Willie Francis, 17, was strapped into the electric chair, awaiting execution at St. Martinville, Louisiana, but got only a mild shock when the circuits failed. Francis had been convicted of the murder of a local pharmacist. After the chair was repaired, Francis's execution was rescheduled for May 9, but Lieutenant Governor Emile Verret used his power as Acting Governor to grant a stay of execution. Francis was eventually executed on May 9, 1947.
American Zuni and Navajo veterans of World War II were denied in their attempts to register to vote in the 1946 general elections in New Mexico. The county clerk of McKinley County rejected their applications, citing a provision in the state constitution that denied the right of suffrage to "Indians not taxed", referring to Native Americans who lived on federal reservations. The applicants challenged the provision, and on August 3, 1948, a federal court ruled that the New Mexico constitutional provision violated the United States Constitution. The 1948 general election marked the first time that residents of New Mexico's Indian reservations were allowed to vote.
LIFE Magazine published "Bedlam 1946: Most U.S. Mental Hospitals are a Shame and a Disgrace" in its May 6, 1946, issue. Albert Q. Maisel's exposé of the atrocities at two mental institutions, in Ohio and Pennsylvania, which he described as "concentration camps masquerading as hospitals", spurred reforms in psychiatric care.
Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering (Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo or Totsuko) was founded by Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita, who started with only 20 employees and built the company into one of the world's largest electronics manufacturers. In 1955, the company renamed itself Sony.
Hour Glass, considered the first network television entertainment show, premiered at 8:00 p.m. on WNBT-TV in New York. The program, described by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh as "one of the most important pioneers in the early history of television", By November, the show was telecast on the NBC television network, which consisted of three stations (New York, Philadelphia and Schenectady).
Two naval airplanes collided during a training mission at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, killing 28 U.S. Navy airmen. The two PB-4Y planes were practicing evasive maneuvers with an F6F Hellcat fighter, and crashed into a wooded area eight miles north of the town of Munson in Santa Rosa County, Florida.
An American-launched V-2 rocket reached a record high altitude, soaring 75 miles above the White Sands, New Mexico, proving grounds. Prior to the flight, a man from Dorchester, Massachusetts, had volunteered to ride inside the nose cone of the reassembled German missile, and the U.S. Army politely declined his offer to become the first astronaut in history. "Experts said that there was room in a V-2 for a human being and he probably could survive the 3,500 mile an hour top speed," noted a report, "but added there was no known means of escaping alive before the rocket crashed to earth."
The first 20,000 "CARE Packages", each with almost twenty pounds of food, were delivered to people in need, as a ship unloaded the materials at the French port of Le Havre. Under the charity program, an individual could pay for a CARE Package to be delivered elsewhere in the world. The phrase "care package" would become a generic term for sending necessary items to someone in need. CARE originally stood for "Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe", and later for "Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere".
Sixty-one SS members, who had carried out exterminations at the Mauthausen concentration camp at Dachau, were convicted of murdering 70,000 people, mostly Jewish. Forty-nine of them were executed, and the other 12 released from prison by 1951.
The Soviet ballistic missile program was formally created by a top secret decree (No. 1017-419ss) signed by Joseph Stalin, and Minister of Armaments Dmitriy Ustinov was made overseer of the project.
The Federal Airport Act was signed into law by U.S. President Harry S Truman, providing for 500 million dollars in federal grants for civilian airport projects across the United States over a seven-year period.
With U.S. coal supplies dwindling, striking American coal miners returned to work for two weeks on the orders of United Mine Workers President John L. Lewis, who said that the walkout would start anew of negotiations on a new labor contract failed.
Nueces County, Texas, including Corpus Christi, was quarantined to prevent the spread of a "polio-like disease" that had broken out in Corpus Christi and San Antonio. In addition to the closing of all schools, churches, theaters, and parks, the roads leading into and out of Nueces County were blocked by 300 members of the Texas National Guard, and nobody under 21 was allowed in. Buses and trains were "sprayed with DDT", with the pesticide being used as a disinfectant.
The USCG Eagle, later known as "America's Tall Ship", was commissioned as a training vessel for the United States Coast Guard. The only active American sail-powered vessel had been built in 1936 for the German Navy as the Horst Wessel, and was captured in World War II.
British Prime Minister Clement Attlee informed the House of Commons that the Cabinet Mission had rejected the Muslim League proposal for an independent State of Pakistan. The six-point plan for a Federal Union of India included a provision that legislation would have to be approved by a majority of both the Hindu legislators and the Muslim legislators.
A Viking Transport DC-3 airliner en route from Newark to Atlanta crashed while attempting a landing at Richmond, killing all 27 people on board.
At the Institute of Radio Engineers convention in San Francisco, Major Jack Mullin of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, demonstrated the Magnetophon and its magnetic recording tape, which he had found in Germany following the Allied victory in World War II. The high fidelity system had never been heard in the United States, and with Mullin as a consultant, the Ampex company developed the first American audiotape recording systems.
An U.S. Army C-47 airplane with 12 persons, and the remains of 41 U.S. servicemen, crashed while en route from Rangoon (Yangon) to Calcutta (Kolkata). The wreckage, located somewhere in modern day Bangladesh, has never been found.
The Bell X-1 supersonic jet aircraft was shown to the general public for the first time, at an exhibition at Wright Field.
Minutes before the scheduled 4:00 p.m. railroad strike across the United States, President Truman announced that the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers had agreed to postpone the walkout for five days.
According to Swedish athlete Gösta Carlsson, he was visited on this date by aliens from outer space, who landed their craft at a forest clearing near Kronoskogen, and gave him information about natural remedies, which he used to found two successful companies. The UFO-Memorial Ängelholm was erected at the site in 1963 and is a tourist attraction.
The "People's Rally for Obtaining Food" took place in Tokyo, as hundreds of thousands of demonstrators protested against food shortages and against the government of Japan's Prime Minister, Shigeru Yoshida.
A U.S. Army C-45 transport plane crashed into the 58th floor of the 70-story Bank of Manhattan building on Wall Street, killing all five persons aboard. The accident happened at eight in the evening, and most of the 5,000 persons who normally would have been in the building had left for the day.
Dr. Louis Slotin, a physicist at the Los Alamos research center, was fatally injured during an experiment with a "subcritical nuclear assembly", a plutonium core and two halves of a beryllium sphere. The purpose was to measure the increase in radiation as the two hemispheres (which deflected neutrons back into the plutonium) were moved closer together. At 3:20 pm, the screwdriver slipped and the two beryllium pieces came together, causing a critical reaction. Slotin knocked the halves apart, saving the other seven men in the room, while absorbing a lethal dose of radiation that a radiologist described as a "3-D sunburn" to all the cells of his body. Slotin died nine days later.
At 12:01 a.m., all United States bituminous coal mines whose workers were on strike were seized by the federal government and placed under the operation of the U.S. Department of the Interior and its Secretary, Julius A. Krug. President Truman had issued Executive Order 9278 at 3:00 the afternoon before.
At 4:00 p.m., thousands of railroad workers in the Eastern Time Zone of the United States walked off of their jobs. Hour by hour, as 4 o'clock arrived in the rest of the nation, laborers walked off of their jobs. By 7:00 pm EST, the 227,000 miles of American railroads were tied up. In addition to the halt of freight shipments, millions of travelers were stranded in what was described as "the most crippling work stoppage the nation ever suffered",
The first issue of the weekly news magazine World Report, created by publisher David Lawrence as a complement to his weekly newspaper United States News, was published. Beginning on January 16, 1948, the two publications would be combined into one weekly magazine, U.S. News & World Report.
At 9:00 pm Eastern Time, U.S. President Harry S. Truman made a nationwide radio address regarding the railway strike, and delivered an ultimatum: "If sufficient workers to operate the trains have not returned, by 4 p.m. tomorrow, as head of our government, I have no alternative but to operate the trains by using every means within my power ... I shall ask our armed forces to furnish protection to every man who heeds the call of his country in this hour of need." Having set a deadline of 19 hours for action, Truman closed by saying that he would address a joint session of Congress the next day at 4.
Thailand was invaded at dawn by 800 soldiers of the French Army, who crossed the Mekong River from Laos, at that time part of French Indo-China. The troops from France were supported by planes and artillery, and clashed with local forces while pursuing Communist rebels.
An unidentified U.S. Congressman on the House Appropriations Committee told a reporter of a biological weapon that "can wipe out all form of life in a large city", describing a "germ proposition" that would be sprayed from airplanes to deliver "quick and certain death".
In a 14-minute ceremony at Amman, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (referred to as the Kingdom of Transjordan until 1949) won its full independence from the United Kingdom. Before a crowd of 300,000 witnesses, emir Abdullah became the nation's King.
May 25, 1946: Truman comes within 3 minutes of ordering U.S. Army to seize America's railroads
With only three minutes left before the United States Army would seize control of the nation's railroads, the leaders of both striking railway workers' unions signed a settlement at the White House. With soldiers in place and a deadline of 4:00 pm EST, a verbal agreement was reached at 3:50 and the written pact was signed at 3:57. Earlier in the day, the U.S. House of Representatives had approved President Truman's request for emergency legislation that would have allowed striking workers to be drafted into the U.S. armed forces.
Vincent Pellicio, a 21 year old prisoner in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, escaped from a road crew. Pellicio would start a new life, becoming an electrician in Newhall, California, and remained free until his August 4, 1987, arrest on a 41 year old escape warrant. Returned to Virginia, Pellicio would be pardoned later that month by Virginia Governor Gerald Baliles, "in view of his law-abiding behavior and commendable adjustment since his escape".
In Vietnam, the French colonial government created an administration for the minority Montagnard population, separate from the Vietnamese people, with the headquarters at Buôn Ma Thuột. A short-lived, autonomous Pays Montagnard du Sud followed in 1950.
Died:Carter Glass, 89, United States Senator (D-Virginia) since 1920 and oldest member of the U.S. Senate; Senator Glass had not appeared in Congress since June 1942, but had been re-elected later that year. Even after he became incapacitated, his seat was never declared vacant.
After 45 days, the nationwide walkout of American bituminous coal miners ended, with the signing, at the White House, of a new contract by UMWA President John L. Lewis and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Krug. Lewis said that the nation's coal 400,000 soft coal miners would be back to work by June 2.
The Minsk Tractor Works was founded in the Soviet Union at the capital of the Byellorussian SSR (now Belarus). The state supported company became the world's largest manufacturer of farm tractors.
The Japanese submarines I-400 and I-401, described as history's first "underwater aircraft carriers", and the largest non-nuclear subs ever built, were secretly destroyed near Hawaii, sunk by the USS Cabezon. The I-401 was rediscovered on March 17, 2005. At 400 feet long, the "Sensuikan Toku" class of subs were designed to carry three Seiran bombers, each of which could be readied to fly once the sub surfaced.