ON THIS DAY: May 19, 2017

May 19th is

Bike to Work Day *

Devil’s Food Cake Day

Endangered Species Day *

Hepatitis Testing Day

O. Henry Pun-off Day *

Pizza Party Day

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MORE! Charles Sumner, Nellie Melba and O. Henry, click

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WORLD FESTIVALS AND NATIONAL HOLIDAYS

Cape Verde – Praia Municipal Day

Ireland – Ballymaloe: Litfest
(food and drinks literacy)

North Cyprus – Youth and Sports Day

Turkey – Araturk Memorial and
Youth-Sports Day

Turkmenistan – Magtymguly Poetry Day
(national poet-philosopher)

Vietnam – Hi Chi Minh’s Birthday

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On This Day in HISTORY

1515 – George van Saksen-Meissen sells Friesland for 100,000 gold guilders to Archduke Charles

1535 – French explorer Jacques Cartier sets sail on his second voyage to North America with three ships, 110 men, and Chief Donnacona’s two sons (whom Cartier had kidnapped during his first voyage).

1542 – The Prome Kingdom, little more than a city-state, falls to King Tabinshwehti of the Taungoo Dynasty in what is now Burma

1588 – The Spanish Armada sets sail for England



1643 – French forces under the duc d’Enghien decisively defeat Spanish forces at the Battle of Rocroi, marking the symbolic end of Spain as a dominant land power

1649 – An Act of Parliament declaring England a Commonwealth is passed by the Long Parliament, making England a republic for the next eleven years

1655 – The British amphibious invasion of Jamaica begins; they will capture the island from the Spanish, during the Anglo-Spanish War

1662 – The Act of Uniformity 1662 is passed, prescribes administration of sacraments, public prayers, and other rites of the Established Church of England, as they appear in the Book of Common Prayer. Adherence is required in order to hold any office in government or the church, although the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer is so new that most people have never even seen a copy. Aso explicitly requires episcopal ordination for all ministers, i.e. deacons, priests and bishops, which is being reintroduced since the Puritans had abolished many features of the Church during the Civil War

1743 – Jean-Pierre Christin, French physicist-mathematician; centigrade temperature scale

1780 – About midday, near-total darkness descends on New England, now known to be caused by forest fires in Canada

1795 – Johns Hopkins born, American merchant; endows Johns Hopkins University and hospital

1802 – Napoleon Bonaparte founds the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, which has five degrees of distinction: Chevalier (Knight),  Officier (Officer),  Commandeur  (Commander), Grand Officier (Grand Officer) and Grand-Croix (Grand Cross)

1828 – U.S. President John Quincy Adams signs the Tariff of 1828 into law, protecting U.S. wool manufacturers

1848 – The first ‘department store,’ A. T. Stewart & Co., is opened in New York City by Scots-Irishman Alexander Turney Stewart, who also started a mail-order business for customers in other parts of the U.S. He became one of the wealthiest people in history, worth over 90 billion in today’s U.S. dollars


A.T. Stewart – Astor Place Store 1880s. Engraving-Bella C. Landauer Collection


1856 – Charles Sumner, freshman Republican Senator from Massachusetts, rises to denounce the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which calls on the territories to decide if slavery will be permitted within their borders. He committed his entire address entitled “The Crime Against Kansas” to memory and arranged for a 112 page copy to be printed in advance, then spoke for five hours over the next two days. He reviles the act’s chief authors, calling Senator Stephen Douglas (D-IL) a “brutal, vulgar man” and charging Senator Andrew Butler (D-SC) with keeping “the harlot, slavery” as his mistress. Two days later, Butler’s second cousin, Representative Preston Brooks (D-SC) beats Sumner nearly to death with his gold-headed cane, stopping only when his cane breaks, inflicting head injuries that prevent Sumner from resuming his Senate seat for three years; Brooks’ actions receive only token punishment, and he is reelected by his constituents

1857 – William F. Channing & Moses G. Farmer patent an electric fire alarm

1861 – Dame Nellie Melba born, Australian operatic soprano, Melbourne Conservatorium teacher, first internationally recognized Australian soprano



1879 – Nancy Astor born in America, English politician; first woman in the British House of Commons



1881 – Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, first President of Turkey

1884 – The Ringling Brothers expand their circus by purchasing the Yankee Robinson Circus, adding horse trick riders and a bear to their juggling and skits acts

1885 – After patenting an automatic method of lasting a shoe (attaching the sole to the upper part) in 1883, Jan Ernst Matzeliger revolutionizes the shoe industry, increasing production from 50 pairs a day by the most skilled hand-lasters to 150 to 700 pairs per last each day, cutting the price of shoes across the U.S. in half. Matzeliger was the son of a Dutch engineer in Dutch Guyana and a Surinamese slave of African descent.

1886 – Camille Saint-Saëns’ 3rd Symphony in C (the ‘Organ Symphony’) premieres in London, at St. James Hall, conducted by the composer



1890 – Ho Chi Minh born, Indochina Communist Party founder, president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (1954-1969)

1892 – Charles Brady King invents a pneumatic hammer, the first version of a ‘jackhammer’

1898 – US Congress passes the Private Mailing Card Act, allowing private publishers and printers to produce postcards though they had to be labeled “Private Mailing Cards” until 1901 and became known as “souvenir cards”

1903 – Ruth Ella Moore born, American bacteriologist, first African-American woman to gain a PhD in a natural science; Howard University head of  the Department of Bacteriology; worked on tuberculosis, immunology, and African-American blood types.

1906 – The Federated Boys’ Club organizes; it will become the Boys’ Club of America

1908 – Manik Bandopadhyay born, Indian author, poet, and playwright

1910 – Passage of planet Earth through the tail of Halley’s Comet cause near-panic

1921 – U.S. Congress pass the Emergency Immigration Act of 1921, imposing a limit on immigration annually of 3% of the number of residents from each country already living in the U.S. as of the 1910 census, which favored immigrants from northern Europeans over other part of the world, except Latin America, which had no limit imposed. These limits came to be known as the National Origins Formula. Professionals were admitted without regard to their country of origin. Immigration from the Asia-Pacific zone and illiterates over the age of 16 remained barred by the Immigration Act of 1917. Immigration in 1921-1922 fell by over 60%

1924 – Sandy Wilson born, English musical composer and lyricist; The Boy Friend



1925 – Malcolm X born, American black militant leader

1930 – White women win voting rights in South Africa, after a campaign originally started by women reformers campaigning against alcohol

1930 – Lorraine Hansberry born, American playwright; A Raisin in the Sun was the first play by a black woman to be produced on Broadway, directed by Lloyd Richards, the first black director to have a show on Broadway



1932 – Elena Poniatowska born in France, Mexican author and journalist; first woman to win Mexico’s Premio Nacional de Periodismo (National Journalism Prize), and numerous other awards, including the 2006  International Women’s Media Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award

1941 – Nora Ephron born, American author, journalist, director, producer, and screenwriter; Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, and Sleepless in Seattle



1945 – Pete Townsend born, English singer-songwriter with The Who; rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia



1946 – Nederlandse Vereniging voor Seksuele Hervorming (NVSH), the Dutch Society for Sexual Reform, is founded, a birth control organization which becomes the only source of condoms in the Netherlands. It will gain 220, 000 members and run over 60 birth control clinics at its height. Contraceptives become legal in the Netherlands in 1970, causing membership to drop to only a few hundred by 2008

1948 – Grace Jones born in Jamaica, American singer-songwriter



1952 –  Lillian Hellman sends her letter to the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities that she refuses to testify against friends and associates, saying “I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.”

1954 – Despite federal laws prohibiting opening mail except by the addressee, Postmaster General Summerfield approves a CIA mail-opening project in New York City of mail between U.S. correspondents and people in communist countries

1955 – Bike to Work Day * is started by the League of American Bicyclists, and is endorsed by the American Medical Association

1958 – Harold Pinter’s play The Birthday Party has its London debut, but closes after only eight performances. In spite of its initial poor reception in London, it becomes one of Pinter’s best-known and most frequently performed plays; when asked what his plays were about, Pinter replied, “The weasel under the cocktail cabinet.”

1958 –South Pacific’s soundtrack becomes the #1 album in the U.S. for 31 weeks



1960 – The Belgian Parliament votes to require a rest day for the self-employed

1962 – Actress Marilyn Monroe performs a sultry rendition of “Happy Birthday” for President John F. Kennedy during a fundraiser at New York’s Madison Square Garden



1963 – The New York Post Sunday Magazine publishes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’



1966 – Jodi Picoult born, American author and feminist; advocate for literary gender parity and advisory board member of Vida: Women in the Literary Arts; has spoken out against the death penalty; co-founder of the Trumbull Hall Troupe (theatre for kids);  My Sister’s Keeper, The Tenth Circle, Change of Heart

1967 – The USSR ratifies a treaty with the U.S. and U.K. banning nuclear weapons from outer space

1977 – The first O. Henry Pun-off Day * is started in Austin, TX



1986 – U.S. President Ronald Reagan signs into law the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA), which weakens or overturns the  Gun Control Act of 1968, allowing the reopening of interstate sales of long guns on a limited basis, legalization of ammunition shipments through the U.S. Postal Service (a partial repeal of the Gun Control Act), removal of the requirement for record keeping on sales of non-armor-piercing ammunition, and federal protection of transportation of firearms through states where possession of those firearms would otherwise be illegal.

1992 – The 27th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting Congress from giving itself midterm pay raises, goes into effect

2006 – The U.S. Senate proclaims Endangered Species Day *

2010 – Leaders of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) in Thailand, called the ‘Red Shirts,’ surrender to police in order to prevent more bloodshed after crackdowns in which government troops fired on protesters in the red shirt encampment, during which 25 people were killed and over 800 injured

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About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 45 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband and a bewildered Border Collie.
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