On This Day in History for May 20

Events in History

Events 1 - 100 of 139

  • 325 1st Christian ecumenical council opens at Nicaea, Asia Minor
  • 1217 The Second Battle of Lincoln is fought near Lincoln, England, resulting in the defeat of Prince Louis of France by William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke.
  • 1293 Earthquake strikes Kamakura Japan, 30,000 killed
  • 1293 King Sancho IV of Castile creates the Study of General Schools of Alcalá.
  • 1303 Treaty of Paris restores Gascony to the English and arranges for marriage of English Prince Edward to French Princess Isabella
  • 1310 Shoes were made for both right & left feet
  • 1347 Rienzo calls Rome for people's tribunal
  • 1495 French King Charles VIII leaves Naples

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1498 Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrives at Calicut, India becoming the first European to reach India by sea

Explorer Vasco da Gama
Explorer
Vasco da Gama
  • 1501 Joao da Nova Castell discovers Ascension Islands
  • 1521 Ignatius Loyola seriously wounded by a cannon ball
  • 1524 Duke of Albany leaves Scotland
  • 1571 Venice, Spain & Pope Pius form anti-Turkish Saint League
  • 1591 Spanish troops in Zutphen surrenders to Willem Louis/Mauritius

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1609 Shakespeare's Sonnets are first published in London, perhaps illicitly, by the publisher Thomas Thorpe.

  • 1631 Magdeburg in Germany seized by forces of the Holy Roman Empire under earl Johann Tilly, most inhabitants massacred, one of the bloodiest incidents of the Thirty Years' War.
  • 1639 Dorchester Mass, forms 1st school funded by local taxes
  • 1690 England passes Act of Grace, forgiving followers of James II
  • 1704 Elias Neau forms school for slaves in NY
  • 1774 Britain gives Quebec, Labrador & territory north of Ohio
  • 1775 Citizens of Mecklenburg County, NC declare independence from Britain
  • 1784 Britain & Netherlands sign peace treaty (Peace of Paris)
  • 1825 Charles X becomes King of France
  • 1830 1st railroad timetable published in newspaper (Baltimore American)
  • 1830 D Hyde patents fountain pen
  • 1835 Otto is named the first modern king of Greece.
  • 1840 York Minster badly damaged by fire
  • 1845 1st legislative assembly convenes in Hawaii
  • 1845 HMS Erebus and HMS Terror with 134 men under John Franklin sail from the River Thames in England, beginning a disastrous expedition to find the Northwest Passage. All hands are lost.
  • 1861 Cornerstone of University of Washington laid in Seattle
  • 1861 Kentucky proclaims its neutrality in Civil War
  • 1861 North Carolina becomes 11th & last state to secede from Union
  • 1861 US marshals appropriate previous year's telegraph dispatches, to reveal prosecessionist evidence
  • 1862 US Homestead Act becomes law which provides cheap land for the settlement of the American West
  • 1864 Battle at Ware Bottom Church, Virginia, 1,400 killed or injured
  • 1864 Spotsylvania campaign ends after 10,920 killed/injured

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1867 British parliament rejects John Stuart Mills' proposals on women's suffrage

Philosopher and Political Economist John Stuart Mill
Philosopher and Political Economist
John Stuart Mill

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1867 Royal Albert Hall of Arts & Sciences foundation laid by Queen Victoria

Queen of the United Kingdom Victoria
Queen of the United Kingdom
Victoria
  • 1868 Republican National Convention, meets in Chicago, nominates Grant
  • 1870 Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament abolishes capital punishment in The Netherlands

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1873 Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis patent the first blue jeans with copper rivets

Fashion Designer Levi Strauss
Fashion Designer
Levi Strauss
  • 1875 International Bureau of Weights & Measures forms by treaty
  • 1882 Germany/Austria-Hungary/France sign Triple Alliance
  • 1882 Henrik Ibsen's "Ghosts" (Gengangere) premieres in Chicago
  • 1882 Gotthard rail tunnel between Switzerland & Italy opens

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1891 History of cinema: The first public display of Thomas Edison's prototype kinetoscope to members of the National Federation of Women's Club

Inventor Thomas Edison
Inventor
Thomas Edison
  • 1892 George Sampson patents clothes dryer
  • 1892 Triple Alliance between Germany, Italy & Austria forms
  • 1899 First speeding infraction by a New York cabbie driving an electric car - 12mph down Lexington Street
  • 1902 United States withdraws its troops from Cuba as the first Cuban president, Tomas Estrada Palma takes power
  • 1903 Britain's House of Commons begins a debate on the charges of poor administration and ill treatment of natives in Belgium's colony in the Congo Free State
  • 1910 Funeral for Britain's King Edward VII
  • 1911 Edwin Boaler Alletson hits 189 in 90 mins Notts v Sussex
  • 1915 Bataafsche Petroleum Me begins oil extraction of Maracaibo
  • 1916 Codell, Kansas hit by tornado (also on same date in 1917 & 1918)
  • 1916 Saturday Evening Post cover features Norman Rockwell painting
  • 1917 Turkish government authorizes Jews to return to Tel Aviv & Jaffa
  • 1918 1st electrically propelled warship (New Mexico)
  • 1919 Volcano Keluit on Java, erupts killing 550
  • 1920 Mexican President Venustiano Carranza, under attack by American petroleum companies, faces an armed rebellion by right-wing Sonoro triumvirate after nationalizing subsoil rights
  • 1922 "Egypt" sinks off Ushant after colliding with "Seine" killing 90
  • 1926 Belgian government of Jaspar takes power
  • 1926 Congress passes Air Commerce Act, licensing of pilots & planes
  • 1926 Railway Labor Act became law in USA

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1927 At 7:40 AM, Charles Lindbergh takes off from New York to cross the Atlantic for Paris, aboard Spirit of St Louis (1st non-stop flight)

  • 1927 Saudi Arabia becomes independent of Great Britain (Treaty of Jeddah)
  • 1930 1st airplane catapulted from a dirigible, Charles Nicholson, pilot

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1932 Amelia Earhart leaves Newfoundland 1st woman fly solo across Atlantic

  • 1932 Engelbert Dollfuss becomes chancellor of Austria
  • 1939 "3 Little Fishies" by Kay Kyser swam to #1
  • 1939 1st regular transatlantic airmail (Pan Am: NY to Marsseille France)
  • 1940 German General Guderian's tanks reach the English Channel (British expeditionary army)
  • 1940 Trailing 7-1 in 9th to Pitts, Phils win 8-7
  • 1941 Archer's "Christian Calendar & Gregorian Reform" published
  • 1941 Former Dutch PM Colijn says Neth Indies not ready for independence
  • 1941 Germany begins airbourne invasion of Crete
  • 1942 US Navy 1st permitted black recruits to serve
  • 1943 French, British & US victory parade in Tunis Tunisia
  • 1944 US Communist Party dissolves
  • 1948 1st use of Israeli Air Force & 1st war victory, defeating Syrian army

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1954 Chiang Kai-shek becomes president of Nationalist China

Chinese Military and Political Leader Chiang Kai-shek
Chinese Military and Political Leader
Chiang Kai-shek
  • 1955 Argentine parliament accepts separation of church & state
  • 1956 Atomic fusion (thermonuclear) bomb dropped from plane-Bikini Atoll
  • 1956 Jordan government of Samir resigns
  • 1958 US performs nuclear test at Enwetak (atmospheric tests)
  • 1959 Ford wins battle with Chrysler to call its new car "Falcon"
  • 1959 Japanese-Americans regain their citizenship
  • 1959 Shah of Persia visits Netherlands
  • 1959 Yanks sink to last place, 1st time since May 25, 1940
  • 1961 Mauritania adopts constitution
  • 1961 White mob attacks "Freedom Riders" in Montgomery, Alabama

AppointmentAppointment of Interest

1963 Sukarno appointed president of Indonesia

1st President of Indonesia Sukarno
1st President of Indonesia
Sukarno
  • 1965 Pakistani Boeing 720-B crashes at Cairo Egypt, killing 121
  • 1965 Yorkshire all out for 23 v Hampshire at Middlesbrough
  • 1967 10,000 demonstrate against war in Vietnam
  • 1968 Terence O'Neill, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, is showered with eggs, flour and stones after a meeting of the Woodvale Unionist Association, a loyalist vigilante group
  • 1969 US troop capture Hill 937/Hamburger Hill Vietnam
  • 1970 100,000 march in NY supporting US policies in Vietnam
  • 1970 2 die and 70 injured when 2 NYC subway trains crash in Queens
  • 1971 Pentagon reports blacks constitute 11% of US soldiers in SE Asia

Birthdays in History

Birthdays 1 - 100 of 123

  • 1315 Bonne of Luxembourg, wife of John II of France (d. 1349)
  • 1364 Henry Percy, [Harry Hotspur], English soldier/politician
  • 1470 Pietro Bembo, cardinal/theologian
  • 1537 Hieronymus Fabricius Ab, Aquapend Italy, physician (De Formato Foetu)
  • 1593 Jacob Jordaens, Flemish barok artist
  • 1593 Salomo Glassius, German theologian (d. 1656)
  • 1660 Andreas Schlüter, German sculptor (d. 1714)
  • 1663 William Bradford, English-born colonial printer (Pennsylvania's first printing press) (d. 1752)
  • 1706 Seth Pomeroy, American gunsmith and soldier (d. 1777)
  • 1726 Francis Cotes, English painter (d. 1770)
  • 1750 Stephen Girard, bailed out US bonds during War of 1812
  • 1759 William Thornton, architect (Capitol building, Washington, D.C.)
  • 1764 J Gottfried Schadow, German sculptor/cartoonist/lithographer
  • 1768 Dolley Dandridge Payne Madison, 1st lady (1809-17)
  • 1769 Andreas Vokos Miaoulis, Greek admiral and politician (d. 1835)
  • 1772 William Congreve, English officer (design fire rocket)
  • 1799 Honoré de Balzac, French novelist (d. 1850)

Person of interestPerson of Interest

1806 John Stuart Mill, English philosopher, political economist and utilitarian, born in London (d. 1873)

Philosopher and Political Economist John Stuart Mill
Philosopher and Political Economist
John Stuart Mill
  • 1818 William George Fargo, founder (Wells Fargo)
  • 1822 Emile Erckmann, [E-Chatrian], French writer (Waterloo)
  • 1822 Frederic Passy, French economist/pacifist (Nobel 1901)
  • 1825 Antoinette Brown Blackwell, clergy (1st ordained US female minister)
  • 1828 James William Reilly, Brigadier General (Union volunteers), (d. 1905)
  • 1830 Amalia MdGA, princess of Saxon-Weimar-Eisenach/wife of prince Henry
  • 1830 Hector H Malot, French writer (Without Family)
  • 1838 Jules Méline, French statesman (d. 1925)
  • 1841 Sara Louisa Oberholtz, social reformer, anti-smoking advocate
  • 1844 Henri Julien Felix Rousseau, French ambassador/painter (Dream)
  • 1851 Emile Berliner, Germany, inventor (flat phonograph record)
  • 1851 Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, US, nun/daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • 1856 Henri E Cross [Delacroix], French painter
  • 1860 Eduard Buchner, German chemist, Nobel laureate (d. 1917)
  • 1874 Folkert E Posthuma, Dutch minister of Agriculture/Industry
  • 1881 Wladyslaw Sikorski, premier Poland (WW II general)
  • 1882 Sigrid Undset, Norway, novelist (Kristin Lavransdatter, Nobel 1928)
  • 1883 Paul Arntzenius, painter/graphic artist/etcher
  • 1889 Margery Allingham, detective story writer
  • 1889 William Lawther, union leader
  • 1894 Adela Rogers St John, journalist/author (Foreign Correspondent)
  • 1894 Chandrashekarendra Saraswati, Indian Hindu sage, Jivanmukta (d. 1994)
  • 1895 Reginald J "R" Mitchell, English aviation manufacturer (Spitfire)
  • 1897 Diego Abad de Santillán, Spanish anarchist (d. 1983)
  • 1899 John M Harlan, 91st Supreme Court justice (1955-71), born in Chicago, Illinois
  • 1899 Alexander Deyneka, Ukrainian painter (d. 1969)
  • 1900 Lydia Cabrera, Cuban Anthropologist, born in Havana, Cuba
  • 1901 Max Euwe, Netherlands, world chess champion (1935-37)
  • 1902 Hans Sahl, German American anti-Nazi Jewish writer, born in Dresden (d. 1993)
  • 1905 Gerrit Achterberg, Dutch poet (Sailing)
  • 1905 Harry Campion, statistician/founder (British Central Statistical Office)
  • 1906 Giuseppe Siri, Italian Catholic cardinal (d. 1989)
  • 1909 Edward Moss Hutchinson, educationalist
  • 1911 Annie M G Schmidt, writer (Fam Doorsnee, Jip & Janneke)
  • 1911 Gardner Fox, American sci-fi author (Atom, Hawkman, Zatanna), born in Brooklyn, New York
  • 1912 Joseph Proce, 3rd victim of NYC's Zodiac killer (survives)
  • 1913 Henry Cadbury Brown, architect
  • 1913 William Hewlett, co-founder (Hewlett-Packard Co)
  • 1914 Corneliu Coposu, Romanian politician (d. 1995)
  • 1915 Moshe Dayan, Israeli general/minister of Defense
  • 1916 Cornelie Coposu, politician
  • 1916 John McIntyre, theologian
  • 1916 Rev Owen Chadwick, English historian, priest and university chancellor, born in London (d. 2015)
  • 1916 Alexei Petrovich Maresiev, Russian flying ace (d. 2001)
  • 1917 Richard Charles Cobb, historian
  • 1917 Guy Favreau, French Canadian lawyer (d. 1967)
  • 1917 Bergur Sigurbjörnsson, Icelandic politician (d. 2005)
  • 1918 Edward B. Lewis, American geneticist, Nobel laureate (d. 2004)
  • 1920 John Cruickshank, banker
  • 1920 William Simpson, British trade union leader
  • 1921 John Harrison, British vice admiral/surgeon
  • 1921 John Marchi, US Senator (Rep-R-NY)
  • 1921 Wolfgang Borchert, German writer, born in Hamburg (d. 1947)
  • 1922 Clifford Butler, vice chancellor (Loughborough Univ of Technology)
  • 1923 Hugh Beach, British General
  • 1923 Samuel "Sam" Selvon, Trinidad-born writer (The Lonely Londoners), born in San Fernando (d. 1996)
  • 1924 Peter Shore, MP (Labour)
  • 1925 D French Slaughter Jr, (Rep-R-VA, 1985- )
  • 1926 John Lucarotti, scriptwriter
  • 1927 Franciszek Macharski, Polish Cardinal, Archbishop of Krakow (1978-2005), born in Krakow (d. 2016)
  • 1928 David Berriman, CEO (Rose Thomson Young group of Lloyds Trustees)
  • 1928 Jack Kevorkian, controversial American medical doctor
  • 1929 Andre Carolus Cirino, Suriname/Indian poet
  • 1930 Robert Bunyard, Commandant (British Police Staff College)

Person of interestPerson of Interest

1935 José Mujica, President of Uruguay (2010-2015), champion of the poor and former urban guerrilla with the Tupamaros, born in Montevideo

President of Uruguay José Mujica
President of Uruguay
José Mujica
  • 1937 Benjamin Guinness, 3rd Earl of Iveagh, British brewer (Guinness) and large landowner (d. 1992)
  • 1938 Alan Smithers, British professor
  • 1939 Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway, PM/feminist/conservatist
  • 1940 Sadaharu Oh, of Yomiuri Giants (Japan), hit 868 career HR
  • 1941 Goh Chok Sole, premier of Singapore (1990- )
  • 1942 Simon Keswick, British financier/merchant (Hong Kong)
  • 1942 Carlos Hathcock, American Marine sniper (d. 1999)
  • 1943 Iain Vallance [Baron Vallance of Tummel], CEO (British Telecom)
  • 1943 Martin Honeysett, British cartoonist (Punch, Private Eye), born in Hereford (d. 2015)
  • 1944 David M Walker, Capt USN/astron (STS 51-A 30, 53, 69), born in Columbus, Georgia
  • 1944 Dietrich Mateschitz, Austrian businessman
  • 1945 Harold E Ford, (Rep-D-TN, 1975- )
  • 1945 Lord Hollick, CEO (MAI)
  • 1945 Nikolai Nikolayevich Fefelov, Russian colonel and cosmonaut
  • 1945 Wally Herger, (Rep-R-California)
  • 1945 Vladimiro Montesinos, Peruvian politician
  • 1948 John Amiel, director (Queen of Hearts, Tune in Tomorrow)

Weddings in History


HeartWedding of Interest

1756 Prime Minister of Great Britain Frederick North (24) weds heiress Anne Speke

British Prime Minister Frederick North
British Prime Minister
Frederick North

Deaths in History

  • 685 King Ecgfrith of Northumbria (b. 645)
  • 1277 John XXI, [Petrus Juliani/Hispanus], Portuguese Pope (1276-77), dies. (b. 1215)
  • 1285 John II of Jerusalem, King of Cyprus (b. 1259)
  • 1444 Bernardinus van Siena, Italian saint, dies at 63
  • 1449 Peter, Prince/regent of Portugal/writer (Virtuosa Benfeitoria), dies
  • 1471 Henry VI, king of England (1422-61, 70-71)/France (1431-71), dies
  • 1503 Lorenzo de Medici, Italian patron (b. 1463)

Person of interestPerson of Interest

1506 Christopher Columbus, explorer, dies in poverty, in Spain at 55

Explorer of the New World Christopher Columbus
Explorer of the New World
Christopher Columbus
  • 1509 Catharina Sforza, Italian duchess of Forli, dies at 45
  • 1550 Ashikaga Yoshiharu, Japanese shogun (b. 1510)
  • 1597 Dutch commander Matthijs Heldt, dies in battle
  • 1622 Osman II, sultan of Turkey (1618-22), dies
  • 1648 Władysław IV Vasa, King of Poland (1632-48), dies of kidney stones at 52
  • 1669 Joris van der Hagen, landscape painter, dies
  • 1677 George Digby, 2nd Earl of Bristol, English statesman (b. 1612)
  • 1713 Thomas Sprat, English writer (b. 1635)
  • 1717 John Trevor, British statesman (b. 1637)
  • 1722 Sébastien Vaillant, French botanist (b. 1669)
  • 1732 Thomas Boston, Scottish church leader (b. 1676)
  • 1782 William Emerson, British mathematician (b. 1701)
  • 1793 Charles Bonnet, Swiss naturalist (b. 1720)
  • 1795 Ignác Martinovics, Hungarian physicist/revolutionary, beheaded
  • 1825 Papaflessas, Greek priest and government official (b. 1788)
  • 1834 Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert de Motier, nobleman, dies
  • 1834 Marquis de Lafayette, French general, dies
  • 1841 Joseph Blanco White, theological writert, dies
  • 1847 Mary Lamb, writer, dies
  • 1864 John Clare, English poet (Little Trotty Wagtail), dies at 70
  • 1873 Sir George-Étienne Cartier, French-Canadian statesman (b. 1814)
  • 1875 Amalia, wife of King Otto of Greece, dies at 58
  • 1876 Harold, grandson of English queen Victoria, dies at 8 days old
  • 1876 Khristo Botev, Bulgarian poet, dies
  • 1880 Eugene LFC prince the Ligne, Belgian prince of Ambise, dies at 76
  • 1883 William Chambers, author/publisher, dies
  • 1917 Philipp von Ferrary, Italian philatelist (b. 1850)
  • 1917 Valentine Fleming, Scottish politician (b. 1887)
  • 1919 Jacob Verdam, philosopher, dies
  • 1923 Hans Goldschmidt, German chemist, dies
  • 1935 Ivans, [Jacob van Schevichaven], lawyer/detective writer, dies at 68
  • 1940 Joris [Georges] van Severen, Flem fascist/Member of parliament, dies
  • 1946 Jacob Ellehammer, Danish inventor (b. 1871)
  • 1947 Philipp Lenard, Austrian physicist, Nobel laureate (b. 1862)
  • 1949 Randolph West, American biochemist, known for the Dakin-West reaction (b. 1890)
  • 1956 Max Beerbohm, caricturist/writer (Yet Again), dies
  • 1959 Alfred Schutz, Austrian/US architect/philosopher, dies at 60
  • 1961 Josef "Pips" Priller, German fighter ace (b. 1915)
  • 1968 Kees van Dongen, Dutch/French painter, dies at 91
  • 1971 Waldo Williams, Welsh poet (b. 1904)
  • 1972 Cornelis J van der Klauw, Dutch biologist/zoologist, dies at 78
  • 1972 Walter Winchell, columnist/narrator (Untouchables), dies at 75
  • 1975 Dame Barbara Hepworth, English sculptor, dies in fire at 72
  • 1976 Zelmar Michelini, Uruguayan politician, member of the Christian-Democrat party, and Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz "disappeared"
  • 1986 Willem Pee, Belgian linguistic, dies at 83
  • 1989 Gilda Radner, comedienne (SNL, Haunted Honeymoon), dies at 42
  • 1989 John R Hicks, English economist (Nobel 1972), dies
  • 1992 Roger Keith Coleman, American murder who protested his innocence, is executed at 33
  • 1993 Max Klein, inventor (paint by numbers), dies at 77
  • 1994 Dallas Pratt, collector, dies at 79
  • 1994 Vivien John, English painter and daughter of Augustus John, dies at 79
  • 1996 George Malcolm Thomson, journalist, dies at 96
  • 1996 Janaki Ramachandran, PM of Indian state of Tamil Nadu (1988), dies
  • 1996 Julius Marmur, biochemist/geneticist, dies at 70
  • 1996 Lewis B Combs, naval commander/civil engineer, dies at 101
  • 1997 Virgilio Boat, president of Colombia (1986-90), dies

Person of interestPerson of Interest

2002 Stephen Jay Gould, American paleontologist and popular science writer, dies of cancer at 60

Paleontologist and Evolutionary Biologist Stephen Jay Gould
Paleontologist and Evolutionary Biologist
Stephen Jay Gould
  • 2004 Lord Murray of Epping Forest, British labour politician and union leader, dies of emphysema and pneumonia at 82
  • 2005 Paul Ricoeur, French philosopher (b. 1913)
  • 2005 William Seawell, United States Army Brigadier General (b. 1918)
  • 2008 Hamilton Jordan, former Carter White House Chief of Staff (b. 1944)
  • 2009 Arthur Erickson, Canadian architect (b.1924)
  • 2012 Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi, convicted bomber (Pan Am 103), dies from prostate cancer at 60