This Day In History

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  • Facebook raises $16 billion in largest tech IPO in U.S. history

    Facebook, the world’s largest social network, holds its initial public offering (IPO) and raises $16 billion. It was the largest technology IPO in American history to that date, and the third-largest IPO ever in the United States, after those of Visa and General Motors. At the time it went public, ...
  • Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson

    In a major victory for supporters of racial segregation, the U.S. Supreme Court rules seven to one that a Louisiana law providing for “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races” on its railroad cars is constitutional. The high court held that as long as equal accommodations ...
  • Mount St. Helens erupts

    At 8:32 a.m. PDT, Mount St. Helens, a volcanic peak in southwestern Washington, suffers a massive eruption, killing 57 people and devastating some 210 square miles of wilderness. Called Louwala-Clough, or “the Smoking Mountain,” by Native Americans, Mount St. Helens is located in the Cascade Range ...
  • Abraham Lincoln nominated for presidency at Republican Convention

    Abraham Lincoln, a one-time U.S. representative from Illinois, is nominated for the U.S. presidency by the Republican National Convention meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Hannibal Hamlin of Maine was nominated for the vice presidency. Lincoln, a Kentucky-born lawyer and former Whig representative to ...
  • India joins the nuclear club

    In the Rajasthan Desert in the municipality of Pokhran, India successfully detonates its first nuclear weapon, a fission bomb similar in explosive power to the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The test fell on the traditional anniversary of the Buddha’s enlightenment, and Indian Prime ...
  • Pope John Paul II born

    On May 18, 1920, Karol Jozef Wojtyla is born in the Polish town of Wadowice, 35 miles southwest of Krakow. Wojtyla went on to become Pope John Paul II, history’s most well-traveled pope and the first non-Italian to hold the position since the 16th century. After high school, the future pope ...
  • Adolf Hitler gives the order for Operation Alaric

    On May 18, 1943, Adolf Hitler launches Operation Alaric, the German occupation of Italy in the event its Axis partner either surrendered or switched its allegiance. This operation was considered so top secret that Hitler refused to issue a written order. Instead, he communicated verbally his desire ...
  • Newspaper prints scathing report about First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln

    An obscure California newspaper casts first lady Mary Todd Lincoln in an unflattering light on May 18, 1861. Quoting a report in the Sacramento Union, the Humboldt Times recounted a tale of how Mrs. Lincoln had usurped her husband’s presidential duty of appointing federal offices. According to the ...
  • Chief Satanta attacks wagon trains, killing teamsters

    The Kiowa Chief Satanta joins with other Native Americans to massacre a wagon train near the Red River in northeastern Texas. One of the leading chiefs of the Kiowa in the 1860s and 1870s, Satanta was a fearsome warrior but also a skilled orator and diplomat. He helped negotiate and signed ...
  • Ian Curtis of Joy Division dies by suicide

    On the evening of May 18, 1980, Ian Curtis, lead singer and lyricist of the British group Joy Division, hangs himself in his Cheshire kitchen. He was only 23 years old. Joy Division was one of four hugely important British post-punk bands that could trace its origins to a now-legendary performance ...