Maine Fast Fact: Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in New England. Although Lake Champlain is larger, it is not completely in New England with it being located between Vermont and New York.
- 1768: Dolley Madison, First Lady of the United States, wife of U.S. President James Madison
- 1818: William Fargo, American pioneer, co-founder of the banking firm Wells, Fargo & Company
- 1899: John Marshall Harlan, American Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
- 1908: James Stewart, American actor, known for his roles in the films It’s a Wonderful Life and Vertigo
- 1944: Joe Cocker, British singer
- 1946: Cher, American singer
- 1949: Dave Thomas, American actor and comedian
- 1954: Guy Hoffman, American musician, vocalist and drummer for the band Violent Femmes
- 1958: Ron Reagan, American radio show host, son of U.S. President Ronald Reagan; Jane Wiedlin, American musician, singer, songwriter and rhythm guitarist for the band The Go-Go’s and actress
- 1966: Mindy Cohn, American actress, best known for her role as Natalie Green on the television series The Facts of Life
- 1971: Tony Stewart, American race car driver
- 1972: Busta Rhymes, American rapper and actor
- 1506: Christopher Columbus, Italian explorer
- 1989: Gilda Radner, American comedian and actress
- 2008: Hamilton Jordan, American White House Chief of Staff for U.S. President Jimmy Carter
- 1570: Abraham Ortelius releases the first modern atlas.
- 1609: Williams Shakespeare’s sonnets are published for the first time in London.
- 1802: Napoleon Bonaparte reinstates slavery in the French colonies despite its abolition in the French Revolution.
- 1861: North Carolina secedes from the Union after a vote; the Confederacy changes its capital from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, Virginia.
- 1862: President Abraham Lincoln signs the Homestead Act into law, giving applicants who have never taken up arms with the U.S. government (including freed slaves) the right to own up to 160 acres of underdeveloped federal land outside of the original 13 colonies.
- 1873: A U.S. patent is given to Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis for blue jeans with copper rivets.
- 1902: Tomás Estrada Palma becomes the first President of Cuba when the country gains its independence from the United States.
- 1916: The Saturday Evening Post publishes its cover with a Norman Rockwell painting for the first time. The painting is Boy with Baby Carriage.
- 1927: Charles Lindbergh takes off from Roosevelt Field in Long Island, New York aboard his plane the Spirit of St. Louis and makes the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, landing in Le Bourget Field in Paris the next day.
- 1932: Amelia Earhart takes off from Newfoundland and makes the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean by a female, landing in Ireland in the next day.
- 1940: The first prisoners arrive at Auschwitz concentration camp.
- 1961: A bus load of Freedom Riders is attacked by a mob of white people, forcing the government to send in U.S. marshals to stop it.
- 1969: Apbia Mountain, also known as Hamburger Hill in Vietnam, is captured by the United States and South Vietnam and is known as one of the bloodiest battles in the Vietnam War.
- 1993: The finals episode of Cheers airs on NBC.
- 1995: President Bill Clinton announces that the two-block stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House is permanently closed to traffic for security reasons.
- 1996: In the case Romer v. Evans, the U.S. Supreme Court rules against a law in Colorado that would protect homosexuals from discrimination.
- 2002: East Timor’s independence is recognized by Portugal, ending 23 years of Indonesian rule.
- 2006: San Francisco Giant’s left fielder Barry Bonds ties Babe Ruth for second place in major league baseball with 714 career home runs.
May 20 is Independence Day in Cuba and East Timor, celebrating the day that Cuba gained its independence from the U.S. in 1902 and East Timor was recognized as independent from Indonesia in 2002. It is also National Day in the country of Cameroon in Africa, although the country has no single date of independence.
Florida holds an annual commemoration on May 20 known as Emancipation Day. May 20, 1865 was the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation by Major General Edward McCook on the steps of the Knott House, a temporary headquarters in Tallahassee for the Union army at the time. Each year, Civil War reenactors play the parts of General McCook and other Union soldiers to commemorate the event.
May 20 is also a celebration in North Carolina known as “Mecklenburg Declaration Day.” It is based on the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence which is believed by some to be the first Declaration of Independence. A committee of citizens of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, supposedly signed the declaration in Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 20, 1775 and was believed to be the first to declare independence from Great Britain after hearing of the Battle of Lexington. But there is no evidence of the declaration’s existence and no references to it in any newspapers from 1775. If the story is true then the declaration was signed more than a year before the Declaration of Independence. Four U.S. presidents, Taft, Wilson, Eisenhower and Ford, have visited Charlotte on May 20th and participated in the celebration without actually endorsing the legality and authenticity of it.
For more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_20 , http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/20100520.html , http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Day , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Day_(Cameroon) , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emancipation_Day , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mecklenburg_Declaration_of_Independence