May 20, 685 – The Battle of Dun Nechtain was fought between a Pictish army under King Bridei III and the invading Northumbrians under King Ecgfrith, who were decisively defeated.
May 20, 1497 – John Cabot set sail from Bristol, England, on his ship Matthew looking for a route to the west (other documents give a May 2 date).
May 20, 1498 – Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to India when he arrived at Kozhikode (previously known as Calicut), India.
May 20, 1506 – Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, who is credited with discovering the Americas, passed away in poverty at the age of 54 in Valladolid, Crown of Castile, Spain.
May 20, 1520 - Hernando Cortez defeated Spanish troops that had been sent to punish him in Mexico.
May 20, 1520 – The massacre at the festival of Tóxcatl took place during the Fall of Tenochtitlan, resulting in the turn of the Aztecs against the Spanish.
May 20, 1570 – Cartographer Abraham Ortelius issued the “Theatrum Orbis Terrarum,” the first modern atlas.
May 20, 1609 – Shakespeare's sonnets were first published in London, perhaps illicitly, by the publisher Thomas Thorpe.
May 20, 1774 - Britain's Parliament passed the Coercive Acts to punish the American colonists for their increasingly anti-British behavior.
May 20, 1774 - The Parliament of Great Britain gave royal assent to the Massachusetts Government Act. The act abrogated the existing colonial charter of the Province of Massachusetts Bay and gave its royally-appointed governor wide-ranging powers.
May 20, 1774 - The Parliament of Great Britain enacted the Administration of Justice Act (Act for the Impartial Administration of Justice). The Act granted a change of venue to another British colony or Great Britain in trials of officials charged with a crime growing out of their enforcement of the law or suppression of riots.
May 20, 1775 - North Carolina became the first colony to declare its independence. This is the date that is on the George state flag even though the date of this event has been questioned.
May 20, 1776 – American-Canadian explorer Simon Fraser was born in Mapletown, New York. Fraser became a British fur trader and an explorer who charted much of what is now the Canadian province of British Columbia (B.C.). He also built the first European settlement in B.C.
May 20, 1778 - In Pennsylvania, the Battle of Barren Hill took place. British forces made an unsuccessful attempt to trap Continentals that were defending Valley Forge.
May 20, 1799 – Novelist Honore de Balzac was born in Tours, France.
May 20, 1802 – By the Law of 20 May 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte reinstated slavery in the French colonies, revoking its abolition in the French Revolution.
May 20, 1834 – Marquis de LaFayette, who visited Claiborne, Ala. on April 1825, passed away at the age of 76 in Paris, France.
May 20, 1839 – Mitchell Burford Salter was born near Evergreen, Ala. On April 20, 1861 in Evergreen, Salter enlisted as a private in Co. E, 4th Alabama Infantry. His right arm was amputated at the Battle of Gettysburg, and the bone from his arm is on display in the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C. After his discharge, he went to work for the U.S. government gathering taxes and continued that work until the war ended. Salter died in 1920 and is buried in Old Evergreen Cemetery.
May 20, 1860 – Noah Dallas Peacock (Lewis Lavon Peacock’s older brother) married 20-year-old Martha Caroline Bridges at Rocky Head, Ala.
May 20, 1861 - North Carolina became the 11th state to secede from the Union.
May 20, 1861 – During the Civil War, the state of Kentucky proclaimed its neutrality, which would last until Sept. 3 when Confederate forces entered the state.
May 20, 1861 - During the Civil War, the capital of the Confederacy was moved from Montgomery, Ala. to Richmond, Va.
May 20, 1861 – During the Civil War, an act was committed on this day which, in later days, would no doubt set off a media frenzy of unprecedented proportions, not to mention a legal and constitutional crisis. At a prearranged time (in the middle of the afternoon) every U.S. Marshall in the North went to pay a visit on the local telegraph office. There the marshals confiscated every single telegram which had been sent for the past year. The intent was to ferret out spies or suspicious patterns of messages.
May 20, 1862 - The Union Congress passed the Homestead Act of 1862. The act allowed an adult over the age of 21, male or female, to claim 160 acres of land from the public domain. Eligible persons had to cultivate the land and improve it by building a barn or house, and live on the claim for five years, at which time the land became theirs with a $10 filing fee.
May 20, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Fort Gibson in the Indian Territory and at Salem and Collierville, Tenn. The Union demonstration against Kinston, North Carolina began. The siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi entered its second day.
May 20, 1864 – During the Civil War, at the Battle of Ware Bottom Church, which was part of the Virginia Bermuda Hundred Campaign, 10,000 troops fought in this Confederate victory.
May 20, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Crooked River, Fla. and at Greenville, Miss.
May 20, 1864 – During the Civil War, Union Lt. Col. Joseph Bailey had rescued the waterborne side of the Red River Expedition earlier when he built a dam which raised the water level and allowed his ships to pass some rapids. On this day, he helped out the army of Union Gen. Nathaniel Banks, rigging a bridge out of a large number of steamships anchored and lashed side-by-side. Once the armies passed over this walkway to the side of the river they were officially supposed to be on, the ill-fated Red River Expedition was officially over at last.
May 20, 1864 - President Lincoln signed the legislation creating the Official Records.
May 20, 1865 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought near Pawnee Rock, Kansas; near Longwood, Missouri; and at Deer Creek, Wyoming.
May 20, 1871 – The people of unincorporated Greenville, Ala. voted on this day to accept a charter granted by the legislature on March 9, 1871 to incorporate the City of Greenville. John B. Lewis was elected the first Mayor of the City of Greenville.
May 20, 1883 - The Krakatoa volcano in the Sunda Strait of Indonesia began erupting on this date.
May 20, 1894 - The first bloodshed of the 1894 miners' strike occurred when a strike breaker was killed by striking miners near Birmingham, Ala. In their first show of industrial strength and discontent, 8,000 Alabama miners left the job in April 1894. The strike was over by August, as the powerful coal companies prevailed with the help of the State Militia and leased convicts.
May 20, 1905 - The George W. Foster Camp, United Confederate Veterans, held its annual meeting in the Monroe County Courthouse on this Saturday afternoon in Monroeville, Ala. Capt. Thomas J. Emmons was re-elected commander, and Capt. Thomas S. Wiggins was chosen adjutant. Thomas A. Nettles and J.A. Grace were picked as delegates to the annual reunion on June 14-16 at Louisville, Ky., and J.I. Watson and N.J. Stallworth were picked as alternates.
May 20, 1909 – Conecuh County Sheriff J.F. Irwin returned from East St. Louis, where he went to arrest a man named “Milne,” who was wanted in Conecuh County for murder.
May 20, 1915 - A movie version of Alabama author Augusta Jane Evans Wilson's book “God's Witness” was released.
May 20, 1916 - The Saturday Evening Post published its first cover with a Norman Rockwell painting, “Boy with Baby Carriage.”
May 20, 1916 - The small town of Codell, Kansas was struck by a tornado. But what was truly incredible was Codell was hit by a tornado on the same date in 1917, and yet again in 1918. Further, all three storms came through around the same time-- in the early evening.
May 20, 1919 – During World War I, Army Pvt. George Lee of Evergreen, Ala. “died from disease.”
May 20, 1920 – Montreal radio station XWA broadcast the first regularly scheduled radio programming in North America.
May 20, 1921 – National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Hal Newhouser was born in Detroit, Mich. He went on to pitch for the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.
May 20, 1922 - Author James Ralph Johnson was born in Fort Payne, Ala.
May 20, 1922 - Babe Ruth and Bob Meusel returned to the New York Yankees lineup. They had been suspended on Oct. 16, 1921.
May 20, 1927 – Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver and defensive end Bud Grant was born in Superior, Wisc. He went on to play for the University of Minnesota and the Philadelphia Eagles and he also coached the Minnesota Vikings.
May 20, 1929 – Lyeffion High School was scheduled to hold its graduation exercises, and Dr. J.B. Hobdy, director of vocational education, was to deliver the graduating address. J.T. Dykes was Lyeffion’s principal.
May 20, 1932 – Amelia Earhart took off from Newfoundland to begin the world's first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean by a female pilot, landing in Ireland the next day.
May 20, 1933 - The FBI's hunt for Bonnie and Clyde began when the United States Commissioner at Dallas, Texas issued a warrant against Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker for interstate transportion of a stolen vehicle.
May 20, 1935 – During an Evergreen City Council meeting in the office of Mayor C.A. Jones on this Monday night, traffic policeman Harry L. Riley was promoted to Chief of Police to replace J.C. Grant, who had resigned earlier that day to accept a job with the State Highway Department.
May 20, 1937 – The Monroe Journal reported that a large crowd attended the graduation exercises of the eighth grade of Goodway School, held in the school auditorium. The program was as follows: Salutatory, Cleveland Jones; Class Will, Burnett Lane; Class Prophecy, Hazel Booker; Valedictory, Evelyn White; Graduation Address, Rev. Cameron; Presentation of Diplomas; Class Song, Graduating Class. The members of the eighth-grade class were Burnett Lane, Luvern Coker, Evelyn White, Vera Nell Morris, Iva Wiggins, Mary Spears, Doris Matheny, Cleveland Jones and Hazel Booker.
May 20, 1937 – The Monroe Journal reported that the Rural Electrification Administration had advised that the contract for the construction of distribution lines in Monroe County had been approved. The transmission line was to be extended from Baldwin County into the southwest corner of Monroe County and serve homes between Uriah and the Alabama River.
May 20, 1941 - Taft Wright of the Chicago White Sox set an American League record for 13 consecutive games with RBIs.
May 20, 1942 – During a storm, three military planes crashed in Conecuh County, Ala. and five more crashed near Atmore, Ala. enroute from Crestview, Fla. to Maxwell Field in Montgomery, resulting in five deaths. All of the planes were piloted by British cadets who were assigned to Maxwell Field for training.
May 20, 1942 - Lt. Laula M. Middleton, son of Mrs. Evelyn Middleton of Fairview, Ala., was awarded his “war wings” at Foster Field, Texas after a period of intensive training since Nov. 8, 1941. Upon receiving his wings, he was immediately transferred to Orlando, Fla. for advanced training.
May 20, 1943 – The Evergreen Courant reported that, after graduating recently from the officer candidate school at Fort Sill, Okla., Winton D. McIntyre of Evergreen, Ala. was commissioned a second lieutenant in the field artillery. He was assigned to Camp Gruber, Okla.
May 20, 1946 – English-born poet W.H. Auden became a U.S. citizen.
May 20, 1946 - Claude Passeau made his first error since September 21, 1941. He set the pitcher's fielding record at 273 consecutive errorless chances.
May 20, 1947 – The first organizational meeting of the Monroeville Kiwanis Club was held at the Tally-Ho Restaurant in Monroeville, Ala. and Owen Ivey was elected as the club’s first president.
May 20, 1950 – Seven people were killed in a two-vehicle accident on this Saturday morning around 6:15 a.m. on the Loree Road, just inside the city limits of Evergreen, Ala. Those killed included Jay Sawyer, 30, of Frisco City; Leonard Bryant, 21, of Frisco City; Walter Johnson, 26, of Frisco City; James Johnson, 25, of Frisco City; and General Rodgers, 33, of Monroeville; Mario Salter of Evergreen; and Mary Bozeman.
May 20, 1953 - Using a phrase that would haunt Americans in later years – “Now we can see [success in Vietnam] clearly, like light at the end of a tunnel” – Gen. Henri Navarre assumed command of French Union Forces in Vietnam. The French had been fighting a bloody war against communist insurgents in Vietnam since 1946. The insurgents, the Viet Minh, were fighting for independence and the French were trying to reassert their colonial rule in Indochina.
May 20, 1959 - The New York Yankees were in last place for the first time since May 25, 1940.
May 20, 1961 - The Freedom Riders arrived at the Greyhound bus terminal in Montgomery, Ala. where they are attacked by an angry mob. The Freedom Ride, an integrated bus trip from Washington D.C., through the Deep South, was formed to test the 1960 Supreme Court decision prohibiting segregation in bus and train terminal facilities. Before reaching Montgomery, they had already suffered violent reprisals in Anniston and Birmingham. The Freedom Ride eventually resulted in a campaign that caused the Interstate Commerce Commission to rule against segregated facilities in interstate travel.
May 20, 1966 – Army PFC Obie Clyde Simmons of Brewton, Ala. was killed in action in Vietnam.
May 20, 1969 – The Battle of Hamburger Hill in Vietnam ended. After 10 days and 10 bloody assaults, Hill 937 in South Vietnam was finally captured by U.S. and South Vietnamese troops. The Americans who fought there cynically dubbed Hill 937 “Hamburger Hill” because the battle and its high casualty rate reminded them of a meat grinder.
May 20, 1971 - Peter Cetera of the band Chicago was beaten up by four men at a Chicago Cubs-Dodgers baseball game. The men objected to the length of Cetera's hair. Cetera underwent four hours of emergency surgery.
May 20, 1976 – Major League Baseball catcher Ramón Hernández was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He went on to play for the Oakland Athletics, the San Diego Padres, the Baltimore Orioles, the Cincinnati Reds, the Colorado Rockies and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
May 20, 1978 - Mavis Hutchinson, at age 53, became the first woman to run across America. It took Hutchinson 69 days to run the 3,000 miles.
May 20, 1980 - The submarine Nautilus was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
May 20, 1980 – Evergreen, Alabama’s new park and recreation area was officially named Evergreen Municipal Park in an action by the Evergreen City Council during a meeting on this Tuesday night.
May 20, 1980 – At around 1:15 a.m., a tornado struck Conecuh County, Ala., causing damage in and around Evergreen. The storm damaged the residence of Circuit Judge Robert E.L. Key, including a pickup truck and house, and the yards of Mabry Cook and Harry Ellis. Two businesses, Evergreen Fertilizer & Chemical Co. and Daniels Floorcovering, also suffered damages, and there was extensive loss from damage to timber.
May 20, 1982 – The Monroe Journal reported that the Conecuh County Sheriff’s Department was investigating a cross-burning during the previous week on the lawn in front of Repton High School. Deputy Sheriff James Lambert said Repton principal David Johnson reported the cross-burning in front of the school sign when he discovered it at the beginning of school on Wed., May 12. The cross was burned sometime late Tues., May 11, or early Wed., May 12, Lambert said, and although the incident appeared to be a prank, it was under investigation.
May 20, 1984 - Roger Clemens got his first pitching victory.
May 20, 1988 - Mike Schmidt hit his 535th home run to move into eighth place on the all-time list.
May 20, 1991 - Jeff Reardon got his 300th career pitching save.
May 20, 1995 - Marty Cordova tied a rookie record when he recorded home runs in five consecutive games.
May 20, 1997 - Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox reached base safely for the 15th straight time.
May 20, 2005 – Don Hand became the head football coach at Sparta Academy in Evergreen, Ala., replacing Gerry Watson.
May 20, 2006 - Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants tied Babe Ruth for second place with his 714th career home run.