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This Day in U.S. History: May 22


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

1807 – A grand jury indicts former Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr on a charge of treason.

1819 – The SS Savannah leaves port at Savannah, Georgia, United States, on a voyage to become the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The ship arrived at Liverpool, England, on June 20.

1849 – Future U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is issued a patent for an invention to lift boats over obstacles in a river, making him the only U.S. President to ever hold a patent.

1856 – Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina beats Senator Charles Sumner with a cane in the hall of the United States Senate for a speech Sumner had made attacking Southerners who sympathized with the pro-slavery violence in Kansas ("Bleeding Kansas").

1872 – Reconstruction: U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signs the Amnesty Act into law restoring full civil and political rights to all but about 500 Confederate sympathizers.

1906 – The Wright brothers are granted U.S. patent number 821,393 for their "Flying-Machine".

1942 – The Steel Workers Organizing Committee disbands, and a new trade union, the United Steelworkers, is formed.

1945 – Operation Paperclip: United States Army Major Robert B. Staver recommends that the U.S. evacuate German scientists and engineers to help in the development of rocket technology.

1947 – Cold War: In an effort to fight the spread of Communism, the U.S. President Harry S. Truman signs an act into law that will later be called the Truman Doctrine. The act grants $400 million in military and economic aid to Turkey and Greece, each battling an internal Communist movement.

1964 – Lyndon B. Johnson presents Great Society.

1968 – The nuclear-powered submarine the USS Scorpion sinks with 99 men aboard 400 miles southwest of the Azores

1969 – Apollo 10 's lunar module flies within 8.4 nautical miles (16 km) of the moon's surface.

2002 – American civil rights movement: A jury in Birmingham, Alabama, convicts former Ku Klux Klan member Bobby Frank Cherry of the 1963 murders of four girls in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.

2003 – In Fort Worth, Texas, Annika Sörenstam becomes the first woman to play the PGA Tour in 58 years.

2004 – The U.S. town of Hallam, Nebraska is wiped out by a powerful F4 tornado (part of the May 2004 tornado outbreak sequence) which kills one resident, and becomes the widest tornado on record at 2.5 miles (4.0 km) wide; a record that wouldn't be broken until the El Reno tornado on May 31, 2013.

2008 – The Late-May 2008 tornado outbreak sequence unleashes 235 tornadoes, including an EF4 and an EF5 tornado, between May 22 and May 31, 2008. The tornadoes strike 19 states and one Canadian province.

2011 – An EF5 tornado strikes Joplin, Missouri, killing 162 people and wreaking $2.8 billion worth in damage—the costliest and seventh-deadliest single tornado in U.S. history.


1844 – Mary Cassat, American painter and educator (d. 1926)

1914 – Vance Packard, American journalist and author (d. 1996)

1928 – T. Boone Pickens, American businessman

1930 – Harvey Milk, American lieutenant and politician (d. 1978)

1942 – Ted Kaczynski, American academic and mathematician turned anarchist and serial murderer

1974 – Tanya Hodge, English Teacher at South High School

1982 – Apolo Ohno, American speed skater


1802 – Martha Washington, American wife of George Washington, 1st First Lady of the United States (b. 1731)

1954 – Chief Bender, American baseball player, coach, and manager (b. 1884)

1967 – Langston Hughes, American poet, novelist, playwright (b. 1902)

1975 – Lefty Grove, American baseball player (b. 1900)

1990 – Rocky Graziano, American boxer and actor (b. 1922)

2005 – Julia Randall, American poet and academic (b. 1924)

2010 – Martin Gardner, American mathematician, cryptographer, and author (b. 1914)

2015 – Marques Haynes, American basketball player and coach (b. 1926)

2015 – Aminah Robinson, American sculptor and illustrator (b. 1940)