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What Happened on May 18?

  • The Earth passed through the tail of Halley's Comet. (1910) The public panicked after a one astronomer predicted that the gas from the comet's tail would be deadly, and there was a mass rush on "anti-comet" pills, gas masks, and even umbrellas. When the Earth actually did pass through the comet, no ill effects were reported.

  • The "separate but equal" doctrine was put in place. (1896) The Supreme Court endorsed the doctrine in Plessy v. Ferguson on this day, which stated that whites and black public facilities should be kept separate but equal. The separate but equal doctrine was heavily influential in US legislation, even after it was officially overturned in the 1950s.

  • Aimee Semple McPherson disappeared. (1926) McPherson was a hugely popular evangelist, and even baptized Marilyn Monroe, so when she disappeared, police pulled out all stops to try to find her. She reappeared a month later, claiming to have been kidnapped, but it quickly came out that she had been with a friend, Kenneth Ormiston, the whole time. The scandal rocked her ministry, and she faded out of the public eye.

  • The Mount St. Helens volcano exploded. (1980) The eruption killed almost 60 people, and ash could be seen several states over.

  • The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was created. (1933) The TVA brought electricity and running water into many areas of Appalachia for the first time, and is credited with reviving the region. Not everyone was a fan of the organization though — over 15,000 families were displaced to make TVA dams.

  • A massive protest took place in Beijing. (1989) Over a million protesters marched through Beijing, calling for democratic reforms. The protests lasted for several weeks until the Tiananmen Square massacre.

  • Dracula was published. (1897) Bram Stoker's novel heavily influenced the way people view vampires — in fact, many vampire tropes, including the pale skin and elegant dress, come from Stoker's novel.

  • Abraham Lincoln was nominated for the presidency. (1860) Lincoln was practicing as a lawyer and also served as a representative for Illinois. He won over 40 percent of the popular vote, but by the time he was inaugurated, seven states had already seceded.

  • Jackie Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier. (1953) Cochran was a long-time aviation fan and a close friend of pilot Chuck Yeager. She was also the first woman to fly a bomber plane across the Atlantic, and the first pilot in general to make a blind landing, one which relies only on instruments.

  • Les Miserables closed on Broadway. (2003) The phenomenally popular show was the third-longest running show on Broadway and ran for over 16 years.

Discussion Comments

By Krunchyman — On May 21, 2014

It's interesting how even though we live on the planet Earth, sometimes we tend to forget that the planet (along with many others) still exists in the realm of space. Because of this, it's always susceptible to comets, meteors, and anything else that may come in our direction.

By Viranty — On May 20, 2014

In relation to the third bullet point, one thing I find interesting about scandals is that most of time, you don't know what's the truth and what's not. It always leads to some interesting leads and conclusions. As an example in the third bullet point, it seemed like Aime McPherson had been kidnapped, even though she wasn't.

However, wouldn't it also seem rather odd that someone spend time away with a friend for a month? Where had Aime really gone to?

By RoyalSpyder — On May 19, 2014

Though I've never been to a Broadway show before, when a show closes down, does that mean that it won't be playing in any theaters for good? If so, I find that very interesting. Mainly because it really shows how Broadway shows can almost be described as one time chances. In other words, if you're interested in attending, you shouldn't back down from your opportunity, because it may be your only one.

By Chmander — On May 18, 2014

When Dracula was published in 1897, was this the first time that the world was introduced to vampires? If so, it really did a good job at setting the standard for how people viewed them, also stated in the seventh tidbit. Speaking of which, although the bullet point doesn't bring this up, did the novel also influence how vampires are afraid of garlic and sunlight? If so, that's very interesting.

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