June 17th in History

The Statue of Liberty Arrives in New York Harbor, Edward Moran, 1885

Today in History

  • Sir Francis Drake claims “Nova Albion” (California) for England (1579)
  • ممتاز محل (Mumtaz Mahal) dies during childbirth; her husband, Mughal emperor شاه جهان (Shah Jahan I) will spend the next 17 years building her mausoleum, the Taj Mahal (1631)
  • French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet reach the Mississippi (1673)
  • American Revolutionary War: The Battle of Bunker Hill takes place near Charlestown, Massachusetts (1775)
  • The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York Harbor (1885)
  • The College Board introduces its first test, a forerunner to the SAT (1901)
  • The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act is signed into law (1930)
  • The Soviet Union occupies Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (1940)
  • Iceland declares independence from Denmark (1944)
  • The Watergate burglars are arrested (1972)  (My book, Watergate Considered as an Org Chart of Semi-Precious Stones, is available in print or ebook versions.)
  • Saudi fighter pilot سلطان بن سلمان بن عبد العزيز آل سعود‎ (Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud) becomes the first royal, the first Arab, and the first Muslim in outer space, flying as a payload specialist on the STS-51-G Space Shuttle mission (1985)
  • The Dusky Seaside Sparrow becomes extinct (1987)
  • O. J. Simpson is arrested for murder following a televised low-speed highway chase (1994)


  • Edward I, English monarch (1239)
  • Игорь Стравинский (Igor Stravinsky), composer (1882 — O.S.* June 5)
  • Heinz Guderian, panzer general (1888)
  • M. C. Escher, illustrator (1898)
  • Martin Bormann, private secretary to Adolf Hitler (1900)
  • Sammy Fain, composer (1902)
  • Ralph Bellamy, actor (1904)
  • Charles Eames, designer (1907)
  • Red Foley, singer-songwriter (1910)
  • Wally Wood, comic book artist (1927)
  • Newt Gingrich, politician (1943)
  • Barry Manilow, singer-songwriter (1943)
  • Burt Rutan, aeronautical engineer (1943)
  • Art Bell, radio host (1945)
  • Tommy Franks, US general (1945)
  • Joe Piscopo, comedian (1951)
  • Starhawk, wiccan and neopagan (1951)
  • Mark Linn-Baker, actor (1954)
  • Jello Biafra, singer-songwriter (1958)
  • Thomas Haden Church, actor (1960)
  • Greg Kinnear, actor (1963)
  • Jason Patric, actor (1966)
  • Krayzie Bone, rapper (1973)

* Because Russia did not convert from the “old style” Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar until 1918, well after the rest of Europe, some historical figures have their dates of birth and death listed using both calendar systems.



  • Joseph Addison, poet and playwright (1719)
  • Roberto Calvi, “God’s banker” (1982)
  • Kate Smith, singer (1986)
  • Cyd Charisse, actress and dancer (2008)
  • Rodney King, victim of police brutality (2012)

Holidays and Celebrations

  • Bunker Hill Day (Suffolk County, Massachusetts)
  • Constitution Day (South Korea)
  • Cutting of the Dam (Egypt)
  • Father’s Day (El Salvador, Guatemala)
  • Feast Day of the Marriage of Eurydice and Orpheus (ancient Greece)
  • Ludi Piscatari (ancient Rome)
  • National Children’s Day (Indonesia)
  • National Day (Iceland)
  • Okinawa Day (US)
  • Procession of the Golden Chariot (Belgium)
  • Soviet Occupation Day (Latvia)
  • Day of German Unity (West Germany, 1954 to 1990)
  • World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (United Nations)
  • Zemia Intifada Day (Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic)
Informal and made-up holidays include Accident Day, Apple Strudel Day, Bake Your Own Bread Day, Eat Your Vegetables Day, Leprechaun Toadstool-Squatting Day, Mud Pack Day, Pirate Radio Day, Vinegar Day, and Watergate Day.
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June 17 is the 168th day of the year (169th in leap years). There are 197 days remaining until the end of the year.