Today In History: June 15, More than 1,000 killed in New York steamboat disaster


In 1215, England’s King John put his seal to Magna Carta (“the Great Charter”) at Runnymede.

In 1775, the Second Continental Congress voted unanimously to appoint George Washington head of the Continental Army.

In 1864, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton signed an order establishing a military burial ground which became Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

In 1904, more than 1,000 people died when fire erupted aboard the steamboat General Slocum in New York’s East River.

In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an act making the National Guard part of the U.S. Army in the event of war or national emergency.

In 1938, Johnny Vander Meer pitched his second consecutive no-hitter, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 6-0 victory over the Brooklyn Dodgers in the first night game at Ebbets Field, four days after leaving the Boston Bees hitless by a score of 3-0.

In 1944, American forces began their successful invasion of Saipan during World War II. B-29 Superfortresses carried out their first raids on Japan.

In 1960, the Billy Wilder movie “The Apartment,” starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, premiered in New York.

In 1985, the Shiite Muslim hijackers of a TWA Boeing 727 beat and shot one of their hostages, U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem, 23, throwing him out of the plane to die on the tarmac at Beirut airport.

In 1991, Mount Pinatubo in the northern Philippines exploded in one of the biggest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century, killing about 800 people.

In 1996, Ella Fitzgerald, the “first lady of song,” died in Beverly Hills, California, at age 79.

In 2002, an asteroid with a diameter of between 50 and 120 yards narrowly missed the Earth by 75,000 miles — less than a third of the distance to the moon.

In 2018, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was jailed to await two criminal trials; a federal judge revoked his house arrest over allegations of witness tampering in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. (Manafort would be sentenced to more than seven years in prison on federal charges, but was eventually pardoned by then-President Donald Trump.)

In 2020, the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, ruled that a landmark civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment.

In 2022, John Hinckley Jr., who shot and wounded President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was freed from court oversight, officially concluding decades of supervision by legal and mental health professionals.


R&B singer Ruby Nash Garnett (Ruby and the Romantics) is 90.

Funk musician Leo Nocentelli (The Meters) is 78.

Actor Simon Callow is 75.

Singer Russell Hitchcock (Air Supply) is 75.

Rock singer Steve Walsh is 73.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is 71.

Actor-comedian Jim Belushi is 70.

Country singer Terri Gibbs is 70.

Actor Julie Hagerty is 69.

Actor Polly Draper is 69.

Rock musician Brad Gillis (Night Ranger) is 67.

Baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs is 66.

Actor Eileen Davidson is 65.

Actor Helen Hunt is 61.

Rock musician Scott Rockenfield (Queensryche) is 61.

Actor Courteney Cox is 60.

Country musician Michael Britt (Lonestar) is 58.

Actor-rapper Ice Cube is 55.

Actor Leah Remini is 54.

Actor Jake Busey is 53.

Actor Neil Patrick Harris is 51.

Actor Greg Vaughan is 51.

Actor Elizabeth Reaser is 49.

Rock singer Dryden Mitchell (Alien Ant Farm) is 48.

Former child actor Christopher Castile is 44.

Rock musician Billy Martin (Good Charlotte) is 43.

Actor Jordi Vilasuso is 43.

Rock musician Wayne Sermon (Imagine Dragons) is 40.

Actor Denzel Whitaker is 34.

Olympic gold medal gymnast Madison Kocian is 27.

Actor Sterling Jerins is 20.