10 Other Things That Happened on May 5

Napoleon I dies, via Getty Images
Napoleon I dies, via Getty Images

While Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army's victory over Napoleon's French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, it's not the only historic thing to have happened on May 5. Here are 10 more.

1. CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS LANDS IN JAMAICA


Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In 1494, Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Jamaica and claimed it for Spain.

2. FIRST WOMAN IS AWARDED A U.S. PATENT

In 1809, Mary Kies became the first woman awarded a U.S. patent, for a technique of weaving straw with silk and thread.

3. KARL MARX IS BORN


Friedrich Karl Wunder, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In 1818, political philosopher Karl Marx was born in Trier, Germany. In a twist of irony, it costs about $6 to visit the famed anti-capitalist's gravesite in London.

4. NAPOLEON DIES WHILE IN EXILE


Getty Images

In 1821, at the age of 51, Napoleon Bonaparte died while still in exile on St. Helena. At the time, his
personal physician reported on the death certificate that the emperor had died of stomach cancer,
which was consistent with reports that he suffered from abdominal pain and nausea in the last weeks of his life. But his body remained remarkably well preserved, a common side effect of arsenic poisoning, inspiring centuries of suspicion about foul play.

5. FIRST U.S. TRAIN ROBBERY TAKES PLACE

In 1865,  the first U.S. train robbery took place in North Bend, Ohio. According to one newspaper report, "While everything was wild with confusion, the desperadoes entered, and with the vilest oaths, demanded the money and valuables of the passengers."

6. CARNEGIE HALL OPENS


Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Although the building had been in use since April, May 5, 1891 marked the official opening night of New York City's Carnegie Hall. And the storied venue kicked off things in an impressive way with a concert conducted by Walter Damrosch and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

7. CY YOUNG THROWS BASEBALL'S FIRST PERFECT GAME


Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In 1904, the Boston Americans' Cy Young threw the first perfect game in the modern era of baseball.

8. JOHN T. SCOPES VIOLATES THE BUTLER ACT

In 1925, John T. Scopes was served an arrest warrant for teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act.

9. ALAN SHEPARD BECOMES AMERICA'S FIRST SPACE TRAVELER


Getty Images

In 1961, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., became America's first space traveler when he made a 15-minute suborbital flight in a capsule launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

10. THE UNABOMBER STRIKES

In 1982, a Unabomber bomb exploded in the computer science department at Vanderbilt University; secretary Janet Smith was injured.

5 Fast Facts About Muhammad Ali

Kent Gavin/Getty Images
Kent Gavin/Getty Images

Muhammad Ali is one of the most important athletes and cultural figures in American history. Though he passed away in 2016, the heavyweight boxing champ was larger than life in and outside of the ring. The man who coined the phrase "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” won 37 knockout victories. Here are five more fast facts about Muhammad Ali, a.k.a. The Greatest.

1. Cassius Clay was named for a white abolitionist.

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. and named after his father, who had in turn been named for a white abolitionist. The original Cassius Clay was a wealthy 19th-century planter and politician who not only published an anti-slavery newspaper, but also emancipated every slave he inherited from his father. Cassius Clay also served as a minister to Russia under President Abraham Lincoln.

2. Muhammad Ali's draft evasion case went to the Supreme Court.

In the early 1960s, Clay converted to Islam, joined the Nation of Islam, and took the name Muhammad Ali. According to his religious beliefs, Ali refused to serve in the Vietnam War when he was drafted in April 1967. He was arrested and stripped of his boxing license and heavyweight title. On June 20, 1967, he was convicted of draft evasion and banned from fighting while he remained free on appeal. His case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which unanimously overturned his conviction in 1971.

3. He received a replacement gold medal.

At the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Ali won the gold medal for boxing in the light heavyweight division. But, as he wrote in his 1975 autobiography, The Greatest: My Own Story (edited by Toni Morrison!), he supposedly threw his medal into the Ohio River in frustration over the racism he still experienced in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Some historians dispute this story and suggest that Ali just lost the medal. Either way, he was given a replacement when he lit the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

4. Muhammad Ali was an actual superhero.

In 1978, DC Comics published Superman vs. Muhammad Ali—an oversize comic in which Muhammad Ali defeats Superman and saves the world. In real life, Ali did save a man from suicide. In 1981, a man threatened to jump from the ninth story of a building in L.A.’s Miracle Mile neighborhood. Ali’s friend Howard Bingham witnessed the unfolding drama and called the boxer, who lived nearby. Ali rushed into the building and successfully talked the man down from the ledge.

5. Muhammad Ali starred in a Broadway show.

In Oscar Brown, Jr.'s 1969 musical adaptation of Joseph Dolan Tuotti's play Big Time Buck White, Ali played a militant black intellectual who speaks at a political meeting. The play ran for only five nights at the George Abbot Theatre in New York. His Playbill bio reported that Ali "is now appealing his five-year prison conviction and $10,000 fine for refusing to enter the armed services on religious grounds. The Big Time Buck White role that he has accepted is much like the life he lives off stage in reality.”

Why Do Brides Traditionally Wear White? You Can Thank Queen Victoria

The royal family has been setting fashion standards since long before Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle became household names. More than 175 years ago, the wedding dress Queen Victoria wore when she married Prince Albert in 1840 made a major statement. Victoria's off-the-shoulder satin gown was covered in delicate lace, but most impressively of all, it was the color of snow.

Wedding dress styles have changed a great deal since the Victorian era, but the light color palette has more or less remained a constant, according to Vanity Fair. White wasn’t always the obvious choice, though.

Prior to Queen Victoria’s royal wedding, red and other bright hues were the go-to colors for would-be brides. While Queen Victoria is largely credited with being the person who popularized the white wedding dress tradition as we know it today, she wasn’t the first woman to wear white on her wedding day—or even the first royal bride to don the the color (Mary, Queen of Scots opted for white when she married the Dauphin of France in 1558).

While some accounts have suggested that Queen Victoria wore white as a symbol of her sexual purity, historians have pointed out that wearing white was more of a status symbol. Wealthy brides wore the color to flaunt the fact that they could afford to have the dress cleaned—a task that was notoriously difficult in those days.

"Before bleaching techniques were mastered, white was a rare and expensive color, more a symbol of wealth than purity,” biographer Julia Baird wrote in Victoria: The Queen. “Victoria was not the first to wear it, but she made it popular by example. Lace makers across England were thrilled by the sudden surge in the popularity of their handiwork."

Eventually, white weddings became the standard—particularly once synthetic fibers became widely available (and cheaper than satin). With that, the “definitive democratization of the white wedding gown” was complete, Carol Wallace wrote in All Dressed in White: The Irresistible Rise of the American Wedding.

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