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This Day in History - May 20

May 20

325 – The Ecumenical council is inaugurated by Emperor Constantine in Nicea

1303 – A peace treaty is signed between England and France

1347 – Cola di Rienzo takes the title of tribune in Rome

1498 – Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama becomes the first European to reach India via the Atlantic Ocean, arriving at Calicut on the Malabar Coast

1506 – Italian explorer Christopher Columbus dies

1520 – Hernando Cortes defeats Spanish troops sent against him in Mexico

1609 – William Shakespeare’s Sonnets are first published in London by publisher Thomas Thorpe

1663 – Printer William Bradford is born

1674 – John Sobieski becomes Poland’s first king

1690 – England passes the Act of Grace, forgiving followers of James II

1750 – American financier and philanthropist Stephen Girard is born

1768 – First Lady Dolley Madison is born

1774 – Parliament passes the Coercive Acts to punish the colonists for their increasingly anti-British behavior, closing the port of Boston

1775 – North Carolina becomes the first colony to declare its independence

1778 – The Battle of Barren Hill, Pennsylvania takes place between British forces and Continentals defending Valley Forge

1784 – The Peace of Versailles ends a war between France, England and Holland

1799 – Napoleon Bonaparte orders a withdrawal from the siege of St. Jean d’Acre in Egypt

1799 – French novelist Honore de Balzac is born

1806 – British philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill is born

1818 – One of the founders of Wells, Fargo & Co., William George Fargo, is born

1834 – French general Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, dies

1859 – A force of Austrians collide with Piedmontese cavalry at the village of Montebello, in northern Italy

1861 – North Carolina becomes the last state to secede from the Union

1862 – President Abraham Lincoln signs the Homestead Act, providing 250 million acres of free land to settlers in the West

1873 – Levi Strauss receive a patent for copper-riveted blue jeans

1882 – Norwegian novelist Sigrid Undset is born

1891 – The first public display of Thomas Edison’s prototype kinetoscope occurs with the members of the National Federation of Women’s Club

1896 – German pianist and composer Clara Schumann dies

1902 – The US military occupation of Cuba ends

1908 – Actor Jimmy Stewart is born

1915 – British, Canadian and Indian troops launch a new round of attacks against a reinforced German line around the village of Festubert, located in the Ypres Salient on the Western Front

1915 – 5th Minister of Foreign Affairs for Israel, Moshe Dayan, is born

1927 – Charles Lindbergh takes off from New York for Paris aboard the Spirit of St. Louis

1927 – Saudi Arabia becomes independent of Great Britain with the Treaty of Jeddah

1930 – The first airplane is catapulted from a dirigible

1932 – Amelia Earhart lands near Londonderry, Ireland, to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic

1939 – Pan American Airways starts the first regular passenger service across the Atlantic

1940 – The German Army in northern France reaches the English Channel

1941 – Germany invades Crete by air

1942 – Japan completes the conquest of Burma

1944 – English singer and songwriter Joe Cocker is born

1946 – English poet WH Auden becomes a US citizen

1946 – American singer, songwriter, actress, producer and director, Cher, is born

1951 – During the Korean War, US Air Force Captain James Jabara becomes the first jet air ace in history

1953 – French General Henri Navarre assumes command of the French Union Forces in Vietnam, claiming “Now we can see [success in Vietnam] clearly, like light at the end of a tunnel”

1956 – The US conducts the first airborne test of an improved hydrogen bomb, dropping it from a plane over the island of Namu in the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean

1961 – A white mob attacks civil rights activists in Montgomery, Alabama

1965 – A Pakistan Airways Boeing 707 arriving from Pakistan crashes upon landing in Cairo, Egypt, killing 124

1969 – In South Vietnam, troops of the 101st Airborne Division reach the top of Hill 937 aka Hamburger Hill, after nine days of fighting entrenched North Vietnamese forces

1970 – 100,000 people march in New York, supporting US policies in Vietnam

1971 – American race car driver Tony Stewart is born

1983 – In South Africa, a car bomb planted by anti-Apartheid activists, known as the Church Street Bombing, kills 19

1989 – Sunday Silence edges by Easy Goer winning the Preakness Stakes by a nose

1990 – The Hubble Space Telescope sends its first photographs from space

1995 – President Bill Clinton permanently closes the two-block stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House to all non-pedestrian traffic as a security measure, due to the large volume of traffic trying to view the White House through car windows

1996 – The US Supreme Court strikes down an amendment to Colorado’s state constitution that would have prevented any city, town, or county in the state from taking any legislative, executive, or judicial action to protect the rights of homosexuals

1998 – Singer Frank Sinatra is buried

2002 – American paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould dies

2005 – Ex-teacher and convicted pedophile Mary Kay Letourneau, 43, marries former victim and the father of her two children, Vili Fualaau, 22-just nine months after being released from prison after serving a 7 ½ year sentence for raping Fualaau

2006 – The Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest power station in terms of installed capacity, is officially opened

2007 – Fox’s long-running animated series, The Simpsons, airs its 400th episode

2012 – English singer, songwriter and producer Robin Gibb, dies


Written by Crystal McCann

Crystal is the Chief Operating Officer of Lanterns Media Network and the owner of Madisons Media. She lives in Texas with her husband and dogs and is the proud mother of two adult children.


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