Today in History
On May 20, 1939, regular trans-Atlantic mail service began as a Pan American Airways plane, the Yankee Clipper, took off from Port Washington, New York, bound for Marseille, France.
On this date:
In 1712, the original version of Alexander Pope’s satirical mock-heroic poem “The Rape of the Lock” was published anonymously in Lintot’s Miscellany.
In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act, which was intended to encourage settlements west of the Mississippi River by making federal land available for farming.
In 1902, the United States ended a three-year military presence in Cuba as the Republic of Cuba was established under its first elected president, Tomas Estrada Palma.
In 1914, the song “By the Beautiful Sea” by Harry Carroll and Harold R. Atteridge was published by Shapiro, Bernstein & Co. Inc., in New York.
In 1927, Charles Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field in Long Island, New York, aboard the Spirit of St. Louis on his historic solo flight to France.
In 1932, Amelia Earhart took off from Newfoundland to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. (Because of weather and equipment problems, Earhart set down in Northern Ireland instead of her intended destination, France.)
In 1942, during World War II, the Office of Civilian Defense was established.
In 1959, nearly 5,000 Japanese-Americans had their U.S. citizenship restored after renouncing it during World War II.
In 1961, a white mob attacked a busload of Freedom Riders in Montgomery, Alabama, prompting the federal government to send in U.S. marshals to restore order.
In 1969, U.S. and South Vietnamese forces captured Ap Bia Mountain, referred to as “Hamburger Hill” by the Americans, following one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.
In 1970, some 100,000 people demonstrated in New York’s Wall Street district in support of U.S. policy in Vietnam and Cambodia.
In 1989, actress-comedian Gilda Radner died in Los Angeles at age 42.
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush made a rare visit to Capitol Hill, where he sought to ease Republican lawmakers’ concerns over the Iraq campaign. Iraqi police backed by American soldiers raided the home and offices of Ahmad Chalabi, a prominent Iraqi politician once groomed as a possible replacement for Saddam Hussein.
Five years ago: In a rare, bipartisan defeat for President Barack Obama, the Senate voted overwhelmingly, 90-6, to keep the prison at Guantanamo Bay open for the foreseeable future and forbid the transfer of any detainees to facilities in the United States. A commission published a damning report on decades of rapes, humiliation and beatings at Catholic Church-run reform schools in Ireland. Suspended NFL star Michael Vick was released after 19 months in prison for running a dogfighting ring to begin two months’ home confinement. An Indonesian C-130 Hercules military plane carrying troops and their families crashed in East Java province, killing 99 people. Kris Allen won the eighth season of “American Idol,” defeating fellow finalist Adam Lambert.
One year ago: An EF5 tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma, killing at least 24 people and flattening 1,100 homes. Former general Thein Sein became the first president of Myanmar in 47 years to visit the White House, where President Barack Obama said he appreciated the Asian leader’s efforts to lead the country in “a long and sometimes difficult” path toward democracy. Ray Manzarek, 74, a founding member of the 1960s rock group the Doors, died in Rosenheim, Germany.
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