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Today’s Highlight in History: May 18

Today’s Highlight in History: May 18

Today’s Highlight in History: May 18

On May 18, 1980, the Mount St. Helens volcano in Washington state exploded, leaving 57 people dead or missing.

On this date:

In 1652, Rhode Island became the first American colony to pass a law abolishing African slavery; however, the law was apparently never enforced.

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

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

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

In 1927, in America’s deadliest school attack, part of a schoolhouse in Bath Township, Michigan, was blown up with explosives planted by local farmer Andrew Kehoe, who then set off a bomb in his truck; the attacks killed 38 children and six adults, including Kehoe, who’d earlier killed his wife. (Authorities said Kehoe, who suffered financial difficulties, was seeking revenge for losing a township clerk election.)

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a measure creating the Tennessee Valley Authority.

In 1934, Congress approved, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed, the so-called “Lindbergh Act,” providing for the death penalty in cases of interstate kidnapping.

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

In 1981, the New York Native, a gay newspaper, carried a story concerning rumors of “an exotic new disease” among homosexuals; it was the first published report about what came to be known as AIDS.

In 1998, the U.S. government filed an antitrust case against Microsoft, saying the powerful software company had a “choke hold” on competitors that was denying consumers important choices about how they bought and used computers. (The Justice Department and Microsoft reached a settlement in 2001.)

In 2012, social network Facebook made its trading debut with one of the most highly anticipated IPOs in Wall Street history; however, by day’s end, Facebook stock closed up only 23 cents from its initial pricing of $38. In his first meeting with President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande (frahn-SWAH’ oh-LAWND’) declared he would withdraw all French combat troops from Afghanistan by year’s end.

In 2015, President Barack Obama ended long-running federal transfers of some combat-style gear to local law enforcement in an attempt to ease tensions between police and minority communities, saying equipment made for the battlefield should not be a tool of American criminal justice.

In 2017, President Donald Trump denounced the appointment of a special counsel to investigate his campaign’s potential ties with Russia, repeatedly calling it an unprecedented “witch hunt” that “hurts our country terribly.” Roger Ailes, who created and ruled Fox News Channel for two decades before being ousted for alleged sexual harassment, died in Palm Beach, Florida, at age 77.

In 2020, President Donald Trump said he’d been taking a malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, and a zinc supplement to protect against the coronavirus despite warnings from his own government that the drug should be administered only in a hospital or research setting. Moderna announced that an experimental vaccine against the coronavirus showed encouraging results in early testing.

In 2021, Palestinians across Israel and the occupied territories went on strike in a rare collective protest of Israel’s policies; the action came as Israeli missiles toppled a six-story building in Gaza and militants in the Hamas-ruled territory fired dozens of rockets that killed two people. The New York attorney general’s office said it was conducting a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s business empire, expanding what had previously been a civil probe. Actor and writer Charles Grodin, whose films included “Midnight Run” and “The Heartbreak Kid,” died in Connecticut of bone marrow cancer at 86.

In 2022, nearly 1,000 last-ditch Ukrainian fighters who had held out inside Mariupol’s pulverized steel plant surrendered, Russia said, as the battle that turned the city into a worldwide symbol of defiance and suffering draws toward a close. President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to speed production of infant formula and authorized flights to import supply from overseas amid a national shortage. The U.S. Soccer Federation reached milestone agreements to pay its men’s and women’s teams equally.