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This Day in U.S. History: May 8


1541 – Hernando de Soto reaches the Mississippi River and names it Río de Espíritu Santo.

1846 – Mexican–American War: The Battle of Palo Alto: Zachary Taylor defeats a Mexican force north of the Rio Grande in the first major battle of the war.

1861 – American Civil War: Richmond, Virginia is named the capital of the Confederate States of America.

1877 – At Gilmore's Gardens in New York City, the first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show opens.

1886 – Pharmacist John Pemberton first sells a carbonated beverage named "Coca-Cola" as a patent medicine.

1912 – Paramount Pictures is founded.

1942 – World War II: The Battle of the Coral Sea comes to an end with Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carrier aircraft attacking and sinking the United States Navy aircraft carrier USS Lexington. The battle marks the first time in the naval history that two enemy fleets fight without visual contact between warring ships.

1945 – World War II: V-E Day, combat ends in Europe. German forces agree in Reims, France, to an unconditional surrender.

1963 – South Vietnamese soldiers of Catholic President Ngo Dinh Diem open fire on Buddhists defying a ban on the flying of the Buddhist flag on Vesak, killing nine and sparking the Buddhist crisis.

1966 – A plane crash at Connellsville, Pennsylvania kills Pennsylvania Attorney General, Walter E. Alessandroni, his wife, and other state officials.

1970 – The Hard Hat Riot occurs in the Wall Street area of New York City as blue-collar construction workers clash with demonstrators protesting the Vietnam War.

1972 – Vietnam War: U.S. President Richard Nixon announces his order to place mines in major North Vietnamese ports in order to stem the flow of weapons and other goods to that nation.

1973 – A 71-day standoff between federal authorities and the American Indian Movement members occupying the Pine Ridge Reservation at Wounded Knee, South Dakota ends with the surrender of the militants.

1976 – The rollercoaster The New Revolution, the first steel coaster with a vertical loop, opens at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

1980 – The World Health Organization confirms the eradication of smallpox.

1984 – The Soviet Union announces that it will boycott the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

1988 – A fire at Illinois Bell's Hinsdale Central Office triggers an extended 1AESS network outage once considered the "worst telecommunications disaster in US telephone industry history".


1821 – William Henry Vanderbilt, American businessman and philanthropist (d. 1885)

1847 – Oscar Hammerstein I, American businessman and composer (d. 1919)

1884 – Harry S. Truman, American colonel and politician, 33rd President of the United States (d. 1972)

1895 – Fulton J. Sheen, American archbishop (d. 1979)

1913 – Bob Clampett, American animator, director, and producer (d. 1984)

1920 – Sloan Wilson, American author and poet (d. 2003)

1926 – Don Rickles, American comedian and actor

1940 – Peter Benchley, American author and screenwriter (d. 2006)

1940 – Ricky Nelson, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (d. 1985)

1940 – Toni Tennille, American singer-songwriter and keyboard player (Captain & Tennille)

1941 – James Traficant, American lawyer and politician (d. 2014)

1947 – H. Robert Horvitz, American biologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate

1957 – Bill Cowher, American football player and coach

1958 – Lovie Smith, American football player and coach

1959 – Ronnie Lott, American football player and sportscaster

1964 – Melissa Gilbert, American actress and director

1969 – Akebono TarĊ, American-Japanese sumo wrestler, the 64th Yokozuna

1974 – Korey Stringer, American football player (d. 2001)

1975 – Enrique Iglesias, Spanish-American singer-songwriter, producer, and actor


1819 – Kamehameha I of Hawaii (b. 1758)

1975 – Avery Brundage, American businessman and art collector (b. 1887)

1984 – Lila Bell Wallace, American publisher, co-founded Reader's Digest (b. 1890)

1996 – Larry Levis, American poet, author, and critic (b. 1946)

1998 – Charles “Bebe” Rebozo, American banker and businessman (b. 1912)

1999 – Dana Plato, American actress (b. 1964)

2009 – Dom DiMaggio, American baseball player (b. 1917)

2014 – Roger L. Easton, American scientist, co-invented the GPS (b. 1921