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On May 20th...
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1277 Pope John XXI died.
1293 An earthquake killed about 30,000 people in Kamakura, Japan.
1303 The Treaty of Paris restored Gascony to the English and arranged for the marriage of English Prince Edward to French Princess Isabella.
1310 The first shoes for both right and left feet were made.
1498 Vasco da Gama became the first European to reach India by sailing around the southern tip of Africa.
1501 Joao da Nova Castell discovered the Ascension Islands.
1631 Magdeburg, Germany, was seized by forces of the Holy Roman Empire.
1639 Dorchester, Massachusetts, formed the first school funded by local taxes.
1690 England passed the Act of Grace, forgiving followers of James II.
1734 The first Jockey Club was formed in South Carolina.
1759 William Thornton, designer of the U. S. Capitol, was born.
1768 Dolley Payne, wife of U.S. President James Madison, was born.
1772 Inventor William Congreve was born.
1775 Citizens of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, declared independence from Britain.
1785 The Continental Congress passed the Land Ordinance, providing for the division of all territory north and west of the Ohio River.
1799 Novelist Honoré de Balzac was born.
1806 Philosopher John Stuart Mill was born.
1818 Businessman William Fargo was born.
1830 The first ever railroad
timetable was published in the Baltimore American.
1834 French statesman Marquis de Lafayette died.
1835 Otto was named the first modern King of Greece.
1851 Inventor Émile Berliner was born.
1861 Kentucky proclaimed its
neutrality in the conflict between North and South.
1862 U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act into law.
1864 The last battle of the Spotsylvania Campaign was fought.
1873 Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis patened blue jeans with copper rivets.
1875 Mary Todd Lincoln was declared insane.
1879 Charlie Shauer rode Lord Murphy to victory in the Kentucky Derby.
1882 Germany, Austria-Hungary, and
France signed a Triple Alliance.
1883 King Faisal I of Iraq was born.
1891 The Kinetoscope was demonstrated to the public for the first time.
1892 Germany, Italy, and Austria
formed a Triple Alliance.
1897 Harold Hilton won the British Golf Open.
1902 Cuba became an independent republic.
1908 Actor Jimmy Stewart was born.
1913 James Butwell rode Buskin to
victory in the Preakness.
1915 Israeli military leader Moshe Dayan was born.
1919 Volcano Keluit on Java erupted,
killing 550 people.
1926 The U.S. Congress passed the Air Commerce Act, establishing a licensing procedure for pilots and airplanes.
1927 Charles Lindbergh set out to become the
first person to fly nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean.
1942 The U.S. Navy first permitted black recruits to serve.
1944 The U.S. Communist Party was
1946 Singer Cher was born.
1950 Eddie Arcaro rode Hill Prince to victory in the Preakness.
1951 Major James Jabara became the world's first jet ace.
1954 Chiang Kai-Shek became President of Nationalist China.
1958 A collision between a Capital Airlines passenger plane and a Maryland Air National Guard jet trainer over Brunswick, Maryland, killed 12 persons.
1959 Japanese-Americans regained
their U.S. citizenship.
1961 Johnny Sellers rode Carry Back to victory in the Preakness.
1963 Sukarno accepted the presidency
and premiership of Indonesia for the rest of his life.
1965 A Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 720-B crashed near the Cairo (United Arab Republic) Airport, killing 121 of the 127 persons aboard.
1966 Actress Mindy Cohn was born.
1967 A male heir to the Greek throne
was born to King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie.
1968 The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that school districts cannot offer "freedom of choice" plans as a way to desegregate their schools.
1969 U.S. troops captured Hill 937 (aka Hamburger Hill) in Vietnam.
1971 Race car driver Tony Stewart was born.
1972 The Republic of Cameroon was declared.
1976 Floods caused by Typhoon Olga killed 215 persons in the northern Philippines.
1978 Pioneer Venus 1 was
launched by the United States.
1980 710 families in the Love Canal
area of Niagara Falls, New York, were evacuated.
1983 Larry Holmes defeated Tim Witherspoon in 12 rounds for the heaavyweight boxing title.
1985 The United States began broadcasting to Cuba on Radio Marti.
1986 Christy Fichtner (Miss Texas) was crowned Miss USA.
1989 Pat Valenzuela rode Sunday
Silence to victory in the Preakness.
1990 The Hubble Space Telescope transmitted its first pictures to Earth.
1991 The Soviet Parliament approved a law allowing citizens to travel abroad.
1992 India launched its first satellite.
1993 NBC-TV aired the finale of "Cheers."
1994 Sushmita Sen (Miss India) was crowned Miss Universe.
1995 Pat Day rode Timber Country to
victory in the Preakness.
1996 Actor Jon Pertwee died.
1997 Virgilio Boat, former President of Colombia, died.
2000 Jerry Bailey rode Red Bullet to victory in the Preakness.
2002 Paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould died.
2006 Javier Castellano rode Bernardini to victory in the Preakness.
2008 Hamilton Jordan, White House Chief of Staff under President Jimmy Carter, died.
2011 Wrestler Randy Savage died.
2012 Singer Robin Gibb died.
2013 A hot air balloon crash in
Cappadocia, Turkey, killed 2 persons and injured 20
2015 David Letterman hosted his "Late Show" for the last time.
2017 Javier Castellano rode Cloud Computing to victory in the Preakness.
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This page was last updated on December 17, 2018.