Today in History – May 4

1626 – Dutch explorer Peter Minuit arrived in New Netherland (present day Manhattan Island) aboard the See Meeuw.

1776 – Rhode Island became the first American colony to renounce allegiance to King George III.

1814 – Emperor Napoleon arrived at Portoferraio on the island of Elba to begin his exile.

1814 – King Ferdinand VII abolished the Spanish Constitution of 1812, and returned Spain to absolutism.

1871 – The National Association, the first professional baseball league, opened its first season in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

1886 – Haymarket affair: A bomb was thrown at policemen who were trying to break up a labor rally in Chicago. The police fired into the crowd.  Eight people were killed and sixty were wounded.

1904 – The United States began construction of the Panama Canal.

1927 – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was incorporated.

1932 – In Atlanta, mobster Al Capone began serving an eleven-year prison sentence for tax evasion.

1942 – World War II: The Battle of the Coral Sea began with an attack by aircraft from the United States aircraft carrier USS Yorktown on Japanese naval forces at Tulagi Island in the Solomon Islands. The Japanese forces had invaded Tulagi the day before.

1944 – “Gaslight”, starring an 18-year-old Angela Lansbury in her film debut, was released,

1945 – World War II: Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg was liberated by the British Army.

1945 – World War II: The German surrender at Lüneburg Heath was signed, and went into effect the following day. It encompassed all Wehrmacht units in the Netherlands, Denmark and northwest Germany.

1946 – In San Francisco Bay, U.S. Marines from the nearby Treasure Island Naval Base stopped a two-day riot at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. Five people were killed in the riot.

1953 – Ernest Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea.

1957 – Alan Freed hosted “Rock n’ Roll Show,” the first prime-time network rock show.

1959 – The 1st Annual Grammy Awards were held.  Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Domenico Modugno, Ross Bagdasarian, and Henry Mancini, each won 2 awards.

1961 – American civil rights movement: The “Freedom Riders” began a bus trip through the South.

1961 – Malcolm Ross and Victor Prather attained a new altitude record for manned balloon flight when they ascended in the Strato-Lab V open gondola to 113,740 feet.

1970 – Vietnam War: Kent State shootings: The Ohio National Guard, sent to Kent State University after disturbances in the city of Kent the weekend before, opened fire and killed four unarmed students and wounded nine others. The students were protesting the Cambodian Campaign of the United States and South Vietnam.

1973 – The 108-story Sears Tower in Chicago was topped out at 1,451 feet as the world’s tallest building.

1979 – Margaret Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

1988 – The PEPCON disaster rocked Henderson, Nevada, as tons of Space Shuttle fuel detonated during a fire.

1989 – Iran–Contra affair: Former White House aide Oliver North was convicted of three crimes and acquitted of nine other charges; the convictions were later overturned on appeal.

1998 – A federal judge in Sacramento, California, gave “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski four life sentences plus 30 years after Kaczynski accepted a plea agreement which spared him from the death penalty.

1999 -“The Mummy,” directed by Stephen Sommers and starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz and John Hannah, premiered in the US.

2007 – Greensburg, Kansas was almost completely destroyed by a 1.7-mile wide EF5 tornado. It was the first-ever tornado to be rated as such with the new Enhanced Fujita scale.

2008 – Seth MacFarlane reached an agreement worth $100 million with Fox to keep “Family Guy” and “American Dad” on television until 2012, which made MacFarlane the world’s highest paid television writer.

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