1846: After a series of hostilities between Mexican and American troops along the border, the United States declares war on Mexico, starting the Mexican-American War.
1865: More than a month after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender, the last land battle of the Civil War ends with a Confederate victory at the Battle of Palmito Ranch on the banks of the Rio Grande in far south Texas Two weeks later, Texan forces surrendered formally on May 26, 1865.
1914: Boxer Joe Louis, considered to be one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, is born in Lafayette, Ala. Nicknamed the "Brown Bomber," Louis was the World Heavyweight Champion from 1937 to 1949, setting a heavyweight division record in successfully defending his title 25 times. He retired in 1951 with a career record of 66 wins (52 by knockout), three losses and one no contest.
1922: Actress, comedienne and singer Bea Arthur (far right), best known for her TV work on the sitcoms "All in the Family," "Maude" and "The Golden Girls," is born Bernice Frankel in New York City. Arthur was a successful stage actress both before and after her television success, winning the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance as Vera Charles in the original cast of "Mame" in 1966. Arthur, who died of cancer at age 86 on April 25, 2009, is seen here in 2004 with her "Golden Girls" co-stars Betty White and Rue McClanahan.
1931: Jim Jones, the founder and leader of the Peoples Temple, best known for the 1978 cult murder/suicide of 909 of its members in Jonestown, Guyana, is born in Randolph County, Ind. Jones died of self-inflicted gunshot wound during the 1978 mass suicide.
1939: Actor Harvey Keitel, best known for movies such as "Mean Streets," "Taxi Driver," "Thelma & Louise," "Reservoir Dogs," "Pulp Fiction" and "The Piano," is born in Brooklyn, N.Y.
1940: Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands flees her country to England after the Nazi invasion. As the Queen constitutionally was part of the government, the country's cabinet decided after heated discussion to follow suit and sailed from the country later in the day to form a government in exile in London.
1941: Singer-songwriter and guitarist Ritchie Valens, best known for the hit songs "La Bamba," "Come On, Let's Go" and "Donna," is born Richard Steven Valenzuela in Los Angeles, Calif. Valens had a recording career that lasted all of eight months before dying at age 17 in the same Feb. 3, 1959, plane crash that claimed Buddy Holly and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson.
1943: German Afrika Korps and Italian troops in North Africa surrender to Allied forces during World War II.
1943: Singer-songwriter Mary Wells, one of Motown's first singing superstars best known for songs such as "My Guy," "You Beat Me to the Punch" and "Two Lovers," is born in Detroit, Mich.
1950: Singer-songwriter, musician and record producer Stevie Wonder, best known for hit songs such as "Superstition," "Sir Duke," "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" and "I Just Called to Say I Love You," is born Stevland Hardaway Judkins in Saginaw, Mich. Signed to Motown's Tamla label at the age of 11, Wonder has since recorded more than 30 U.S. top 10 hits and received 22 Grammys, the most ever awarded to a male solo artist.
1954: The original Broadway production of "The Pajama Game" opens. The following year it would win three Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical, and Best Choreography. The musical would run for a total of 1,063 performances before its original production came to an end on Nov. 24, 1956. This production is noted for starting the career of actress Shirley MacLaine, who served as an understudy for Carol Haney and starred in the musical for several months while Haney recovered from a broken ankle.
1957: Filmmaker Alan Ball, best known for writing the Oscar-winning movie "American Beauty" and creating the HBO series "Six Feet Under" and "True Blood," is born in Atlanta, Ga. Ball won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a Writers Guild Award for "American Beauty" and earned an Emmy and awards from the Directors and Producers guilds for his work on "Six Feet Under."
1958: Ben Carlin becomes the first (and only) person to circumnavigate the world by amphibious vehicle, having travelled more than 11,000 miles by sea and 39,000 miles by land during a 10-year journey.
1961: Actor Gary Cooper, best known for movies such as "High Noon," "City Streets," "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," "The Pride of the Yankees" and "Sergeant York," dies of prostate cancer at the age of 60 in Los Angeles, Calif. Cooper received five Academy Award nominations for Best Actor, winning for "High Noon" and "Sergeant York."
1961: Basketball Hall of Fame forward Dennis Rodman, who won five NBA titles with the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls, is born in Trenton, N.J. He earned NBA All-Defensive First Team honors seven times and was voted NBA Defensive Player of the Year twice. Rodman, who also played for the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, led the NBA in rebounds per game for a record seven consecutive seasons between 1991-92 and 1997-98.
1964: Political satirist, comedian, actor and TV host Stephen Colbert, best known as the host of the satirical news show "The Colbert Report," is born in Washington, D.C. Colbert also appeared in the TV shows "Dana Carvey Show," "Strangers with Candy" and "The Daily Show," the last of which "The Colbert Report" was spun off from.
1966: Singer-songwriter and guitarist Darius Rucker, who first found fame in the 1990s as the frontman of rock band Hootie & the Blowfish, is born in Charleston, S.C. After releasing a solo R&B album in 2002, he signed to Capitol Records Nashville as a country music artist and released his first country album in 2008. His first single off that album, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It," made him the first black artist to chart a No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs charts since Charley Pride in 1983. He has since recorded the No. 1 country hits "It Won't Be Like This for Long," "Alright," "Come Back Song," "This" and "Wagon Wheel."
1970: The Beatles film "Let It Be" premieres in New York City. The documentary captures the band rehearsing and recording songs for the album "Let It Be" in January 1969. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr collectively won an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for the film.
1972: Actor Dan Blocker, best known for his role as Eric "Hoss" Cartwright in the western TV series "Bonanza," dies at age 43 of a pulmonary embolism following gallbladder surgery in Los Angeles, Calif.
1975: Musician, songwriter, and bandleader Bob Wills, considered by many as one of the founders of Western swing along with his band the Texas Playboys, dies of pneumonia at the age of 70 in Fort Worth, Texas. He had suffered a stroke in 1973 that had left him comatose until his death. Some of Wills' biggest hits included "Cherokee Maiden," "Spanish Two Step," "Steel Guitar Rag," "San Antonio Rose" and "Faded Love."
1976: The ninth and final American Basketball Association championship comes to a close with Julius Erving and the New York Nets beating the Denver Nuggets 112-106 to win the series 4-2. After the season the Nets and Nuggets would join the NBA along with the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs while the ABA folded.
1981: Mehmet Ali A?ca attempts to assassinate Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square at Vatican City, shooting him four times. The Pope suffers severe blood loss but survives after being rushed to the Agostino Gemelli University Polyclinic to undergo emergency surgery. A?ca was apprehended immediately, and later sentenced to life in prison by an Italian court. In June 2000, he was pardoned by Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi at the pope's request and deported to Turkey, where was imprisoned for a murder and two bank raids he committed in the 1970s. A?ca was released from prison in January 2010, after almost 29 years behind bars in Italy and Turkey. Today the location of the shooting is marked by a stone tablet in St. Peter's Square. Pope John Paul II also survived a second assassination attempt on May 12, 1982, one day shy of the one-year anniversary of the first attempt on his life.
1984: "The Fantasticks" becomes the longest-running musical in theater history with its 10,000th performance. The off-Broadway show, which opened on May 3, 1960, would go on for another 7,162 performances before closing on Jan. 13, 2002.
1985: Tipper Gore, the wife of U.S. Sen. Al Gore, announces the formation of the Parents Music Resource Center with 3 other politically-connected women after listening to the Prince song "Darling Nikki." The group would pressure the RIAA to establish a ratings system for albums and concerts like there exists in movies, and also to keep offensive album covers out of view in record stores. They end up getting "Parental Advisory" warning stickers on albums with offensive lyrics.
1986: Actress, writer and director Lena Dunham (center), best known as the creator and star of the HBO series "Girls," is born in New York City.
1986: Actor Robert Pattinson, best known for playing vampire Edward Cullen in the "Twilight Saga" movies, is born in London, England. Pattinson has also starred in movies such as "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," "Remember Me" and "Water for Elephants."
1989: Nearly a month into their protests, large groups of students occupying Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, begin a hunger strike. The student demonstrators would continue to occupy the square in the heart of the country's capital until a military crackdown on June 3-4 resulted in bloodshed. Estimates of those killed in the crackdown range from several hundred to several thousand.
1992: The two-part series finale of the sitcom "Night Court" airs. The episode was not the last original episode broadcast of the show, though. Another episode, "The 1992 Boat Show," which was originally supposed to be broadcast on May 6, ran on May 31, 1992, and would end up being the 194th and final episode of the series. The show lasted for nine seasons and was a top 30 hit in the ratings from it second to its seventh seasons, peaking at No. 7 in both its fourth and fifth seasons.
1994: Johnny Carson makes his last television appearance on "Late Show with David Letterman." After emerging from behind the curtain to a standing ovation, Carson requested to sit behind Letterman's desk, did so for a few moments as the audience continued to cheer and applaud, and then left the stage without saying a word to the audience.
1995: Thirty-two-year-old British mother Alison Hargreaves becomes the first woman to conquer Mount Everest without oxygen or the help of Sherpas.
2011: Two suicide bombers attack a paramilitary force academy in the Charsadda District of Pakistan, killing 98 and wounding 140. The Islamist militant group Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan would officially claim responsibility for the bombing, saying the attack was in revenge for Osama bin Laden's death earlier in the month.
2011: NHL left winger Derek Boogaard, who played six seasons combined for the Minnesota Wild and the New York Rangers, dies in Minneapolis, Minn., at age 28 from an accidental drug and alcohol overdose while recovering from a concussion. A posthumous examination of his brain found he had suffered from the degenerative brain condition chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Boogaard, who is seen here (at left) fighting with Toronto Maple Leafs forward Colton Orr during a 2010 game, was known primarily as a fighter and enforcer throughout his career, making him a fan favorite.
2011: The comedy "Bridesmaids," starring Kristen Wiig as woman who suffers a series of misfortunes after being asked to serve as maid of honor for her best friend, premieres in theaters. The film became a hit, grossing more than $288 million worldwide. The movie, which was also co-written by Wiig, would go on to earn a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and two Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress for Melissa McCarthy and Best Original Screenplay.
2012: Bass player, songwriter, record producer and actor Donald "Duck" Dunn, known for his 1960s recordings with Booker T. & the M.G.'s and as a session bassist for Stax Records, dies in his sleep at the age of 70 in Tokyo, Japan. Dunn also played in recording sessions for everyone from Eric Clapton to Bob Dylan and Otis Redding to Stevie Nicks and was a regular member of the Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi's Blues Brothers Band, appearing as himself in both "Blues Brothers" movies.