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This day in history

Today is Thursday, May 21, the 142nd day of 2020. There are 224 days left in the year.

Birthdays: Rhythm-and-blues singer Ron Isley is 79. Musician Bill Champlin is 73. Singer Leo Sayer is 72. Actress Carol Potter is 72. Former senator and comedian Al Franken is 69. Actor Mr. T is 68. Actor Judge Reinhold is 63. Actor-director Nick Cassavetes is 61. Actress Lisa Edelstein is 54. Rapper Havoc (Mobb Deep) is 46. Country singer Cody Johnson is 33.

In 1542, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto died while searching for gold along the Mississippi River.

In 1833, the Mashpee tribe of Cape Cod signed their version of the Declaration of Independence. In it, the tribe reminded state officials that “all men are born free and Equal, as says the constitution of the country” and vowed to take action if white citizens continued to take their timber lands, hay fields, and shellfish beds. (The Legislature granted the Mashpee the right of self-government the following year.)

In 1881, Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross.


In 1910, a year-old Jewish settlement near the port city of Jaffa adopted the name Tel Aviv (Hebrew for ‘‘Hill of Spring”).

In 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh landed his Spirit of St. Louis monoplane near Paris, completing the first solo airplane flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 33 1/2 hours.

In 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean as she landed in Northern Ireland, about 15 hours after leaving Newfoundland.

In 1941, a German U-boat sank the American merchant steamship Robin Moor in the South Atlantic after the ship’s passengers and crew were allowed to board lifeboats.

In 1972, Michelangelo’s Pieta, on display at the Vatican, was damaged by a hammer-wielding man who shouted he was Jesus Christ.

In 1979, former San Francisco City Supervisor Dan White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the slayings of Mayor George Moscone and openly gay Supervisor Harvey Milk; outrage over the verdict sparked rioting. (White was sentenced to seven years and eight months in prison; he ended up serving five years and took his own life in 1985.)


In 1991, former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated during national elections by a suicide bomber.

In 2010, President Obama directed the government to set the first-ever mileage and pollution limits for big trucks and to tighten rules for future cars and SUVs.

In 2015, four Malaysian navy ships began searching for stranded boat people in the first official rescue operation since desperate migrants started washing up on Southeast Asia’s shores.

Last year, as directed by President Trump, former White House counsel Donald McGahn defied a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee to testify; McGahn had been a key figure in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, describing ways in which the president sought to curtail the probe. Angered by the empty chair in the hearing room, a growing number of House Democrats pushed for impeachment proceedings against Trump.