• On May 4, 1776, Rhode Island becomes the first American colony to renounce its allegiance to King George III. Ironically, Rhode Island would be the last state to ratify the new Constitution more than 14 years later.
• On May 8, 1792, Congress passes the second portion of the Militia Act, requiring that able-bodied males between the ages of 18 and 45 be enrolled in the militia. The act was quickly tested when farmers in Pennsylvania, angered by a tax on whiskey, attacked the home of a tax collector. President George Washington responded with 15,000 militia members.
• On May 3, 1946, in Tokyo, the International Military Tribunals begins hearing the case against 28 Japanese military and government officials accused of committing war crimes during World War II. All but three of the defendants were eventually found guilty.
• On May 9, 1950, Ron Hubbard publishes “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.” The book introduced a self-help psychology called Dianetics, which morphed into a belief system called Scientology, popular due to its high profile in Hollywood.
• On May 5, 1961, Navy Commander Alan Shepard Jr. is launched into space aboard the Freedom 7 capsule, becoming the first American astronaut to travel into space. The flight lasted 15 minutes.
• On May 6, 1994, a rail tunnel under the English Channel officially opens, connecting Britain and the European mainland for the first time since the Ice Age. The “Chunnel” runs under water for 23 miles, with an average depth of 150 feet below the seabed.
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