May 1, 1960 an American U-2 spy plane was shot down over central Russia. The incident caused a cancellation of a meeting between Eisenhower and Khrushchev. The pilot, CIA agent Francis Gary Powers, survived, was tried, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was released to America in exchange for an imprisoned Soviet spy two years later. He died in a helicopter crash in 1977.
May 4, 1970 National Guardsmen opened fire on a crowd of 1,000 students at Kent State University killing four – Allison Krause, 19; Sandra Lee Scheuer, 20; Jeffrey Glenn Miller, 20; and William K. Schroeder, 19. They were protesting President Richard Nixon’s decision to invade Cambodia. Eleven others were wounded. Click here to read more.
May 14, 1804 Meriwether Lewis and William Clark departed St. Louis to explore the Northwest. They arrived at the Pacific coast of Oregon in November of 1805 and returned in September of 1806, completing a journey of about 6,000 miles. Click here to read more.
May 20, 1862 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act opening millions of acres of government owned land in the West to “homesteaders” who could acquire up to 160 acres by living on the land and cultivating it for five years, paying just $1.25 per acre.
May 24, 1844 – Telegraph inventor Samuel Morse sent the first official telegraph message, “What hath God wrought?” from the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., to Baltimore. Click here to read more.
May 30, 1943 During World War II the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska were retaken by the U.S. 7th Infantry Division. The battle began on May 12 when an American force of 11,000 landed on Attu. After three weeks of fighting the U.S. casualties numbered 552 killed and 1,140 wounded. The Japanese losses numbered 2,352, with only 28 taken prisoner, as 500 chose suicide rather than be captured.