Today in History – June 15

1215 – King John of England put his seal to Magna Carta.

1502 – Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Martinique on his fourth voyage.

1520 – Pope Leo X threatened to excommunicate Martin Luther in Exsurge Domine.

1607 – Colonists finished building James’s Fort, to defend against Spanish and Indian attacks.

1648 – Margaret Jones was hanged in Boston for witchcraft in the first such execution for the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

1667 – The first human blood transfusion was administered by Dr. Jean-Baptiste Denys.

1752 – Benjamin Franklin proved that lightning is electricity (traditional date, the exact date is unknown).

1776 – Delaware Separation Day: Delaware voted to suspend government under the British Crown and separate officially from Pennsylvania.

1800 – The Provisional Army of the United States was dissolved.

1804 – New Hampshire approved the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the procedure for electing the president and vice president, and ratified the document.

1836 – Arkansas was admitted as the 25th U.S. state.

1844 – Charles Goodyear received a patent for vulcanization, a process to strengthen rubber.

1846 – The Oregon Treaty extended the border between the United States and British North America, established by the Treaty of 1818, westward to the Pacific Ocean.

1859 – Ambiguity in the Oregon Treaty led to the “Northwestern Boundary Dispute” between American and British/Canadian settlers.

1864 – American Civil War: The Second Battle of Petersburg began.

1864 – Arlington National Cemetery was established when 200 acres of the Arlington estate (formerly owned by Confederate General Robert E. Lee) were officially set aside as a military cemetery by U.S. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.

1877 – Henry Ossian Flipper became the first African American cadet to graduate from the United States Military Academy.

1878 – Eadweard Muybridge took a series of photographs to prove that all four feet of a horse leave the ground when it runs; the study became the basis of motion pictures.

1904 – A fire aboard the steamboat SS General Slocum in New York City’s East River killed 1,000 people.

1916 – United States President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill incorporating the Boy Scouts of America, which made them the only American youth organization with a federal charter.

1919 – John Alcock and Arthur Brown completed the first nonstop transatlantic flight when they reached Clifden, County Galway, Ireland.

1921 – Bessie Coleman earned her pilot’s license, and became the first female pilot of African-American descent.

1924 – Ford Motor Company manufactured its 10 millionth automobile.

1924 – J. Edgar Hoover assumed leadership of the FBI.

1934 – The United States Great Smoky Mountains National Park was founded.

1940 – World War II: Operation Aerial began: Allied troops started to evacuate France, following Germany’s takeover of Paris and most of the nation.

1944 – World War II: The United States invaded Saipan, capital of Japan’s South Seas Mandate.

1960 – “The Apartment,” directed by Billy Wilder and starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, premiered in New York (Academy Awards Best Picture 1961).

1965 – Bob Dylan recorded his single “Like a Rolling Stone” (#1 in Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”).

1967 – “The Dirty Dozen”, based on E. M. Nathanson’s novel, directed by Robert Aldrich and starring Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, and Charles Bronson, was released in the US.

1968 – “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” by Ohio Express hit #4.

1969 – “Hee Haw,” with Roy Clark and Buck Owens, premiered on CBS.

1970 – Charles Manson went on trial for the Sharon Tate murders.

1973 – “Let’s Get It On” was released by Marvin Gaye (Billboard R&B Song of the Year, 1973; No. 4 overall).

1974 – Novelty song “The Streak” by Ray Stevens hit #1 on UK pop chart.

1974 – “All the President’s Men” by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, which detailed their Watergate investigation, was published by Simon and Schuster in the US.

1974 – “Back Home Again”, the 8th studio album by John Denver, was released (Billboard Album of the Year, 1975).

1983 – “Black Adder” TV comedy premiered, starring Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson and written by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson, on BBC1.

1985 – Rembrandt’s painting Danaë was attacked by a man (later judged insane) who threw sulfuric acid on the canvas and cut it twice with a knife.

1990 – “Dick Tracy”, with Warren Beatty and Madonna, premiered.

1991 – In the Philippines, Mount Pinatubo erupted in the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century which killed over 800 people.

1992 – The United States Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Álvarez-Machaín that it is permissible for the United States to forcibly extradite suspects in foreign countries and bring them to the United States for trial, without approval from those other countries.

2012 – Nik Wallenda became the first person to successfully tightrope walk directly over Niagara Falls.

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