• On May 20, 1506, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus dies in Spain. Columbus, and most others, underestimated the world’s size, calculating that East Asia must lie about where North America sits on the globe.
• On May 23, 1701, at London’s Execution Dock, British privateer William Kidd, known as Captain Kidd, is hanged for piracy and murder. In 1695, Kidd was commissioned to defend English ships from pirates in the Red Sea. When arrested with a shipload of treasure, Kidd’s Whig sponsors failed to back his claims of legitimacy.
• On May 19, 1715, the colony of New York passes a law making it illegal to “gather, rake, take up, or bring to the market, any oysters whatsoever” between the months of May and September. The regulation was intended to help preserve certain species.
• On May 24, 1844, before members of Congress, American inventor Samuel F.B. Morse dispatches a telegraph message from the U.S. Capitol to a railroad station in Baltimore. The message — “What Hath God Wrought?” — was telegraphed back to the Capitol a moment later.
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