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This Day in History - May 22

May 22

334 BC – The Macedonian army of Alexander the Great defeats Darius III of Persia in the Battle of the Granicus

337 – Roman Emperor Constantine the Great dies

1246 – Henry Raspe is elected anti-king by the Rhenish prelates in France

1455 – King Henry VI is taken prisoner by the Yorkists at the Battle of St. Albans, during the War of the Roses

1570 – The first Atlas, “Theatrum Orbis Terrarum,” aka Theatre of the World, is published by Abraham Ortelius in Antwerp with 70 maps

1781 – Patriots begin the siege of the village of Ninety-Six in the South Carolina backcountry

1802 – President George Washington’s widow, Martha Dandridge Custis Washington, dies

1804 – The Lewis and Clark Expedition officially begins as the Corps of Discovery departs from St. Charles, Missouri

1813 – German composer Richard Wagner is born

1828 – German eye surgeon and founder of modern ophthalmology, Albrecht von Graefe is born

1843 – A massive wagon train, made up of 1,000 settlers and 1,000 head of cattle known as the “Great Emigration,” sets off down the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri

1844 – Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt is born

1856 – US Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina beats Senator Charles Sumner with a cane for Sumner’s earlier condemnation of slavery, which included an insult to Brooks’ cousin, Senator Andrew Butler

1859 – Author and creator of the Sherlock Holmes series, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is born

1863 – Union General Ulysses Grant’s second attack on Vicksburg fails and a siege begins

1868 – The “Great Train Robbery” takes place as seven members of the Reno Gang make off with $98,000 in cash from a train’s safe in Indiana

1872 – The Amnesty Act restores civil rights to Southerners

1882 – The US formally recognizes Korea

1885 – French author, poet, and playwright, Victor Hugo dies

1907 – Actor Sir Laurence Olivier is born

1907 – Belgian illustrator Herge is born

1908 – The Wright brothers register their flying machine for a US patent

1917 – A crisis mounts with the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s government, as Hungarian Prime Minister Istvan Tisza resigns at the request of Austrian emperor, Karl I

1920 – Astronomer Thomas Gold is born

1927 – Writer Peter Matthiessen is born

1928 – One of the first openly gay politicians to win public office in the US, a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Harvey Milk, is born

1939 – Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini sign a “Pact of Steel” forming the Axis powers

1942 – Unabomber terrorist, Theodore “Ted” Kaczynski, is born

1943 – Northern Irish political activist who won the Noble Peace Prize, Betty Williams, is born

1944 – US and British aircraft begin a successful bombing campaign on railroads in Germany and other parts of northern Europe called Operation Chattanooga Choo-Choo

1946 – The first US rocket to reach the edge of space (WAC Corporal), is fired from White Sands Missile Range New Mexico

1947 – The Truman Doctrine brings aid to Turkey and Greece

1958 – Jerry Lee Lewis shocks the world when showing up to the UK with his new 13-year old bride, Myra, who was also his first cousin once removed, and with whom he had married before the divorce from his second wife was made official. Those that showed up to performances showered him with boos, and his hotel asked him to leave. When returning to the US, he would face blacklisting, and his career would never fully recover

1959 – English singer, songwriter, and pianist, Morrissey is born

1964 – Secretary of State Dean Rusk accuses North Vietnam of initiating and directing the aggression in South Vietnam, during a major speech before the American Law Institute in Washington, DC

1967 – The children’s program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood premiers

1967 – Poet and author Langston Hughes dies

1967 – A fire at the L’Innovation department store in Brussels, Belgium, kills 322

1972 – Ceylon becomes the Republic of Sri Lanka as its constitution is ratified

1972 – President Richard Nixon arrives in Moscow for a summit with Soviet leaders

1977 – President Jimmy Carter reaffirms his commitment to human rights as a cornerstone of US foreign policy, and disparages the “inordinate fear of communism which one led us to embrace any dictator who joined us in that fear,” in a speech delivered to Notre Dame University

1980 – The arcade game Pac-Man is released by Namco

1981 – After a stake out on the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta, Georgia, police question Wayne Williams about the disappearance of a young boy in the area. He was then released, only to be arrested two days later when the body of Nathaniel Carter was found in the river near the bridge. Fiber evidence from carpet eventually led to the conviction of Williams, who could have been involved in so much as 24 murders of black children and young men. He was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of Carter and Jimmy Ray Payne, and the police close 22 other cases

1985 – Baseball player Pete Rose passes Hank Aaron as National League run scoring leader with 2,108

1990 – In the Middle East, North and South Yemen merge to become a single state

1992 – Johnny Carson’s final appearance on the The Tonight Show on NBC, after 30 years as the program’s host

1992 – American linguist Zellig Harris dies

2002 – The remains of former Federal Bureau of Prisons intern Chandra Levy are found. Levy’s disappearance had become a scandal when it was discovered that the 24-year-old had been having an affair with 53-year-old US Representative Gary Condit (D-CA) whose congressional district included Levy’s hometown of Modesto, and the Levy family and media all believed Condit was withholding information about Levy’s disappearance from investigators. But in 2010, Ingmar Guandique was convicted of Levy’s murder and was sentenced to 60 years. He was an inmate at the time of Levy’s internship at the prison, serving time for the assault of two women in a park

2003 – Golfer Annika Sorenstam becomes the first woman to play in a PGA Tour event since Babe Didrikson 58 years earlier, after receiving a sponsor’s exemption to compete in the Bank of America Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas

2004 – An EF4 tornado with a record-setting width of 2.5 miles wipes out Hallam, Nebraska, killing 1

2004 – Fahrenheit 9-11, a controversial documentary directed by Michael Moore, wins the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival

2010 – Following a 200-year search for the tomb of Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, his remains are reburied in Frombork Cathedral

2010 – Air India Express Flight 812 overshot the runway landing at the Mangalore International Airport, falling off a cliff and bursting into flames, killing 158. It is the worst air crash involving a Boeing 737

2011 – An EF5 tornado kills at least 158 in Joplin, Missouri, the largest death toll from a tornado since record-keeping began in 1950

2012 – The Tokyo Skytree, the tallest tower in the world and the second tallest structure in the world, located in Japan’s capital city, is opened to the public

2013 – French composer Henri Dutilleux dies

2014 – Royal Thai Armed Forces, led by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, stage a coup in Thailand, suspending the kingdom’s constitution and taking control of the government

2015 – The Republic of Ireland, long known as a conservative, predominantly Catholic country, becomes the first nation in the world to legalize gay marriage in a public referendum


Written by Crystal McCann

Crystal is the Chief Operating Officer of Lanterns Media Network and the owner of Madisons Media. She lives in Texas with her husband and dogs and is the proud mother of two adult children.


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