1540 – Hernando de Alarcón sets sail on an expedition to the Gulf of California.
1865 – American Civil War: Nathan Bedford Forrest surrenders his forces at Gainesville, Alabama.
1865 – American Civil War: President Andrew Johnson issues a proclamation ending belligerent rights of the rebels and enjoining foreign nations to intern or expel Confederate ships.
1877 – A magnitude 8.8 earthquake off the coast of Peru kills 2,541, including some as far away as Hawaii and Japan.
1887 – Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show opens in London.
1926 – Admiral Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett claim to have flown over the North Pole (later discovery of Byrd's diary appears to cast some doubt on the claim.)
1936 – Italy formally annexes Ethiopia after taking the capital Addis Ababa on May 5.
1941 – World War II: The German submarine U-110 is captured by the Royal Navy. On board is the latest Enigma machine which Allied cryptographers later use to break coded German messages.
1942 – Holocaust: The SS executes 588 Jewish residents of the Podolian town of Zinkiv (Khmelnytska oblast, Ukraine). The Zoludek Ghetto (in Belarus) is destroyed and all its inhabitants executed or deported.
1945 – World War II: Ratification in Berlin-Karlshorst of the German unconditional surrender of May 8 in Rheims, France, with the signatures of Marshal Georgy Zhukov for the Soviet Union, and for the Western Headquarters Sir Arthur Tedder, British Air Marshal and Eisenhower's deputy, and for the German side of Colonel-General Hans-Jürgen Stumpff as the representative of the Luftwaffe, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel as the Chief of Staff of OKW, and Admiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg as Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine.
1945 – World War II: The Channel Islands are liberated by the British after five years of German
1955 – Cold War: West Germany joins NATO.
1958 – Film: Vertigo has world premiere in San Francisco.
1960 – The Food and Drug Administration announces it will approve birth control as an additional indication for Searle's Enovid, making Enovid the world's first approved oral contraceptive pill.
1961 – FCC Chairman Newton N. Minow gives his Wasteland Speech.
1964 – Ngô Đình Cẩn, de facto ruler of central Vietnam under his brother President Ngo Dinh Diem before the family's toppling, is executed.
1970 – Vietnam War: In Washington, D.C., 75,000 to 100,000 war protesters demonstrate in front of the White House.
1974 – Watergate scandal: The United States House Committee on the Judiciary opens formal and public impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon.
1980 – In Florida, Liberian freighter MV Summit Venture collides with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay, making a 1,400-ft. section of the southbound span collapse. Thirty-five people in six cars and a Greyhound bus fall 150 ft. into the water and die.
1980 – In Norco, California, five masked gunmen hold up a Security Pacific bank, leading to a violent shoot-out and one of the largest pursuits in California history. Two of the gunmen and one police officer are killed and thirty-three police and civilian vehicles are destroyed in the chase.
1800 – John Brown, American activist (d. 1859)
1893 – William Moulton Marston, American psychologist and author (d. 1947)
1918 – Orville Freeman, American soldier and politician, 16th United States Secretary of Agriculture (d. 2003)
1918 – Mike Wallace, American journalist, media personality and one-time game show host (d. 2012)
1921 – Mona Van Duyn, American poet and academic (d. 2004)
1923 – Johnny Grant, American radio host and producer (d. 2008)
1928 – Ralph Goings, American painter
1928 – Pancho Gonzales, American tennis player (d. 1995)
1939 – Ralph Boston, American long jumper
1940 – James L. Brooks, American director, producer, and screenwriter
1941 – Danny Rapp, American doo-wop singer (Danny and the Juniors) (d. 1983)
1946 – Candice Bergen, American actress and producer
1948 – Steven W. Mosher, American social scientist and author
1949 – Billy Joel, American singer-songwriter and pianist
1960 – Tony Gwynn, American baseball player and coach (d. 2014)
1971 – Dan Chiasson, American poet and critic,
1972 – Dana Perino, American journalist and politician, 27th White House Press Secretary
1975 – Brian Deegan, American motocross rider
1979 – Rosario Dawson, American actress
1657 – William Bradford, English-American politician, 2nd Governor of Plymouth Colony (b. 1590)
1864 – John Sedgwick, American general and educator (b. 1813)
1889 – William S. Harney, American general (b. 1800)
1914 – C. W. Post, American businessman, founded Post Foods (b. 1854)
1968 – Mercedes de Acosta, American author, poet, and playwright (b. 1893)
1968 – Harold Gray, American cartoonist, created Little Orphan Annie (b. 1894)
2003 – Russell B. Long, American lieutenant, lawyer, and politician (b. 1918)
2004 – Alan King, American actor, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1927)
2009 – Chuck Daly, American basketball player and coach (b. 1930)
2010 – Lena Horne, American singer, actress, and activist (b. 1917)
2012 – Bertram Cohler, American psychologist, psychoanalyst, and academic (b. 1938)
2012 – Vidal Sassoon, English-American hairdresser and businessman (b. 1928)
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