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May 1st - Observed as May Day, a holiday and spring
festival since ancient times, also observed in socialist countries as a workers'
holiday or Labor Day.
May 1, 1707 - Great
Britain was formed from a union between England and Scotland. The union
included Wales which had already been part of England since the 1500's.
The United Kingdom today consists of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
May 1, 1960 - An American
U-2 spy plane flying at 60,000 feet was shot down over Sverdlovsk in
central Russia on the eve of a summit meeting between President Dwight
D. Eisenhower and Soviet Russia's Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The sensational
incident caused a cancellation of the meeting and heightened existing Cold War
tensions. The pilot, CIA agent Francis Gary Powers, survived the crash,
and was tried, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Russian
court. Two years later he was released to America in exchange for an
imprisoned Soviet spy. On his return to America, Powers encountered a hostile
public which apparently believed he should not have allowed himself
to be captured alive. He died in a helicopter crash in 1977.
May 1, 2004 -
Eight former Communist nations and two Mediterranean countries joined the European Union (EU) marking its largest-ever expansion. The new members included Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, along with the island of Malta and the Greek portion of the island of Cyprus. They joined 15 countries already in the EU, representing in all 450 million persons.
Birthday - Irish-born
American labor leader Mary 'Mother' Jones (1830-1930) was born in County
Cork, Ireland. She endured misfortune early in life as her husband and
four children died in the yellow fever epidemic of 1867. She also lost
all of her belongings in the Chicago Fire of 1871. She then devoted
herself to organizing and advancing the cause of Labor, using the slogan,
"Join the Union, boys." She also sought to prohibit child
labor. She remained active until the very end, giving her last speech
on her 100th birthday.
Birthday - World
War II General Mark Clark (1896-1984) was born in Madison Barracks,
New York. He commanded the U.S. Fifth Army which invaded Italy in September
of 1943, fighting a long and brutal campaign against stubborn German opposition.
Birthday - African American Olympic athlete Archie Williams (1915-1993) was born
in Oakland, California. Williams, along with Jesse Owens, defeated German
athletes at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and helped debunk Adolf Hitler's
theory of Aryan racial superiority. Williams won a gold medal in the
400-meter race. After the Olympics, he went on to earn a mechanical
engineering degree from the University of California-Berkeley but faced
discrimination and wound up digging ditches. He later became an airplane
pilot and trained Tuskegee Institute pilots including the black air
corp of World War II.
May 2, 2011 - U.S. Special Operations Forces killed Osama bin Laden during a raid on his secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The raid marked the culmination of a decade-long manhunt for the elusive leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization based in the Middle East. Bin Laden had ordered the coordinated aerial attacks of September 11th, 2001, in which four American passenger jets were hijacked then crashed, killing nearly 3,000 persons. Two jets had struck and subsequently collapsed the 110-story Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, while another struck the Pentagon building in Washington, D.C. A fourth jet also headed toward Washington had crashed into a field in Pennsylvania as passengers attempted to overpower the hijackers on board.
Birthday - Pope
Leo XIII (1810-1903) was born in Carpino, Italy (as Gioacchino Pecci).
He was elected Pope in 1878 at age 67 and lived to govern the church
another 25 years, laying the foundation for modernization of Church
attitudes toward a rapidly industrializing and changing world.
Birthday - Italian
writer and statesman Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was born in Florence,
Italy. He offered a blunt, realistic view of human nature and power
in his works The Prince and Discourses on Livy.
Birthday - Golda
Meir (1898-1978) was born in Kiev, Russia. She was one of the founders
of the modern state of Israel and served as prime minister from 1969
May 4, 1494 - During
his second journey of exploration in the New World, Christopher Columbus
May 4, 1886 - The
Haymarket Square Riot occurred in Chicago after 180 police officers
advanced on 1,300 persons gathered in the square listening to speeches
of labor activists and anarchists. A bomb was thrown. Seven policemen were
killed and over 50 wounded. Four anarchists were then charged with conspiracy
to kill, convicted and hanged while another committed suicide in jail.
Three others were given lengthy jail terms.
May 4, 1970 - At
Kent State University, four students - Allison Krause, 19; Sandra Lee
Scheuer, 20; Jeffrey Glenn Miller, 20; and William K. Schroeder, 19
- were killed by National Guardsmen who opened fire on a crowd of 1,000
students protesting President Richard Nixon's decision to invade Cambodia.
Eleven others were wounded. The shootings set off tumultuous campus
demonstrations across America resulting in the temporary closing of
over 450 colleges and universities.
May 5 Return
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May 5th - Celebrated
in Mexico as Cinco de Mayo, a national holiday in remembrance of the
Battle of Puebla in 1862, in which Mexican troops under General Ignacio
Zaragoza, outnumbered three to one, defeated the invading French forces
of Napoleon III.
May 5, 1865 - Decoration Day was first observed in the U.S., with the tradition of decorating
soldiers' graves from the Civil War with flowers. The observance date was later moved to May 30th and included American graves from World War I and World War II, and became better known as Memorial Day. In 1971, Congress moved Memorial Day to the last Monday in May, thus creating a three-day holiday weekend.
May 5, 1893 - The
Wall Street Crash of 1893 began as stock prices fell dramatically. By
the end of the year, 600 banks closed and several big railroads were
in receivership. Another 15,000 businesses went bankrupt amid 20 percent
unemployment. It was the worst economic crisis in U.S. history up to
May 5, 1961 - Alan Shepard became the first American in space. He piloted the spacecraft Freedom 7 during a 15-minute 28-second suborbital flight that reached an altitude of 116 miles (186 kilometers) above the earth. Shepard’s success occurred 23 days after the Russians had launched the first-ever human in space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, during an era of intense technological competition between the Russians and Americans called the Space Race.
Birthday - Communism founder Karl Marx (1818-1883) was born in Treves, Germany.
He co-authored Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto, advocating
the abolition of all private property and a system in which workers
own all the means of production, land, factories and machinery.
Birthday - Pioneering
American journalist Nellie Bly (1867-1922) was born in Cochran's Mills, Pennsylvania (as Elizabeth
Cochrane). She was a social reformer and human rights advocate who once
posed as an inmate in an insane asylum to expose inhumane conditions.
She is best known for her 1889-90 tour around the world in 72 days,
beating by eight days the time of Phileas Fogg, fictional hero of Jules
Verne's novel Around the World in Eighty Days.
May 6, 1527 - The
Renaissance ended with the Sack of Rome by German troops as part of
an ongoing conflict between the Hapsburg Empire and the French Monarchy.
German troops killed over 4,000 Romans, imprisoned the Pope, and looted
works of art and libraries. An entire year passed before order could
be restored in Rome.
May 6, 1937 - The
German airship Hindenburg burst into flames at 7:20 p.m. as it neared
the mooring mast at Lakehurst, New Jersey, following a trans-Atlantic
voyage. Thirty six of the 97 passengers and crew were killed. The inferno
was caught on film and also witnessed by a commentator who broke down
amid the emotional impact and exclaimed, "Oh, the humanity!"
The accident effectively ended commercial airship traffic.
Birthday - Psychoanalysis founder Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was born in Freiberg, Moravia.
His theories became the foundation for treating psychiatric disorders
by psychoanalysis and offered some of the first workable cures for mental
Birthday - Explorer
Robert E. Peary (1856-1920) was born in Cresson, Pennsylvania. He organized
and led eight Arctic expeditions and reached the North Pole on April
6, 1909. In another expedition, he proved Greenland is an island. He
also proved the polar ice cap extends beyond 82° north latitude,
and discovered the Melville meteorite.
May 7, 1915 - The
British passenger ship Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine off the
coast of Ireland, losing 1,198 of its 1,924 passengers, including 114
Americans. The attack hastened neutral America's entry into World War
May 7, 1945 - In
a small red brick schoolhouse in Reims, Germany, General Alfred
Jodl signed the unconditional surrender of all German fighting forces
thus ending World War II in Europe. Russian, American, British and French
ranking officers observed the signing of the document which became effective
at one minute past midnight on May 9th. Jodl was then ushered in
to see Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who curtly
asked Jodl if he fully understood the document. Eisenhower then informed
Jodl that he would be held personally responsible for any deviation
from the terms of the surrender. Jodl was then ushered away.
May 7, 1954 - The
French Indochina War ended with the fall of Dien Bien Phu, in a stunning
victory by the Vietnamese over French colonial forces in northern Vietnam. The country was then in divided in half at the 17th parallel,
with South Vietnam created in 1955.
Birthday - Composer
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was born in Hamburg, Germany. He composed
over 300 songs and numerous orchestral, choral, piano, and chamber works,
including his German Requiem commemorating the death of his mother.
Birthday - American
poet Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982) was born in Glencoe, Illinois. He
was awarded three Pulitzer Prizes, and was also a playwright, editor,
lawyer, professor, farmer, and served as Librarian of Congress from
1939 to 1944.
May 8, 1942 - During
World War II in the Pacific, the Battle of the Coral Sea began in which
Japan would suffer its first defeat of the war. The battle, fought off
New Guinea, marked the first time in history that two opposing naval
forces fought by only using aircraft without the opposing ships ever sighting
May 8, 1945 - A second German surrender ceremony was held in Berlin. Soviet Russia's leader Josef Stalin had refused
to recognize the German surrender document signed a day earlier at Reims. This time,
German Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel signed
the surrender document which declared, as did the first,
that hostilities would end as of 12:01 a.m. on May 9th.
Birthday - International
Red Cross founder and Nobel Prize winner Henri Dunant (1828-1910) was
born in Geneva, Switzerland. He was also a founder of the YMCA and organized
the Geneva Conventions of 1863 and 1864.
Birthday - Harry
S. Truman (1884-1972) the 33rd U.S. President was born in Lamar,
Missouri. He became president upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt
in April 1945. Two weeks after becoming president he was informed
of the top secret Atomic bomb project. In the war against Japan, an
Allied invasion of Japan was being planned which would cost a minimum
of 250,000 American lives. Truman then authorized the dropping of the
bomb. On August 6, 1945, the first bomb exploded over Hiroshima, followed
by a second bomb dropped
on Nagasaki on August 9th. The next day, Japan sued for peace. Truman
served as President until January of 1953. He was the last of only nine U.S.
Presidents who did not attend college. His straightforward, honest,
no-nonsense style earned him the nickname, "Give 'em hell, Harry."
May 9th - Victory
Day in Russia, a national holiday commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany
during the "Great Patriotic War" (World War II) honoring the 20 million Russians who died in the war.
May 9, 1862 - During
the American Civil War, General David
Hunter, Union commander of the Department of the South, issued orders
freeing the slaves in South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. He did so
without congressional or presidential approval. The orders were countermanded
by President Abraham Lincoln ten days later.
Birthday - Abolitionist
leader John Brown (1800-1859)
was born in Torrington, Connecticut. He led an attack on the federal
arsenal at Harpers Ferry in October of 1859, to secure weapons for his
"army of emancipation" to liberate slaves. Inside the arsenal,
Brown and his followers held 60 hostages and managed to hold out against
the local militia but finally surrendered to U.S. Marines under the
command of Colonel Robert E. Lee. Ten of Brown's men, including two of
his sons, were killed. Brown was taken prisoner. He was convicted by
the Commonwealth of Virginia of treason, murder, and inciting slaves
to rebellion, and hanged on December 2, 1859.
May 10 Return
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May 10, 1869 - The
newly constructed tracks of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railways
were first linked at Promontory Point, Utah. A golden spike was driven
by Leland Stanford, president of the Central Pacific, to celebrate
the linkage. It is said that he missed the spike on his first swing
which brought roars of laughter from men who had driven thousands
upon thousands of spikes themselves.
May 10, 1889 - A
riot erupted outside the Astor Place Opera House in New York as British
actor William Charles Macready performed inside. Angry crowds revolted
against dress requirements for admission and against Macready's public
statements on the vulgarity of American life. The mob then shattered
theater windows. Troops were called out and ordered to fire, killing
22 and wounding 26.
May 10, 1994 - Former
political prisoner Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as president of South
Africa. Mandela had won the first free election in South Africa despite
attempts by various political foes to deter the outcome.
May 11, 1862 - To
prevent its capture by Union forces advancing in Virginia, the Confederate
Ironclad Merrimac was destroyed by the Confederate Navy. In March,
the Merrimac had fought the Union Ironclad Monitor to a draw. Naval warfare was thus changed forever, making wooden ships
May 11, 1969 - During
the Vietnam War, the Battle of "Hamburger Hill" began. While
attempting to seize the Dong Ap Bia Mountain, U.S. troops repeatedly
scaled the hill over a 10-day period and engaged in bloody hand-to-hand
combat with the North Vietnamese. After finally securing the objective,
American military staff decided to abandon the position, which the North
Vietnamese retook shortly thereafter. The battle highlighted the futility
of the overall American military strategy.
Birthday - Songwriter
Irving Berlin (1888-1989) was born (as Israel Isidore Baline) in Tyumen,
Russia. At the age of four, Berlin moved with his family to New York
City and later began singing in saloons and on street corners to help his
family following the death of his father. Although he could not read
or write musical notation, he became one of America's greatest songwriters,
best known for songs such as God Bless America, White Christmas,
There's No Business Like Show Business, Alexander's Ragtime Band, Puttin' On the Ritz, and Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning.
Birthday - Modern
dance pioneer Martha Graham (1893-1991) was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her dance
career at age 22 in the Greenwich Village Follies. She later incorporated
primal emotions and ancient rituals in her works, bringing a new psychological
depth to modern dance. In a career spanning 70 years, she created 180
dance works. She performed until the age of 75.
May 12, 1937 - George
VI was crowned at Westminster Abbey in London, following the abdication
of his brother, Edward VIII. King George reigned until his death in
1952. He was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth, the current reigning
May 12, 1949 -
Soviet Russia lifted its blockade of Berlin. The blockade began on June
24, 1948 and resulted in the Berlin airlift. For 462 days - from June
26, 1948, until September 30, 1949, American and British planes flew
about 278,000 flights, delivering 2.3 million tons of food, coal and
medical supplies to two million isolated West Berliners. A plane landed
in Berlin every minute from 11 Allied staging areas in West Germany.
The planes were nicknamed ''candy bombers'' after pilots began tossing
sweets to children. They also flew out millions of dollars worth of
products manufactured in West Berlin.
British nurse and public health activist Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was
born in Florence, Italy. She volunteered to aid British troops in Turkey
where she improved hospital sanitary conditions and greatly reduced
the death rate for wounded and sick soldiers. She received worldwide
acclaim for her unselfish devotion to nursing, contributed to the development
of modern nursing procedures, and emphasized the dignity of nursing
as a profession for women.
May 13, 1846 - At
the request of President James K. Polk,
Congress declared war on Mexico. The controversial struggle eventually
cost the lives of 11,300 U.S. soldiers and resulted in the annexation
of lands that became parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada,
California, Utah and Colorado. The war ended in 1848 with the Treaty
of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
May 13, 1943 - During
World War II in North Africa, over 250,000 Germans and Italians surrendered
in the last few days of the Tunis campaign. British General Harold Alexander
then telegraphed news of the victory to Winston
Churchill, who was in Washington attending a war conference. The
victory re-opened Allied shipping lanes in the Mediterranean.
May 13, 1981 - Pope
John Paul II was shot twice at close range while riding in an open automobile
in St. Peter's Square in Rome. Two other persons were also wounded.
An escaped terrorist, already under sentence of death for the murder
of a Turkish journalist, was immediately arrested and was later convicted
of attempted murder. The Pope recovered and later held a private meeting
with the would-be assassin and then publicly forgave him.
May 14, 1607 - The
first permanent English settlement in America was established at Jamestown,
Virginia, by a group of royally chartered Virginia Company settlers
from Plymouth, England.
May 14, 1804 - Meriwether
Lewis and William Clark departed St. Louis on their expedition to explore
the Northwest. They arrived at the Pacific coast of Oregon in November
of 1805 and returned to St. Louis in September of 1806, completing a
journey of about 6,000 miles.
May 14, 1796 - Smallpox
vaccine was developed by Dr. Edward Jenner, a physician in rural England.
He coined the term vaccination for the new procedure of injecting a
milder form of the disease into healthy persons resulting in immunity.
Within 18 months, 12,000 persons in England had been vaccinated and the
number of smallpox deaths dropped by two-thirds.
May 14, 1942 - During
World War II, an Act of Congress allowed women to enlist for noncombat
duties in the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), the Women Appointed
for Voluntary Emergency Service (WAVES), Women's Auxiliary Ferrying
Squadron (WAFS), and Semper Paratus Always Ready Service (SPARS), the
Women's Reserve of the Marine Corp.
Birthday - German
physicist Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686-1736) was born in Danzig, Germany.
He introduced the use of mercury in thermometers and greatly improved
their accuracy. His name is now attached to one of the major temperature
British landscape and portrait painter Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) was born
in Sudbury, Suffolk, England. Among his best known works: The Blue
Boy, The Watering Place and The Market Cart.
May 15 Return
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May 15, 1972 - George
Wallace was shot while campaigning for the presidency in Laurel,
Maryland. As a result, Wallace was permanently paralyzed from the waist
May 16, 1862 - During
the American Civil War, Union General Benjamin Butler, military governor
of New Orleans, issued his "Woman Order" declaring that any
Southern woman showing disrespect for Union soldiers or the U.S. would
be regarded as a woman of the town, or prostitute. This and other controversial
acts by Butler set the stage for his dismissal as military governor
in December 1862.
May 17, 1792 - Two
dozen merchants and brokers established the New York Stock Exchange.
In good weather they operated under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street.
In bad weather they moved inside to a coffeehouse to conduct business.
May 17, 1875 - The
first Kentucky Derby horse race took place at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
May 17, 1954 - In
Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled
that segregation of public schools "solely on the basis of race"
denies black children "equal educational opportunity" even
though "physical facilities and other 'tangible' factors may have
been equal. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."
Thurgood Marshall had argued the case before the Court. He went to become
the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court.
May 18, 1804 - Napoleon
Bonaparte became Emperor of France, snatching the crown from the hands
of Pope Pius VII during the actual coronation ceremony, and then crowning
May 18, 1980 - Mount
St. Helens volcano erupted in southwestern Washington State spewing
steam and ash over 11 miles into the sky. This was the first major
eruption since 1857.
May 18, 1998 - In one of the biggest antitrust lawsuits of the 20th century, American
software giant Microsoft Corporation was sued by the U.S. Federal government
and 20 state governments charging the company with using unfair tactics
to crush competition and restrict choices for consumers. The lawsuits
alleged Microsoft used illegal practices to deny personal computer owners
the benefits of a free and competitive market and also alleged Microsoft
extended its monopoly on operating systems to "develop a chokehold"
on the Internet browser software market.
Birthday - Hollywood
director Frank Capra (1897-1991) was born in Palermo, Sicily. His quintessential
American films were affectionate portrayals of the common man and examined
the strengths and foibles of American democracy. Best known for It's
a Wonderful Life (1946), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), It Happened One Night (1934) and You Can't Take It with You (1938).
Birthday - Pope
John Paul II (1920-2005) was born (as Karol Wojtyla) in Wadowice, Poland. In 1978, he became 264th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, the
first non-Italian elected in 456 years and the first Polish Pope.
May 19, 1930 - The
27th Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution was ratified, prohibiting Congress from giving itself pay
May 19, 1943 - During World War II in Europe, Royal
Air Force bombers successfully attacked dams in the German Ruhr Valley
using innovative ball-shaped bouncing bombs that skipped along the water
and exploded against the dams. The dams had provided drinking water
for 4 million persons and supplied 75% of the electrical power for industry
in the area.
Birthday - Vietnamese
leader Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969) was born in the central Vietnamese village
of Kim Lien (as Nguyen That Thanh). In 1930, he organized the Indo-Chinese
Communist party and later adopted the name Ho Chi Minh, meaning "he
who enlightens." In 1945, he proclaimed the independence of Vietnam
and served as president of North Vietnam from 1945 to 1969. He led the
longest and most costly war during the 20th Century against the French and later
the Americans. On April 29, 1975, six years after his death, the last
Americans left South Vietnam. The next day the city of Saigon was renamed
Ho Chi Minh City.
Birthday - Black
nationalist and civil rights activist Malcolm X (1925-1965) was born
in Omaha, Nebraska (as Malcolm Little). While in prison he adopted the
Islamic religion and after his release in 1952, changed his name to
Malcolm X and worked for the Nation of Islam. He later made a pilgrimage
to Mecca and became an orthodox Muslim. He was assassinated while addressing
a meeting in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem on February 21, 1965.
Birthday - African
American playwright Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) was born in Chicago,
Illinois. She is best known for A Raisin in the Sun (1959) a
play dealing with prejudice and black pride. The play was the first
stage production written by a black woman to appear on Broadway. She
died of cancer at the age of 34. A book of her writings entitled To
Be Young, Gifted, and Black was published posthumously.
May 20 Return
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May 20, 325 A.D. - The Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical council of Catholic Church
was called by Constantine I, first Christian Emperor of the Roman Empire.
With nearly 300 bishops in attendance at Nicaea in Asia Minor, the council
condemned Arianism which denied Christ's divinity, formulated the Nicene
Creed and fixed the date of Easter.
May 20, 1862 - President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead
Act opening millions of acres of government owned land in the West to
"homesteaders" who could acquire up to 160 acres by living
on the land and cultivating it for five years, paying just $1.25 per
May 20, 1927 - Charles
Lindbergh, a 25-year-old aviator, took off at 7:52 a.m. from Roosevelt
Field, Long Island, in the Spirit of St. Louis attempting to
win a $25,000 prize for the first solo nonstop flight between New York
City and Paris. Thirty-three hours later, after a 3,600 mile journey,
he landed at Le Bourget, Paris, earning the nickname "Lucky Lindy"
and becoming an instant worldwide hero.
May 20, 1932 - Amelia
Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. She
departed Newfoundland, Canada, at 7 p.m. and landed near Londonderry,
Ireland, completing a 2,026-mile flight in about 13 hours. Five years
later, along with her navigator Fred Noonan, she disappeared while trying
to fly her twin-engine plane around the equator.
Birthday - Founder
of modern Zionism Theodore Herzl (1860-1904) was born in Budapest, Hungary.
He advocated the establishment of a new land for the Jews rather than
assimilation into various, historically anti-Semitic, countries and
May 21, 1881 - The
American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton. The organization today
provides volunteer disaster relief in the U.S. and abroad. Community
services include collecting and distributing donated blood, and teaching
health and safety classes.
May 21, 1991 - Former
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in the midst of
a re-election campaign, killed by a bomb hidden in a bouquet of flowers.
He had served as prime minister from 1984 to 1989, succeeding his mother,
Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1984.
Russian physicist and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989) was
born in Moscow. Although he helped construct the first atomic
and hydrogen bombs for Soviet Russia, he later denounced the Soviet government and was
exiled from 1980 to 1986. He was instrumental in formulating the political reform
concept called perestroika and in encouraging glasnost (openness) in restrictive communist countries.
May 22, 1972 - President Richard Nixon became the first American
president to visit Moscow. Four days later, Nixon and Soviet Russia's leader
Leonid Brezhnev signed a pact pledging to freeze nuclear arsenals at
May 22, 1947 - Congress
approved the Truman Doctrine, assuring U.S. support for Greece and Turkey
to prevent the spread of Communism.
Birthday - German composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883) was born in Leipzig, Germany.
He made revolutionary changes in the structure of opera and is best
known for The Ring of the Nibelung, a series of operas based
on old German myths which include: Das Rheingold, Die Walkure, Siegfried, and Gõtterdammerung.
Birthday - Sherlock
Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) was born at Edinburgh,
Scotland. He was also deeply interested in and lectured on spiritualism.
Birthday - Laurence
Olivier (1907-1989) was born in Dorking, England. Considered one
of the most influential actors of the 20th Century, he was honored with
nine Academy Award nominations, three Oscars, five Emmy awards, and
a host of other awards. His repertoire included most of the major Shakespearean
roles, and films such as The Entertainer, Rebecca, Pride and
Prejudice, The Boys from Brazil, Marathon Man and Wuthering Heights. He was knighted in 1947 and made a peer of the throne in 1970.
Birthday - Journalist Margaret Fuller (1810-1850) was born in Cambridgeport,
Massachusetts. She became the first American woman to serve as a foreign
correspondent, reporting for the New York Tribune. Her book Women
in the Nineteenth Century, published in 1845, is considered the
first feminist statement by an American writer, and brought her international
acclaim. Sailing from Italy to the U.S. in 1850, she died, along with
her husband and infant son, in a shipwreck off Fire Island, New York.
Birthday - The first
American female attorney Arabella Mansfield (1846-1911) was born near
Burlington, Iowa (as Belle Aurelia Babb). She was certified in 1869
as an attorney and admitted to the Iowa bar, but never practiced law.
Instead she chose a career as a college educator and administrator.
She was also instrumental in the founding of the Iowa Suffrage Society
May 24, 1844 - Telegraph
inventor Samuel Morse sent the
first official telegraph message, "What hath God wrought?"
from the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., to Baltimore.
May 24, 1881 - A
boating disaster occurred in Canada when Victoria, a small, double-decked
stern-wheeler carrying over 600 passengers on the Thames River keeled
over then sank, killing 182 persons.
May 25 Return
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May 25, 1787 - The
Constitutional Convention began in Philadelphia with delegates from
seven states forming a quorum.
May 25, 1994 - After
20 years in exile, Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn returned to
his homeland. He had been expelled from Soviet Russia in 1974 after
his three-volume work exposing the Soviet prison camp system, The
Gulag Archipelago, was published in the West.
Birthday - American
author and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was born in Boston,
Massachusetts. His works include: Nature (1836), Essays,
First Series (1841), Essays, Second Series (1844), Poems (1847, 1865), Representative Men (1850), English Traits (1856), The Conduct of Life (1860), and Society and Solitude (1870).
May 26, 1940 - The
Dunkirk evacuation began in order to save the British Expeditionary Force trapped by advancing German armies on the northern coast of France. Boats and
vessels of all shapes and sizes ferried 200,000 British and 140,000
French and Belgian soldiers across the English Channel by June 2nd.
Birthday - Interpretive
dancer Isadora Duncan (1878-1927) was born in San Francisco. She revolutionized
the entire concept of dance by developing a free-form style and rebelled
against tradition, performing barefoot in a loose fitting tunic. She
experienced worldwide acclaim as well as personal tragedy. Her two children
drowned, her marriage failed, and she met a bizarre death in 1927 when
a scarf she was wearing caught in the wheel of the open car in which
she was riding, strangling her.
Birthday - Actor,
singer Al Jolson (1886-1950) was born in St. Petersburg, Russia (as
Asa Yoelson). One of the premier American vaudeville entertainers of
his day, he appeared in the first motion picture with full sound, The
Jazz Singer, in 1927.
May 27, 1937 - In
San Francisco, 200,000 people celebrated the grand opening of the Golden
Gate Bridge by strolling across it.
Birthday - Legendary
Wild West figure Wild Bill Hickok (1837-1876) was born in Troy Grove,
Illinois. He was a frontiersman, lawman, legendary marksman, army scout
and gambler. On August 2, 1876, he was shot dead during a poker game
by a drunk in the Number Ten saloon in Deadwood,
in the Dakota Territory. In his hand he held a pair of eights and a
pair of aces which became known as the 'dead man's hand.'
Birthday - American
politician Hubert H. Humphrey (1911-1978) was born in Wallace, South
Dakota. Humphrey was a mainstay of liberal Democratic politics, championed
civil rights, and was considered by political friends and foes alike
to be a truly decent man. He served as vice president under Lyndon Johnson.
In 1968, Humphrey was the Democratic candidate for president, but lost
to Republican Richard Nixon in a very close race.
May 28, 1961 - Amnesty
International was founded by London lawyer Peter Berenson. He read about
the arrest of a group of students in Portugal then launched a one-year
campaign to free them called Appeal for Amnesty. Today Amnesty International
has over a million members in 150 countries working to free prisoners
of conscience, stop torture and the death penalty, and guarantee human
rights for women.
Birthday - William
Pitt the Younger (1759-1806) was born at Hayes, Kent, England. Following
in his father's footsteps, he became British prime minister at age 24
and served from 1783 to 1801 and again from 1804 to 1806. Pitt was influenced
by Adam Smith's economic theories and reduced Britain's large national
debt brought on by the American Revolution.
Birthday - All-around
athlete Jim Thorpe (1888-1953) was born near Prague, Oklahoma. He won
the pentathlon and decathlon events at the 1912 Olympic Games and also
played professional baseball and football.
May 29, 1453 - The
city of Constantinople was captured by the Turks, who renamed it Istanbul.
This marked the end of the Byzantine Empire as Istanbul became the capital
of the Ottoman Empire.
May 29, 1660 - The
English monarchy was restored with Charles II on the throne after several
years of a Commonwealth under Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell.
May 29, 1787 - At
the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia the Virginia Plan was
proposed calling for a new government consisting of a legislature with
two houses, an executive chosen by the legislature and a judicial branch.
May 29, 1865 - Following
the American Civil War, President Andrew
Johnson issued a proclamation granting general amnesty to Confederates.
The amnesty excluded high ranking Confederates and large property owners,
who had to apply individually to the President for a pardon. Following
an oath of allegiance, all former property rights, except slaves, were
returned to the former owners.
Birthday - American
revolutionary leader Patrick Henry (1736-1799) was born in Studley, Virginia. He is best remembered for
his speech in 1775 declaring:
"I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me
liberty or give me death."
Birthday - German
historian Oswald Spengler (1880-1936) was born in Blankenburg-am-Harz,
Germany. He authored the influential book The Decline of the West which argued that civilizations rise and fall in regular cycles.
Birthday - John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963)
the 35th U.S. President was born in Brookline, Massachusetts. He was
the youngest man ever elected to the presidency and the first Roman
Catholic. He was assassinated in Dallas, November 22, 1963, the fourth
President to killed by an assassin.
May 30, 1783 - The
Pennsylvania Evening Post became the first daily newspaper published
May 30, 1922 - The
Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated. The Memorial was
designed by architect Henry Bacon and features a compelling
statue of "Seated Lincoln" by sculptor Daniel Chester
May 30, 1943 - During World War II in the
Pacific, the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska were retaken
by the U.S. 7th Infantry Division. The battle began on May 12 when an
American force of 11,000 landed on Attu. In three weeks of fighting
U.S. casualties numbered 552 killed and 1,140 wounded. Japanese killed
numbered 2,352, with only 28 taken prisoner, as 500 chose suicide rather
than be captured.
Birthday - Founder
of the Russian empire Peter the Great (1672-1725) was born near Moscow.
He vastly increased the power of the Russian monarchy and turned his
backward country into a major power in the Western world. Among his
accomplishments, he completely overhauled the government and the Greek
Orthodox Church as well as the military system and tax structure. He
built St. Petersburg, established printing presses and published translations
of foreign books, modernized the calendar, simplified the Russian alphabet
and introduced Arabic numerals. He died at age 52 and was succeeded
by his wife Catherine.
May 31, 1862 - During
the American Civil War, the Battle of Seven
Pines occurred as Confederate General Joseph
E. Johnston's Army attacked Union General George
McClellan's troops in front of Richmond Virginia and nearly defeated
them. Johnston was badly wounded. Confederate General Robert E. Lee then
assumed command, replacing the wounded Johnston. Lee renamed his force
the Army of Northern Virginia.
May 31, 1889 - Over
2,300 persons were killed in the Johnstown flood in Pennsylvania. Heavy
rains throughout May caused the Connemaugh River Dam to burst sending
a wall of water 75 feet high pouring down upon the city.
Birthday - American
poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was
born in Long Island, New York. His poem Leaves of Grass is considered
an American classic. His poetry celebrated modern life and took on subjects
considered taboo at the time.
(Photo and picture credits:
Library of Congress and U.S. National Archives)