This Day In History – May 20th


This Day In History – May 20th

This Day In History is a daily feature on The Beat Chicago

There have been thousands of these days in the past and more to come.

Each day of the week we look in the rear view mirror for a look back in time. Let’s go back in time to all the events, birthdays and more that have happened on May 20th in the past.

We’re here to help you remember everything you forgot so what could be better than a history of events that have happened on this day!

Each day of the week, The Beat Chicago takes you back through the years to see all the birthdays, heavenly birthdays and major events that have impacted life here on Earth on this day in history.

Click here and we’ll take you for a detailed trip back in time in our Backspin section.  Our Backspin section takes you back in time highlighting all the biggest events of each year.

We start Backspin in 1970 and go all the way to 1999. We’ve cataloged all the biggest news stories, top movies, TV shows, sporting events and more to help you remember everything you forgot or, help you learn something you didn’t know.

Click here for all past episodes of This Day In History

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Let’s go back in time to see everything that happened on this day in history

1690 – The Act of Grace was passed in England forgiving followers of James II

1674 – John Sobieski became Poland’s first Kin

1774 – Something’s never change… The Coercive Acts were passed by the British Parliament to punish the American colonists for anti-British behavior

1775 – While the actual date is questioned by historians, it is said that North Carolina became the first colony to declare its independence

1784 – In the never-ending battle of European nations another treaty was signed. This time it was the Peace of Versailles that ended the war between France, England, and Holland.

1830 – H.D. Hyde received his patent for the fountain pen

1861 – As Kentucky proclaimed its neutrality, North Carolina became the eleventh state to secede from the Union.

1861 – The Confederacy moved their capital from Montgomery, AL, to Richmond, VA.

1862 – Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act into law, opening 84 million acres of public land to settlers

1873 – Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis received their U.S. patent for blue jeans with copper rivets

1875 – The International Bureau of Weights and Measures was established

1883 – The volcano Krakatoa started to erupt, three months later it exploded, killing more than 36,000 people

1891 – Thomas Edison’s prototype kinetoscope makes its debut to the public

1899 – Congratulations! Jacob German get to own a bit of dubious history.
He was the first driver to be arrested for speeding. The posted speed limit was 12 miles per hour

1902 – Cuba gained independence from the United States. Tomás Estrada Palma became the country’s first President

1916 – Norman Rockwell’s first cover on “The Saturday Evening Post” appeared

1926 – The Air Commerce Act was passed. The act gave the Department of Commerce the right to license pilots and planes

1927 – 33 1/2 half hours after leaving NYC, Charles Lindbergh landed in Paris for the first cross-Atlantic flight aboard his “Spirit Of St. Louis”

1927 – With the signing of the Treaty of Jeddah, THe UK recognized the sovereignty of King Ibn Saud in the Kingdoms of Hejaz and Nejd, which would merge into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

1932 – Taking off in Newfoundland, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic when she landed in Ireland the following day

1939 – A bicycle race at Madison Square Garden became the first television broadcast over telephone wires to NBC’s studios at 30 Rockefeller Center in Manhattan

1939 – The “Yankee Clipper” became the first regular air-passenger service across the Atlantic Ocean

1940 – The first prisoners arrive at a new concentration camp at Auschwitz

1948 – Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek wins the 1948 Republic of China presidential election and is sworn in as the first President of the Republic of China at Nanjing

1954 – Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock” was released. It was not successful until it was released in 1955 on the soundtrack to “Blackboard Jungle.”

1956 – The U.S. tests its first hydrogen bomb over Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean

1960 – Rock n Roll DJ Alan Freed was indicted for tax evasion stemming from payola

1961 – The Federal Government sent in U.S. Marshals after A racist mob attacked the Freedom Riders in Montgomery, AL.

1964 – Scientists Robert Woodrow Wilson and Arno Penzias discovered cosmic microwave background radiation

1969 – U.S. and South Vietnamese forces captured Apbia Mountain, which was referred to as Hamburger Hill

1969 – Peter Cetera of the band CTA, which would become “Chicago” was beaten by four men at a Cubs game who didn’t like his long hair. He had to undergo four hours of surgery

1970 – Over 100,000 people supporting U.S. policies in Vietnam marched down the streets in NYC

1970 – The Beatles film “Let It Be” opened in the U.K.

1978 – It took 53-year-old Mavis Hutchinson 69 days to run over 3,000 miles across America. She was the first woman to do so

1980 – The submarine Nautilus was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior

1980 – KISS took off the makeup and released the album “Unmasked”

1982 – Barney Miller’s last episode ran on ABC

1983 – First publications of the discovery of the HIV virus that causes AIDS in the journal Science by Luc Montagnier

1985 – U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer John Walker was arrested by the FBI. He was operating as a Soviet Spy since 1968

1985 – Radio Martí, part of the Voice of America service, begins broadcasting to Cuba

1989 – The Chinese authorities declare martial law in the face of pro-democracy demonstrations, setting the scene for the Tiananmen Square massacre

1990 – The first pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope were sent Earth

1993 – Cheers’ final episode aired on NBC

1996 – The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Romer v. Evans against a law that would have prevented any city, town or county in the state of Colorado from taking any legislative, executive, or judicial action to protect the rights of gays and lesbians

1998 – Tommy Lee (Motley Crue) started serving a 6-month sentence for felony spousal abuse

1999 – At Heritage High School in Conyers, GA, a 15-year-old student shot and injured six students. He then surrendered to an assistant principal at the school

2008 – With the stroke of a pen, it became Frank Sinatra day thanks to the U.S. Congress. The resolution was passed to honor ol’ blue eyes’ contributions to American culture

2010 – Scientists announced that they had created a functional synthetic genome


1988 – Actor Jimmy Stewart,

1913 – Co-founder of Hewlett-Packard (HP), passed in 2001

1919 – Comedian, actor George Goble, passed in 1991

1920 – Singer from The Ames Brothers, Vic Ames (Urick)

1927 – Iconic head coach of the Minnesota Vikings Bud (Henry) Grant

1940 – The beloved Chicago Blackhawk hockey player Stan Mikita, passed in 2018

1940 – “Function At The Junctions”, R&B singer, songwriter and producer Shorty Long, passed in 1969

1944 – Blue-eyed British soul singer Joe Cocker, passed in 2014

1948 – Singer, academy-award winning actress Cher

1946 – The man who invented the “delayed steal”, former Yankee and Cub player, a manager and broadcaster Bobby (Ray) Murcer, passed in 2008

1951 – Iconic NFL player Cullen Bryant

1954 – Former NY Governor David Paterson

1959 – Go-Go’s singer Jane Wiedlin

1959 – Funnyman Bronson Pinchot (Beverly Hills Cop, Risky Business and more)

1960 – From the family that the Partridge Family was patterned after, singer Susan Cowsill celebrates her birthday today

1963 – Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Brian Nash

1972 – Rapper, actor, producer Busta Rhymes

1971 – Tony Stewart, American race car driver


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