1539 – In Florida, Hernando de Soto lands at Tampa Bay with 600 soldiers with the goal of finding gold.
1806 – Future U.S. President Andrew Jackson kills Charles Dickinson in a duel after Dickinson had accused Jackson's wife of bigamy.
1854 – The Kansas–Nebraska Act becomes law establishing the US territories of Kansas and Nebraska.
1868 – Decoration Day (the predecessor of the modern "Memorial Day") is observed in the United States for the first time (by "Commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic" John A. Logan's proclamation on May 5).
1883 – In New York City, a rumor that the Brooklyn Bridge is going to collapse causes a stampede that crushes twelve people.
1899 – Pearl Hart, a female outlaw of the Old West, robs a stage coach 30 miles southeast of Globe, Arizona.
1911 – At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the first Indianapolis 500 ends with Ray Harroun in his Marmon Wasp becoming the first winner of the 500-mile auto race.
1922 – The Lincoln Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C..
1937 – Memorial Day massacre: Chicago police shoot and kill ten labor demonstrators.
1958 – Memorial Day: The remains of two unidentified American servicemen, killed in action during World War II and the Korean War respectively, are buried at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
1966 – Launch of Surveyor 1, the first US spacecraft to land on an extraterrestrial body.
1971 – Mariner program: Mariner 9 is launched to map 70% of the surface, and to study temporal changes in the atmosphere and surface, of Mars.
1989 – Tiananmen Square protests of 1989: The 33-foot high "Goddess of Democracy" statue is unveiled in Tiananmen Square by student demonstrators.
2005 – American student Natalee Holloway disappears while on a high school graduation trip to Aruba, and caused a media sensation in the United States.
1896 – Howard Hawks, American director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1977)
1908 – Mel Blanc, American voice actor (d. 1989)
1909 – Benny Goodman, American clarinet player, songwriter, and bandleader (d. 1986)
1918 – Bob Evans, American businessman, founded Bob Evans Restaurants (d. 2007)
1922 – Hal Clement, American author and educator (d. 2003)
1962 – Kevin Eastman, American author and illustrator, co-created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
1964 – Wynonna Judd, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actress (The Judds)
1911 – Milton Bradley, American businessman, founded the Milton Bradley Company (b. 1836)
1912 – Wilbur Wright, American pilot and businessman, co-founded the Wright Company (b. 1867)
1947 – Georg von Trapp, Croatian-Austrian captain (b. 1880)
1986 – Perry Ellis, American fashion designer, founded Perry Ellis (b. 1940)
2000 – Tex Beneke, American saxophonist, singer, and bandleader (Glenn Miller Orchestra) (b. 1914)
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