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This day in history

Today is Friday, May 22, the 143rd day of 2020. There are 223 days left in the year.

Birthdays: Actor Michael Constantine is 93. Conductor Peter Nero is 86. Actor-director Richard Benjamin is 82. Actor Frank Converse is 82. Former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw is 80. Actress Barbara Parkins is 78. Retired MLB All-Star pitcher Tommy John is 77. Songwriter Bernie Taupin is 70. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is 63. Singer Morrissey is 61. Actor Mark Christopher Lawrence is 56. Former White House press secretary Jay Carney is 55. New Edition singer Johnny Gill is 54. Actor Michael Kelly is 51. Model Naomi Campbell is 50. Actress Anna Belknap is 48. Actor Sean Gunn is 46. Actress Ginnifer Goodwin is 42. Olympic gold medal speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno is 38. Tennis player Novak Djokovic is 33. Actress Camren Bicondova is 21.


In 1761, the first American life insurance policy was issued in Philadelphia to a Reverend Francis Allison, whose premium was six pounds per year.

In 1813, composer Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig, Germany.

In 1856, Preston Brooks, a congressman from South Carolina, viciously clubbed Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the Senate in retribution for a passionate anti-slavery speech Sumner had made three days before. (Sumner would not be able to return to the chamber for almost four years and would remain impaired by the attack but he continued to be a vociferous voice for equal rights for Blacks.)

In 1915, the Lassen Peak volcano in Northern California exploded, devastating nearby areas but causing no deaths.

In 1939, the foreign ministers of Germany and Italy, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Galeazzo Ciano, signed a ‘‘Pact of Steel’’ committing the two countries to a military alliance.

In 1960, an earthquake of magnitude 9.5, the strongest ever measured, struck southern Chile, claiming some 1,655 lives.


In 1962, Continental Airlines Flight 11, en route from Chicago to Kansas City, Missouri, crashed after a bomb apparently brought on board by a passenger exploded, killing all 45 occupants of the Boeing 707.

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson, speaking at the University of Michigan, outlined the goals of his ‘‘Great Society,’’ saying that it ‘‘rests on abundance and liberty for all’’ and ‘‘demands an end to poverty and racial injustice.’’

In 1968, the nuclear-powered submarine Scorpion, with 99 men aboard, sank in the Atlantic Ocean. (The remains of the sub were later found on the ocean floor 400 miles southwest of the Azores.)

In 1992, after a reign of nearly 30 years, Johnny Carson hosted NBC’s ‘‘Tonight Show’’ for the final time (Jay Leno took over three days later).

In 1998, a federal judge ruled that Secret Service agents could be compelled to testify before the grand jury in the Monica Lewinsky investigation. Voters in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland turned out to cast ballots giving resounding approval to a Northern Ireland peace accord.

In 2011, a tornado devastated Joplin, Mo., with winds up to 250 miles per hour, claiming at least 159 lives and destroying about 8,000 homes and businesses.

In 2014, Thailand’s military seized power in a bloodless coup.

In 2015, Ireland’s citizens voted in a landslide to legalize gay marriage, with 62.1 percent saying ‘‘yes’’ to changing the nation’s constitution to define marriage as a union between two people regardless of their gender. Mexican federal police got into a gunbattle with drug cartel suspects at a ranch in the western state of Michoacan; of the 43 people killed, all but one were suspected criminals, raising questions how the operation went down.


In 2017, a suicide bomber set off an improvised explosive device that killed 22 people at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.

Last year, President Trump abruptly stalked out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders, declaring he would no longer work with Democrats unless they dropped all investigations in the aftermath of the special counsel’s Trump-Russia report.