as Minneapolis, Minnesota. The falling ash clogged carburetors and thousands of motorists were stranded. Fifty-seven people died overall from suffocation, burns and other assorted injuries. Twenty-seven bodies, including that of the stubborn Harry Truman, were never found. Mount St. Helens went from 9,600 feet high to only 8,300 feet high in a matter of seconds.

0323 – Alexander III the Great, king of Macedonia/conqueror, dies at 32

1048 – Omar Khayyám, Persian mathematician, poet and philosopher (d. 1131)

1096  – Crusaders massacre Jews of Worm

1152 – Henry II of England marries Eleanor of Aquitaine.

1268 – The Principality of Antioch, a crusader state, falls to the Mamluk Sultan Baibars in the Battle of Antioch.

1302 – Bruges Matins, the nocturnal massacre of the French garrison in Bruges by members of the local Flemish militia.

1498 – Vasco da Gama reaches the port of Calicut, India.

1593 – Playwright Thomas Kyd’s accusations of heresy lead to an arrest warrant for Christopher Marlowe.

1631 – In Dorchester, Massachusetts, John Winthrop takes the oath of office and becomes the first Governor of Massachusetts.

1652 – Rhode Island passes the first law in North America making slavery illegal.

1756 – The Seven Years’ War begins when Great Britain declares war on France.

1765 – Fire destroys a large part of Montreal, Quebec.

1783First United Empire Loyalists reach Parrtown, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada after leaving the United States.

1803 – Napoleonic Wars: The United Kingdom revokes the Treaty of Amiens and declares war on France.

1804 – Napoleon Bonaparte is proclaimed Emperor of the French by the French Senate.

1811 – Battle of Las Piedras: The first great military triumph of the revolution of the Río de la Plata in Uruguay led by Jose Artigas.

1812 – John Bellingham was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging for the assassination of British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval.

1843 – The Disruption in Edinburgh of the Free Church of Scotland from the Church of Scotland.

1848 – Opening of the first German National Assembly (Nationalversammlung) in Frankfurt, Germany.

1860 – Abraham Lincoln wins the Republican Party nomination over William H. Seward, who later becomes the United States Secretary of State.

1861 – Arkansas admitted to the Confederate States of America

1863American Civil War: The Siege of Vicksburg begins.

1871The Kiowa Chief Satanta joins with other Indians to massacre a wagon train near the Red River in northeastern Texas.

1896 – The United States Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson that separate but equal is constitutional.

1897 – Dracula, a novel by Irish author Bram Stoker is published.

1900 – The United Kingdom proclaims a protectorate over Tonga.

1910 – The Earth passes through the tail of Comet Halley.

1917World War I: The Selective Service Act of 1917 is passed, giving the President of the United States the power of conscription.

1926 – Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson disappears while visiting a Venice, California beach.

1927 – The Bath School Disaster: Forty-five people are killed by bombs planted by a disgruntled school-board member in Michigan.

1933 – New Deal: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs an act creating the Tennessee Valley Authority.

1943World War II: Adolf Hitler launches Operation Alaric, the German occupation of Italy in the event its Axis partner either surrendered or switched its allegiance.

1944World War II: Battle of Monte Cassino – Conclusion after seven days of the fourth battle as German paratroopers (“Fallschirmjäger”) evacuate Monte Cassino.

1944 – Deportation of Crimean Tatars by the Soviet Union government.

1948 – The First Legislative Yuan of the Republic of China officially convenes in Nanking.

1953 – Jackie Cochran becomes the first woman to break the sound barrier.

1955 – Operation Passage to Freedom, the evacuation of 310,000 Vietnamese civilians, soldiers and non-Vietnamese members of the French Army from communist North Vietnam to South Vietnam following the end of the First Indochina War, ends.

1958Lotus makes Formula One debut

1958 – An F-104 Starfighter sets a world speed record of 2,259.82 km/h (1,404.19 mph).

1966U.S. Representative Melvin Laird (R-Wisconsin) states that because the Johnson administration is not providing the American public with precise information on planned troop deployments to Vietnam, a “credibility gap” is developing.

1969Viet Nam War: More than 1,500 communist troops attack U.S. and South Vietnamese camps near Xuan Loc, located 38 miles east of Saigon.

1969 – Apollo program: Apollo 10 is launched.

1974 – Nuclear test: Under project Smiling Buddha, India successfully detonates its first nuclear weapon becoming the sixth nation to do so.

1974 – Completion of the Warsaw radio mast, the tallest construction ever built at the time. It later collapses on August 8, 1991.

1980 – Gwangju Massacre: Students in Gwangju, South Korea begin demonstrations, calling for democratic reforms.

1983 – In Ireland, the government launches a crackdown, with the leading Dublin pirate Radio Nova being put off the air.

1989 – [http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/one-million-protesters-take-to-the-streets-in-beijing One million protesters take to the streets in Beijing

1990 – In France, a modified TGV train achieves a new rail world speed record of 515.3km/h (320.2 mph).

1991 – Northern Somalia declares independence from the rest of Somalia as the Republic of Somaliland but is unrecognised by the international community.

1992 – The Archivist of the United States officially announces the Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution.

1998 – United States v. Microsoft: The United States Department of Justice and 20 U.S. states file an antitrust case against Microsoft.


1922 – Bill Macy, American actor, 88

1924 – Priscilla Pointer, American actress, 84

1924 – Jack Whitaker, American sportscaster, 84

1930 – Warren Rudman, American politician, 80

1931 – Robert Morse, American actor, 79

1934 – Dwayne Hickman, American actor and television executive, 76

1937 – Brooks Robinson, American baseball player, 73

1946 – Reggie Jackson, American baseball player, 64

1948 – Tom Udall, American politician, 62

1969 – Martika, Cuban-American singer, 41

1970 – Tina Fey, American writer/actress, 40

1983 – Vince Young, American football player, 37

1988 – Koji Seto, Japanese actor and singer, 32

1 comment

    • TMC on May 18, 2010 at 15:59

    and not repeating it.

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