Today's Highlight in History:
On May tenth, 1869, a golden spike was driven at Promontory, Utah, marking the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States.
On this date:
In 1774, Louis the 16th ascended the throne of France.
In 1775, Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys captured the British-held fortress at Ticonderoga, New York.
In 1865, Union forces captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Irwinville, Georgia.
In 1899, movie musical star Fred Astaire was born in Omaha, Nebraska.
In 1924, J. Edgar Hoover was given the job of FBI director.
In 1933, the Nazis staged massive public book burnings in Germany.
In 1940, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned, and Winston Churchill formed a new government.
In 1941, Adolf Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, parachuted into Scotland on what he claimed was a peace mission. (Hess ended up serving a life sentence at Spandau prison until 1987, when he apparently committed suicide.)
In 1968, preliminary Vietnam peace talks began in Paris.
In 1994, the state of Illinois executed convicted serial killer John Wayne Gacy for the murders of 33 young men and boys.
Ten years ago: The government of China announced the release of 211 dissidents who had been involved in pro-democracy demonstrations a year earlier.
Five years ago: One-hundred-four miners were killed in an elevator accident in Orkney, South Africa. Terry Nichols was charged in the Oklahoma City bombing. Former President Bush's office released his letter of resignation from the National Rifle Association in which Bush expressed outrage over its reference to federal agents as "jack-booted government thugs."
One year ago: China broke off talks on arms control with the United States, and allowed demonstrators to hurl stones at the US Embassy in Beijing for a third day to protest NATO's bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia. A military jury at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, sentenced Captain Richard Ashby, a Marine pilot whose jet had clipped an Italian gondola cable, sending 20 people plunging to their deaths, to six months in prison and dismissed him from the corps for helping hide a videotape shot during the flight (Ashby was acquitted earlier of manslaughter). Cartoonist, playwright and songwriter Shel Silverstein was found dead in his Key West, Florida, apartment; he was 66.
"Nothing recedes like success."
-- Walter Winchell, American columnist and broadcaster (1897-1972).