1494 - Christopher Columbus sighted Jamaica on his second trip to the Western Hemisphere. He named the island Santa Gloria.
1798 - U.S. Secretary of War William McHenry ordered that the USS Constitution be made ready for sea. The frigate was launched on October 21, 1797, but had never been put to sea.
1809 - Mary Kies was awarded the first patent to go to a woman. It was for technique for weaving straw with silk and thread.
1814 - The British attacked the American forces at Ft. Ontario, Oswego, NY.
1834 - The first mainland railway line opened in Belgium.
1862 - The Battle of Puebla took place. It is celebrated as Cinco de Mayo Day.
1865 - The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified, abolishing slavery in the U.S.
1891 - Music Hall was dedicated in New York City. It was later renamed Carnegie Hall.
1892 - The U.S. Congress extended the Geary Chinese Exclusion Act for 10 more years. The act required Chinese in the U.S. to be registered or face deportation.
1901 - The first Catholic mass for night workers was held at the Church of St. Andrew in New York City.
1904 - The third perfect game of the major leagues was thrown by Cy Young (Boston Red Sox) against the Philadelphia Athletics. It was the first perfect game under modern rules.
1912 - Soviet Communist Party newspaper Pravda began publishing.
1916 - U.S. Marines invaded the Dominican Republic.
1917 - Eugene Jacques Bullard becomes the first African-American aviator when he earned his flying certificate with the French Air Service.
1925 - John T. Scopes, a biology teacher in Dayton, TN, was arrested for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution.
1926 - Eisenstein's film "Battleship Potemkin" was shown in Germany for the first time.
1926 - Sinclair Lewis refused a 1925 Pulitzer for "Arrowsmith."
1936 - Edward Ravenscroft received a patent for the screw-on bottle cap with a pour lip.
1945 - The Netherlands and Denmark were liberated from Nazi control.
1945 - A Japanese balloon bomb exploded on Gearhart Mountain in Oregon. A pregnant woman and five children were killed.
1955 - "Damn Yankees" opened on Broadway.
1955 - The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) became a sovereign state.
1956 - Jim Bailey became the first runner to break the four-minute mile in the U.S. He was clocked at 3:58.5.
1961 - Alan Shepard became the first American in space when he made a 15 minute suborbital flight.
1966 - Willie Mays broke the National League record for home runs when he hit his 512th.
1978 - Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds registered his 3,000th major league hit.
1984 - The Itaipu Dam opened on the Paraná River between Brazil and Paraguay.
1987 - The U.S. congressional Iran-Contra hearings opened.
1991 - In New York, Carnegie Hall marked its 100th anniversary.
1997 - Dolores Hope received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
1997 - Ivan Reitman received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
2000 - The final episode of "Boy Meets World" aired on ABC.