On This Day in History: May 17

On this day in 1973, Televised Watergate hearings began.

In Washington, D.C., the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, headed by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina, begins televised hearings on the escalating Watergate affair. One week later, Harvard law professor Archibald Cox was sworn in as special Watergate prosecutor.

In May 1973, the special Senate committee began televised proceedings on the Watergate affair. During the Senate hearings, former White House legal counsel John Dean testified that the Watergate break-in had been approved by former Attorney General John Mitchell with the knowledge of chief White House advisers John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman, and that President Nixon had been aware of the cover-up. Meanwhile, Watergate prosecutor Cox and his staff began to uncover widespread evidence of political espionage by the Nixon reelection committee, illegal wiretapping of thousands of citizens by the administration, and contributions to the Republican Party in return for political favors.

1521 – Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, is executed for treason.

1536 – George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford and four other men are executed for treason.

1590 – Anne of Denmark is crowned Queen of Scotland.

1642 – Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve (1612-1676) founds the Ville Marie de Montréal.

1673 – Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette begin exploring the Mississippi River.

1775 – American Revolutionary War: the Continental Congress bans trade with Canada.

1792 – The New York Stock Exchange is formed.

1809 – Napoleon I of France orders the annexation of the Papal States to the French Empire.

1814 – Occupation of Monaco changes from French to Austrian.

1849 – A fire threatens to burn St. Louis, Missouri to the ground.

1863American Civil War: Battle of Big Black River, Mississippi

1865 – The International Telegraph Union (later the International Telecommunication Union) is established.

1873 – El Paso, Texas is established by charter from the Texas Legislature.

1875 – Aristides wins the first Kentucky Derby.

1900 – Second Boer War: British troops relieve Mafeking.

1902 – Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais discovers the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient mechanical analog computer.

1915 – The last British Liberal Party government (Herbert Henry Asquith) falls.

1939 – The Columbia Lions and the Princeton Tigers play in the first-ever televised sporting event, a collegiate baseball game in New York City.

1940 – World War II: Germany occupies Brussels, Belgium.

1940 – World War II: the old city centre of the Dutch town of Middelburg is bombed by the German Luftwaffe, to force the surrender of the Dutch armies in Zeeland.

1943 – The United States Army contracts with the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School to develop the ENIAC.

1943 – World War II: the Dambuster Raids by No. 617 Squadron RAF on German dams.

1954The United States Supreme Court hands down a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.

1963 – Bruno Sammartino defeats Nature Boy Buddy Rogers in 48 seconds in Madison Square Garden for the WWWF Heavyweight Championship. It begins the longest heavyweight championship reign in professional wrestling history.

1967 – Six-Day War: President Abdul Nasser of Egypt demands dismantling of the peace-keeping UN Emergency Force in Egypt.

1969 – Venera program: Soviet Venera 6 begins its descent into the atmosphere of Venus, sending back atmospheric data before being crushed by pressure.

1970Thor Heyerdahl sets sail from Morocco on the papyrus boat Ra II to sail the Atlantic Ocean.

1974 – Police in Los Angeles, California, raid the Symbionese Liberation Army’s headquarters, killing six members, including Camilla Hall.

1974 – Thirty-three people are killed by terrorist bombings in Dublin and Monaghan, Ireland.

1980 – On the eve of presidential elections, Maoist guerrilla group Shining Path attacks a polling location in the town of Chuschi, Ayacucho, starting the Internal conflict in Peru.

1983 – U.S. Department of Energy declassifies documents showing world’s largest mercury pollution event in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (ultimately found to be 4.2 million pounds), in response to Appalachian Observer’s Freedom of Information Act request.

1983 – Lebanon, Israel, and the United States sign an agreement on Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon.

1984 – Prince Charles calls a proposed addition to the National Gallery, London, a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend,” sparking controversies on the proper role of the Royal Family and the course of modern architecture.

1987 – An Iraqi fighter jet fires two missiles into the U.S. warship USS Stark (FFG-31), killing 37 and injuring 21 of her crew.

1992 – Three days of popular protests against the government of Prime Minister of Thailand Suchinda Kraprayoon begins in Bangkok, leading to a military crackdown that resulted in 52 officially confirmed deaths, many disappearances, hundreds of injuries, and over 3,500 arrests.

1995 – After 18 years as the mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac takes office as President of France.

2004 – Massachusetts becomes the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage

2006 – The aircraft carrier USS Oriskany is sunk in the Gulf of Mexico to be an artificial reef

2007 – Trains from North and South Korea cross the 38th Parallel in a test-run agreed by both governments. This is the first time that trains have crossed the Demilitarized Zone since 1953.


1936 – Dennis Hopper, American actor and director, 74

1955 – Bill Paxton, American actor and film director, 55

1956 – Sugar Ray Leonard, American boxer, 54

1956 – Bob Saget, American actor, 54

1961 – Enya, Irish singer and songwriter, 49

1962 – Craig Ferguson, Scottish actor and comedian, 48

1974 – Andrea Corr, Irish singer (The Corrs), 36

1989 – Tessa Virtue, Canadian ice dancer, 21


    • TMC on May 17, 2010 at 4:37 pm
  1. The campfire rap from Easy Rider could be talking about today, more things change more they stay the same.

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