First Posted: 5/1/2014
The History Channel
* On May 22, 1843, a massive wagon train, made up of 1,000 settlers, sets off down the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri. Known as the “Great Emigration,” the expedition finally arrived in October, completing the 2,000-mile journey in five months.
* On May 25, 1878, Gilbert and Sullivan’s “HMS Pinafore” premieres at the Opera-Comique in London, beginning a near-record run of 571 performances. The story of Pinafore concerns a First Lord of the Admiralty who is thwarted in his attempt to woo and marry the beautiful young daughter of a British Navy ship’s captain.
* On May 21, 1901, Connecticut becomes the first state to pass a law regulating motor vehicles, limiting their speed to 12 mph in cities and 15 mph on country roads. The proposed legislation had requested a speed limit of 8 mph within city limits.
* On May 23, 1911, the New York Public Library, the largest marble structure ever constructed in the United States, is dedicated in New York City. The day after its dedication, some 40,000 citizens passed through to make use of a collection that already consisted of more than a million books.
* On May 19, 1935, T.E. Lawrence, a former British Army officer known to the world as Lawrence of Arabia, dies as a retired Royal Air Force mechanic living under an assumed name. The legendary war hero, author and archaeological scholar succumbed to injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident six days earlier.
* On May 20, 1969, Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), in a Senate speech, condemns the battle for Ap Bia Mountain in Vietnam, which had become known as “Hamburger Hill.” During the intense fighting, 597 North Vietnamese were reported killed and U.S. casualties were 56 killed and 420 wounded.
* May 24, 1989, “Sex, lies and videotape,” the debut feature from the 26-year-old writer-director Steven Soderbergh, wins the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. The $1.2 million film was aggressively marketed by its distributor, Miramax Films, and went on to gross some $26 million.