On May 19, 1795, Josiah Bartlett, a New Hampshire Patriot and signatory of the Declaration of Independence who also served as the state’s governor and Supreme Court chief justice, died.
On May 19, 1897, Oscar Wilde was released from jail after two years of hard labor. In 1891, the Marquess of Queensbury denounced Wilde as a homosexual. Wilde, who was involved with the marquess’ son, sued for libel but lost when evidence supported the marquess’ allegations. Because homosexuality was a crime in England, Wilde was arrested. His first trial resulted in a hung jury, but a second jury sentenced him to two years. After his release, Wilde fled to Paris and began writing The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898). Wilde died just three years after his release.
On May 19, 1935, T.E. Lawrence, known to the world as Lawrence of Arabia, died as a retired Royal Air Force mechanic living under an assumed name. The legendary war hero, author, and archaeological scholar succumbed to injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident six days earlier. Sent to join the Arabian army of Hussein’s son Faisal as a liaison officer in 1916, Lawrence proving a gifted military strategist, helping the Arabs launch an effective guerrilla war against the Ottoman Turks. After the war, he lobbied hard for independence for Arab countries, appearing at the Paris peace conference in Arab robes.