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Events, deaths, births, of 15 MAY
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• 7~years war begins... • Coup attempt in Tokyo... • Alabama's Wallace shot... • UK 3rd thermonuclear power... • Condamnés à mort par la Révolution... • Soviets start leaving Afghanistan... • First Allied jet flies... • Battle of New Market... • San Francisco vigilantes... • US forces under heavy fire in Vietnam... • 20 million VWs ... • Protectionism or not?... • Cars on Nantucket... • Ship of Fools author is born... • Women's Army Corps... • New Cray supercomputer... • Amazon IPO... • Justice Department meets with Microsoft...
^  On a 15 May:
2208:: 4m19s annular eclipse of the sun, centered at 17:46 UT, best visible at 18º40'N 87º05'W, off the east coast of Yucatan.
2189:: 7m31s annular eclipse of the sun, centered at 10:02 UT, best visible at 22º35'S 43º10'E, near the west coast of Madagascar.
2008 In January 2005 parishioners of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in St.Louis voted 299-5 for the parish council, with its 6 lay members, to be a board of directors governing the parish as an independent entity appointing its own clergy and not subject to the jurisdiction of the local ordinary, Archbishop Raymond Burke [~]. On 15 December 2005 the archbishop decreed that the board of directors was excommunicated because of “persistence in schism.” The archbishop said the Congregation has confirmed his December 15, 2005 decrees declaring the board of directors had incurred the penalty of excommunication because of “persistence in schism”. and their unauthorized hiring of Father Marek B. Bozek, a priest of the diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, who had been suspended by his own bishop, and is also excommunicated..
      Today the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in a decree signed by its prefect, Cardinal William Levada, rejects the appeal made by the board, upholds the decisions of Archbishop Burke, and states that
      “it is evident that the Board Members have committed the delict of schism by constituting St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish as an independent entity capable of appointing its own clergy apart from the hierarchy of the Church.... In a gradual process the parish has been removed from the jurisdiction of the local Ordinary. This can be seen as an expression of the refusal of the members of the Board to subject themselves to the lawfully constituted Ecclesiastical authority.”
2005 Parliamentary elections in Ethiopia, won by the ruling coalition of prime minister Meles Zenawi, with only minor irregularities noticed by foreign observers. But the opposition “Coalition for Unity and Democracy” (headed by Hailu Shawel} and “United Ethiopian Democratic Forces” claim that the result is invalid because of widespread coercion and fraud.
^ 2004 “Get Out of Gaza and Start Talking” proclaim the banners as perhaps 200'000 Israelis rally for peace in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv.
      The rally opens at 20:00 with a minute of silence to commemorate the 13 Israeli soldiers killed in the Gaza Strip on 11 and 12 May 2004. Then amid frequent outbreaks of applause and cheering, opposition leader Shimon Peres [16 Aug 1923~] tells the crowd that 80% of Israeli want peace (*) and just 1% is trying to block it. “We will not allow them,”" Peres says, "We must not support a puppet government that follows the delusional ideas of the right.”
      Yachad Chairman Yossi Beilin says that for the past three years the peace camp has been dormant that today it finally awoke.
      Am Echad (One Nation) chairman Amir Peretz [1952~] called for a resumption of peace talks, saying that diplomatic and social affairs could not be separated. "as a resident of Sderot [near the Gaza Strip] we do not fear disengagement and we fear neither dialogue nor a peace process.”
      Speaking at the rally, in addition to Peres, Beilin, and Peretz, are Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) leader Tzaly Reshef; Yochi Brandes, on behalf of the Geneva Initiative; former Shin Bet head admiral Ami Ayalon for HaMifkad HaLeumi (the People's Voice); and former Southern Command chief major-general Yom Tov Samia.
      A delegation of 50 Palestinians, supporters of the Geneva Initiative, attends the rally.
      The rally was scheduled by a new forum, Mate Harov (Majority's Coalition), after the Likud referendum rejected prime minister's Sharon's plan for a pullout from the Gaza Strip. The forum includes left and center-left groups such as Labor, Yahad, One Nation, Peace Now, the kibbutz movements, the Geneva Initiative organization, youth movements, and the Forum of Bereaved Parents.
      On 13 May 2004 minister of Social Affairs Zevulun Orlev (NRP) asked Peres to postpone the rally, saying that it was not appropriate to hold a political demonstration while fallen soldiers were being buried. The organizers responded that national unity was not an issue considered by Sharon when he decided to leave the decision on going ahead with his disengagement plan solely in the hands of Likud members.
— related sites: Americans for Peace Now _ B'tselemOther related links
(*) A survey by the newspaper Maariv found that 40% of Israelis polled wanted to leave Gaza immediately, with or without an agreement with Palestinians; 39% were ready to pull out with an agreement. A poll by the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth found that 71% of Israelis surveyed favored leaving unilaterally.

2003 Lunar eclipse visible in Europe, Africa, Antarctica, and in North America with umbra from 20:02 to 23:17 MDT (16 May 02:02 to 05:17 UT) and totality from at 21:13 to 22:06 MDT (16 May 03:13 to 04:06 UT)
2002 In Nederlandia comitia parlamentaria facta sunt, quorum victores exstiterunt democratae Christiani et populistae extremae dextrae. Omnibus apparet, nisi Pim Fortuyn, dux huius factionis, per insidias occisus esset, extremistas tantam gratiam apud cives inituros non fuisse. Partes autem administratrices cladem acerbam acceperunt, quo fit, ut coalitio socialistarum et fautorum factionis centralis post regimen octo annorum potestate absistere cogatur. Dubium enim non est, quin Jan Peter Balkenende, praeses democratarum Christianorum, novus primus minister Nederlandiae futurus sit.
2001 Qwest's 96'000 pay phones in 14 states of the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountains begin a 4-month period of conversion from 35 to 50 cents. U S West, Qwest's predecessor, last raised the rate from 25 to 35 cents over the period 1987 to 1998. The two biggest US pay phone operators, Verizon and SBC, as well as AT&T with its fewer pay phones, are not increasing their rates.
2000 By a 5-4 vote, the US Supreme Court throws out a key provision of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, saying that rape victims could not sue their attackers in federal court.
2000 United Press International was sold to the parent company of The Washington Times.
^ 1998 Justice Department meets with Microsoft
      Attempting to avoid an antitrust suit, the Justice Department and Bill Gates met one last time for eleventh-hour talks. However, the efforts failed, and the Justice Department filed a landmark antitrust suit on May 19, 1998, alleging that Microsoft engaged in unfair business practices. Some twenty states also filed a suit against the company, claiming that Microsoft's tactic of adding new features to Windows could be used to crush competition.
1997 Amazon IPO
      Amazon's stock soared on its first day of public trading, closing at 30% above its opening price. The online bookseller said it attracted 80'000 daily visits in March, up from 2200 per day in December 1995. Just a week before the IPO, Barnes & Noble had launched its own online bookstore.
1997 Ticketmaster announces that it has started electronically blocking users of Microsoft Sidewalk from linking to Ticketmaster's Web site.
1991 French President Francois Mitterrand appointed Edith Cresson to be France's first female premier.
1991 US Defense Department releases documents claiming that Noriega was "CIA's man in Panama"
1990 Dow Jones Industrial Average reaches a record 2822.45
1989 Soviet President Gorbachev in Beijing for first Sino-Soviet summit in 30 years.
^ 1988 Soviets begin withdrawal from Afghanistan
      Near the end of the ten-year Afghan-Soviet War, the USSR began a withdrawal of its estimated 115'000 troops in Afghanistan by pulling a unit out of Jalabad. The previous month, representatives of the Soviet Union, Afghanistan, the United States, and Pakistan had signed an agreement calling for the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan. In exchange for the withdrawal, the US agreed to end its arms support for the Afghan anti-Soviet factions, and Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to not interfere in each other's affairs.
      In 1978, a Soviet-backed coup in Afghanistan had installed a new Communist government under Nur Mohammad Taraki. However, in 1979, a second coup toppled Taraki's government in favor of Hafizullah Amin, a Muslim leader less favorable to the Soviets. In December of the same year, Soviet tanks and troops invaded Afghanistan, but were met with unanticipated resistance from the conservative Muslim opposition.
      Afghan tribesmen, calling themselves "holy warriors," fought a fierce and bloody guerrilla war against the Soviets. In the USS.R., the Red Army's failure to suppress the guerrillas, and the high cost of the war in Russian lives and resources, caused significant discord in the Communist Party and Soviet society. By 1988, the anti-Soviet factions, bolstered by military arms aid from the US and other sources, had exhausted the USS.R., leading Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to accept a UN-brokered agreement calling for a total Soviet military withdrawal. On 15 May the withdrawal begins, and on 15 February 1989, the last exhausted Soviet soldiers would leave Afghanistan.
      More than eight years after they intervened in Afghanistan to support the procommunist government, Soviet troops begin their withdrawal. The event marked the beginning of the end to a long, bloody, and fruitless Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. In December 1979, Soviet troops first entered Afghanistan in an attempt to bolster the communist, pro-Soviet government threatened by internal rebellion. In a short period of time, thousands of Russian troops and support materials poured into Afghanistan.
      Thus began a frustrating military conflict with Afghan Muslim rebels, who despised their own nation's Communist government and the Soviet troops supporting it. During the next eight years, the two sides battled for control in Afghanistan, with neither the Soviets nor the rebels ever able to gain a decisive victory. For the Soviet Union, the intervention proved extraordinarily costly in a number of ways. While the Soviets never released official casualty figures for the war in Afghanistan, US intelligence sources estimated that as many as 15'000 Russian soldiers died in Afghanistan, and the economic cost to the already struggling Soviet economy ran into billions of dollars. The intervention also strained relations between the Soviet Union and the United States nearly to the breaking point. President Jimmy Carter harshly criticized the Russian action, stalled talks on arms limitations, issued economic sanctions, and even ordered a boycott of the 1980 Olympics held in Moscow. By 1988, the Soviets decided to extricate itself from the situation. Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev saw the Afghan intervention as an increasing drain on the Soviet economy, and the Russian people were tired of a war that many Westerners referred to as "Russia's Vietnam." For Afghanistan, the Soviet withdrawal did not mean an end to the fighting, however. The Muslim rebels eventually succeeded in establishing control over Afghanistan in 1992.
^ 1981 Twenty million Volkswagens
      The twenty-millionth Volkswagen “Beetle” was produced at the Volkswagen plant in Puebla, Mexico. Volkswagen first came to Mexico in 1954 as part of a museum exhibit entitled "Germany and Its Industry." That same year, two hundred and fifty Beetles were assembled in Mexico. By 1962, Volkswagen had acquired its first assembly plant in Xalostoc, where the company would eventually assemble 50'000 Beetles. Pleased with the new Latin American marketplace, Volkswagen executives made plans to construct a facility in Puebla, a city an hour south of Mexico City. In 1967 the first Beetle was produced at the Puebla plant. To date, the Puebla plant has produced nearly 1.6 million vehicles. 1980 saw the production of the one-millionth Mexican-built Volkswagen. The production of the original Volkswagen Beetle continued in Mexico after it had been abandoned everywhere else.
1980 First trans-US balloon crossing.
1972 Ryukyu Is and Daito Is returned to Japan after 27 yrs of US control
^ 1972 Alabama Governor George Wallace is shot
      During an outdoor rally in Laurel, Maryland, George Wallace [25 Aug 1919 – 13 Sep 1998], the governor of Alabama and a presidential candidate, is shot by Arthur Bremer [21 Aug 1950~]. Three others are wounded, and Wallace is left permanently paralyzed from the waist down. The next day, while fighting for his life in a hospital, he won major primary victories in Michigan and Maryland. Wallace remained in the hospital for several months, bringing his third presidential campaign to an end.
      Wallace, one of the most controversial politicians in US history, was elected governor of Alabama in 1962 on an ultra-segregationist platform. In his 1963 inaugural address, Wallace promised his White followers: "Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!" However, the promise lasted only six months. In June of the same year, under federal pressure, he was forced to end his blockade of the University of Alabama and allow the enrollment of Black students. Despite his failures in slowing the accelerating civil rights movement in the South, Wallace became a national spokesman for resistance to racial change, and in 1964 entered the race for the US presidency.
      Although defeated in most Democratic presidential primaries he entered, his modest successes demonstrated the extent of popular backlash against desegregation. In 1968, he made another strong run as the candidate of the American Independent party, and managed to get on the ballot in all fifty states. On election day, he drew ten million votes from all across the country. In 1972, Governor Wallace returned to the Democratic party for his third presidential campaign, and under a slightly more moderate platform was showing promising returns when he was shot by Arthur Bremer.
      After his recovery, he faded from national prominence and made a poor showing in his fourth and final presidential campaign in 1979. During the 1980s, Wallace’s politics shifted dramatically, especially in regard to race. In 1983, he was elected Alabama governor for the last time with the overwhelming support of Black voters. Over the next four years, the man who had promised segregation forever made more Black political appointments than any other figure in Alabama history.
1969 Associate Justice Abe Fortas resigns from US Supreme Court amid a controversy over his past legal fees.
^ 1967 US positions south of the DMZ come under heavy fire
      US forces just south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) come under heavy fire as Marine positions between Dong Ha and Con Thien are pounded by North Vietnamese artillery. At the same time, more than 100 Americans were killed or wounded during heavy fighting along the DMZ. On 17 and 18 May 1967, the Con Thien base was shelled heavily. Dong Ha, Gio Linh, Cam Lo, and Camp Carroll were also bombarded. On 18 May 1967, a force of 5500 US and South Vietnamese soldiers invaded the southeastern section of the DMZ to smash a communist build up in the area and to deny the use of the zone as an infiltration route into South Vietnam. On 19 May 1967, the US State Department said the offensive in the DMZ was "purely a defensive measure" against a "considerable buildup of North Vietnam troops." The North Vietnamese government on 21 May 1967 called the invasion of the zone "a brazen provocation" that "abolished the buffer character of the DMZ as provided by the Geneva agreements."
1965 Abdel Rahman Muhammad Aref, jefe del Estado Mayor del Ejército iraquí, sofoca un intento de golpe de Estado nasserista contra su hermano, el presidente (1963-1966), Abdel Salam Muhammad Aref. Tres días después de que Salam falleciera en accidente el 13 Apr 1966, Aref asumirá la jefatura del Estado, hasta ser derrocado el 17 julio de 1968 por un golpe de Estado incruento dirigido por el antiguo primer ministro Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, al frente del Partido Baaz (socializante y nacionalista árabe) y un grupo de militares.
^ 1957 Great Britain becomes third thermonuclear power
      On Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean, Great Britain successfully detonated its first hydrogen bomb, a nuclear bomb one thousand times more powerful than the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II. On October 3, 1952, Britain became the world’s third atomic power, after the United States and the Soviet Union, with the explosion of its first atomic bomb off Trimouille Island, near the northwest coast of Australia. However, less than one month later, the US had exploded the world’s first hydrogen bomb, popularly known as the "hell bomb" for the horrifying implication of its use in actual warfare. Two years later, the Soviets followed suit, and the world lived under the threat of thermonuclear annihilation for the first time in history. On May 15, 1957, Britain increased the threat when it became the third nation to join the hydrogen club.
1955 Austrian state treaty signed making itself independent again
1948 The British Mandate over Palestine ends. The previous day was that of the creation of the state of Israel. Now it is invaded by the armies of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Transjordan, and Egypt. This day is commemorated every year by Palestinians as Al-Naqba (“The Catastrophe”), as it is followed by their expulsion from their homes in Israel proper, and oppression in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
1942 Gasoline rationing went into effect in 17 US states, limiting sales to three gallons a week for non-essential vehicles.
E 28/39^ 1941 First Allied jet plane flies.
     The first test of an Allied aircraft using jet propulsion is made in England. The turbo jet engine, which produced a powerful thrust of hot air, was devised by Frank Whittle, a Royal Air Force engineer who also flew the initial tests.
      The jet-propelled Gloster-Whittle E 28/39 aircraft flies successfully over Cranwell, England, in the first test of an Allied aircraft using jet propulsion. The aircraft's turbojet engine, which produced a powerful thrust of hot air, was devised by Frank Whittle, an English aviation engineer and pilot generally regarded as the father of the jet engine. Whittle, born in Coventry in 1907, was the son of a mechanic. At the age of 16, he joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) as an aircraft apprentice at Cranwell and in 1926 passed a medical exam to become a pilot and joined the RAF College. He won a reputation as a daredevil flier and in 1928 wrote a senior thesis entitled Future Developments in Aircraft Design, which discussed the possibilities of rocket propulsion. From the first Wright brothers flight in 1903 to the first jet flight in 1939, airplanes were propeller driven.
      Early on, engineers realized that propeller technology would never overcome certain inherent limitations, especially in regard to speed. However, before Whittle came along, no one had theorized a practical alternative. After graduating from the RAF college, he was posted to a fighter squadron, and in his spare time he worked out the essentials of the modern turbojet engine. A flying instructor, impressed with his propulsion ideas, introduced him to the Air Ministry and a private turbine engineering firm, but both ridiculed Whittle's ideas as impractical. In 1930, he patented his jet engine concept and in 1936 formed the company Power Jets Ltd. to build and test his invention. In 1937, he tested his first jet engine on the ground. He still received only limited funding and support, and on 27 August 1939, the German Heinkel He 178, designed by Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain, made the first jet flight in history. The German prototype jet was developed independently of Whittle's efforts. One week after the flight of the He 178, World War II broke out in Europe, and Whittle's project got a further lease of life. The Air Ministry commissioned a new jet engine from Power Jets and asked the Gloster Aircraft Company to build an experimental aircraft to accommodate it, specified as E 28/39.
      On 15 May 1941, at dusk on a remarkably bitter day, the jet-propelled Gloster-Whittle E 28/39 flew, beating out a jet prototype being developed by the same British turbine company that earlier balked at his ideas. In its initial tests, Whittle's aircraft — flown by the test pilot Gerry Sayer — achieved a top speed of 600 km/h at 7500 m altitude, faster than the Spitfire or any other conventional propeller-driven planes. Its specs were: Wing Span: 8.84 m, Length: 7.72 m, Weight: Gross 1678 kg.
      As the Gloster Aircraft Company worked on an operational turbojet aircraft for combat, Whittle aided the Americans in their successful development of a jet prototype. With Whittle's blessing, the British government took over Power Jets Ltd. in 1944. By this time, Britain's Gloster Meteor jet aircraft were in service with the RAF, going up against Germany's jet-powered Messerschmitt Me 262s in the skies over Europe. Whittle retired from the RAF in 1948 with the rank of air commodore. That year, he was awarded £100'000 by the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors and was knighted. His book Jet: The Story of a Pioneer was published in 1953. In 1977, he became a research professor at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He died in Columbia, Maryland, in 1996.
1940 Nylon stockings went on general sale for the first time in the United States.
1940 Capitulation hollandaise à 9h15.
1934 Dept of Justice offers $25'000 reward for Dillinger, dead or alive.
1919 Greek forces occupy Smyrna in Asia Minor, which for 3000 years had been populated mainly by Greeks, had been under Ottoman rule, but had reverted to Greek rule as part of the international agreements following World War I. Smyrna would be recaptured by Turkish forces under Mustafa Kemal (later Kemal Atatürk) [1881 – 10 Nov 1938] on 09 September 1922, then devastated further by a fire set by the Turks on 13 September 1922, starting in the Armenian district. Smyrna was renamed Izmir in 1930 by the Turks.
1918 Cars allowed on Nantucket
      Nantucket Island votes to lift its controversial twelve-year ban on automobiles. First famous as an insular whaling community off of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Nantucket Island has become one of the Northeast's most exclusive tourist attractions. The original inhabitants of Nantucket were predictably resistant to the idea of automobiles overrunning their island.
      While the advent of the motor car didn't spell disaster for the island then, the early residents' fears may yet become a reality. As Nantucket's popularity rises, even the year-long waiting list for the car ferry can't seem to stem the tide of vehicles. The island's tourist board has attempted to institute an affordable and reliable island shuttle, but vacationers in this country want to go wherever their cars will take them. A delicate ecological structure of bogs, tidal thickets, and dune beaches, Nantucket is susceptible to the pollutants and erosion problems brought on by the increasing numbers of vehicles. The new Nantucket "natives," largely seasonal retirees, have pooled their not insignificant resources with the purpose of protecting the island. Others, though, accuse the conservationists of only wanting to conserve an uncrowded escape from their East Coast power perches.
1918 US airmail began service between Washington, Philadelphia and New York.
1915 A.T.&T. becomes first corporation to have 1 million stockholders
1911 The Supreme Court orders the dissolution of Standard Oil Co., ruling it was in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
1891 British Central African Protectorate (now Malawi) established.
1891 Pope Leo XIII promulgates his Encyclical Rerum Novarum [English text].
1885 Canadian M‚ti insurgent Louis Reil captured, Saskatchewan
^ 1882 Protectionism or not?
      US President Chester A. Arthur [05 Oct 1829 – 18 Nov 1886] forms a high-level commission to tackle the tariff issue.
      In the years following the Civil War, the US government used tariffs to shield the nation's manufacturers from the ravages of foreign competition. While the tariffs had their intended effect, there were those in government, and even in business, who questioned the government's unswerving allegiance to high duties. Though the commission was putatively charged with weighing the relative merits of tariffs, both in terms of the impact on global trade and smaller domestic enterprises, the deck was stacked in favor of protectionist and industrial interests. Indeed, the commission's nine members included John L. Hayes, the secretary of the National Association of Wool Manufacturers, a likely proponent of protectionist measures. Unsurprisingly, the commission weighed in with a favorable report on tariffs as a means to preserve the integrity and interests of American-made goods.
^ 1864 Battle of New Market, Virginia
      Students from the Virginia Military Institute take part in the Battle of New Market, part of the multipronged Union offensive in the spring of 1864 designed to take Virginia out of the war. Central to this campaign was Ulysses S. Grant's epic struggle with Robert E. Lee around Richmond. Union General Franz Sigel had been sent to apply pressure on a key agricultural region, the Shenandoah Valley. He marched south out of Winchester in early May to neutralize the valley, which was always a threat to the North. The Shenandoah was not only a breadbasket that supplied Southern armies, it also led to the Potomac north of Washington. The Confederates had used the valley very effectively in 1862, when Stonewall Jackson kept three Federal armies occupied while keeping pressure off of Richmond. But the Confederates were hard pressed to offer any opposition to Sigel's 6500 soldiers. Lee was struggling against Grant and was badly outnumbered. He instructed John Breckinridge to drive Sigel from the valley but could offer him little in the way of troops to do the job. Breckinridge mustered a force of regular troops and militia units and pulled together 5300 men. They included 247 cadets from the nearby Virginia Military Institute, some of the boys just 15 years old. On 15 May, Breckinridge attacked Sigel's troops at New Market. Sigel fell back 800 meters, reformed his lines, and began to shell the Confederate center. It was at this juncture that Breckinridge reluctantly sent the VMI cadets into battle. The young students were part of an attack that captured two Yankee guns. Nine of the cadets were killed and 48 were wounded, but Sigel suffered a humiliating defeat and began to withdraw from the valley. The courage of the VMI cadets at the Battle of New Market became legendary, and the pressure was temporarily off of the Rebels in the Shenandoah Valley. Breckinridge was able to send part of his force east to reinforce Lee.
1864 Battle of Resaca, Georgia (or 05/13)
1862 Battle of Drewry's Bluff, Virginia.
^ 1856 Second vigilante committee organizes in San Francisco
      Angered by the shooting of a prominent journalist, San Franciscans form their second vigilance committee to combat lawlessness. The need for vigilance committees in San Francisco was obvious. Only two years after gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in 1848, San Francisco had grown from a sleepy little village with 900 inhabitants to a booming metropolis with more than 200'000 residents. The sudden influx of people overwhelmed the city. Harried law enforcement officials found it nearly impossible to maintain law and order, and chaos often reigned in the streets, which were lined with saloons and gambling parlors. Attracted by the promise of gold, marauding bands of Australian criminals called "Sydney ducks" robbed and extorted the people of San Francisco with near impunity. San Franciscans formed their first vigilance committee in 1851. About 200 vigilantes enrolled, most of them from the elite professional and merchant class of the city. They had headquarters along Battery Street, where they could temporarily imprison criminals, and the ringing of the city's fire bell would summon the vigilantes to action. A handful of men who were found guilty of serious crimes like murder were hanged from a nearby derrick normally used to haul freight into the second story of a warehouse. More commonly, though, the vigilantes simply deported criminals like the "Sydney ducks" back to their homelands. Whether due to the vigilante actions or because conventional law enforcement became more effective, things eventually quieted down in San Francisco and the first vigilance committee disbanded.
      In 1856, however, a rigged election put an Irish-Catholic politician named James P. Casey [1828 – 22 May 1856] on the city board of supervisors. James King [28 Jan 1822 – 20 May 1956], a crusading editor of the Daily Evening Bulletin, accused Casey of being involved in criminal activity in the city. On 14 May 1856, Casey confronted King in the street and fatally wounded him with a Colt navy revolver. The next day, angry San Franciscans created the second vigilance committee. This time, however, they could not claim that the city government was not enforcing the law: the sheriff had already arrested Casey and put him in the county jail pending trial. Acting more like a raging mob than an instrument of justice, 500 vigilantes surrounded the county jail and removed Casey from the sheriff's custody on 18 May. After a short but reasonably fair trial, they hanged him.
      Some historians have argued that the second vigilance committee was less interested in suppressing crime than in attacking its political enemies. Casey's election signaled a shift in power to the dominant faction of recently immigrated Irish-Catholic Democrats. The vigilantes, who were largely native-born Protestants, reasserted their control by arresting and exiling their political opponents from the city. As before, they hanged several men. Regardless of the vigilantes' true motives, a number of Irish Catholic leaders did leave the city and the Protestant elite managed to regain control of the government. Late in 1856, the vigilance committee formally disbanded and never again became active.
1836 English astronomer Francis Baily [28 Apr 1774 – 30 Aug 1844] observes "Baily's Beads" during annular solar eclipse
1829 Joseph Smith [23 Dec 1805 – 27 Jun 1844] is ordained by John the Baptist according to Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons.
1800 Pope Pius VII [14 Aug 1742 – 20 Aug 1823] calls on French bishops to return to Gospel principles
1793 DULAURENS Jean Jacques, domicilié à Quimper, département du Finistère, est condamné à la déportation par le tribunal criminel dudit département.
^ 1756 The Seven Years’ War begins
      The Seven Years’ War, a global conflict known as the French and Indian War in America, officially began when England declares war on France. However, fighting and skirmishes between England and France had been going on in North America for years.
      In the early 1750s, France’s expansion into the Ohio River valley repeatedly brought the country into armed conflict with the British colonies. In 1756 — the first official year of fighting in the Seven Years’ War — the British suffered a series of defeats against the French and their broad network of Native-American alliances. However, in 1757, British Prime Minister William Pitt (the older) recognized the potential of imperial expansion that would come out of victory against the French, and borrowed heavily to fund an expanded war effort. Pitt financed Prussia’s struggle against France and her allies in Europe and reimbursed the colonies for the raising of armies in North America.
      By 1760, the French had been expelled from Canada, and by 1763, all of France’s allies in Europe had either made a separate peace with Prussia or had been defeated. In addition, Spanish attempts to aid France in the Americas had failed and France also suffered defeats against British forces in India. On 10 February, 1763, the Seven Years’ War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris by France, Great Britain, and Spain. In the treaty, France lost all claims to Canada and gave Louisiana to Spain, while Britain received Spanish Florida, Upper Canada, and various French holdings overseas. The treaty ensured the colonial and maritime supremacy of Britain, and strengthened the thirteen American colonies by removing their European rivals to the north and the south.
      Fifteen years later, French bitterness over the loss of most of their colonial empire to Britain contributed to their intervention in the US War of Independence on the side of the Patriots.
1702 War of Spanish Succession, first Amer conflict between England and France
1686 Rev. Robert Ratcliffe arrived in Boston from England, with orders from King Charles II to establish the Anglican Church in Massachusetts.
1618 Johannes Kepler discovers his harmonics law
1602 Cape Cod discovered by English navigator Bartholomew Gosnold
1455 A crusade against the Turks and for the capture of Constantinople is proclaimed by Pope Calixtus III.
< 14 May 16 May >
^  Deaths which occurred on a 15 May:

2007 Jerry Falwell [11 Aug 1933–], US fundamentalist Protestant pastor and televangelist, founder in Lynchburg, Virginia, of the Thomas Road Baptist Church (17 Jun 1956) and of Liberty University (1971); co-founder of the right-wing political organisation Moral Majority (1979). —(070515)

2006 David Sharp [15 Feb 1972–], British engineer and amateur alpinist, dies slowly from lack of oxygen during an unsupported solo ascension of the north side of Mount Everest, sitting in a shallow snow cave near the summit, while some 40 other climbers pass by without stopping to help. One of his teammates, the Brazilian Vitor Negrete [13 Nov 1967–], dies on 19 May 2006, also from lack of oxygen, after his descent from his solo ascension to the summit on 18 May. Of the 2062 persons who ever reached the summit of Everest (some of them more than once) prior to April 2007, 203 died on their descent.. —(080514)

2005 All 100 or so persons aboard a ferry which sinks in the morning in high winds and strong currents in the 4-km-wide Char Kazal river near Galachipa, in the Patuakhali district of Bangladesh.

2004 A US soldier by a roadside bomb exploding alongside his vehicle in Baghdad, late in the evening. Another US soldier is wounded.

2004 Two al-Mahdi militiamen among those attacking US occupation troops at a police station in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq.

2004 Four Iraqi civilians, including twin girls, aged 2, by a mortar shell which hits their house near a British military base in Basra, Iraq.
burned out train cars
2004 major Mohammed Abdel-Hassan Imshani, shot at the hospital in Amarah, Iraq, by a bodyguard of the Amarah puppet governor Riyahd Mahoud, by whom, Abdel-Hassan, police chief of town al-Majar al-Kabir, was being accused by Mahoud of encouraging attacks on the British occupiers, as they argue about Abdel-Hassan's demand for the immediate return to his town of the bodies of 21 al-Mahdi Army militiamen killed the previous day attacking the British.

2003 Dr. Sister Alfansa; Mrs. Betty Vinayak (wife of M. K. Shaji?), 35; boy Johnie Vinayak (Shaji?), 12; girl Tonny Vinayak (Shaji?), 7; Ganpati Vinayak; and at least 33 others, at 04:00, in fire starting at 03:45 (14 May 22:15 UT), which spreads to four coaches [shown after being separated from the train >] of the Golden Temple Express train, 10 km north of Ludhiana, Punjab, India, as it was headed to Amritsar. 13 persons are injured seriously enough to be hospitalized. India has the world's largest railway network after the United States, with almost 14'000 trains carrying over 13 million passengers a day. It has about 300 accidents a year.

2003 Four terrorists, killed in the evening by ambushing Indian soldiers, just past the border from Pakistan into Indian-occupied Kashmir, in the Krishnagati area of Poonch district.

2003 Mohammed Zaaneen, 12, Palestinian, after been shot in the head, in the early hours, by Israeli troops invading Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, and being left unattended for four hours while the Israelis prevented ambulances from reaching the wounded. Four other Palestinians (two gunmen and two boys of 15) are also killed by the Israeli incursion.

Idit Mizrahi2001 Idit Mizrahi, 22, [< photo] shot from ambush by Palestinian gunmen, shortly after 19:00, near the settlement of Ma'aleh Mikhmas, east of Ramallah. She was from the secular West Bank enclave settlement of Rimonim, driving to Jerusalem for a family wedding with her father and brother.
2001 Abdel Karim Maname, shot by Israeli tank in the Gaza strip. Maname was a bodyguard for Sheik Ahmed Yassin, founder of.Hamas.Three other Palestinians are killed by Israelis this same day.
2001 Father Raphael Paliakara and two other Catholic priests, shot by gunmen who had just exacted money from them, at the seminary in Ngarian, 26 km east of Imphal, capital of Manipur state, India. Father Paliakara was the rector. The killers are suspected to be rebels of the People's Liberation Army.
1970 Phillip Lafayette Gibbs and James Earl Green, two black students at Jackson State University in Mississippi, by police opened gunfire during student protests.
1952 Niles Maurice Spencer, US painter born on 16 May 1893. — MORE ON SPENCER AT ART “4” MAY 16 with links to images.
1935 Kazimir Severinovich Malevich, Ukrainian Cubist painter born on 26 February 1878. — MORE ON MALEVICH AT ART “4” MAY with links to images.
^ 1932 Tsuyoshi Inukai, 77, Japanese Prime Minister, and a policeman, murdered in coup attempt.
    In 1932, Japanese military conspirators aimed at nothing less than instant revolution. On Friday 13 May 1932, five plotters had met in a restaurant in the naval base town of Tsuchiura, a two-hour train ride from Tokyo. Two naval officers, an army cadet, a student and a teacher from the agricultural Native Land-Loving School put the finishing touches on plans to terrorize the civilian government and force the country under martial law; thereupon, the army could take over in the name of the emperor. At 17:00 on Sunday 15 May, nine young naval and army officers visited Tokyo's sacred Yasukuni Shrine, dedicated to the country's war dead, then piled into two taxis and drove to the prime minister's official residence. One group easily entered the front door and located the prime minister's suite, while the other went around to the rear.
      Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai [20 Apr 1855–], small, goateed and wearing a kimono, addled the revolver-wielding intruders by calmly asking them to sit down and talk. Suddenly, the second group of officers burst in. Their leader, a lieutenant, snapped, "No use talking. Fire!" The others obeyed. The fatally wounded Inukai slumped to the matted floor. On their way out, the killers shot a truncheon-armed policeman who challenged them. Abandoned by the taxi-drivers who had brought them, the nine found two more cabs. Their next target was central civilian police headquarters, but they found the building empty. One carload then drove on to military police headquarters and surrendered, and the second followed suit after detouring to toss a grenade at the Bank of Japan building. There were other explosives-throwing incidents in Tokyo that night.
      Twenty-one naval officers and army cadets and 20 civilians would be tried for the 15 May violence. They would receive light sentences, none of which they would fully serve. It was felt that, while the extremists' actions had been objectionable, their motives had been "pure and patriotic."
      Initially, the rebelling officers had planned to murder not only the prime minister but also Charlie Chaplin [16 Apr 1889 – 25 Dec 1977], who was visiting Japan. Lieutenant Seishi Koga, the plot leader, later explained: "Chaplin is a popular figure in the United States and a darling of the capitalist class. We believed that killing him would cause a war with America." The plan to assassinate Chaplin was discarded because "it was disputed...that it could bring about war with the United States and increase the power of the military."
      Although senior officers refused the rebels' request to order the army to move against the government, the 15 May incident would have far-reaching effects. Civilian leaders were cowed into silence. Party government was replaced by a "cabinet of national unity" consisting of eight military officers and three civilians and headed by Admiral Makoto Saito [27 Oct 1858 – 26 Feb 1936] as prime minister.   —(080514)
1908 Charles Frederic Ulrich, German artist born on 18 October 1858.
1904 Mosè di Giosuè Bianchi, Italian painter and etcher born on 13 October 1840. — MORE ON BIANCHI AT ART “4” OCTOBER with links to images.
1891 Edwin Long, English painter born on 12 July 1829.
1886 Emily Dickinson US poet, in Amherst, Massachusetts.
1859 Lancelot~Théodore Turpin comte de Crissé, Paris painter, lithographer, and collector, born on 06 (09?) July 1782. — MORE ON TURPIN AT ART “4” JULY with links to images.
1854 Hendrik Reekers, Dutch artist born on 21 September 1815.
^ Condamnés à mort par la Révolution:
1794 (26 floréal an II):
DESPAIGNES Pierre, volontaire au 3ème bataillon de la Seine Inférieure, domicilié à Pont-Audemer (Eure), comme émigré, par le tribunal criminel du département du Calvados.
ESQUERE Michel, valet de Chambre de Dillon, domicilié à haute-Fontaire (Loire), comme émigré, par le tribunal criminel dudit département.
FARGEOT François, huissier, domicilié à Montignac (Dordogne), par le tribunal criminel dudit département, comme contre-révolutionnaire.
HAREMBERT André Marie, homme de loi, domicilié à Laroche-Sauveur (Morbihan), par le tribunal dudit département, comme complice de séditieux.
MARTEL Jos. (dit Perrugon), cardeur de laine, domicilié à Lorgues (Var), comme voleur avec récidive, par le tribunal criminel dudit département.
Par le tribunal révolutionnaire d'Arras:
BOSSU Jean Baptiste, ancien notaire, 70 ans, né à Saulty, domicilié à Aire (Pas-de-Calais), veuf de Capy Marie Anne Joseph Rosalie, comm ayant prêté son ministère de notaire pour recevoir, le 12 juillet 1792, le testament de la nommée Mazaincourt, dont les dispositions étaient contraires aux lois de l'État.
BRASIER Jean Baptiste, ci-devant notaire, né à Givenchy-les-Avesnes, 59 ans, domicilié à Arras (Pas de Calais), comme ayant apposé sa signature au testament de la nommée Mazaincourt, du 22 Jul 1792, contenant un leg de 10'000 livres au couvent des Capucins de Paris, et un de pareille somme aux filles de l'Ave Maria de la même ville. BRAZIER Jean Baptiste, 61 ans, notaire, né à Givenchy lez Abesnes, époux de Dubois Béatrice Joseph.
TRUDAINE Charlotte Geneviève, veuve Quarré-de-Chelers, 49 ans, ex-noble, née à Paris, domicilié à Arras (Pas-de-Calais), comme conspiratrice, ayant donné asile au nommé Martin ex chanoine de Noyon, émigré, et ayant eu des liaisons avec l'ex comtesse de Mazaincourt. TRUDAINE Charlotte Geneviève, 49 ans, née à Paris, demeurant à Arras, veuve de Quarre de Chelers, guillotinée.
TARBET Jean Jacques, guillotiné.
Par le tribunal révolutionnaire séant à Cambray (Nord):
BARBET Pierre Joseph, tailleur de pierre, comme ayant eu des intelligences criminelles avec les ennemis de l'extérieur.
LAINE Pierre Hubert, tailleur de pierres, comme ayant eu des intelligences avec les ennemis de l'extérieur.
BERTRANT Lazare, capitaine au 3ème bataillon des volontaire nationaux, formé à Soissons, comme ayant abandonné son poste au bivouac.
Par le tribunal révolutionnaire de Paris:
FENARD Alexandre, notaire, procureur syndic du district de Bitche, 44 ans, né et domicilié à Bitche, département de la Moselle, comme conspirateur, en provoquant l’envoi d’une adresse au tyran roi sur les événements du 20 juin 1793, par un discours dans lequel il disait " nous regardons comme nos véritables ennemis ceux qui ont osé et qui oseront proposer l’avilissement et la déchéance du représentant héréditaire de la nation ".
BERTRAND François, 37 ans, natif de Fleury, en Auvergne, ferblantier, étapier, domicilié à Surre, canton de St Jean-de-Losne (Côte-d'Or), pour fourniture en vin gâtés et nuisibles à la santé.
BLASS Mathieu, 44 ans, né à Schevthootz (Bas-Rhin), administration du district de Bitche, domicilié à Bouquenom (Moselle), comme conspirateur.
CHIAVARRY Pierre Antoine Joseph, 38 ans, né à Arles, ex capitaine au ci-devant régiment Dauphin, électeur à l'assemblée législative, domicilié à Arles (Bouches du Rhône), comme contre-révolutionnaire.
FASSIN Antoine Barthelemi, médecin, 41 ans, né et domicilié à Arles (Bouches du Rhône), comme contre-révolutionnaire.
HENRY Pierre, 66 ans, greffier du tribunal du district de Neuf-Savardin, né à Sargemine (Moselle), domicilié à Boukenoire (Bas-Rhin), comme conspirateur.
KNŒPFFLER Dominique, ex notaire, administrateur du district de Bitche, membres d'un comité révolutionnaire, capitaine des chasseurs de la garde nationale, procureur de la commune, président du Bureau de conciliation, domicilié à Bicthe (Moselle), comme complice d'une conspiration dans les départements de la Moselle, du Gard et des Bouches du Rhône.
LARTIGUE Antoine Louis, 60 ans, ex curé de Fontenay-aux-Roses, près de Paris, né à Toulouse (Haute Garonne), domicilié à Paris, comme conspirateur.
MEYNIER Etienne, ex noble, ex membre de l'assemblée constituante et maire de Nîmes, 65 ans, président du département du Gard, à Nismes, y demeurant, comme contre-révolutionnaire.
MOURIN Charles
(dit Cherbaudières, secrétaire du tyran, maire de Noirmoutiers, y demeurant, département de la Vendée, par la commission militaire séante aux Sables, comme brigand de la Vendée.
1793 Peter Adolphe Hall, Swedish artist born on 23 February 1739. — more
1789 Jean~Baptiste~Marie Pierre, French painter, printmaker, draughtsman and administrator, born on 06 March 1714. — MORE ON PIERRE AT ART “4” MAY with links to images.
1782 Richard Wilson, Welsh Romantic painter, active in Italy and England, specialized in Landscapes, born on 01 August 1714. — MORE ON WILSON AT ART “4” AUGUST with links to images.
1734 Sebastiano Ricci (or Rizzi), Italian Rococo era painter, born in 1659. — MORE ON RICCI AT ART “4” MAY with links to images.
1665 Claes Wou, Dutch artist born in 1592.
0884 Marinus I, Pope
< 14 May 16 May >
^  Births which occurred on a 15 May:

1990 New Cray supercomputer
      Cray Research introduces a new, cheaper supercomputer. The machine, priced at about $2.2 million, was considerably cheaper than Cray's other computers, priced between $5 million and $23 million. Cray Research was founded by Seymour Cray, whose work for UNIVAC, Remington Rand, and Control Data Corporation helped develop the modern computer. The supercomputer developed in 1963 under his watch at Control Data Corporation was far faster than existing mainframes: The military used the machine to simulate nuclear explosions and break codes. In 1972, Cray founded Cray Research, which became a leader in high-end machines. In addition to military purposes, these machines were used to model hurricanes and the formation of galaxies. In 1989, Cray spun off Cray Computer Corporation to make even faster and more powerful computers.
^ 1942 The US Women's Army Corps
     A bill becomes law, which creates the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAACs) and grants women official military status.
      In May 1941, Representative Edith Nourse Rogers [19 March 1881 – 10 Sep 1960] of Massachusetts, the first congresswoman ever from New England, introduced legislation that would enable women to serve in the Army in noncombat positions. Rogers was well suited for such a task; during her husband John J. Rogers' term as congressman, she was active as a volunteer for the Red Cross, the Women's Overseas League, and military hospitals. Because of her work inspecting field and base hospitals, President Warren G. Harding [02 Nov 1865 – 02 Aug 1923], in 1922, appointed her as his personal representative for inspections and visits to veterans' hospitals throughout the country. She was eventually appointed to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, as chairwoman in the 80th and 83rd Congresses.
      The bill to create a Women's Auxiliary Army Corps would not be passed into law for a year after it was introduced (the bombing of Pearl Harbor was a great incentive). But finally, the WAACs gained official status and salary — but still not all the benefits accorded to men. Thousands of women enlisted in light of this new legislation, and in July 1942, the "auxiliary" was dropped from the name, and the Women's Army Corps, or WACs, received full Army benefits in keeping with their male counterparts.
      The WACs performed a wide variety of jobs, "releasing a man for combat," as the Army, sensitive to public misgivings about women in the military, touted. But those jobs ranged from clerk to radio operator, electrician to air-traffic controller. Women served in virtually every theater of engagement, from North Africa to Asia.
      It would take until 1978 before the Army would become sexually integrated (though still barring women from combat), and women participating as merely an "auxiliary arm" in the military would be history. And it would not be until 1980 that 16'000 women who had joined the earlier WAACs would receive veterans' benefits.
1939 Brian Hartley, English mathematician whose main topic was that of locally finite groups; he used his wide knowledge of finite groups in proving properties of infinite groups which were in a sense close to finite. There is a mountain in the Lake District of England that he always wanted to climb and he decided to try it “before he got too old”. He was not too old to make it to the top but he was too old to avoid collapsing on the way down and dying on 08 October 1994.
1936 Paul Zindel, Playwright.
1931 Pierre Lagaillarde, fondera l'Organisation de l'Armée Secrète en février 1961. Se réfugiera en Espagne.
1926 Anthony Shaffer, playwright ("Sleuth")
1926 Peter Shaffer, Playwright ("Amadeus")
1923 Richard Avedon [–01 Oct 2004], US photographer (1957 ASMP award)
1922 Adil Carcani [–13 Oct 1997], who would become the last Communist Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Albania (18 Dec 1981 - 1991). —(080514)
1915 Paul Anthony Samuelson economist (1970 Nobel, 1947 John Bates Clark Medal)
1902 Richard Daley (Mayor-D-Chic)
click for full painting^ 1890 Callie Porter, later known as writer Katherine Anne Porter, in Indian Creek, Texas.
      Porter grew up in poverty. Before she turned two, her mother died and her father moved in with his mother. Porter's grandmother, Catherine Anne Porter, provided love and support, and Porter later changed her first name to echo her grandmother's. Her grandmother died in 1901, and Porter was sent to convent school in New Orleans and later attended school in San Antonio.
      At age 16, she married the 27-year-old son of a rancher, but the marriage was a failure. In 1911, Porter left for Chicago, where she worked as a reporter. She later spent two years traveling around Texas as a ballad singer and in 1918 became a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver. In 1918, Porter became deathly ill. After her recovery, she traveled to Mexico, where she spent most of her time for several years.
      Her first published work of fiction, the short story María Concepción (1922), received almost immediate appreciation from critics. In 1925, she married again but soon divorced. Her collection Flowering Judas and Other Stories (1930) was a critical success and helped her win a Guggenheim Fellowship to support her writing.
      From 1931 to 1937, she lived in Europe, married and divorced a third time, then married again in 1938. That year, she returned to the US with her fourth husband and settled in Baton Rouge. In the 1940s, she wrote film scripts and lectured at universities.
      During her lifetime, she published only 25 stories and one novel, Ship of Fools, which took her more than two decades to complete. While her work was not abundant, almost all of it was critically acclaimed. She died in 1980 in Maryland. [click image for painting Ship of Fools, by Hieronymus Bosch >]
     Katherine Anne Porter's novel Ship of Fools (1962) uses the metaphor of the ship Vera to represent the entire world as it drifts into World War II. Her note at the start of the novel states: "The title of this book is a translation from the German of Das Narrenschiff, a moral allegory by Sebastian Brant first published in Latin as Stultifera Navis in 1494. I read it in Basel in the summer of 1932 when I had still vividly in mind the impressions of my first voyage to Europe. When I began thinking about my novel, I took for my own this simple almost universal image of the ship of this world on its voyage to eternity. It is by no means new — it was very old and durable and dearly familiar when Brant used it; and it suits my purpose exactly. I am a passenger on that ship.."
     Sebastian Brant, 1457–1521, German humanist and moralist. He taught law at the Univ. of Basel and in 1503 became town clerk of Strasbourg. His verse allegory Das Narrenschiff [ship of fools] (1494) became world famous. Illustrated with woodcuts, it went through six editions in Brant's lifetime alone. The story tells of 112 fools—each representing a fashionable foible—who sail out to sea and die because of their folly. An English translation by Alexander Barclay appeared in 1509. See verse translation (with the woodcuts) by E. H. Zeydel (1944). The poem inspired the novel Ship of Fools (1962) by Katherine Anne Porter.
1889 Mitoyo Kawate, Japanese woman who would die on 13 November 2003.
1864 Wilhelm Hammershøi, Copenhagen painter who died on 13 February 1916. — MORE ON HAMMERSHØI AT ART “4” MAY with links to images.
1862 US Department of Agriculture is created.
1859 Pierre Curie France, physicist (Nobel 1903)
^ 1856 Lyman Frank Baum children's book author (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz), in Chittenango, New York.
     L. Frank Baum wrote 14 Oz books. He died on 5 May 1919, leaving Glinda of Oz unfinished. It was finished and published in 1920. Ruth Plumly Thompson took over the job of writing Oz books after Baum's death.
      Lyman Frank Baum was born on 15 May 1856 in Chittennango, NY. His first book Mother Goose in Prose was published in 1897 with illustrations by famous artist Maxfield Parrish. In 1900, the first Oz book was published, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. For the rest of his life, Baum wrote children's books - so many that he used aliases such as Captain Hugh Fitzgerald, Edith Van Dyne, Floyd Akers, George Brooks, John Estes Cooke, Laura Bancroft, Louis F. Baum, Schuyler Stanton, and Suzanne Metcalf. Under these names, he also had success; As Floyd Akers, he wrote 6 books on the adventures The Boy Fortune Hunters As Edith Van Dyne, he published 18 books in three series for girls. But it was the magical charaters of Oz that brought Baum his fame. He wrote a musical show about Oz that ran on Broadway, and in 1908, he wrote the first of many screenplays for silent movies based on Oz. L. Frank Baum died May 6, 1919, in Hollywood, CA. His last Oz book Glinda of Oz was published the next year. Although several other authors continued the adventures of Dorothy and friends in the magical land of Oz, the orginal books by Baum are the ones veryone remembers. And the popularity of his books continues to this day!

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
In this story, the first book in the Oz series, Dorothy comes to Oz. Her house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East. Although she is invited to stay in Oz, she wants to get home to Kansas. The munchkins advise her to go to the Wizard of Oz in the Emerald city and she sets off, accompanied by her dog Toto. On her way, she helps many of the characters which later become prominent characters in Oz.
Aunt Em — Black Bees — Boq — China Joker — China Milkmaid — China Princess — Cowardly Lion — Crows — Dorothy — Field Mice — Gillikins — Glinda the Good — Good Witch of the North — Green Girl — Guardian of the Gates — Hammerheads — Injured Man — Injured Man's Wife — Kalidahs — King of the Winged Monkies — Munchkins — Quadlings — Queen of the Field Mice — Scarecrow — Soldier with Green Whiskers — Stork — Tin Woodman — Toto — Uncle Henry — Wicked Witch of the East — Wicked Witch of the West — Wildcat — Winged Monkies — Winkies — Wizard of Oz — Wolves.

Aunt Em is Dorothy's aunt. She is the wife of Dorothy's Uncle Henry. She is now living in the Emerald City
      Aunt Em lived with Uncle Henry in the plains of Kansas on a farm with Dorothy. The farm was not a good one, and Aunt Em and Uncle Henry were soon in debt because they could not get enough money. However, Dorothy was able to get them to Oz, where they live to this day. For more information on how and why they came to Oz, go to the book, The Emerald City of Oz.

The Cowardly Lion is a big lion who thinks that he is a coward. In reality, he is very brave and will always fight (and always win). He is currently in Ozma's bodyguard, along with his friend, the Hungry Tiger.
      The Cowardly Lion originally lived in a forest in the Munchkin Country. While Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman were walking through a forest, the Cowardly Lion sprang out and hit the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman and tried to eat Toto. However, Dorothy hit the Cowardly Lion on the face and told him that he was a coward by trying to eat Toto. The Cowardly Lion confessed that he was a c oward, and asked them if the Wizard of Oz could give him any courage. They said he could, and he joined them on their adventure.
      When the party got to the Emerald City, the Wizard of Oz told them that they needed to kill the Wicked Witch of the West. They did this, but found out that the Wizard was actually a humbug. Dorothy then went to Glinda the Good, who advised her to use the silver shoes. The Cowardly Lion then went back to a forest he found in the Quadling Country and became its ruler.
      When the Cowardly Lion heard that Ozma was made the ruler of Oz, he went to see her, bringing his friend, the Hungry Tiger. He then became her bodyguard (with the Hungry Tiger).

Dorothy is a princess of Oz and is the second most popular person in Oz. She lives in the Emerald City in the royal palace with Ozma. Dorothy has a pet dog whose name is Toto and a cat whose name is Eureka. She is a great friend of Ozma.
      Dorothy lived with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry in the Kansas prarie. One day, a cyclone carried her house away to Oz with Dorothy and Toto inside. Aunt Em and Uncle Harry were able to get into the storm cellar and so were not carried away to Oz.
      The house landed on the Wicked Witch of the East and set the munchkins free from the witch. Dorothy, who wanted to get home, was told to go to the Emerald City by way of the Yellow Brick Road. On her way, she rescued the Scarecrow from a pole on which he was hanging. Then they rescued the Tin Woodman. Together they journeyed on until they met the Cowardly Lion. The Cowardly Lion joined the foursome.
      After reaching the Emerald City, they made the Wizard of Oz see them. He told them that unless they killed the Wicked Witch of the West, he would grant nothing. Dorothy and her friends were able to kill the witch and returned to the Emerald City. There they found out that the wizard was a humbug. However, the Wizard of Oz was still able to give the Scarecrow brains, the Tin Woodman a heart, and the Cowardly Lion courage. He then tried to get Dorothy home, but the balloon flied away without Dorothy. Dorothy then went to Glinda the Good for help. Glinda told Dorothy how to use the Silver Shoes to get her home.
      Dorothy had many other adventures. She finally came to the Land of Oz for good in the book, the Emerald City of Oz.

Glinda is the ruler of the Quadling Country and lives in a beautiful castle in the south of the Quadling Country. Ozma relies on Glinda for help and magic whenever she needs it. Glinda has also taught the Wizard of Oz many spells, so now he is almost as powerful as Glinda.
      Glinda has a room of magic, where she keeps all her magical potions and equipment. However, her one most powerful object of magic is the Great Book of Records, which writes down all the events that have happened all over the world. Glinda reads this once a day and so knows more about what is happening than anybody else. Glinda appears to be Oz's protector. She always helps the citizens of Oz whenever they are in danger.
      Little is known about Glinda's history. There are some sources that say she is a fairy, however, this is very unlikely. Glinda overthrew Singra, a wicked witch who started the Quadling Country, and gained posession of the Quadling Country. Not much more is known about her until Dorothy comes to Oz.

The Good Witch of the North lives in the Gillikin Country. She is a friend of the Munchkins and helped Dorothy get to the Emerald City.

The Munchkins are the group of people that inhabit the Munchkin Country. Their favorite color is blue, and all their cltohing, houses, etc is blue.

The Scarecrow has some of the best brains in Oz, and is well respected by the people. He has his own mansion in the Winkie Country that is shaped like a husk of corn. Near the mansion are fields with corn and oats. He constantly visits the Tin Woodman and Ozma.
      The Scarecrow was originally made by a Munchkin farmer to scare crows. However, Dorothy found him. At this time the Scarecrow had no brains, and he desperately wanted them. Since Dorothy was going to the Emerald City to see the Wizard of Oz, she let him come along so that the Scarecrow could ask the Wizard of Oz for brains. On their way, they met the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion.
      When they came to the Wizard of Oz, he told them that they must kill the Wicked Witch of the West before he granted their wishes. However, when Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion returned to the Emerald City, they found out the the Wizard was only a humbug. However, he was able to give the Scarecrow brains.
      When the Wizard left in a balloon, he pronounced the Scarecrow the ruler of Oz. However, the Scarecrow was soon overthrown by Jinjur and her army, who were later overthrown by Ozma.

The Tin Woodman (also called Nick Chopper) is a man made of tin. He is the emperor of the Winkie Country and a great friend of Ozma, Dorothy, and the Scarecrow. The Tin Woodman lives in a tin castle in the Winkie Country.
      Nick Chopper was once a meat person who lived in the Munchkin Country. He fell in love with Nimmie Amee, a beautiful girl who was a slave of the Wicked Witch of the East. However, the witch was determined not to lose her slave and enchanted the ax of Nick Chopper. While Nick was chopping wood, the ax cut off his leg. Nick went to Ku-Klip, a tinsmith, who was his friend. Ku-Klip then made Nick a leg out of tin. The next day, the ax cut off his other leg. Ku-Klip replaced this also. Nimmie Amee still declared that she loved Nick.
      However, the witch was not done. The ax then cut of both of Nick's arms, which were replaced by Ku-Klip. Then the ax split Nick's body into two parts. The witch, who was standing near by, then chopped his body into many pieces. However, Nimmie found him and carried his arms, legs, and head to Ku-Klip, who made Nick a tin body. The axthen chopped of Nick's head and the witch carried the head and hid it. Nimmie again found him and helped him to Ku-Klip. Ku-Klip made him a head, but right when it was finished, Nimmie brought Nick's old head to him. However, Nick prefered the tin head. Nimmie wanted to marry Nick more than ever, but Nick could not love her without a heart and went away. Unfortunately, he rusted in a forest and no one found him for a long time.
      After much time, Dorothy and the Scarecrow found him, and he traveled with them, and a Cowardly Lion they found later, to the Emerald City. The Wizard of Oz promised the Tin Woodman if Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, or he could kill the Wicked Witch of the West. Dorothy was able to kill the witch. But when they got back to the Emerald City, they found out that the Wizard of Oz was really a humbug wizard. However, the fake wizard was still able to give the Tin Woodman a heart.
      After Dorothy went bact to Kansas by using her silver shoes, the Tin Woodman went to rule the Winkie Country. He had many adventures, which you can read about in the Oz books.

Toto is Dorothy's pet dog. He loves his mistress very much and likes to go with her. Toto has been on almost every one of Dorothy's adventures and now lives in the Emerald City with Dorothy. He is considered a curiosity among the people, because Toto is the only dog in Oz.

The Wicked Witch of the East ruled the Munchkin Country until Dorothy's house landed on her. The Wicked Witch of the East had started and ruled the Munchkin Country for a long time. She kept the people as slaves and was responsible for the Tin Woodman becoming all tin.

The Wicked Witch of the West started and ruled the Winkie Country. She was a mean witch and kept her people in bondage. She had only one eye, but it was as powerful as a telescope, and she could see every part of her country.
      The Wicked Witch's magic was pretty strong. Before Dorothy and her friends came to the Winkie Country the witch had the Golden Cap, which gave the wearer of it the command of the Winged Monkies three times, a whistle that commanded her Wolves, Crows, and Bees, and knowledge of basic magic.
      The Wicked Witch started and formed the Winkie Country. She did this with the help of the Winged Monkies. After the Wizard of Oz came, he tried to destroy her, but the Winged Monkies drove him out. However, when Dorothy came, the witch was melted by her and the Winkies made the Tin Woodman their leader.

The Wizard of Oz (actually Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmanuel Ambroise Diggs), is only one of two magicians that is allowed to perform magic in Oz. He is Glinda's assistant and lives with Ozma in the palace in the Emerald City. Although less powerfull than Glinda, he knows enough magic to be of great help to Ozma. The Wizard of Oz keeps most of his magical tools in his black bag. There he has most of the tools he needs for all his magic.
      Oscar Diggs was born in Omaha Kansas. He had many skills, including those of a circus magician and ventriloquist. He tired of both of these jobs and became a balloonist. One day the ropes got twisted in his balloon and he was carried away to Oz. Diggs performed some simple tricks and the people thought that he was a great magician. He became king (Pastoria had already been deposed of) and ordered the building of the Emerald City and the royal palace.
      After the palace was built, Diggs shut himself into it and allowed to one to see him. However, Dorothy arrived and forced him to see her. This led to the discovery of Diggs as a humbug wizard. However, this didn't stop him from giving the Tin Woodman a heart, the Scarecrow brains, and the Cowardly Lion courage. He tried to take Dorothy to Kansas in a balloon, but the balloon floated away without Dorothy. Diggs eventually got back to Kansas. He returned to Oz in the book, Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. After returning to Oz, he learned magic from Glinda and became a true wizard.

  • Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
  • Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
  • The Emerald City of Oz
  • The Emerald City of Oz
  • Glinda of Oz
  • A Kidnapped Santa Claus
  • The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
  • American Fairy Tales
  • The Enchanted Island of Yew
  • Glinda of Oz
  • John Dough and the Cherub
  • A Kidnapped Santa Claus
  • The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
  • The Lost Princess of Oz
  • The Magic of Oz
  • The Marvelous Land of Oz
  • Ozma of Oz
  • The Patchwork Girl of Oz
  • Little Wizard Stories of Oz
  • The Lost Princess of Oz
  • The Magic of Oz
  • The Marvelous Land of Oz
  • The Marvelous Land of Ozl
  • The Master Key
  • The Master Key
  • Ozma of Oz
  • The Patchwork Girl of Oz
  • Rinkitink in Oz
  • Rinkitink In Oz
  • The Road to Oz
  • The Scarecrow of Oz
  • Tik-Tok of Oz
  • The Tin Woodman of Oz
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  • The Road to Oz
  • The Scarecrow of Oz
  • The Sea Fairies
  • Sky Island
  • Tik-Tok of Oz
  • The Tin Woodman of Oz
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  • co-author of: The Royal Book of Oz
  • 1842 Gustav Karoly Igler, Hungarian artist who died in 1938.
    1838 Nicolae Grigorescu, Romanian painter who died on 21 July 1907. — MORE ON GRIGORESCU AT ART “4” MAY with links to images.
    1835 Émile Léonard Mathieu, French mathematician who died on 19 October 1890. He is remembered especially for his discovery (in 1860 and 1873) of five sporadic simple groups named after him.
    1628 conte Carlo Cignani, Italian painter and draftsman who died on 06 September1719. — more
    1625 Carlo Maratti (or Maratta), Italian painter who died on 15 December 1713. — MORE ON MARATTI AT ART “4” MAY with links to images.
    1567 (infant baptism) Claudio Monteverdi, Italian composer (L'Orfeo) who died on 29 November 1643. He was the most important developer of the then new genre, the opera. He composed seven operas of which three survive: La favola d'Orfeo (1607); Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria (1641); L'incoronazione di Poppea (1642). He also did much to bring a “modern” secular spirit into church music.
    Holidays Austria : Independence Day (1955)

    Religious Observances RC : St Dymphna, patron of the insane / RC : Saint Isidore the Farmer, patron of farmers / old RC : St John Baptist de la Salle, confessor
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    Thoughts for the day:
    “You can judge a man by how he keeps his golf score.”
    “You can judge a President by how he keeps his Gulf war.”
    “You can judge a woman by how she keeps her man away from golf.”
    “Faults are thick where love is thin.”
    — Danish proverb.
    “Love is thin where women are thick and men fault golf scores.”
    “Love is thin where a woman judges a man by how he keeps his golf score.”
    “You can score a judge by how he faults his men.”
    updated Sunday 31-May-2009 23:29 UT
    Principal updates:
    v.8.41 Friday 30-May-2008 16:54 UT
    v.7.41 Wednesday 16-May-2007 2:04 UT
    v.6.40 Friday 26-May-2006 23:11 UT
    v.5.43 Friday 20-May-2005 6:25 UT
    Sunday 16-May-2004 17:31 UT

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