May 11, 2005
Today in history—May 11
1778: William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, the college dropout who became one of England’s greatest prime ministers, dies at Hayes, in Kent. He got his start in because his grandfather, the India merchant Thomas "Diamond" Pitt, bought the uninhabited borough of Old Sarum, with the right to elect two members of Parliament.
1811: The original Siamese Twins, Chang and Eng, are born of Chinese parents in Thailand. They ultimately settle in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, take the surname "Bunker," marry two sisters, and raise ten children between them.
1812: Barrister Spencer Perceval becomes the first (and only) British prime minister to be assassinated, when he is shot in the lobby of the House of Commons.
1853: A broken shaft on its steam engine forces the temporary closure of the City Flour Mills in Gloucester, England, and sends employees scurrying to find a way to transport the shaft to Greenwich.
1858: Minnesota is admitted to the Union as the 32nd state. The Tourism Department prefers "Land of 10,000 Lakes" to "Gopher State."
1888: Israel Isidore Baline is born at Tyumen, Siberia. He never really learns to read music, but in 1907 will sell the lyrics to a song, Marie from Sunny Italy, for 37 cents; a misprint on the sheet music will change his name to "Irving Berlin."
1894: Three thousand workers of the Pullman Palace Car Company launch a wildcat strike in Chicago. A sympathy strike will seriously hamper U.S. rail travel, and President Cleveland will eventually put the strike down with federal troops.
1911: The United States becomes a signatory of the Buenos Aires Convention on copyright.
1927: Some 36 producers, directors, actors, writers, technicians, and lawyers found the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
1963: Hawkshaw Hawkins’s LOnesome 7-7203 is atop the country music charts. It may be coincidence that this telephone number (with an 877 prefix) is today the U.S. Medicaid help line.
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