[Apollo 10 astronauts touched the nose of a large plush Snoopy for luck shortly before blasting off on this day in 1969; turns out America's favourite cartoon beagle provided them with some very good luck indeed, as the mission would set a record for the highest speed ever attained by a manned vehicle - 39,897 km/h (11.08 km/s or 24,791 mph) - during its safe return from the Moon on May 26th.]
1896 - The US Supreme Court ruled 7-1 in Plessy v. Ferguson that the doctrine known as separate but equal was constitutional; the majority opinion - which essentially made racial segregation legal - was written by Justice Henry Billings Brown, with the dissent offered by John Marshall Harlan, while their colleague David Josiah Brewer did not participate. Plessy v. Ferguson remained the law of the land until it was judicially repudiated by the court's decision in favour of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.
1917 - Shortly after the United States' entry into the Great War (the previous April 6th) the Selective Service Act of 1917 - drafted by Brigadier-General Hugh Johnson - was passed, creating the Selective Service System and giving the President of the United States (in this case Woodrow Wilson) the power of conscription.
1926 - Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson (shown, at left) disappeared while visiting a beach in Venice, California; 35 days later she stumbled out of the desert near the Mexican resort town of Agua Prieta claiming to have been kidnapped, drugged, tortured, and held for ransom. The story she later told of her 'ordeal' was riddled with inconsistencies, and has never been satisfactorily explained - although it did later inspire a satirical song, The Ballad of Aimee McPherson, which was popularized by that inspired satirical popularizer Pete Seeger.
1927 - 45 people were killed and 58 injured by bombs planted in a school by a disgruntled school-board member in Michigan named Andrew Kehoe in the so-called Bath School Disaster.
1933 - As part of his New Deal reforms of the US economy, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an act creating the Tennessee Valley Authority; the TVA was originally undertaken to provide jobs to a region particularly hard hit by the Great Depression by building a series of facilities to create and distribute hydro-electric power.
1953 - Jackie Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier.
1958 - An F-104 Starfighter sets a world speed record of 2,259.82 km/h (1,404.19 mph).
1969 - Apollo 10 was launched; during their mission Thomas P. Stafford, John W. Young, and Eugene A. Cernan orbited the moon. In an interesting note, Charlie Brown and Snoopy were the mission's semi-official mascots, and their creator - venerable Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz - created some artwork for the occasion.
1980 - Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington state, killing 57 people and causing $3 billion in damage.
1992 - Don W. Wilson, the Archivist of the United States, officially announced the ratification of the 27th Amendment to the US Constitution, more than 202 years after it was first submitted to Congress.
1998 - The US Department of Justice and 20 states filed United States v. Microsoft, an antitrust case against spam purveyor and frustration producer Microsoft; the lead prosecutor in the case was Joel I. Klein.
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