This Day in History

June 17


656      Uthman ibn Affan, companion of the prophet Muhammad and Caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate, dies after a reign of 12 years, age 79   1363
1407      Ming Dynasty of China led by Yongle Emperor conquers Vietnam, capturing Hô Quý Ly and his sons, ending the Vietnamese Hô Dynasty   612
1497      Henry VII puts down a Cornish rebellion led by An Gof with a decisive victory at Depford Bridge   522
1579      Francis Drake lands in northern California, names it Nova Albion and claims it for the Queen   440
1596      Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz discovers the Arctic archipelago of Spitsbergen   423
1631      Mumtaz Mahal dies in childbirth—her husband spends 20 years building her tomb: the Taj Majal   388
1673      French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet reach the Mississippi River in present-day Wisconsin—explore it southward   346
1696      John III Sobieski, King of Poland, dies after a reign of 22 years, age 66   323
1775      Battle of Bunker Hill overlooking Boston   244
1775      Joseph Warren, American doctor and patriot leader, is killed on Breeds Hill, age 34   244
1789      France's Third Estate declare themselves the National Assembly   230
1832      British chemist and physicist William Crookes born in London   187
1839      Kamehameha III issues the edict of toleration giving Roman Catholics the freedom to worship in the Hawaiian Islands   180
1876      Battle of the Rosebud—Lakota Native Americans under Crazy Horse defeat a U.S. Army force led by George Crook   143
1877      Battle of White Bird Canyon is the opening battle of the war with the Nez Perce nation—significant defeat of the U.S. Army   142
1889      bill authorizing the U.S. Navy Hospital Corp is signed into law by President William McKinley   130
1898      birth of artist Mauritis Cornelis Escher in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands   121
1901      College Board introduces its first standardized test—becomes SAT   118
1910      Romanian engineer, inventor, and early pilot Aurel Vlaicu flies his A. Vlaicu Nr. I for the first time over Cotroceni airfield   109
1922      Portuguese aviators Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral complete the first aerial crossing of the South Atlantic—Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro   97
1939      Eugen Weidmann is the last person to be publically executed by the guillotine in France   80
1940      British biochemist and Nobel laureate (1929) Arthur Harden dies, age 74   79
1940      RMS Lancastria is attacked and sunk by Luftwaffe near Saint-Nazaire, France while evacuating British nationals—estimated 4000 die   79
1944      Iceland becomes an independent republic from Denmark   75
1947      Pan American World Airways opens the first ever regularly-scheduled around-the-world service   72
1958      Vancouver bridge, Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing, collapses during construction, 18 die—finished two years later   61
1963      U.S. Supreme Court rules in Abington School District v. Schempp against reciting of Bible verses and Lord's Prayer in public schools   56
1967      China detonates its first thermonuclear bomb—Test No. 6 yielded about 3.3 megatons   52
1972      Watergate break-in   47
1985      Discovery launches carrying Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the first Arab and first Muslim in space   34
1987      last Dusky Seaside Sparrow, non-migratory species found in Southern Florida, dies—subspecies is extinct   32
1996      American science philosopher Thomas Samuel Kuhn dies, age 73   23
2001      American chemist and Nobel laureate (1987) Donald James Cram dies in Palm Desert, California, age 82   18
2002      American sprint runner and first African American to compete in the Winter Olympics for the USA William "Willie" D. Davenport dies, age 59   17
2007      American dancer and choreographer who popularized belly dance in the U.S. Serena Wilson dies, age 73   12
2007      Italian fashion designer known as "the architect of fashion" Gianfranco Ferré. dies in Milan, age 62   12
2008      American dancer and actress Cyd Charisse (born Tula Ellice Finklea) dies in Los Angeles, age 86   11
2010      Shannon Walker joins Tracy Caldwell Dyson as first two women together as part of a long-duration crew of the ISS   9
2012      Rodney King whose video-taped beating by police set off the 1992 Los Angeles riots, dies, age 47   7
2012      Canadian mathematician, university professor, and chess master Nathan Joseph Harry Divinsky dies in Vancouver, age 86   7
2013      ESA puts Herschel Space Observatory to sleep after a mission of almost 4 years   6
2013      NASA announces its class of eight astronauts—4 women and 4 men   6
2013      announced that China's Tianhe-2 is the world's fastest computer at 33.86 petaflops   6
2013      first fully-interactive remote operation of a planetary rover by an astronaut in space–International Space Station and the K10 rover on earth   6
2015      gunman opens fire in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing 9   4
2017      series of wildfires erupt across central Portugal—66 fatalities and 204 injuries   2
2018      Adventist minister, public speaker, religious liberty advocate, author, and editor Roland R. Hegstad dies, age 92   1
2019      American artist, author, actress, fashion designer, heiress, and socialite Gloria Laura Vanderbilt dies in New York City, age 95   0

Dates are always somewhat ambiguous, the exact date depends on whether local time is used (and local time where) or Universal Time—for events on the surface of the Earth, local time is probably best but for an event that spans across the planet, it is not clear which local time to use!. For events in space it is more ambiguous. Further for dates after the original adoption of the Gregorian calendar but before it became accepted in different countries, the date given may be a Julian date or a Gregorian date depending upon where the event occurred. And, even the year may be different since the first of the year has not always been January 1 in all countries! The attempt is to use a date that is the one that is typically given.

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