Today is May 17. On this date in:
Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer declared the marriage of England’s King Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn invalid after she failed to produce a male heir; Boleyn, already condemned for high treason, was executed two days later.
The New York Stock Exchange had its beginnings as a group of brokers met under a tree on Wall Street and signed the Buttonwood Agreement.
President Harry S. Truman seized control of the nation’s railroads, delaying – but not preventing – a threatened strike by engineers and trainmen.
A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision, which held that racially segregated public schools were inherently unequal, and therefore unconstitutional.
Nine men and women, including brothers Daniel and Philip Berrigan, entered the Selective Service office in Catonsville, Maryland, seized several hundred draft files and burned them outside to protest the Vietnam War before being arrested. (The “Catonsville Nine,” as they came to be known, received federal prison sentences ranging from 24 to 42 months.)
A special committee convened by the U.S. Senate began its televised hearings into the Watergate scandal.
Rioting that claimed 18 lives erupted in Miami’s Liberty City after an all-white jury in Tampa acquitted four former Miami police officers of fatally beating black insurance executive Arthur McDuffie.
Thirty-seven American sailors were killed when an Iraqi warplane attacked the U.S. Navy frigate Stark in the Persian Gulf. (Iraq apologized for the attack, calling it a mistake, and paid more than $27 million in compensation.)
President Bill Clinton signed a measure requiring neighborhood notification when sex offenders move in. (“Megan’s Law,” as it’s known, was named for Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old New Jersey girl who was raped and murdered in 1994.)
Former President Jimmy Carter ended a historic visit to Cuba sharply at odds with the Bush administration over how to deal with Fidel Castro, saying limits on tourism and trade often hurt Americans more than Cubans.
Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex marriages.
The Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee a federal investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the 2016 Donald Trump campaign.