What happened on this day in history: The U.S. Constitutional Convention begins in 1787, Etan Patz is kidnapped 1979, and more from May 25th.
1660: The English Restoration Begins
The English Restoration commences with the triumphant return of King Charles II from exile. Charles’ father, Charles I, had been beheaded by Oliver Cromwell on January 30, 1649. But after Cromwell’s death in 1658, Charles II was invited back to England, restoring the monarchy to power.
1787: The U.S. Constitutional Convention Gets Underway
The U.S. Constitutional Convention kicks off in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Though the delegates who would ultimately write the Constitution initially gathered with the stated goal of reforming the existing Articles of Confederation, they would instead draw up a new form of government altogether.
The ensuing convention established three branches of government as well as the Senate and the House of Representatives, while generally setting the template for the American political system that remains in place to this day.
1895: Oscar Wilde Is Sent To Prison For Sodomy
Oscar Wilde is sentenced to two years in prison for “committing acts of gross indecency with certain male persons.” The writer, who had penned The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), roused the ire of Lord Queensberry for having an affair with Queensberry’s son. When Queensberry publicly called Wilde a sodomite, Wilde sued him for libel — but ended up going to prison because sodomy was illegal at the time.
He was incarcerated for two years and forced to perform hard labor, which took a tremendous toll on his health and which many believe was a contributing factor in his death at just 46 three years after he was released.
1946: Marcel Petiot Is Executed
French serial killer Marcel Petiot is executed by guillotine in Paris, France. During World War II, Petiot, a doctor, offered to help Jewish refugees — but killed them instead and stole their valuables. He was finally caught after neighbors complained of a terrible smell coming from his house.
1979: Etan Patz Is Kidnapped
Six-year-old Etan Patz is kidnapped in Manhattan. One of the first missing children to have his image on a milk carton, Patz’s disappearance also inspired National Missing Children’s Day and helped inspire the creation of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. His kidnapping went unsolved until 2012, when investigators received a tip that a former bodega worker named Pedro Hernandez had killed him.