1494 – Christopher Columbus lands on the island of Jamaica and claims it for Spain.
1809 – Mary Kies becomes the first woman awarded a U.S. patent, for a technique of weaving straw with silk and thread.
1864 – American Civil War: The Battle of the Wilderness begins in Spotsylvania County.
1865 – American Civil War: The Confederate District of the Gulf surrenders about 4,000 men at Citronelle, Alabama.
1865 – In North Bend, Ohio (a suburb of Cincinnati), the first train robbery in the United States takes place.
1865 – American Civil War: The Confederate government was declared dissolved at Washington, Georgia.
1866 – Memorial Day first celebrated in United States at Waterloo, New York.
1877 – American Indian Wars: Sitting Bull leads his band of Lakota into Canada to avoid harassment by the United States Army under Colonel Nelson Miles.
1886 – The Bay View massacre: A militia fires into a crowd of protesters in Milwaukee, killing seven.
1891 – The Music Hall in New York City (later known as Carnegie Hall) has its grand opening and first public performance, with Tchaikovsky as the guest conductor.
1904 – Pitching against the Philadelphia Athletics at the Huntington Avenue Grounds, Cy Young of the Boston Americans throws the first perfect game in the modern era of baseball.
1920 – Authorities arrest Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti for alleged robbery and murder.
1925 – Scopes Trial: Serving of an arrest warrant on John T. Scopes for teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act.
1934 – The first Three Stooges short, Woman Haters, is released.
1944 – German troops execute 216 civilians in the village of Kleisoura in Greece.
1945 – World War II: Six people are killed when a Japanese fire balloon explodes near Bly, Oregon. They are the only Americans killed in the continental US during the war.
1946 – The International Military Tribunal for the Far East begins in Tokyo with twenty-eight Japanese military and government officials accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
1961 – The Mercury program: Mercury-Redstone 3: Alan Shepard becomes the first American to travel into outer space, on a sub-orbital flight.
1965 – The Warlocks, later known as The Grateful Dead, make their first public appearance in Menlo Park, California.
1973 – Secretariat wins the 1973 Kentucky Derby in 1:59 2/5, an as-yet unbeaten record.
1977 – The first of The Nixon Interviews between David Frost and Richard Nixon are broadcast.
1981 – Bobby Sands dies in the Long Kesh prison hospital after 66 days of hunger-striking, aged 27.
1985 – Bitburg and Bergen-Belsen: Ronald Reagan visits the military cemetery at Bitburg, Germany, and the site of the Nazi concentration camp, Bergen-Belsen, where he makes a speech.
1987 – Iran–Contra affair: Start of Congressional televised hearings in the United States of America
1994 – American teenager Michael P. Fay is caned in Singapore for theft and vandalism.
1830 – John Batterson Stetson, American businessman, founded the John B. Stetson Company (d. 1906)
1832 – Hubert Howe Bancroft, American ethnologist and historian (d. 1918)
1858 – John L. Leal, American physician (d. 1914)
1864 – Nellie Bly, American journalist and author (d. 1922)
1884 – Chief Bender, American baseball player and coach (d. 1954)
1887 – Mervyn S. Bennion, American captain, Medal of Honor recipient (d. 1941)
1903 – James Beard, American chef and author (d. 1985)
1921 – Arthur Leonard Schawlow, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1999)
1926 – Ann B. Davis, American actress and singer (d. 2014)
1934 – Ace Cannon, American saxophonist
1942 – Tammy Wynette, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1998)
1959 – Brian Williams, American journalist
1981 – Danielle Fishel, American actress
2000 – Bill Musselman, American basketball player and coach (b. 1940)
2001 – Morris Graves, American painter and educator (b. 1910)
2001 – Clifton Hillegass, American publisher, created CliffsNotes (b. 1918)
2007 – Theodore Harold Maiman, American-Canadian physicist and engineer, created the laser (b. 1927)
2008 – Irv Robbins, Canadian-American businessman, co-founded Baskin-Robbins (b. 1917)
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