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753 BCE, May 1 - According to legend, the city of Rome is founded by Romulus.

585 BCE, May 28 - A solar eclipse occurred during a battle between the Lydians and the Medes in what is now Turkey. It is one of the earliest recorded events in history.

431 BCE, May 7 - The Peloponnesian War begins between Athens and Sparta, marking the start of a decades-long conflict in Ancient Greece.

333 BCE, May 1 - The Battle of Issus takes place between Alexander the Great of Macedonia and Darius III of Persia, resulting in a decisive victory for Alexander.

218 BCE, May 4 - Hannibal of Carthage wins the Battle of the Trebia against the Roman Republic during the Second Punic War. More 

324, The ancient city of Byzantium was selected to serve as the new capital of the Roman Empire, and the city was renamed Nova Roma, or 'New Rome', by Emperor Constantine the Great.

325 , May 20 - First Council of Nicaea - the first ecumenical council of Christian bishops at Nicaea, Asia Minor. 

330, May 11 - Byzantium was renamed Constantinople (now Istanbul) and dedicated to Emperor Constantine. Constantinople is generally considered to be the center and the "cradle of Orthodox Christian civilization". Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe, from the mid-5th century to the early 13th century.

1189, May 11 - Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa and 100,000 crusaders depart Regensburg for the Third Crusade which is also known as the Kings's Crusade. It was an attempt led by three European monarchs of Western Christianity (Philip II of France, Richard I of England and Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor) to reconquer the Holy Land following the capture of Jerusalem by the Ayyubid sultan Saladin in 1187. It recaptured the important cities of Acre and Jaffa, and reversed most of Saladin's conquests, but it failed to recapture Jerusalem. .

1337, May 24 - Beginning of the Hundred Years' War - King Edward III of England formally declares war against King Philip VI of France, marking the start of a long-lasting conflict between the two kingdoms which is referred to as the Hundred Years' War which was eventually won by the French at the Battle of Castillon in 1453. This was largely due to the French use of guns against the English.

1348, May 10 - Siege of Calais begins: King Edward III of England surrounds the city of Calais during the Hundred Years' War, leading to a prolonged siege lasting over a year.

1360, May 8 - The Treaty of Brétigny is signed between England and France, marking a temporary end to the first phase of the Hundred Years' War and granting substantial territorial concessions to England.

1381, May 30 - Peasants' Revolt in England: The Peasants' Revolt, a major uprising against high taxes and social injustice, culminates in a confrontation between rebel forces and King Richard II at Smithfield in London.

1431, May 30 - Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for heresy by an English-dominated tribunal in Rouen. More

1498, May 20 - Italian explorer Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Trinidad during his third voyage to the Americas.

1498, May 20 -  Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama becomes the first European to reach India via the Atlantic Ocean. Arriving in Calicut, where he erected a padrão (stone pillar) to prove he had reached India.  More

1502, May 20 - Christopher Columbus sets sail on his fourth and final voyage to the New World.

1506, May 2 - The cornerstone of the current St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is laid by Pope Julius II.

1527, May 6 - The Sack of Rome takes place, as troops of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, led by Charles III, Duke of Bourbon, pillage and destroy the city.

1536, May 19 - Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII of England, is executed at the Tower of London after being found guilty of adultery and treason against the King. #gs.91u742">More

1541, May 8 - Spanish conquistador and explorer Hernando De Soto reaches the Mississippi River at a point below Natchez. De Soto was the first European documented to have seen the river.

1543, May 24 - Nicolaus Copernicus publishes his book "On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres" which formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than Earth at its center. In all likelihood, Copernicus developed his model independently of Aristarchus of Samos, an ancient Greek astronomer who had formulated such a model some eighteen centuries earlier.

1559, May 2 - The Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis is signed, ending the Italian Wars and establishing peace between France and Spain.

1559, May 8 -  A legal process by which the Protestant Church of England was restored becomes official as Queen Elizabeth gives the Royal assent to the Revised Act of Supremacy of 1558, which re-established the Church of England’s independence from Rome. and the the Act of Uniformity of 1559 which outlined what form the English Church should take.

1568, May 23 - The Eighty Years' War begins as the Dutch rebels, led by Louis of Nassau, defeat a Spanish force at the Battle of Heiligerlee. 
 
1570, May 20 - The Siege of Famagusta begins during the Ottoman-Venetian War, with the city of Famagusta in Cyprus being besieged by the Ottoman Empire.

1588, May 29 - The Spanish Armada sets sail from Lisbon, Portugal, with the aim of invading England during the Anglo-Spanish War.

1593, May 7- Playwright Christopher Marlowe is killed in a dispute, possibly over a bill, at a tavern in Deptford, London.

1607, May 14 - The first permanent English settlement in America was established at Jamestown, Virginia. More

1610, May 14 - French King Henry IV is assassinated by François Ravaillac in Paris.

1611, May 2 - The Authorized Version of the Bible (King James Version) was first published, and became the standard English language Bible.

1626, May 4 - Dutch explorer Peter Minuit arrives in New Netherland (present-day Manhattan) and establishes the colony of New Amsterdam.

1639, May 4 - The Fundamental Orders, often considered the first written constitution in North America, are adopted by the Connecticut Colony.

1642, May 29 - The city of Montreal is founded by French colonists under the direction of Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve.

1652, May 18 - The Battle of Dover takes place during the First Anglo-Dutch War, with the Dutch Republic gaining a decisive victory over England.

1660, May 29 - King Charles II of England is restored to the throne after the period of Commonwealth following the English Civil War.

1670, May 2 - The Hudson's Bay Company is chartered by King Charles II, granting it a monopoly over the fur trade in the region of Hudson Bay in North America.

1689, May 1 -  The English Parliament passes the Act of Toleration, granting freedom of worship to Protestant nonconformists.

1692, May 14 - The witchcraft trials in Salem, Massachusetts begin with the arrest of Sarah Osborne, Sarah Good, and Tituba.

1707, May 1 - The Union between England and Scotland is proclaimed. Whales had already been part of England since the 1500's.

1762, - Catherine the Great overthrew Peter III and began her reign as empress of Russia, leading her country into full participation in the political and cultural life of Europe and extending Russian territory.

1765, May 22 - The British Parliament passed the Quartering Act, which required American colonies to provide lodging and supplies to British troops.1841, May 3: New Zealand was declared a British colony.

1773, May 10 - The British parliament passes the unpopular Tea Act. More 

1785, May 23 - Ben Franklin reveals his invention of bifocal eyeglasses in a letter, now in the Library of Congress, to his friend George Whatley. Franklin was having problems seeing both up-close and at greater distances and in the prior year, he created a method for placing differently-calibrated lenses into the same frame rather than constantly changing glasses. His new "double spectacles" had pairs of half-lenses arranged in a top-bottom configuration. Franklin commented that all he had to do was but move his eyes up or down, and the proper glass was always ready!  Franklin never patented any of his inventions, and wanted to share them freely. More

1787, May 25 - The Constitutional Convention, which would draft the United States Constitution, began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. More

1788, May 23 - South Carolina becomes the 8th State to Ratify the U.S. Constitution

1790, May 29 - Rhode Island becomes the 13th State to Ratify the U.S. Constitution

1792, May 17 - The NY Stock Exchange is born with the signing of the Buttonwood Agreement by 24 stockbrokers defining how stocks could be traded and establishing set commissions.

1804, May 14 - The Lewis and Clark Expedition, set out from St. Louis, Missouri traveling up the Missouri River on a mission to explore and map the newly acquired western territory of the United States. The group consisted of around 30 members, including soldiers, interpreters, scouts, and others. They faced numerous challenges, including harsh weather, treacherous terrain, encounters with Native American tribes, and logistical difficulties.  The Lewis and Clark Expedition made significant contributions to American knowledge of the West. and it continues to be celebrated as a remarkable feat of discovery and an enduring symbol of the nation's westward expansion.  More

1812, May 30 - The United States declared war on Great Britain, beginning the War of 1812. More

1830, May 28 - The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson. The Act authorized the president to grant lands west of the Mississippi in exchange for Indian lands within existing state borders, clearing the way for further white settlements. A few tribes went peacefully, but many resisted the relocation policy. During the fall and winter of 1838 and 1839, the Cherokees were forcibly moved west by the United States government. Approximately 4,000 Cherokees died on this forced march, which became known as the "Trail of Tears." More

1844, May 24 - Samuel Morse, inventor of the Telegraph  sent the first official telegraph message, "What hath God wrought?" from  Washington, D.C., to Baltimore. More

1846, May 12 - The United States declares war on Mexico, beginning the Mexican-American War. More

1848, May 29 - Wisconsin was admitted to the Union of States and becomes the 30th State

1856, May 21 - Pro-slavery forces attacked and burned the free-state town of Lawrence, Kansas, in what became known as the "Sacking of Lawrence."

1858, May 11 - Minnesota was admitted to the Union of States and becomes the 32nd State 

1861, May 20 - North Carolina became the last of the Confederate states to secede rom the United States, triggering the start of the American Civil War.

1862, May 5 - An elite French military force led by General Charles de Lorencez headed for Mexico City was stopped at Puebla by an outnumbered Mexican army of 2,000—5,000 led by Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza. The larger French forces, which were experiencing a larger loss of troops withdrew by the end of the day. The victory at the Battle of Puebla rallied the Mexicans, eventually culminating in the complete withdraw of all French forces in 1867 and the capture and execution by firing squad of Emperor, Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, who had been installed in 1864 as emperor of Mexico by Napoleon III. More

1862, May 20 - President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act making millions of government owned acres in the west available to "homesteaders". More

1863, May 3 - The Territory of Arizona is created by Congress with Prescott as capital.

1865, May 10 - 1865: Confederate President Jefferson Davis is captured by Union forces in Irwinville, Georgia. General, Robert E. Lee, had surrendered on April 9 at Appomattox in Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant.

1868, May 5 - Martha Jones of Amelia County, Va.,  become the first black woman known to receive a United States patent. Her application for an “Improvement to the Corn Husker, Sheller” was granted U.S. patent No. 77,494 in 1868. Jones claimed her invention could husk, shell, cut up, and separate husks from corn in one operation, representing a significant step forward in the automation of agricultural processes. More

1869, May 10 -The U.S. Transcontinental railroad opens for through traffic linking the East Coast and West Coast by rail, when CPRR President Leland Stanford ceremonially drove the gold "Last Spike" (later often referred to as the "Golden Spike") at Promontory Summit in Utah. More

1871, May 10 - The Treaty of Frankfurt am Main is signed, ending the Franco-Prussian War and leaving a stronger unified German state to influence European power politics and compete with England and France.

1873, May 20 - Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis obtained a U.S. patent on the process of putting rivets in men’s work pants for the very first time creating what we now call jeans.. More 

1881, May 21 - The American Red Cross is founded in Washington, D.C. by Clara Barton and a circle of her acquaintances.  Barton led the Red Cross for 23 years. More 

1882, May 6 -  The Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Chester A. Arthur. This act provided an absolute 10-year ban on Chinese laborers immigrating to the United States. It was the first significant law restricting immigration into the United States. More

1883. May 24 - The Brooklyn Bridge over the East River officially opens. connecting New York City and Brooklyn for the first time in history. The opening ceremony was presided over by President Chester A. Arthur and New York Governor Grover Cleveland. The bridge, designed by John A. Roebling, with a span of 1,595 feet was the largest suspension bridge ever built to that date and took 14 years to complete. Roebling died as a result of a construction accident, three weeks after the start of the project. The bridge construction was completed by his son, Washington A. Roebling, who took over as Chief Engineer. At least 20 workers were killed during construction, and many more suffered decompression sickness. More

1893, May 4 - The Panic of 1893, was one of the most severe financial crises in the history of the U.S. triggering a depression that lasted until 1897. The crisis started with a a slow down of economic activity and a large decline in U.S. Treasury gold reserves,  raising the rates of defaults on loans and weakening banks’ balance sheets. Fearing for the safety of their deposits, men and women began to withdraw funds from banks. Fear spread and withdrawals accelerated, leading to widespread runs on banks. The economy remained in recession until the following summer. According to some estimates, industrial production fell by 15.3% and unemployment rose as high as 19%. After a brief pause, the economy slumped into recession again in late 1895 and did not fully recover until mid-1897. More 

1887, May 27 - The Hells Canyon Massacre. The mass slaughter of Chinese gold miners by a gang of white horse thieves  takes place, in Lewiston, Washington Territory, in what is now Idaho. This was one of many hate crimes perpetrated against Asian immigrants in the American West during this period.

1902, May 8 - Martinique's Mount Pelée erupts and destroys the town of Saint-Pierre, killing approximately 30,000 people, 15 percent of the island’s population. in the space of a few minutes. This is considered the worst volcanic disaster of the 20th century. Mount Pelée is still classified as an active volcano.

1902, May 31 The Boer War, the armed conflict between Britain and the two Boer republics of Transvaal and Orange Free State in South Africa, often called the Boer War, ends with the signing of the Treaty of Unity and the annexation of Transvaal by Britain. More 

1904, May 4 - The U.S. officially acquires jurisdiction over the Panama Canal Zone. The U.S had tried and failed to negotiate an  agreement with Colombia leading to the United States backing a separatist group in Panama and President Roosevelt dispatching U.S. warships to Panama City (on the Pacific) and Colón (on the Atlantic) in support of Panamanian independence. Panama declared independence from Colombia on November 3, 1903. A French company was the first to attempt building such a canal, but was unsuccessful and roughly 20,000 workers perished due to accidents and tropical diseases, The company collapsed and was acquired by the U.S. in 1902 after Congress passed the Spooner act, gaining the rights to the land to build the canal . More

1905, May 27 - The Naval engagement of Tsushima starts during the Russo-Japanese War resulting in the final, crushing defeat of the Russian navy in that conflict. The Japanese ships were superior in speed and armament and sunk two-thirds of the Russian Fleet and captured six ships during the two-day battle. More 

1910, May 31 - The Union of South Africa is created becoming a sovereign state within the British empire as General Louis Botha forms a government as prime minister.

1912, May 13 - The U.S. Congress passes the 17th Amendment, modifying Article I, Section 3, of the Constitution by allowing voters to cast direct votes for U.S. senators. Prior to its passage, senators were chosen by state legislatures. The amendment was ratified on April 8, 1913,  More 

1914, May 9 - President Wilson makes his first Mothers Day proclamation after the U.S. Congress set the second Sunday of every May as the official Mothers Day celebration. By then most U.S. States were already celebrating Mother's Day. Julia Ward Howe (1872), a key women's rights figure and participant in the American Woman Suffrage Association and Anna Jarvis (1907) are also credited for suggesting and promoting the idea. The custom developed of wearing a red or pink carnation to represent a living mother or a white carnation for a mother who was deceased. The modern American version of the holiday has been criticized for becoming too commercialized. Many other countries have a multi-century history of a day to celebrate mothers on different dates. More

1915, May 7 - The passenger liner RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine during World War I, killing 1,198 people. More

1915, May 23 - Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary.

1916, May 31 - June 1: Battle of Jutland - World War I’s biggest naval conflict off the coast of Denmark marks the first and only showdown between German and British naval forces during World War I.

1917, May 17 - First regular airmail service begins, with one round trip a day between Washington, DC, and New York.

1917, May 18 - Congress passed the Selective Service Act, which authorized the Federal Government to temporarily expand the military through conscription. The act eventually required all men between the ages of 21 to 45 to register for military service. More

1918, May 18 - Day of the proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Georgia from the Russian Empire.

1918, May 28 - Independence Day - Commemorates the date on which the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) was founded as the first secular democratic state in the Muslim East. Until 2021, it was marked as Republic Day. In October 2021, it was renamed and became Independence Day.

1919, may 19 - Mustafa Kemal Atatürk lands at Samsun on the Black Sea coast, starting the Turkish War of Independence. More

1920, May 13 -The Socialist Party nominates Eugene V. Debs as its candidate for president in the upcoming November election. It was the fifth nomination for the 64-year-old, Indiana-born labor leader. At the time Debs was in jail, serving a 10-year sentence at a federal penitentiary in Atlanta. He was convicted of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918, controversial laws pushed through Congress by President Woodrow Wilson to silence critics of U.S. involvement World War I. He wasn't due to get out until 1928. Debs had promised to pardon himself if elected. Harding, the newly elected President, pardoned Debs. More

1921, May 31 - The Tulsa race massacre began. A two-day-long riot when mobs of white residents, some of whom had been appointed as deputies and armed by city government officials, attacked black residents and destroyed homes and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The event is considered one of the worst incidents of racial violence in American history. More  

1924, May 26 - President Calvin Coolidge signs into law the Immigration Act of 1924. The Act also know as the Johnson-Reed Act, established a national origins quota system, which severely restricted migrants from eastern and southern Europe and almost entirely barred “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from Asia and the Middle East. The Johnson-Reed Act was the legislative achievement of a eugenics movement that sought to racially engineer the US populace by excluding Asians, as well as “inconclusively white” Catholic and Jewish migrants. Upon signing the bill, President Calvin Coolidge declared, “America must be kept American.” He won the approval of the Ku Klux Klan and the admiration of Adolf Hitler. Weeks later, Congress authorized the creation of the US Border Patrol to enforce the Johnson-Reed Act’s imperatives. More

1926, May 1 - The Ford Motor Company becomes one of the first companies to adopt a five-day, 40-hour workweek for workers in their factories. A move that help change the way companies in America operated. Before this change, factory workers at Ford and other companies typically worked six days a week for up to 60 hours. This left workers with little time for rest or leisure, and they often struggled to balance work with family and personal commitments. It wasn't until 1940 that the 40 hour work week became law. More

1927, May 20-21 - Charles Lindbergh becomes the first man to fly solo completed the first solo across the Atlantic Ocean, flying 3,610 miles from New York to Paris in his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis in 33 1/2 hours. More  

1927, May 26 - The last of the Model T Ford comes off the line and Henry Ford and his son Edsel drive the 15 millionth Model T Ford out of their factory and closing the Model T production line. In 19 years, the company made 15,007,033 of the model T cars. More

1929, May 16 -The first Academy Awards ceremony was held in Hollywood.

1931, May 1 - The New York City’s Empire State Building was dedicated, 45 five days ahead of its original projected opening date. President Herbert Hoover , pressed a button in the White House that turned on the building’s lights for the first time, Construction costs were about $41M ($550M in 2023 money) and $20M under budget. The Site was previously occupied by the Waldorf -Astoria Hotel which opened in 1890. Official records indicate that 5 workers died during construction, although 14 deaths were reported by local News. More

1932, May 12 - The body of Charles Lindbergh Jr. son of aviator Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, was found in Hopewell Township, New Jersey. More

1932, May 21 -  Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. (May 20 - May 2021). More

1934, May 11 - An enormous dust storm, 1,500 miles long and 600 miles wide, that originated on the west coast, moved eastward across the Great Plains. A total of 300 million tons of topsoil, parched to dust by drought were blown out of the Great Plains. More

1934, May 23 - Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary. When World War I began in July 1914, Italy was a partner in the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary, but decided to remain neutral. However, a strong sentiment existed within the general population and political factions to go to war against Austria-Hungary, Italy’s historical enemy.

1935, May 31 - A 7.7 earthquake takes place at Quetta, Balochistan, British India (now part of Pakistan), close to the border with southern Afghanistan. Between 30,000 and 60,000 people died from the impact.

1937, May 6 - The Hindenburg disaster occurs in Manchester Township, New Jersey, United States. More

1937, May 12 -  King George VI was crowned at Westminster Abbey,  following the abdication of his older brother Edward who abdicated so he could marry American socialite Wallis Simpson.

1937, May 27 - , The San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge is opened to the public for the first time for “Pedestrian Day. 200,000 people strolled across the bridge to celebrate the grand opening. More

1939, May 22 - The Pact of Steel formally known as the Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy  was a military and political alliance between Italy and Germany. is signed. The pact was initially drafted to include Japan wanted the focus of the pact to be aimed at the Soviet Union, Italy and Germany wanted the focus of it to be aimed at the British Empire and France. On September 27, 1940, Japan signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy, thus entering the military alliance known as the "Axis." More 

1939, May 27 - The St. Louis, a boat sailed from Hamburg carrying 937 refugees from Germany, most of whom were Jews fleeing Nazi persecution, is turned away from Havana, Cuba. Only 28 immigrants are admitted into the country. After appeals to the United States and Canada for entry are denied, the rest are forced to sail back to Europe, where they’re distributed among several countries including Great Britain and France.

1940, May 10 - Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He lead the U.K  through the tumultuous years of World War II.

1941, May 15 - The first test of an Allied aircraft using jet propulsion takes place as the Gloster-Whittle E 28/39 aircraft flies    successfully over Cranwell, England, The jet engine was the brain child of Frank Whittle, an English pilot and aviation engineer,  . A young German physicist, Hans von Ohain, working for Ernst Heinkel, developed the world's first jet plane, the experimental Heinkel He 178. It first flew on August 27, 1939. just before WW II started on September 1, 1939. More

1941, May 24 - The German Battleship Bismarck sinks the battlecruiser HMS Hood during a naval engagement in the Second World War, resulting in the death of all but 3 of her crew of 1,418. During the engagement, the Bismarck‘s fuel tank was damaged and headed for occupied France to effect repairs. Two days later the Bismarck was attacked by torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal; rendering the battleship's steering gear inoperable. In her final battle the following morning, the already-crippled Bismarck was engaged by two British battleships and two heavy cruisers, and sustained incapacitating damage and heavy loss of life. The ship was scuttled to prevent her being boarded by the British, and to limit further casualties. There were 2,300 German casualties.

1942, May 6 - U.S. Lt. General Jonathan Wainwright unconditionally surrenders all U.S. troops in the Philippines to the Japanese. All surviving troops; 12,000 Americans and 66,000 Filipinos, were taken to a prison stockade in Manila. This was the largest contingent of U.S. soldiers ever to surrender. More

1945, May 7 - Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allied forces, bringing an end to World War II in Europe. More

1946, May 25 - Jordan's Independence Day marking its independence from The United Kingdom.

1948, May 14 - Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion proclaims the State of Israel, at midnight May 14. The UN General Assembly had  adopted the resolution to partition Palestine on 29 November 1947 and Britain had announced the termination of its Mandate for Palestine, effective on 15 May 1948. Ben-Gurion became Israel’s first premier. More

1949, May 12 - Soviets end blockade of Berlin.

1949, May 23 - The Federal Republic of Germany (German: Bundesrepublik Deutschland) is established with the consolidation of the western sectors, controlled by France, the United Kingdom and the United States. On 7 October 1949, the Soviet Zone became the German Democratic Republic (GDR)  When West and East Germany were reunited in 1990, West Germany’s constitution and official name (Federal Republic of Germany) were adopted by the former East German state.

1953, May 29 - Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay completed the first confirmed ascent of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953. More

1954, May 7 - French defeated at Dien Bien Phu bringing an end to French colonial efforts in Indochina.  Vietnam was partitioned by the Geneva Accords of 1954 into Communist North Vietnam and non-Communist South Vietnam. President Eisenhower sent some 700 military personnel as well as military and economic aid to the government of South Vietnam. In 1961, JFK authorized sending additional Special Forces troops and military advisors to South Vietnam. By the end of 1962, there were approximately 11,000 military personnel in South Vietnam and 16,000 by the end of 1963.

1954, May 17 - The Supreme Court of the United States hands down its unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas,  ruling that racial segregation in public educational facilities is unconstitutional. More

1955, May 6 - The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) Joins NATO.

1955, May 14 - The Warsaw Treaty Organization (also known as the Warsaw Pact), a political and military alliance between the Soviet Union and several Eastern European countries. The Soviet Union formed this alliance as a counterbalance to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a collective security alliance concluded between the United States, Canada and Western European nations in 1949. More 

1958, May 13 - Vice President Nixon’s motorcade was attacked in Caracas by angry Venezuelans during his goodwill trip through Latin America. The trip was characterized by Latin American anger over the U.S. Cold War policies. Earlier on the trip Nixon had engaged in loud and bitter debates with student groups during his travels through Peru and Uruguay.

1960, May 1 - An American U-2 spy plane flying at 60,000 feet was shot down over Sverdlovsk in central Russia. The pilot, CIA agent Francis Gary Powers, survived the crash, and was tried, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. More

1960, May 11 - The FDA announces approval of Enovid for birth control. The approval limited its use to no more than two years. Nine years later, in 1969  Barbara Seaman’s book, “The Doctor’s Case Against the Pill,” show testimony and research showing that the high doses of estrogen in the early Pill put women at risk of blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. More

1960, May 20 - Cameroon National Day. Cameroon gained independence on 1 January 1960, but does not celebrate that date. Instead, it celebrates the National Day on 20 May commemorating the 1972 Cameroonian constitutional referendum.

1960, May 22 -  A magnitude 9.5 earthquake,  The largest earthquake ever measured,  - occurred along the coast of Chile causing a tsunami which radiated outward from a subduction zone along the coast. Its waves reached Hawaii in 15 hours and Japan in 22 hours. In Chile, the earthquake and the tsunami that followed took more than 2,000 lives and caused property damage estimated at $550 million (1960 dollars).The tsunami killed 61 people in Hawaii and 122 in Japan. More 

1960, May 23 - A tsunami resulting from the massive 9.5-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile which killed thousands the prior day travels across the Pacific Ocean and kills 61 people in Hilo, Hawaii, and 122 in Japan and causing much other property and structural damage.

1961, May 5 - Alan Shepard, one of the Mercury Astronauts, became the first American in space. He piloted the spacecraft Freedom 7 during a 15-minute 28-second suborbital flight that reached an altitude of 116 miles (186 kilometers) above the earth. Ten years later, Shepard made his second space flight as spacecraft commander on Apollo 14 on January 31, 1971. He was accompanied on man's third lunar landing mission by Stuart A. Roosa, command module pilot, and Edgar D. Mitchell, lunar module pilot. Maneuvering their lunar module, "Antares," to a landing in the hilly upland Fra Mauro region of the moon, More

1961, May 25 - United States President. John F. Kennedy announced before a special joint session of Congress the dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the decade. More 

1961, May 31 - The government of South Africa proclaims the Republic of South Africa and withdraws from the CON and Governor-General Charles Robert Swart formally takes office as State President. More 

1964, May 24 - More than 300 soccer fans were killed and another 500 people were injured at the National Stadium in Lima, Peru, during a riot that erupted after a referee’s call in a soccer match between Peru and Argentina, disallowed an apparent goal for Peru. The stadium went wild as outraged Peruvian fans invaded the field and  police fired tear gas into the crowed causing stampedes in which people were crushed and killed. 

1966, May 26 - Guyana gains Independence from the United Kingdom.

1970, May 4 - Four students were killed and nine others were injured when National Guardsmen opened fire on a peaceful protest against the Vietnam War at Kent State University in Ohio, United States. More

1972, May 26 - U.S. and Soviet Union sign strategic arms control agreement known as SALT I 

1973, May 14 -  Skylab, America’s first space station and the first crewed research laboratory in space, lifts off on the last Saturn V rocket. Although the Soviet Union orbited the first experimental space station called Salyut in 1971, the larger and more complex Skylab enabled research in several areas. More 

1974, May 18 - India successfully detonates its first nuclear weapon in the Rajasthan Desert in the municipality of Pokhran. becoming the world’s sixth nuclear power and the first nation outside the five members of the U.N. Security Council—the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, China and France. More 

1979, May 25 - American Airlines Flight 191 - a Douglas DC-10 aircraft crashed as it was taking off from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago when its left engine detached from the wing, causing a loss of control. The aircraft crashed about 4,600 feet (1,400 m) from the end of runway. All 258 passengers and 13 crew on board and two people on the ground were killed. The total of 273 fatalities, makes it the deadliest aviation accident to have occurred in the United States. More

1980, May 18 - Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington state, killing 57 people. Hundreds of square miles of wilderness were reduced to wasteland, More

1981, May 13 - Pope John Paul II was shot four times by Mehmet Ali Agca in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.

1989, May 10 - Tens of thousands of Chinese students and civilians gathered in Tiananmen Square in Beijing to protest for democracy and government accountability, leading to a violent crackdown by the Chinese government. More

1990, May 4 - Day of the Restoration of Latvian Independence after the end of occupation by the Soviet Union. The Supreme Council adopted the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia, and the Latvian SSR was renamed Republic of Latvia.

1991, May 19 - Somaliland Independence day. Officially the Republic of Somaliland,is an unrecognized de facto sovereign state in the Horn of Africa. Its claimed territory has an area of 68,000 square miles with approximately 5.7 million residents

1991, May 24 - Eritrea Independence day from Ethiopia.

1991, May 26 - Lauda Air Flight 004, a Boeing 767-300ER crashed following an uncommanded deployment of the thrust reverser on the No. 1 engine during the climb phase, causing the aircraft to enter an uncontrolled dive, and in-flight breakup,. All 213 passengers and ten crew members on board were killed. The plane’s black box was destroyed, making the cause of the crash difficult to determine.," The following official investigation analysis of mechanical evidence and the voice recorder pointed to a serious problem with the jet’s thrust reverser. Boeing was forced to recall and modify the 767’s thrust reversing system. It was the deadliest aviation accident in Thailand's history as of 2024. 

1994, May 6 - The English Channel Tunnel, or “Chunnel,” built under the English Channel is officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II and French president, François Mitterrand. The Chunnel is 31 miles long, 23 of them underwater at an average depth of 150 feet below the sea bed, making it the world’s longest undersea tunnel. The Chunnel cuts travel time between England and France to 35 minutes. More

1994, May 10 - Nelson Mandela becomes the first African president of democratic South Africa. .. More 

1998, May 28 - Pakistan detonates its first nuclear device at the Ros Koh Hills in the province of Balochistan, becoming the seventh country to publicly test nuclear weapons. More

1999, May 29 - Discovery Becomes the first Space Shuttle to Dock with the International Space Station. More

2002, May 10 -  Robert Hanssen, FBI agent who was convicted of spying for the Russian government is sentenced to life in prison without parole. Hanssen died in prison on June 5, 2023, at the age of 79. More

2003, May 1 - United States President George W. Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq, marking the conclusion of the invasion of Iraq by coalition forces.

2004, May 1 -  Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, along with the island of Malta and the Greek portion of the island of Cyprus joined the EU,

2011, May 2 - Osama bin Laden is killed by US forces in Pakistan.

2016, May 19 - EgyptAir flight MS804, an Airbus 320, carrying 66 people, crashed into the Mediterranean Sea as it approached the Egyptian coast near Alexandria. There were no survivors. Egyptian authorities initially stated have stated that a bomb was the likely cause. A 2022 report from the French authorities attributed the cause to a pilot smoking a cigarette, a practice which wasn't banned at the time, caused the fire and the crash. 

2020, May 25 - George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, was killed during an arrest, by white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin who knelt on his neck for almost 10 minutes. He was unresponsive when the paramedics arrived. The arrest and killing was filmed by bystanders and ignited the largest protest movement in the U.S. history, setting off massive protests around the country and generating greater support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The police officer, Derek Chauvin was later convicted of his murder. 

Note: These are some of the many widely recognized historic events that occurred during the month of May, listed by year. Dates provided for events that occurred before the Common Era (BCE) may be approximate. Online History Resources

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