On This Day … 16 May


  • 1527 – The Florentines drive out the Medici for a second time and Florence re-establishes itself as a republic.
  • 1568 – Mary, Queen of Scots, flees to England.
  • 1584 – Santiago de Vera becomes sixth Governor-General of the Spanish colony of the Philippines.
  • 1739 – The Battle of Vasai concludes as the Marathas defeat the Portuguese army.
  • 1771 – The Battle of Alamance, a pre-American Revolutionary War battle between local militia and a group of rebels called The “Regulators”, occurs in present-day Alamance County, North Carolina.
  • 1811 – Peninsular War: The allies Spain, Portugal and United Kingdom, defeat the French at the Battle of Albuera.
  • 1812 – Imperial Russia signs the Treaty of Bucharest, ending the Russo-Turkish War. The Ottoman Empire cedes Bessarabia to Russia.
  • 1822 – Greek War of Independence: The Turks capture the Greek town of Souli.
  • 1834 – The Battle of Asseiceira is fought, the last and decisive engagement of the Liberal Wars in Portugal.
  • 1877 – The 16 May 1877 crisis occurs in France, ending with the dissolution of the National Assembly 22 June and affirming the interpretation of the Constitution of 1875 as a parliamentary rather than presidential system. The elections held in October 1877 led to the defeat of the royalists as a formal political movement in France.
  • 1888 – Nikola Tesla delivers a lecture describing the equipment which will allow efficient generation and use of alternating currents to transmit electric power over long distances.
  • 1891 – The International Electrotechnical Exhibition opens in Frankfurt, Germany, and will feature the world’s first long-distance transmission of high-power, three-phase electric current (the most common form today).
  • 1916 – The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the French Third Republic sign the secret wartime Sykes-Picot Agreement partitioning former Ottoman territories such as Iraq and Syria.
  • 1918 – The Sedition Act of 1918 is passed by the U.S. Congress, making criticism of the government during wartime an imprisonable offence. It will be repealed less than two years later.
  • 1919 – A naval Curtiss NC-4 aircraft commanded by Albert Cushing Read leaves Trepassey, Newfoundland, for Lisbon via the Azores on the first transatlantic flight.
  • 1943 – The Holocaust: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising ends.
  • 1960 – Theodore Maiman operates the first optical laser (a ruby laser), at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California.
  • 1961 – Park Chung-hee leads a coup d’état to overthrow the Second Republic of South Korea.
  • Mass Graves Day (Iraq).

People (Births)

  • 1917 – Ben Kuroki, American sergeant and pilot (d. 2015). The only American of Japanese descent in the US Army Air Forces to serve in combat operations in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. He flew a total of 58 combat missions over Europe, North Africa, and Japan.
  • 1931 – Hana Brady, Jewish-Czech Holocaust victim (d.1944).
  • 1931 – Lowell P. Weicker, Jr., American soldier and politician, 85th Governor of Connecticut.
  • 1934 – Antony Walker, English general.
  • 1960 – S. Shanmuganathan, Sri Lankan commander and politician (d. 1998).

People (Deaths)

  • 1182 – John Komnenos Vatatzes, Byzantine general (b. 1132).
  • 1375 – Liu Bowen, Chinese military strategist, officer, statesman and poet (b. 1311).
  • 1936 – Leonidas Paraskevopoulos, Greek general and politician (b. 1860).
  • 1947 – Zhang Lingfu, Chinese general (b. 1903).
  • 1996 – Jeremy Michael Boorda, American admiral (b. 1939).
  • 2002 – Alec Campbell, Australian soldier (b. 1899).
  • 2005 – Andrew Goodpaster, American general (b. 1915).
  • 2012 – James Abdnor, American soldier and politician, 30th Lieutenant Governor of South Dakota (b. 1923).

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