Sunday, May 20. 2012. Here we go!
1497 – John Cabot sets sail from Bristol, England, on his ship Matthew looking for a route to the west (other documents give a May 2 date).
1570 – Cartographer Abraham Ortelius issues the first modern atlas.
1775 – Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence signed in Charlotte, North Carolina
1861 – American Civil War: The state of Kentucky proclaims its neutrality, which will last until September 3 when Confederate forces enter the state. Meanwhile, the State of North Carolina secedes from the Union.
1862 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signs the Homestead Act into law.
1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Ware Bottom Church – in the Virginia Bermuda Hundred Campaign, 10,000 troops fight in this Confederate victory.
1873 – Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis receive a U.S. patent for blue jeans with copper rivets.
1891 – History of cinema: The first public display of Thomas Edison‘s prototype kinetoscope.
1902 – Cuba gains independence from the United States. Tomás Estrada Palma becomes the country’s first President.
1916 – The Saturday Evening Post publishes its first cover with a Norman Rockwell painting (Boy with Baby Carriage).
1927 – At 07:52 Charles Lindbergh takes off from Roosevelt Field in Long Island, New York, on the world’s first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. He touched down at Le Bourget Field in Paris at 22:22 the next day.
1932 – Amelia Earhart takes off from Newfoundland to begin the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean by a female pilot, landing in Ireland the next day.
1940 – Holocaust: The first prisoners arrive at a new concentration camp at Auschwitz.
1949 – In the United States, the Armed Forces Security Agency, the predecessor to the National Security Agency, is established.
1969 – The Battle of Hamburger Hill in Vietnam ends.
1983 – First publications of the discovery of the HIV virus that causes AIDS in the journal Science by Luc Montagnier.
1989 – The Chinese authorities declare martial law in the face of pro-democracy demonstrations, setting the scene for the Tiananmen Square massacre.
1818 – William Fargo, American pioneer expressman, co-founder of Wells, Fargo & Co. (d. 1881)
1944 – Joe Cocker, British singer
1946 – Cher, American singer & actress
1958 – Ron Reagan, American talk show host
1972 – Busta Rhymes, American rapper and actor
1506 – Christopher Columbus, Italian explorer (b. 1451)
1989 – Gilda Radner, American comedian and actress (b. 1946)
2005 – William Seawell, U.S. Army Brigadier General (b. 1918)
2011 – Randy Savage, American Pro-Wrestler (b. 1952)