Today in History

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Posted: May 20, 2012 12:00 AM
Today in History

Today is Sunday, May 20, the 141st day of 2012. There are 225 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On May 20, 1712, the first version of Alexander Pope's satirical mock-heroic poem "The Rape of the Lock" was published anonymously in Lintot's Miscellany. (Pope later revised and expanded the poem.)

On this date:

In 1799, French author Honore de Balzac (oh-nohr-AY' duh bahl-ZAHK') was born in Tours, France.

In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act, which was intended to encourage settlements west of the Mississippi River by making federal land available for farming.

In 1902, the United States ended a three-year military presence in Cuba as the Republic of Cuba was established under its first elected president, Tomas Estrada Palma.

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field in Long Island, N.Y., aboard the Spirit of St. Louis on his historic solo flight to France.

In 1932, Amelia Earhart took off from Newfoundland to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. (Because of weather and equipment problems, Earhart set down in Northern Ireland instead of her intended destination, France.)

In 1939, regular trans-Atlantic mail service began as a Pan American Airways plane, the Yankee Clipper, took off from Port Washington, N.Y., bound for Marseille, France.

In 1942, during World War II, the Office of Civilian Defense was established.

In 1959, nearly 5,000 Japanese-Americans had their U.S. citizenship restored after renouncing it during World War II.

In 1961, a white mob attacked a busload of Freedom Riders in Montgomery, Ala., prompting the federal government to send in U.S. marshals to restore order.

In 1969, U.S. and South Vietnamese forces captured Ap Bia Mountain, referred to as "Hamburger Hill" by the Americans, following one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.

In 1970, some 100,000 people demonstrated in New York's Wall Street district in support of U.S. policy in Vietnam and Cambodia.

In 1985, the FBI arrested John A. Walker Jr., who was later convicted of heading a spy ring for the Soviet Union.

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush said he wouldn't budge toward easing restrictions on trade and travel with Cuba until Fidel Castro's government took steps to hold free and fair elections and began to adopt meaningful economic reform. FBI Director Robert Mueller (MUHL'-ur), addressing district attorneys meeting in Alexandria, Va., said it was inevitable that suicide bombers like those in Israel would strike the United States. East Timor became the first new sovereign nation of the millennium. Paleontologist and author Stephen Jay Gould died in New York at age 60. Veteran Los Angeles TV newscaster Jerry Dunphy died at age 80.

Five years ago: President George W. Bush welcomed NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (yahp duh hohp SKEHF'-ur) to his Crawford, Texas, ranch, to review strategy on a flurry of issues. Gunman Jason Hamilton took his own life following a rampage in Moscow, Idaho, that killed three victims, including his wife. A pair of investment firms agreed to acquire Alltel Corp. in a deal worth $27.5 billion.

One year ago: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the idea of using his country's 1967 boundaries as the basis for a neighboring Palestinian state, declaring his objections during a face-to-face meeting with President Barack Obama, who had raised the idea in an effort to revive stalled Mideast peace talks. The former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was released from a New York City jail after spending nearly a week incarcerated on charges of trying to rape a hotel chambermaid. (The charges were later dropped.) Randy "Macho Man" Savage, 58, a larger-than-life personality from professional wrestling's 1980s heyday, died in Pinellas County, Fla.

Today's Birthdays: Actor-author James McEachin is 82. Actor Anthony Zerbe is 76. Actor David Proval is 70. Singer Joe Cocker is 68. Singer-actress Cher is 66. Actor-comedian Dave Thomas is 63. Rock musician Warren Cann is 60. Former New York Gov. David Paterson is 58. Actor Dean Butler is 56. TV-radio personality Ron Reagan is 54. Rock musician Jane Wiedlin (The Go-Go's) is 54. Actor Bronson Pinchot is 53. Singer Susan Cowsill is 53. Actor John Billingsley is 52. Actor Tony Goldwyn is 52. Singer Nick Heyward is 51. TV personality Ted Allen is 47. Actress Mindy Cohn is 46. Rock musician Tom Gorman (Belly) is 46. Actress Gina Ravera is 46. Actor Timothy Olyphant is 44. Rapper Busta Rhymes is 40. Actress Daya Vaidya (TV: "Unforgettable") is 39. Rock musician Ryan Martinie is 37. Actor Matt Czuchry is 35. Actress Angela Goethals is 35. Actress-singer Naturi Naughton is 28.

Thought for Today: "A flow of words is a sure sign of duplicity." _ Honore de Balzac (1799-1850).

(Comments, questions and suggestions can be emailed to history(at)ap.org)

(Above Advance for Use Sunday, May 20)

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