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This Day in U.S. History: May 1


1778 – American Revolution: The Battle of Crooked Billet begins in Hatboro, Pennsylvania.

1785 – Kamehameha I, the king of Hawaiʻi, defeats Kalanikūpule and establishes the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi.

1840 – The Penny Black, the first official adhesive postage stamp, is issued in the United Kingdom.

1846 – The few remaining Mormons left in Nauvoo, Illinois, formally dedicate the Nauvoo Temple.

1862 – American Civil War: The Union Army completes its capture of New Orleans.

1863 – American Civil War: The Battle of Chancellorsville begins.

1866 – The Memphis Race Riots begin. In three days time, 46 blacks and two whites were killed. Reports of the atrocities influenced passage of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

1884 – Proclamation of the demand for eight-hour workday in the United States.

1884 – Moses Fleetwood Walker becomes the first black person to play in a professional baseball game in the United States.

1885 – The original Chicago Board of Trade Building opens for business.

1886 – Rallies are held throughout the United States demanding the eight-hour work day, culminating in the Haymarket affair in Chicago, in commemoration of which May 1 is celebrated as International Workers' Day in many countries.

1893 – The World's Columbian Exposition opens in Chicago.

1894 – Coxey's Army, the first significant American protest march, arrives in Washington, D.C.

1898 – Spanish–American War: Battle of Manila Bay: The United States Navy destroys the Spanish Pacific fleet in the first major battle of the war.

1900 – The Scofield Mine disaster kills over 200 men in Scofield, Utah in what is to date the fifth-worst mining accident in United States history.

1901 – The Pan-American Exposition opens in Buffalo, New York.

1915 – The RMS Lusitania departs from New York City on her two hundred and second, and final, crossing of the North Atlantic. Six days later, the ship is torpedoed off the coast of Ireland with the loss of 1,198 lives.

1927 – The Union Labor Life Insurance Company is founded by the American Federation of Labor.

1930 – The dwarf planet Pluto is officially named.

1931 – The Empire State Building is dedicated in New York City.

1940 – The 1940 Summer Olympics are cancelled due to war.

1945 – World War II: A German newsreader officially announces that Adolf Hitler has "fallen at his command post in the Reich Chancellery fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism and for Germany". The Soviet flag is raised over the Reich Chancellery, by order of Stalin.

1945 – World War II: Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda commit suicide in the Reich Garden outside the Führerbunker. Their children are also killed by having cyanide pills inserted into their mouths by their mother, Magda.

1945 – World War II: Forces of the Soviet Red Army liberate Allied prisoners of war imprisoned at Stalag Luft I near Barth, Germany.

1950 – Guam is organized as a United States commonwealth.

1956 – The polio vaccine developed by Jonas Salk is made available to the public.

1960 – Cold War: U-2 incident: Francis Gary Powers, in a Lockheed U-2 spyplane, is shot down over the Soviet Union, sparking a diplomatic crisis.

1970 – Protests erupt in Seattle, following the announcement by U.S. President Richard Nixon that U.S. Forces in Vietnam would pursue enemy troops into Cambodia, a neutral country.

1971 – Amtrak (the National Railroad Passenger Corporation) takes over operation of U.S. passenger rail service.

1989 – Disney-MGM Studios opens at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida, United States.

1991 – Rickey Henderson of the Oakland Athletics steals his 939th base, making him the all-time leader in this category. However, his accomplishment is overshadowed later that evening by Nolan Ryan of the Texas Rangers, when he pitches his seventh career no-hitter, breaking his own record.

1999 – SpongeBob SquarePants premieres on Nickelodeon after the 1999 Kids' Choice Awards.

2003 – Invasion of Iraq: In what becomes known as the "Mission Accomplished" speech, on board the USS Abraham Lincoln (off the coast of California), U.S. President George W. Bush declares that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended".

2006 – The Puerto Rican government closes the Department of Education and 42 other government agencies due to significant shortages in cash flow.

2007 – The Los Angeles May Day mêlée occurs, in which the Los Angeles Police Department's response to a May Day pro-immigration rally become a matter of controversy.

2011 – Barack Obama announces that Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the September 11 attacks has been killed by United States special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Due to the time difference between the United States and Pakistan, bin Laden was actually killed on May 2.


1594 – John Haynes, English-American politician, 1st Governor of the Colony of Connecticut (d. 1653)

1751 – Judith Sargent Murray, American poet and playwright (d. 1820)

1764 – Benjamin Henry Latrobe, English-American architect, designed the United States Capitol (d. 1820)

1864 – Anna Jarvis, American founder of Mother's Day (d. 1948)

1901 – Sterling Allen Brown, American poet, academic, and critic (d. 1989)

1907 – Kate Smith, American singer and actress (d. 1986)

1910 – J. Allen Hynek, American astronomer and ufologist (d. 1986)

1918 – Jack Paar, American comedian, author and talk show host (d. 2004)

1924 – Art Fleming, American actor and game show host (d. 1995)

1925 – Scott Carpenter, American commander, pilot, and astronaut (d. 2013)

1939 – Max Robinson, American journalist and academic (d. 1988)

1950 – Dann Florek, American actor and director

1960 – Steve Cauthen, American jockey and sportscaster

1961 – Marilyn Milian, American judge

1967 – Tim McGraw, American singer-songwriter and actor

1976 – Darius McCrary, American actor and singer


1856 – John Wilbur, American minister and theologian (b. 1774)

1989 – Sally Kirkland, American journalist (b. 1912)

1998 – Eldridge Cleaver, American author and activist (b. 1935)

2000 – Steve Reeves, American bodybuilder and actor (b. 1926)

2003 – Miss Elizabeth, American wrestler and manager (b. 1960)

2013 – Chris Kelly, American rapper (Kris Kross) (b. 1978)

2015 – Grace Lee Whitney, American actress and singer (b. 1930)