455 Emperor Petronius Maximus is stoned to death by an angry mob while fleeing Rome.
1578 King Henry III lays the first stone of the Pont Neuf (New Bridge), the oldest bridge of Paris, France.
1578 Martin Frobisher sails from Harwich in England to Frobisher Bay in Canada, eventually to mine fool’s gold, used to pave streets in London.
1669 Citing poor eyesight, Samuel Pepys records the last event in his diary.
1678 Lady Godiva’s procession through Coventry begins.
1680 Joachim Neander (died), German theologian and educator (born 1650)
1683 Jean-Pierre Christin (born), French physicist, mathematician, and astronomer, invented the Celsius thermometer (died 1755)
1790 Manuel Quimper explores the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
1790 The United States enacts its first copyright statute, the Copyright Act of 1790.
1801 Johann Georg Baiter (born), Swiss philologist (died 1887)
1805 French and Spanish forces begin the assault against British forces occupying Diamond Rock.
1809 Joseph Haydn (died), Austrian composer (born 1732)
1819 Walt Whitman (born), American poet and author (died 1892)
1831 Samuel Bentham (died), English engineer and architect (born 1757)
1837 Joseph Grimaldi (died) English comedian and actor, created the clown (born 1779)
1838 Henry Sidgwick (born), English economist and philosopher (died 1900)
1847 Thomas Chalmers (died), Scottish minister and economist (born 1780)
1852 Francisco Moreno (born), Argentinian explorer and academic (died 1919)
1852 Julius Richard Petri (born), German microbiologist, invented the Petri dish (died 1921)
1854 The civil death procedure is abolished in France.
1857 Pope Pius XI (born) (died 1939)
1859 The clock tower at the Houses of Parliament, which houses Big Ben, starts keeping time.
1864 American Civil War Overland Campaign: Battle of Cold Harbor The Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee engages the Army of the Potomac under Ulysses S. Grant and George Meade.
1879 Gilmores Garden in New York, New York is renamed Madison Square Garden by William Henry Vanderbilt and is opened to the public at 26th Street and Madison Avenue.
1889 Johnstown Flood: Over 2,200 people die after a dam fails and sends a 60-foot (18-meter) wall of water over the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
1894 Fred Allen (born), American comedian, actor, and radio host (died 1956)
1898 Norman Vincent Peale (born), American minister and author (died 1993)
1901 Alfredo Antonini (born), Italian-American conductor and composer (died 1983)
1908 Don Ameche (born), American actor and singer (died 1993)
1909 The National Negro Committee, forerunner to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, convenes for the first time.
1910 Elizabeth Blackwell (died), English-American physician (born 1821)
1910 The creation of the Union of South Africa.
1911 The hull of the ocean liner RMS Titanic is launched.
1911 The President of Mexico Porfirio Díaz flees the country during the Mexican Revolution.
1923 Ellsworth Kelly (born), American painter and sculptor
1923 Rainier III (born), Prince of Monaco (died 2005)
1927 The last Ford Model T rolls off the assembly line after a production run of 15,007,003 vehicles.
1929 The first talking Mickey Mouse cartoon, “The Karnival Kid“, is released.
1930 Clint Eastwood (born), American actor, director, producer, and politician
1938 Johnny Paycheck (born), American singer-songwriter and guitarist (died 2003)
1938 Peter Yarrow (born), American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (Peter, Paul and Mary)
1942 World War II: Imperial Japanese Navy midget submarines begin a series of attacks on Sydney, Australia.
1943 Joe Namath (born), American football player and actor
1948 John Bonham (born), English drummer and songwriter (Led Zeppelin and Band of Joy) (died 1980)
1949 Tom Berenger (born), American actor and producer
1960 Walther Funk (died), German economist and politician (born 1890)
1961 The Union of South Africa becomes the Republic of South Africa.
1965 Brooke Shields (born), American model, actress, and producer
1970 The Ancash earthquake causes a landslide that buries the town of Yungay, Peru; more than 47,000 people are killed.
1971 In accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1968, observation of Memorial Day occurs on the last Monday in May for the first time, rather than on the traditional Memorial Day of May 30.
1973 The United States Senate votes to cut off funding for the bombing of Khmer Rouge targets within Cambodia, hastening the end of the Cambodian Civil War.
1976 Colin Farrell (born), Irish actor
1977 The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System completed.
1983 Jack Dempsey (died), American boxer (born 1895)
1985 Gaston Rébuffat (died), French mountaineer (born 1921)
1996 Timothy Leary (died), American psychologist and author (born 1920)
2001 Arlene Francis (died), American actress (born 1907)
2005 Vanity Fair reveals that Mark Felt was Deep Throat.
2009 Millvina Dean (died), last remaining survivor of the sinking of the RMS Titanic (born 1912)
2013 Jean Stapleton (died), American actress and singer (born 1923)
2013 The asteroid 1998 QE2 and its moon make their closest approach to Earth for the next two centuries.
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