Apr 27th - May 31st 1999
Today in History

April 27, 1521 Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan died in battle in the Philippines. Usually considered the first person to circumnavigate the globe, he died before completing his trip. Magellan had set sail from Spain, more than 18 months earlier, with five ships and 270 men. More on Magellan http://www.mariner.org/age/magellan.html

April 27, 1880 Francis Clarke and M.G. Foster patented the electrical hearing aid. Before electricity, people with hearing problems used devices called "ear trumpets," which were first used in ships to ease communication. More about early hearing aids http://www.entnet.org/hearing.html

April 27, 1994 The first "Freedom Day" took place in South Africa. This day celebrated the first all-racial elections in the history of South Africa, which took place from April 26 to 29. The elections, in which Nelson Mandela was elected president, effectively ended the policy of "apartheid" (separateness) that enforced white domination and racial separation. A news story on Mandela's inauguration http://www.facts.com/cd/94000337.htm

April 28, 1789 A rebel crew took over the British ship "HMS Bounty," leaving the ship's leader, Lieutenant William Bligh, and his supporters adrift in the South Pacific Ocean. The mutiny was led by Masters Mate Fletcher Christian. The "Mutiny on the Bounty" became popularized through novels and movies http://www.visi.com/~pjlareau/bounty1.html

April 28, 1947 Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl set sail from Peru to Polynesia aboard his 45-foot vessel "Kon-Tiki." The 4,300-mile (6,900- kilometer) voyage lasted for about three and a half months. Heyerdahl tried to prove the possibility of transoceanic contact between ancient, widely separated civilizations. "Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft," was Heyerdahl's account of his trip http://www.plu.edu/~ryandp/thor.html

April 28, 1967 Boxer Muhammad Ali, formerly called Cassius Clay, refused induction into the US Army citing religious reasons. As a result of his refusal he was arrested and stripped of the heavyweight championship title. Ali was the first boxer to win the heavyweight title three times http://www.ibhof.com/ali.htm

April 29, 1927 Construction of the "Spirit of St. Louis" was completed. Flown by Charles Lindbergh in the first solo, non-stop transatlantic flight, the plane was completed in two months at a cost of $10,580. It was named in honor of Lindbergh's financial supporters in St. Louis, Missouri. The "Spirit of St. Louis" was donated to the Smithsonian Institution http://www.nasm.edu/GALLERIES/GAL100/NYPstlouis.gif

April 29, 1969 Edward Kennedy (Duke) Ellington was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White House dinner honoring the composer and band leader's 70th birthday. A stellar group of Jazz musicians played Ellington's compositions. Ellington is one of the most important US composers of the 20th century. He wrote about 2,000 songs and compositions http://georgew.gw.pps.pgh.pa.us/user/se1001/Duke.html

April 29, 1994 The journal Science announced that researchers had cloned and identified the circadian clock gene. The clock gene, so called because it governs the waking and sleeping cycle, was discovered in mice. The main researchers were Joseph Takahashi, Lawrence Pinto, and Fred Turek. The gene had never before been pinpointed in a mammal http://www.nwu.edu/nuin/newsletter/cover.html

April 30, 1006 A supernova is believed to have been observed in Europe, China, Japan, and Egypt. The explosion of Supernova 1006 occurred in the constellation Lupus. Supernovae are exploding stars that may give off a luminosity 100 million times that of the sun. A supernova may be visible for several months or even years after its explosion http://legacy.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/snr.html

April 30, 1789 George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States. Previously, he had been commander in chief of the Continental Army in the American Revolution. During and after his lifetime, he loomed large in the national imagination, becoming a symbol of courage and virtue. Washington retired at the end of his second term in office http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/glimpse/presidents/html/gw1.html

April 30, 1860 Navajo warriors, lead by Manuelito, surrounded Fort Defiance in an attempt to drive whites from Navajo lands. This attack started the Navajo War, which lasted from 1860 until the Navajos' surrender in 1864. About 8,000 Navajos were then driven approximately 400 miles (640 kilometers) to eastern New Mexico, in what became known as the "Long Walk." More on the Navajo http://hanksville.phast.umass.edu/defs/Navfort.html

May 1, 1886 A national coalition of labor groups started a strike in favor of the eight-hour work day. In Chicago on May 4, 1886, workers and police clashed, in what became known as the "Haymarket riot." May 1st is celebrated in most countries in the world as the International Workers' Day. As a result of the Haymarket riot, several protesters and police officers died http://cpl.lib.uic.edu/004chicago/timeline/haymarket.html

May 1, 1931 The Empire State Building officially opened in New York City. Until 1972 it was the tallest building in the world at 102 stories high. The construction of the building was completed in 14 months. Due to economic depression, which began in 1929, the cost of the building totaled less than $25 million, half the original estimate. Photographs of the building's construction http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/spe/art/photo/hinex/empire/empire.html

May 1, 1971 The train company Amtrak began to operate and offer passenger service throughout the United States. The US Congress had passed the Passenger Service Act the previous year, which allowed for the creation of Amtrak, a privately run company that runs with the aid of government subsidies. In late 1999, Amtrak plans to begin service of its new, high-speed train "Acela" http://www.acela.com/train/index.html

May 2, 1519 Leonardo da Vinci died near Amboise, France. An Italian painter, sculptor, architect, and engineer, his genius epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. His "Mona Lisa" stands out as an extremely popular and influential painting. His personal notebooks reveal a spirit of scientific inquiry and mechanical inventiveness that were centuries ahead of their time. More on Leonardo da Vinci http://www.mos.org/sln/Leonardo/LeoHomePage.html

May 2, 1885 The Congo Free State was established by King Leopold II of Belgium. Considered the king's personal territory, it occupied most of the Congo River basin. In 1908 the Congo Free State was abolished and became the Belgian Congo, a colony controlled by the Belgian parliament. In 1966, the country was named Zaire, but was renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997. Maps of the Democratic Republic of Congo http://www.theodora.com/maps/zaire_map.html

May 2, 1938 Pioneer jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald recorded one of her biggest hits, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," which was a swing version of a popular nursery rhyme. That song ignited a musical career that spanned six decades. Fitzgerald's mastery of scat singing became her trademark, and her improvisations and interpretations of famous songs are legendary. She became affectionately known as "The First Lady of Song" http://jazzcentralstation.com/jcs/station/musicexp/artists/ella/index.html

May 3, 1765 The first US medical college opened in Philadelphia. Founded by John Morgan, the School of Medicine belonged to the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania). "The theory and practice of physick" and "anatomical lectures" were among the first subjects taught. More on the School of Medicine http://www.med.upenn.edu/about_uphs/heritage.html

May 3, 1845 Macon B. Allen became the first African American lawyer to be admitted to the bar in Massachusetts. One year prior, he had been admitted to the bar in Maine, which made him the first licensed African American attorney to practice in the United States. The ceremony was replicated 150 years later http://www.slaw.neu.edu/public/home/clinics/uli/mbla/mbla003.htm

May 3, 1971 National Public Radio (NPR), the most well-known US non-commercial radio network, began broadcasting. NPR is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, corporate underwriting, and contributions by listeners. NPR has affiliate radio stations in all 50 states of the United States. "All Things Considered" is one of NPR's most popular shows http://majorca.npr.org/programs/atc/

May 4, 1886 Chichester Bell and Charles Tainter received a US patent for the graphophone. This invention replaced Thomas Edison's phonograph, and featured wax-coated cylinders. These were considered an improvement over the phonograph's tinfoil cylinders, which had been delicate and difficult to remove. More on recording technology history http://ac.acusd.edu/History/recording/notes.html

May 4, 1970 National Guard troops killed 4 students during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration at Kent State University in Ohio. The four students killed were Allison Krause, Sandra Lee Scheuer, Jeffrey Glenn Miller and William K. Schroeder. The event triggered nationwide protests http://www.kent.edu/ksuMay4/welcome.htm

May 4, 1989 The space shuttle Atlantis was launched. Its main objective was to deploy the spacecraft Magellan, making this the first time that a craft was launched from a space shuttle. Magellan's mission was to map the surface of Venus. Magellan provided the most detailed map of Venus to date http://www.star.le.ac.uk/edu/solar/magellan.html

May 5, 1862 Mexican troops defeated the French army, despite being outnumbered and having fewer weapons. The military confrontation became known as "the Battle of Puebla" after the Mexican state where it took place. This date became a holiday that is greatly celebrated by the Mexican and Mexican American communities http://latino.sscnet.ucla.edu/cinco.html

May 5, 1891 Carnegie Hall, one of the world's most renowned concert halls, opened in New York City. On the opening night, the audience heard performances by the Symphony Society and the Oratorio Society under the direction of Walter Damrosch and the famed Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Its excellent acoustics have attracted the world's most talented musicians http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/medny/stevens.html

May 5, 1961 Alan Shepard became the first US astronaut and the second human to reach outer space. The first person to reach outer space was the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. Shepard's return to Earth was viewed on live television by millions of people around the globe. More on Shepard http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/she0bio-1

May 6, 1527 What became known as the "sack of Rome" began. For eight days, the armies of Emperor Charles V pillaged and destroyed thousands of churches, palaces, and historic sites. The sack of Rome, in which thousands were killed, ended the city's preeminence as a Renaissance center. A history of Rome http://www.lonelyplanet.com.au/dest/eur/rom.htm

May 6, 1851 Inventor John Gorrie was granted a US patent for an ice-making machine. Gorrie's invention was the first US patent for mechanical refrigeration. His machine was initially designed for treating yellow fever. Gorrie is considered the father of refrigeration and air-conditioning http://www.phys.ufl.edu/~ihas/fridge.html

May 6, 1937 The dirigible Hindenburg exploded in the air after flying across the Atlantic Ocean as it approached the naval air station at Lakehurst, New Jersey. The luxurious German aircraft was about as long as three football fields. More than 30 people died in the accident. Photographs of the Hindenburg http://www.afn.org/~afn42211/genealog/sterner/hindenburg/

May 7, 1189 The Kaiser Fiedrich Barbarossa granted customs and commercial rights to the German town of Hamburg. One of the first members of the Hanseatic League, Hamburg soon became the main port between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Hamburg is today one of Europe's most industrial and ecologically aware cities http://www.rrz.uni-hamburg.de/Hamburg/HH_homepage_english.html

May 7, 1824 Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor was performed for the first time in Vienna, Austria. Known as the "Choral" for its use of voices in symphonic form, Symphony No. 9 was Beethoven's musical interpretation of Schiller's Ode to Joy. The German composer was completely deaf when he wrote the symphony http://www.futurenet.com/classicalnet/beginners/rev50/4.html

May 7, 1954 Viet Minh's troops defeated the French army in the Dien Bien Phu Battle, and forced the French government to abandon its attempts to regain control of Indochina. This battle is considered one of the greatest victories won by a former colony over a colonial power. The Viet Minh was the main Vietnamese organization to oppose the French occupation http://www.hackintosh.com/~bgeste/viet_minh.html

May 8, 1541 Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto encountered the Mississippi River, which he called Rio de Espiritu Santo (River of the Saint Spirit). "Mississippi" is a Native American Ojibwa word that means "big river." The Spanish explorer died on the shores of the Mississippi the following year. In his exploration of what is today the United States, Hernando de Soto sought gold and silver http://www.cr.nps.gov/delta/desoto.htm

May 8, 1792 President George Washington signed an act that authorized the mint of the first US copper coins. Individuals involved in using coins other than the legal cents and half-cents would be penalized with a $10 fine. These coins were the predecessors of today's pennies http://earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/firsts/penny/index.html

May 8, 1794 French chemist Antoine Laurent Lavoisier was decapitated in Paris for his former role as tax collector. Lavoisier, who is generally regarded as the "founder of modern chemistry," demonstrated the role of oxygen in chemical processes and made key observations about respiration. More on Lavoisier http://cti.itc.virginia.edu/~meg3c/classes/tcc313/200Rprojs/lavoisier2/home.html

May 9, 1754 The first published political cartoons in the American colonies appeared in The Pennsylvania Gazette, a newspaper founded by Benjamin Franklin. Many of the early cartoons did not have the element of satire so common in today's political cartoons. Examples of early cartoons http://earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/firsts/cartoon/index.html

May 9, 1945 The unconditional surrender of Germany to the Allied forces began, which virtually ended World War II. The surrender document was signed the day before, in what became known as the Victory in Europe (V-E) Day. A separate German surrender to the USSR was signed near Berlin, Germany, and also came into effect on May 9th. A photograph of the celebration http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/timeline/ve.htm

May 9, 1950 French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed the creation of a supranational European federation to strengthen the European economies. "The Schuman Declaration," as it became known, would eventually lead to the creation of the European Economic Community, now the European Union. The European Union is now composed of 15 countries http://www.eurunion.org/infores/euguide/Chapter1.htm

May 10, 1773 The British parliament authorized the East India Company to export half a million pounds of tea to the American colonies without imposing upon the company the usual duties and tariffs. This measure, which allowed the company to undersell other tea available in the colonies, saved the East India Company from bankruptcy. For a history of the East India Company http://www.theeastindiacompany.com/history.html

May 10,1869 The first transcontinental railroad was completed at Promontory Point, Utah. Officials from the Union Pacific and Central Pacific lines celebrated by driving a golden spike into the last rail. The four to six months that generally took pioneers to traverse the United Stated was now reduced to six days. The event is one of the most significant in US transportation history http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist1/rail.html

May 10, 1967 Nurse, journalist and writer Betty Mae Jumper became the first woman chair in the Seminole Council in Florida, and the first woman to assume the position of "Chief" of a federally-recognized tribe. In 1995 she was inducted into the Women's Hall of Fame of Florida. More on Betty Mae Jumper http://www.bettymae.com/index.shtml

May 11, 868 The first dated printed book was produced in China. Printed by Wang Chieh, the "Diamond Sutra", as the book was called, was a Buddhist text made up of six sheets pasted together and made into a roll. More on the "Diamond Sutra" http://portico.bl.uk/diglib/treasures/diamond-sutra.html

May 11, 1862 The Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia was destroyed by Confederate forces to prevent its capture by Union troops. The Virginia was built from the salvaged hull of the USS Merrimack. Two months prior to its destruction, the Virginia fought several Union ships in what became known as "The Battle of Hampton Roads." More on the famous naval battle http://www.civilwar-va.com/va-tidewater/showdown2.html

May 11, 1910 Glacier National Park in Montana was created by an act of Congress. With over one million acres, the park is home to many animals, including wolves, grizzly bears, and mountain lions, and over 1400 plant species. Glacier National Park is one of the largest and most pristine US parks http://www.nps.gov/glac/

May 12, 1832 Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti 's "L'Elisir d'amore" (The Elixir of Love) was first performed. This renowned comic opera is about a poor peasant's attempt to woo a wealthy and spirited young woman. In the years following its premiere, "L'Elisir d'amore" was performed in 36 countries and translated into 14 languages. Donizetti is considered one of the most talented comic opera composers http://www.operaed.org/guides/elisir/donizeti.htm

May 12, 1932 The body of Charles Lindbergh's son was found. Charles Jr. was 20 months old when he was kidnapped from the Lindbergh's home in New Jersey more than two months earlier. Lindbergh and his wife Anne had paid $50,000 in ransom. The kidnapping and death of Charles Jr. has been called "The Crime of the Century" http://www.lindberghtrial.com/

May 12, 1937 George VI was crowned King of England, following the abdication of his brother Edward VIII. His coronation was the first ceremony of this magnitude to be televised. The actions of King George VI and the royal family during World War II were perceived as courageous by their English subjects, which increased the monarchy's prestige. George VI remained king until his death in 1952 http://www.britannia.com/history/monarchs/mon62.html

May 13, 1846 Congress declared war against Mexico. US President James Polk had presented his war message before Congress two days earlier. The war declaration was vigorously opposed by abolitionists who saw the war as a ploy to extend slavery. Abraham Lincoln, at the time a member of congress, voted against the war http://www.nara.gov/education/teaching/lincoln/home.html

May 13, 1918 The "Inter-Allied Independent Bomber Force" of the Royal Air Force (RAF) from Great Britain was created with the express purpose of bombing Germany. It was the first time that an air force attack was waged independently of the army or navy. The RAF, which came into being one month earlier, was the largest air force in the world by the end of the war. A photograph of a RAF aircraft from 1917-1918 http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/gallery/se5640.jpg

May 14, 1607 The building of the first permanent English settlement in what is now the US began in Jamestown, Virginia. Named after King James I, the town had an original population of 104 settlers. More on Jamestown http://www.williamsburg.com/james/james.html

May 14, 1796 To treat smallpox English physician Edward Jenner inoculated eight- year old James Phipps with a small dose of cowpox. Jenner proved that by injecting someone with a mild form of a disease, he could actually prevent the person from getting it. Jenner's vaccine was eventually used to eradicate smallpox worldwide. Jenner is considered the father of modern vaccinology http://www.csu.edu.au/faculty/arts/humss/bioethic/jenner.htm

May 14, 1973 Skylab, the first US experimental space station, was launched. The station's successful mission proved that humans could live and work in space for extended periods of time. Three three-person crews occupied Skylab for a total of almost six months. Skylab was beset by early mechanical problems http://www.ksc.nasa.gov/history/skylab/skylab-1.html

May 15, 1918 The first regularly scheduled airmail service took place between New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. The early mail planes did not have any navigational instruments; pilots guided themselves through a sophisticated knowledge of geography and astronomy. More on the history of the US Postal Service http://www.usps.gov/history/his2_5.htm

May 15, 1940 Nylon stockings were sold in stores throughout the US for the first time. The stockings were such a success that 64 million pairs were sold the first year. This buying frenzy was curtailed when the Allied forces began to buy most of the available nylon to make parachutes and tents during World War II. After the war, nylon stockings became a favorite consumer item http://www.discovery.com/area/shoulda/shoulda961230/birthday1.html

May 15, 1972 Presidential candidate George Wallace was shot in Laurel, Maryland. As a result of the attempted assassination, Wallace became paraplegic for the rest of his life. In the 1960s he was known as a fist-shaking segregationist who opposed the Civil Rights Movement. In the latter part of his life Wallace recanted his earlier conservative beliefs. The former Alabama governor died in 1998 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/daily/sept98/wallace.htm

May 16, 1866 The US Treasury Department began minting a 5-cent coin made from nickel. Soon afterwards a copper-nickel alloy replaced the pure nickel used originally. Today's "nickel" still uses this alloy. More on nickel and US coins that contain it http://www.money.org/sum-mohon.html

May 16, 1920 Joan of Arc, the French national heroine, was canonized by Pope Benedict XV. A 14th century peasant girl who grew up to lead a victorious French army against English troops at Orleans, she was later captured and burned by the English and their French collaborators as a heretic. Her example was a decisive factor in the awakening of French national consciousness. More on Joan of Arc http://www.netsrq.com/~dbois/joanarc.html

May 16, 1929 The Academy Awards ceremony was held for the first time in Los Angeles. The awards, not yet known as Oscars, were given for films that had been shown between 1927 and 1928. The Academy's first "Best Picture" honor was presented to the anti-war silent film "Wings." "Wings" was directed by William Wellman http://www.afionline.org/nft/july96/nft.w.html

May 17, 1814 Norwegian leaders adopted a national constitution after Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden. Soon afterward, however, Sweden attacked and took control of Norway. Despite being a Swedish territory, Norway retained its own constitution and parliament until 1905, when it was finally granted full independence. May 17th is considered Norway's National Day http://norway.origo.no/culture/guide/history/freedom.html

May 17, 1875 The first Kentucky Derby took place in the presence of approximately 10,000 spectators. The Kentucky Derby has since become the crown jewel of US horse-racing. The race was so named after the English Epson Derby, a horse competition sponsored by the Earl of Derby. The first Kentucky Derby was won by Oliver Lewis who rode Aristides http://www.imh.org/imh/kyhpl5b.html#xtocid1191712

May 17, 1954 The US Supreme Court unanimously voted to end racial segregation in public schools. The Court's decision came as a result of Brown v. the Board of Education case, in which the lead plaintiff's daughter, Linda Brown, was denied entrance into an all-white elementary school because she was African American. More on this momentous civil rights case http://civnet.org/resoures/teach/basic/part6/36.htm

May 18, 1804 French military commander Napoleon Bonaparte declared himself Emperor of France, becoming Napoleon I. Months later, his title was ratified by Pope Pius VII. He remained emperor until 1815 when he was replaced by Louis XVIII. Both Napoleon I and his nephew Napoleon III were emperors of France http://www.france.com/culture/history/napoleons.html

May 18, 1896 In Plessy v. Ferguson, the US Supreme Court upheld the "separate but equal" policy. The case originated in 1892, when Homer Plessy, a shoemaker from Louisiana, was arrested for sitting in a train coach reserved only for whites. The case eventually went to the US Supreme Court, which upheld the decision of Judge John Ferguson who had found Plessy guilty. Racial prejudice in 1896 http://iberia.vassar.edu/1896/prejudice.html

May 18, 1980 The volcano Mount St. Helens in southwestern Washington erupted after an earthquake shook the volcano. A part of the peak slid away in a gigantic rockslide, and steam and ash were blown more than 11 miles (17.6 km) into the sky. Almost 60 people were killed. Photographs of the eruption of Mount St. Helens http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/MSH/Images/may18_images.html

May 19, 1857 William F. Channing and Moses G. Farmer patented the electric fire alarm, and it was first used in a massive scale in Boston, Massachusetts. The original system consisted of 40 street fire alarm boxes connected by telegraph circuits to a central office. The Fire Department in Columbus, Ohio, installed its own electric fire alarm system in the late 1860s http://www.fire.ci.columbus.oh.us/FAO.htm

May 19, 1895 Cuban writer and poet Jose Marti was killed by Spanish troops during a pro-independence battle. Marti, one of Cuba's most well-known intellectuals, wrote about the injustices of colonialism and the importance of "Panamericanism," a movement that sought Latin American social and political unity. More on Jose Marti http://www.megastories.com/cuba/glossary/marti.htm

May 19, 1971 The former Soviet Union launched Mars 2, a spacecraft intended to land on Mars, take pictures of the Martian surface and make various atmospheric and soil measurements. However, a mechanical malfunction led the spacecraft to crash against the surface of the planet. Despite the crash, Mars 2 was able to send pictures and data back to Earth http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/database/www-nmc?71-045A

May 20, 1588 The Spanish Armada, also known as the Invincible Armada, departed from Lisbon, Portugal, to invade England. With about 130 ships, it was considered the mightiest naval fleet of its time. A combination of factors -- a faster and better armed English fleet, strategic mistakes, and poor weather conditions -- led to the complete defeat of the Armada. Some of the defeated Spanish ships anchored in different British isles http://english.ohio-state.edu/people/odlin.1/graphics/scotland/armada.htm

May 20, 1874 Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis were granted a patent for the process of riveting pants. Prior to the patent, Strauss had already opened his own company that sold durable trousers to gold prospectors during the California Gold Rush. His trousers were known as "Levis." Strauss preferred the word "overalls" to "jeans" http://www.germanheritage.com/biographies/strauss/strauss.html

May 20, 1953 Aviator and entrepreneur Jacqueline Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier. That same year she set world speed records for 100- and 500-kilometer courses. She was the first living woman to be inducted to the US Aviation Hall of Fame http://www.greatwomen.org/cochrn.htm

May 21, 1881 Clara Barton created the American Red Cross. The US chapter was a branch of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, created in Geneva, Switzerland almost 20 years earlier, to provide care for the wounded and sick in times of war. More on the history of the Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/hec/pre1900/humvis.html

May 21, 1892 The Italian opera I Pagliacci (Clowns) was first performed in the Teatro dal Verme in Milan, Italy. Composed by Ruggiero Leoncavallo, the opera tells the true story of betrayal and murder in a circus troupe. I Pagliacci is considered one of the purest Italian operas of the realism school http://www.culturevulture.net/Opera/Pagliacci.htm

May 21, 1927 Aviator Charles A. Lindbergh completed the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight in history. Lindbergh flew the "Spirit of St. Louis" 3,610 miles (5,810 kilometers) between Long Island, New York, and Paris, France, in 33 hours, 30 minutes. More on Lindbergh in Paris http://web2.si.edu/resource/tours/kidsguide/nasm/117.htm

May 22, 1804 Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and members of the Corps of Discovery left St. Louis, Missouri, in direction to the Pacific Coast, in what became known as the "Lewis and Clark Expedition." During their voyage the travelers took detailed topographical notes, collected specimens of flora and fauna, and established contact with Native American groups. Map showing the routes taken by the Lewis and Clark Expedition http://www.peabody.harvard.edu/Lewis&Clark/map.html

May 22, 1932 Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean alone. She had departed the previous day from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, and arrived to Londonderry, Ireland about 14 hours later.

May 22, 1992 After 30 years as host of "The Tonight Show," Johnny Carson lead the popular TV program for the last time. His lightning wit and great charm made Carson one of the most likable figures of US television. He was accompanied by sidekick Ed McMahon and bandleader Doc Severinsen. Carson was replaced by comedian Jay Leno. Images from "The Tonight Show" http://timvp.com/carson.html

May 23, 1618 The Thirty Years War started when a group of Calvinist leaders threw Catholic members of the Holy Roman Empire through a window. The Thirty Years War consisted of a series of religious wars between Catholics and Protestants, but ultimately it was a struggle to alter the European balance of power. Weapons used during the Thirty Years War http://www.erols.com/lnorberg/Weapon.html

May 23, 1901 US forces captured Filipino rebel leader Emilio Aguinaldo. He had been a leader of the pro-independence movement against Spain, and then took up arms against the United States when the US government failed to recognize Filipino independence. Aguinaldo was a complex figure who at different times opposed and collaborated with the US http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/1898/aguinaldo.html

May 23, 1940 Frank Sinatra's recorded "I'll Never Smile Again," which went on to be one of his greatest hits. Sinatra, who became popular during the Big Band era, performed this sentimental classic with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Sinatra was one of the most popular US performers of the 20th century http://kennedy-center.org/honors/years/sinatra.html

May 24, 1844 The first US telegraph line was formally inaugurated between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland. Samuel F.B. Morse, the telegraph's inventor, sent the first message with the phrase "What hath God wrought?" from the Supreme Court building. A photograph of Morse's first telegraphic message http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/atthtml/morse2.html

May 24, 1935 The first major league baseball game to be played at night under lights took place at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio. The night game attracted more than 20,000 fans --10 times the number that would show up for a daytime game. In the first game the Cincinnati Reds won against the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1. Crosley Field served as home for the Cincinnati Reds until 1970 http://pubweb.acns.nwu.edu/~dps004/Crosley.html

May 24, 1993 The African nation of Eritrea gained independence fron Ethiopia after a 30-year civil war. Since the 19th century, Eritrea had been under both British and Italian control, and after World War II, under Ethiopian control. The civil war forced almost one million people to flee their homes. A map and flag of Eritrea http://www.agora.stm.it/elections/election/maps/eritrea.htm

May 25, 1787 The Constitutional Convention started its first session in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The delegates repealed the "Articles of Confederation" and drafted a new US constitution. The new document was the result of many compromises between nationalists and federalists. Fifty-five delegates from 12 states met in Philadelphia http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/bdsds/constit.html

May 25, 1963 The Organization of African Unity (OAU) was established at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The OAU charter, signed by the 32 heads of state, sought to promote unity among African states and to oppose colonialism. The OAU flag was chosen in 1970 http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/oau.html

May 25, 1977 The motion picture "Star Wars" was first shown to the public. "Star Wars" became one of the most popular and profitable science fiction films ever made. Written and directed by George Lucas, the movie depicted the archetypal battle between good and evil. George Lucas is one of the most successful contemporary movie directors http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/luc0bio-1

May 26, 1896 Nicholas Romanov II was crowned czar of Russia. His reign was beleaguered by financial and social problems, which forced him to abdicate the crown in 1917. The following year, Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, and the rest of the Romanov family were killed. Their death marked the end of czarism and the beginning of communism. An image of Nicholas II http://www.museo.helsinki.fi/Nikoii.htm

May 26 1924 The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1924 was passed in the US. The Act placed numerical quotas on immigration for the first time in US history. The quotas favored immigrants from northern Europe, discriminated against those from southern Europe and virtually barred immigrants from Asia altogether. A photograph of Ellis Island, once the main entrance point for immigrants into the US http://www.msu.edu/course/mc/112/1920s/Immigration/

May 26, 1927 The Ford Motor Company discontinued its popular automobile model, the Model T, known as the Tin Lizzie. The car was replaced by the more modern Model A. The Model T, created by Henry Ford in 1908, was the first car accessible to the average person in the United States. A pictorial gallery of Model T's http://www.mtfca.com/gallery.htm

May 27, 1936 The British luxury liner RMS Queen Mary made her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York. For more than 30 years, the Queen Mary ferried hundreds of thousands of passengers across the Atlantic. In 1967, the ship was sold to the city of Long Beach, California. A comparison of the Titanic with Queen Mary http://www.queenmary.org/qvvtit.html

May 27, 1937 San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge was completed and opened to the public. Its span of 1.2 miles (1.9 km) made it the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time. The Golden Gate is one of the world's most recognized and photographed bridges because of its magnificent setting, art deco architecture and distinctive orange color. The bridge took four years to build http://www.goldengate.org/History/Page1.html

May 27, 1994 Russian Writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn returned to his homeland after living in exile for two decades. The famous writer had been expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974 after his three-volume expose of the Soviet prison camp system, "The Gulag Archipelago," was published. Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1970 http://nobel.sdsc.edu/laureates/literature-1970-1-autobio.html

May 28, 1892 The Sierra Club was founded in San Francisco, California, by naturalist John Muir and 181 other chapter members. This environmentalist organization has been one of the major forces behind the founding and preservation of national parks in the US. John Muir has been considered the "Father of the National Park System" http://www.tipiglen.dircon.co.uk/muir_biography.html

May 28, 1934 The first known quintuplets to survive infancy were born. Elzire Dionne, a poor French-Canadian woman, gave birth to five identical baby girls -- Cecile, Annette, Yvonne, Emilie, and Marie. The quintuplets were taken away from their parents and made wards of the Ontario government. The sisters became celebrities and endorsed many commercial products. Several movies and documentaries have been made of the Dionne Quintuplets http://www.onf.ca/FMT/E/MSN/13/13892.html

May 28, 1961 English lawyer Peter Benenson published "The Forgotten Prisoners," an article about the thousands of men and women imprisoned worldwide because of their political or religious beliefs. The publication gave rise to Amnesty International, which eventually became one of the largest and most respected human rights organizations in the world. A London newspaper published Benenson's article http://www.amnesty.org/aboutai/observer.htm

May 29, 1453 Constantinople, the capital of the once-powerful Christian Roman Empire, fell to the Ottoman Empire. The defense of the city was led by Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus while the attack was led by the Turkish Sultan Mehmed II. The conquest of Constantinople marked the end of the Byzantine Empire. The siege of Constantinople lasted for almost two months http://www.greece.org/Romiosini/fall.html

May 29, 1953 The summit of Mount Everest was reached for the first time. Everest is the highest mountain in the world, with a summit altitude of 28,028 feet (8,550 meters) above sea level. The summit was reached by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and New Zealander Edmund Hillary. Sherpa culture was changed as a result of Norgay's feat http://www.stanford.edu/~dpearson/research_paper.html

May 29, 1977 Car racer Janet Guthrie became the first woman to qualify for and participate in the prestigious Indy 500 race. Although she had to abandon the race after the 27th lap due to mechanical problems, the following year she participated again and finished ninth, defeating some of the best car racers in the world. More on Guthrie http://women.eb.com/women/articles/Guthrie_Janet.html

May 30, 1848 William Young patented the ice cream freezer, and named it the "Johnson Patent Ice Cream Freezer." It is believed that the freezer was named after the actual inventor, Nancy Johnson, who had designed the first hand-cranked ice cream freezer two years earlier but had never patented her invention. More on the history of ice cream http://www.sodafountain.com/history/hisicecream.htm

May 30, 1868 Memorial Day became an officially sanctioned holiday when military commander John A. Logan chose May 30 to remember the soldiers who had died during the Civil War. He called it "Decoration Day" after the custom in several Confederate and Union states of decorating the soldiers' graves with flowers. Over the years, the observance was extended to commemorate all US soldiers killed in war http://www.dcpages.com/Memorial/History/memdayhistory.shtml

May 30, 1971 The spacecraft Mariner 9 was launched in the direction of Mars. It became the first craft to orbit another planet, returning many images of Mars. The images revealed what appear to be riverbeds on the surface, suggesting the presence of water on Mars at some point in the past. Mariner 9 photographed the entire surface of Mars http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/mariner9/

May 31, 1790 The first Copyright Act was signed by President George Washington. The act protected authorship rights over books, maps and other written material. Rights of copy were only granted to US citizens, a mandate that was kept in place for more than a century. More on the famous act http://earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/firsts/copyright/index.html

May 31, 1879 The first of four Madison Square Gardens was inaugurated in New York City. Railroad heir William Vanderbilt bought the site of what had been the home of P.T. Barnum's circus and transformed it into an athletic hall. Over the years, Madison Square Garden became one of the world's most renowned sports and artistic arenas. The fourth and last Madison Square Garden was built in 1968 http://www.mediacity.com/~csuppes/NBA/misc/index.htm?../NewYorkKnicks/index.html

May 31, 1989 The second "World No-Tobacco Day" was held. The goals of the day were to encourage governments, organizations, and communities worldwide to become aware of the hazards of tobacco use, and to encourage everyone who smoked to quit for at least 24 hours. From this year onwards, May 31st was designated as No-Tobacco Day. The theme for the 1999 World No-Tobacco Day is "smoking cessation" http://www.who.int/toh/worldnotobacco99/teaser.htm

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Updated Mar 9th 2001



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