This Week in History

PHOTO: A Currier & Ives lithograph of Benjamin Franklin and his son William using a kite and key during a storm to prove that lightning was electricity, June 1752.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

From lightning strikes to red stripes, this week in history is packed with important events. Check out the list of what happened this week in history:

PHOTO: A Currier & Ives lithograph of Benjamin Franklin and his son William using a kite and key during a storm to prove that lightning was electricity, June 1752.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
June 10

1752: Benjamin Franklin Plays with Lightning On a stormy night in 1752, famed founding father Benjamin Franklin conducted a historic experiment that would become an American legend.

In an attempt to enhance the understanding of electricity, Franklin famously attached an iron key to the end of a silk string and flew a kite in a thunderstorm.

The Leyden Jar that contained the key was designed to store an electrical charge. While the legend says the string was struck by lightning, Franklin most certainly would have died if it had been. Instead, the negative charge of the storm clouds charged the key, and when Franklin's hand got near it he received a shock. This proved the electrical nature of lightning.

Many skeptics today doubt whether this experiment actually took place, but it will forever remain an American legend.

PHOTO: Segregationist Alabama Governor George C. Wallace blocks the doorway to the University of Alabama while talking to Brigadier General Henry Graham of the Alabama National Guard, Tuscaloosa, Ala., June 11, 1963.
Shel Hershorn/Getty Images
June 11

1963: Gov. Wallace Blocks African American Students Fifty years ago today, Alabama Gov. George Wallace blocked the door to the University of Alabama's auditorium to stop two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from entering.

In his 1963 inaugural speech earlier that year, Wallace had vowed to do whatever he could to stop integration from progressing. He promised the people of Alabama, "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."

President John F. Kennedy responded to the governor's stubbornness by federalizing the Alabama National Guard. Wallace eventually moved from the door after Gen. Henry Graham informed him, "Sir, it is my sad duty to ask you to step aside under the orders of the president of the United States."

Malone and Hood proceeded to register for classes, and Malone graduated from Alabama two years later -- becoming the first African American to do so.

VIDEO: Pres. Reagan challenges Soviet leader Gorbachev to eliminate the Berlin Wall.
ABC News
June 12

1987: Ronald Reagan Visits the Berlin Wall In 1987, President Ronald Reagan uttered some of the most famous words of his presidency in a speech in Berlin about the famous wall that separated the East from the West.

"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," he said.

For almost 30 years, the Berlin Wall separated East Germany from West Germany in an attempt to prevent the people of East Germany from escaping the repressive government there.

Speaking directly to the leader of East Germany, Reagan displayed America's defense of democracy, its intolerance of injustice and its strength in the world, all with that simple phrase. America wanted action taken to lessen tensions during the Cold War.

Reagan's speech foreshadowed the demise of the infamous wall and it was torn down two years later.

PHOTO: Man under address.
Getty Images
June 13

1966: Miranda Rights Are Established In 1966, the Supreme Court decided on the case of Miranda v. Arizona, which established what are now known as Miranda Rights: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can, and will, be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you."

The mandatory use of those words upon arrest stemmed from a case where a man, Ernesto Miranda, confessed to a crime not knowing he didn't have to talk. After being convicted, the Supreme Court overturned his case and declared every person arrested must be read those rights.

Although Miranda was later retried and convicted for the crime, he forever influenced police procedure in America.

PHOTO: A 1776 Colonial U.S. flag, showing 13 stars.
Retrofile/Getty Images
June 14

1777: The American Flag Is Born On this day in 1777, Philadelphia's Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution that, "the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation. "

The history of the flag's actual creation is muddled, however. American myth credits Betsy Ross, a seamstress in Philadelphia, with the design after Gen. George Washington requested her services.

Other historians argue that Francis Hopkinson, who signed the Declaration of Independence for New Jersey, was the first designer.

Hopkinson is said to have completed the task and then requested in return "a quarter cask of the public wine."

PHOTO: An original copy of the Magna Carta is on display at Sotheby's Dec. 7, 2007 in New York City.
Stephen Chernin/Getty Images
June 15

1215: The Magna Carta Is Sealed On June 15, 1215, King John of England sealed the Magna Carta, which guaranteed certain citizen rights and outlined laws for the monarchy.

The effects of the "Great Charter" have become exaggerated with time. It did not establish the British Parliament, and the individual liberties it offered were generally vague and limited.

However, it was a legal landmark in its recognition that the power of a monarch was not absolute and, in fact, was subject to laws approved by a king, himself.

Some also consider the Magna Carta the precursor to the right to trial by jury because of its clause, "No free man shall be arrested or [denied rights] ... except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land."

This clause laid the groundwork for England's Petition of Right of 1628 and the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679.

The Magna Carta will celebrate its 800th anniversary in 2015.

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