May 17, 1673 – Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette began exploring the Mississippi River.
May 17, 1756 - Britain declared war on France, beginning the French and Indian War.
May 17, 1769 - George Washington brought several non-importation resolutions before the Virginia House of Burgesses.
May 17, 1775 – During the American Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress banned trade with Quebec.
May 17, 1792 - The New York Stock Exchange was founded at 70 Wall Street by 24 brokers.
May 17, 1838 – French explorer René Caillié died from tuberculosis at the age of 38 in La Gripperie-Saint-Symphorien, Charente-Maritime, France. He is best known for being the first European to return alive from the African town of Timbuktu.
May 17, 1863 – The Union army defeated Confederates at the Battle of Big Black River in Mississippi and drove them into Vicksburg in part of a brilliant campaign by General Ulysses S. Grant. The battle began at dawn, and by 10 a.m. the Confederate position appeared hopeless. The Confederates suffered 1,752 troops killed, wounded or captured, while the Yankees had 279 casualties.
May 17, 1864 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Madison Station, Ala.
May 17, 1873 – British author and journalist Dorothy Richardson was born in Abingdon. She’s considered one of the first modernist authors, and also the first to use a “stream-of-consciousness” style.
May 17, 1875 - The first Kentucky Derby was run at Louisville, Ky. and the horse Aristides came in ahead of all the others.
May 17, 1890 - Alabama poet Louise Crenshaw Ray was born in Greenville, Ala.
May 17, 1902 – Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais discovered the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient mechanical analog computer.
May 17, 1903 – National Baseball Hall of Fame center fielder James Thomas “Cool Papa” Bell was born in Starkville, Miss. He went on to play for the St. Louis Stars, the Detroit Wolves, the Kansas City Monarchs, Santo Domingo, the Homestead Grays, the Pittsburgh Crawfords, the Memphis Red Sox and the Chicago American Giants. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974.
May 17, 1911 – Paul Knud Urik Nielsen, a 28-year-old immigrant from Copenhagen, Denmark, arrived at the Port of New York. He would go on to found Knud Nielsen Co. in Evergreen two years later.
May 17, 1914 – A Masonic funeral was held at Owassa, Ala. in honor of John Yates, who had been killed in a railroad wreck.
May 17, 1927 - The Chicago Cubs beat the Boston Braves, 4-3, in 22 innings.
May 17, 1929 – Brooklyn High School in Conecuh County, Ala. was scheduled to hold its second annual graduation exercises at 10 a.m. Monroe County Superintendent of Education Geo. A. Harris of Monroeville was to deliver the graduation address.
May 17, 1934 - The Ave Maria Grotto park was dedicated at the St. Bernard Benedictine Abbey in Cullman, Ala. Known by visitors from around the world as "Jerusalem in Miniature," the park is filled with miniature re-creations of historic buildings by monk Joseph Zoettl.
May 17, 1935 – Playwright and novelist Dennis Potter was born in Berry Hill, Gloucestershire, England.
May 17, 1939 – The Columbia Lions and the Princeton Tigers played in the United States' first televised sporting event, a collegiate baseball game in New York City.
May 17, 1939 – Writer Gary Paulsen was born in Minneapolis, Minn.
May 17, 1950 – Evergreen, Ala. firefighters were called to Brewton about 3 a.m. to help fight a disastrous fire raging in the Veneer Plant and Box Factory of the T.R. Miller Mill Co. The blaze completely destroyed the veneer plant and factory with a damage estimated at about $750,000.
May 17, 1953 – The Evergreen Greenies were scheduled to play Brewton on this Sunday at 3 p.m. at Brooks Stadium in Evergreen, Ala.
May 17, 1953 - The New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians set a record when they used 41 players in a game.
May 17, 1954 - The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled for school integration in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka. The unanimous ruling stated that racial segregation in public schools violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees equal protection of the laws to all citizens. The ruling completed the reversal of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which permitted “separate but equal” public facilities.
May 17, 1955 - Author Cindy Wheeler was born in Montgomery, Ala.
May 17, 1959 – The Conecuh Amateur Baseball League, which featured teams from Bermuda, Evergreen, Lyeffion, Castleberry, Mixonville and Paul, began its season on this Sunday afternoon. Bernard Powell was the league’s president and team managers included Rayford Mixon, Bermuda; James Ansley, Evergreen; R.J. Davis, Lyeffion; Luther McDonald, Castleberry; Mickey Mixon, Mixonville; and Jack Pate, Paul. The season was scheduled to end on Aug. 16 with a playoff among the top four teams to follow.
May 17, 1962 – The Pineview Golf Course in Thomasville, Ala. was scheduled to hold its annual one-day golf tournament. Jimmy Ryan of Greenville was the defending champion, and Bonnie King of Evergreen won the tournament in 1960.
May 17, 1968 - Frank Howard hit his eighth home run in five games.
May 17, 1969 - Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh agreed to move from the NFL's NFC to the AFC.
May 17, 1970 – Thor Heyerdahl set sail from Morocco on the papyrus boat Ra II to sail the Atlantic Ocean.
May 17, 1970 - Hank Aaron of Mobile, Ala. became the ninth player to get 3,000 hits.
May 17, 1973 - Bobby Valentine broke his leg trying to prevent a Dick Green home run from going over the wall.
May 17, 1973 - Joe Ferguson hit the 6,000th home run for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
May 17, 1975 - NBC TV bought the rights to show "Gone With the Wind." The one time rights cost NBC $5,000,000.
May 17, 1992 - Gary Carter of the Montreal Expos became the third player to play catcher in 2,000 games.
May 17, 1998 - New York Yankees pitcher David Wells became the 13th player in modern Major League Baseball history to throw a perfect game.
May 17, 2000 - Thomas E. Blanton Jr. and David Luker surrendered to police in Birmingham, Ala. The two former Ku Klux Klan members were arrested on charges from the bombing of a church in 1963 that killed four young black girls.
May 17, 2006 - Guido Wever, the son of a former Aruban politician, was detained in the Netherlands on suspicion of assisting in the abducting, battering, and killing of Natalee Holloway of Mountain Brook, Ala. Wever was questioned for six days in Utrecht. While initially Aruban prosecutors sought his transfer to the island, he was instead released by agreement between the prosecutor and Wever's attorney.
May 17, 2009 – The Scout Association announced Bear Grylls would be appointed Chief Scout following the end of Peter Duncan’s five-year term in July 2009.
May 17, 2010 – Sparta Academy was scheduled to play Escambia Academy in a spring football game at Canoe, Ala. at 6 p.m. Mike Sims was Sparta’s head coach.
May 17, 2011 – National Baseball Hall of Fame first baseman, third baseman and left fielder Harmon Killebrew passed away at the age of 74 in Scottsdale, Calif. He played for the Washington Senators, the Minnesota Twins and the Kansas City Royals. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.