Today in History for May 15

Historic events for May 15

Wednesday, May 15, 2013  |  Updated 11:24 AM EDT
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Today's Highlight in History:

On May 15, 1863, Edouard Manet's painting "Le dejeuner sur l'herbe" (The Lunch on the Grass) went on display in Paris, scandalizing viewers with its depiction of a nude woman seated on the ground with two fully dressed men at a picnic in a wooded area.

On this date:

In 1602, English navigator Bartholomew Gosnold and his ship, the Concord, arrived at present-day Cape Cod, which he's credited with naming.

In 1776, Virginia endorsed American independence from Britain.

In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act establishing the Department of Agriculture. Austrian author and playwright Arthur Schnitzler was born in Vienna.

In 1911, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Standard Oil Co. was a monopoly in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, and ordered its breakup.

In 1930, registered nurse Ellen Church, the first airline stewardess, went on duty aboard an Oakland-to-Chicago flight operated by Boeing Air Transport (a forerunner of United Airlines).

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a measure creating the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, whose members came to be known as WACs. Wartime gasoline rationing went into effect in 17 Eastern states, limiting sales to three gallons a week for non-essential vehicles.

In 1963, astronaut L. Gordon Cooper blasted off aboard Faith 7 on the final mission of the Project Mercury space program. Weight Watchers was incorporated in New York.

In 1970, just after midnight, Phillip Lafayette Gibbs and James Earl Green, two black students at Jackson State College in Mississippi, were killed as police opened fire during student protests.

In 1972, Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace was shot and left paralyzed by Arthur H. Bremer while campaigning in Laurel, Md., for the Democratic presidential nomination. (Bremer served 35 years of a 53-year sentence for attempted murder.)

In 1975, U.S. forces invaded the Cambodian island of Koh Tang and recaptured the American merchant ship Mayaguez. (All 40 crew members had already been released safely by Cambodia; some 40 U.S. servicemen were killed in the operation.)

In 1988, the Soviet Union began the process of withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, more than eight years after Soviet forces had entered the country.

In 1991, Edith Cresson was appointed by French President Francois Mitterrand to be France's first female prime minister.

Ten years ago: Emergency officials rushed to a series of mock catastrophes in the Chicago area on the busiest day of a national weeklong exercise. Runaway Texas Democrats boarded two buses and headed home after a self-imposed exile in Oklahoma that succeeded in killing a redistricting bill they opposed. The three-year championship reign of the Los Angeles Lakers came to a decisive end as the San Antonio Spurs overpowered the Lakers 110-82 to win the Western Conference semifinal series 4 games to 2. Country music star June Carter Cash died in Nashville, Tenn., at age 73.

Five years ago: President George W. Bush, addressing the Israeli Knesset, gently urged Mideast leaders to "make the hard choices necessary for peace" and condemned what he called "the false comfort of appeasement." California's Supreme Court declared same-sex couples in the state could marry — a victory for the gay rights movement that was overturned the following November by the passage of Proposition 8, now the focus of a legal battle. Emmy-winning composer Alexander "Sandy" Courage, who created the otherworldly theme for the original "Star Trek" TV series, died in Los Angeles at age 88.

One year ago: Francois Hollande became president of France after a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in central Paris — the country's first Socialist leader since Francois Mitterrand left office in 1995. In Bogota, Colombia, a midday bombing killed two bodyguards of an archconservative former interior minister, Fernando Londono, who was injured. Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving was named the NBA's Rookie of the Year.

Today's Birthdays: Playwright Sir Peter Shaffer is 87. Actress-singer Anna Maria Alberghetti is 77. Counterculture icon Wavy Gravy is 77. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is 76. Singer Trini Lopez is 76. Singer Lenny Welch is 75. Actress-singer Lainie Kazan is 73. Actress Gunilla Hutton is 71. Country singer K.T. Oslin is 71. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is 65. Singer-songwriter Brian Eno is 65. Actor Nicholas Hammond ("The Sound of Music") is 63. Actor Chazz Palminteri is 61. Baseball Hall-of-Famer George Brett is 60. Musician-composer Mike Oldfield is 60. Actor Lee Horsley is 58. TV personality Giselle Fernandez is 52. Football Hall-of-Famer Emmitt Smith is 44. Singer-rapper Prince Be (PM Dawn) is 43. Actor Brad Rowe is 43. Actor David Charvet (shahr-VAY') is 41. Actor Russell Hornsby is 39. Rock musician Ahmet Zappa is 39. Olympic gold-medal gymnast Amy Chow is 35. Actor David Krumholtz is 35. Actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler is 32. Rock musician Brad Shultz (Cage the Elephant) is 31. Rock musician Nick Perri is 29.

Thought for Today: "Vice is most dangerous when it puts on the garb of virtue." — Danish proverb.

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