On May 20…

1498 – Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama became the first European to reach India via the Atlantic Ocean when he arrived at Calicut.

 

1506 – Christopher Columbus died in Valladolid, Spain.

 

1768 – Dolly Madison, wife of President James Madison, was born in Guilford County, North Carolina.

 

1799 – Novelist Honoré de Balzac was born in Tours, France.

 

1862 – The U.S. Congress passed the Homestead Act, allowing any adult over the age of 21 to claim 160 acres of land from public domain.

1873 – San Francisco businessman Levi Strauss received a patent for blue jeans.

 

1875 – The International Bureau of Weights and Measures was established.

 

1908 – Actor Jimmy Stewart was born in Indiana, PA.

 

1927 – Charles Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field in New York aboard the small airplane Spirit of St. Louis, and arrived in Paris, France, thirty-one and a half hours later.

 

1985 – The Dow Jones industrial average broke the 1300 mark for the first time, gaining 19.54 points to close at 1304.88.

1995 – Under pressure from the Secret Service, President Bill Clinton authorized closure of a 2-block stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House to all non-pedestrian traffic.

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