Today in History: June 19, 2017

On June 19, 1867, Maximilian I, emperor of Mexico since 1864, was executed by firing squad a month after being taken prisoner by the forces of President Benito Juarez. The inaugural running of the Belmont Stakes took place; the winner was a filly named Ruthless.

On this date:

  • In 1865, Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War was over, and that all remaining slaves in Texas were free — an event celebrated to this day as “Juneteenth.”
  • In 1917, during World War I, King George V ordered the British royal family to dispense with German titles and surnames; the family took the name “Windsor.”
  • In 1937, the city of Bilbao fell to the Nationalist Army during the Spanish Civil War.
  • In 1944, during World War II, the two-day Battle of the Philippine Sea began, resulting in a decisive victory for the Americans over the Japanese.
  • In 1952, the celebrity-panel game show “I’ve Got A Secret” made its debut on CBS-TV with Garry Moore as host.
  • In 1953, Julius Rosenberg, 35, and his wife, Ethel, 37, convicted of conspiring to pass U.S. atomic secrets to the Soviet Union, were executed at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York.
  • In 1964, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was approved by the U.S. Senate, 73-27, after surviving a lengthy filibuster.
  • In 1972, Hurricane Agnes, blamed for at least 122 deaths, made landfall over the Florida Panhandle.
  • In 1977, Pope Paul VI proclaimed a 19th-century Philadelphia bishop, John Neumann (NOY’-muhn), the first male U.S. saint.
  • In 1982, Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American auto engineer, was fatally beaten in Highland Park, Michigan, by two auto workers who later received probation for manslaughter in state court, and won acquittals in federal court.
  • In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Edwards v. Aguillard, struck down, 7-2, a Louisiana law requiring any public school teaching the theory of evolution to teach creationism as well.
  • In 1999, author Stephen King was seriously injured when he was struck by a van driven by Bryan Smith in North Lovell, Maine. Britain’s Prince Edward married commoner Sophie Rhys-Jones (rees johnz) in Windsor, England.

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Ten years ago: A truck bomb struck a Shiite mosque in central Baghdad, killing at least 87 people. President George W. Bush and visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (EH’-hood OHL’-murt) sided emphatically with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (mahk-MOOD’ ah-BAHS’) in his standoff with the militant group Hamas. The space shuttle Atlantis undocked from the international space station for its return to earth, concluding a nearly 10-day stay.

Five years ago: WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange took refuge at Ecuador’s Embassy in London, seeking to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced questioning about alleged sex crimes. (Sweden dropped its inquiry in May 2017, but Assange remains holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy to avoid arrest by British authorities for jumping bail.) The Southern Baptist Convention voted to elect its first African-American president, the Rev. Fred Luter Jr.

One year ago: LeBron James and his relentless Cavaliers pulled off an improbable NBA Finals comeback to give the city of Cleveland its first title since 1964 as they became the first team to rally from a 3-1 finals deficit by beating the defending champion Golden State Warriors 93-89. Dustin Johnson won the U.S. Open by three shots while Shane Lowry, who began the final round with a four-shot lead, Jim Furyk and Scott Piercy finished tied for second. Anton Yelchin, a rising actor best known for playing Chekov in the new “Star Trek” films, was killed by his own car as it rolled down his driveway in Los Angeles; he was 27.

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