On This Day … 04 May


  • 1436 – Assassination of the Swedish rebel (later national hero) Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson.
  • 1471 – Wars of the Roses: The Battle of Tewkesbury: Edward IV defeats a Lancastrian Army and kills Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales.
  • 1493 – Pope Alexander VI divides the New World between Spain and Portugal along the Line of Demarcation.
  • 1626 – Dutch explorer Peter Minuit arrives in New Netherland (present day Manhattan Island) aboard the See Meeuw.
  • 1686 – The Municipality of Ilagan is founded in the Philippines.
  • 1776 – Rhode Island becomes the first American colony to renounce allegiance to King George III.
  • 1799 – Fourth Anglo-Mysore War: The Battle of Seringapatam: The siege of Seringapatam ends when the city is invaded and Tipu Sultan killed by the besieging British army, under the command of General George Harris.
  • 1814 – Emperor Napoleon arrives at Portoferraio on the island of Elba to begin his exile.
  • 1814 – King Ferdinand VII abolishes the Spanish Constitution of 1812, returning Spain to absolutism.
  • 1869 – The Naval Battle of Hakodate is fought in Japan.
  • 1904 – The United States begins construction of the Panama Canal.
  • 1910 – The Royal Canadian Navy is created.
  • 1912 – Italy occupies the Greek island of Rhodes.
  • 1919 – May Fourth Movement: Student demonstrations take place in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, protesting the Treaty of Versailles, which transferred Chinese territory to Japan.
  • 1942 – World War II: The Battle of the Coral Sea begins 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.
  • 1945 – World War II: Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg is liberated by the British Army.
  • 1945 – World War II: The German surrender at Lüneburg Heath is signed, coming into effect the following day. It encompasses 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 stop a two-day riot at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary; 5 people are killed in the riot.
  • 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, opens fire killing four unarmed students and wounding nine others. The students were protesting the Cambodian Campaign of the United States and South Vietnam.
  • 1978 – The South African Defence Force attacks a SWAPO base at Cassinga in southern Angola, killing about 600 people.
  • 1982 – Twenty sailors are killed when the British Type 42 destroyer HMS Sheffield is hit by an Argentinian Exocet missile during the Falklands War.
  • 1988 – The PEPCON disaster rocks Henderson, Nevada, as tons of Space Shuttle fuel detonate during a fire.
  • 1989 – Iran–Contra affair: Former White House aide Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North is convicted of three crimes and acquitted of nine other charges; the convictions are later overturned on appeal.
  • 1990 – Latvia proclaims the renewal of its independence after the Soviet occupation.
  • 1994 – Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat sign a peace accord, granting self-rule in the Gaza Strip and Jericho.
  • Restoration of Independence Day (Latvia).
  • Star Wars Day (International Observance).
  • Remembrance of the Dead (Netherlands).

People (Births)

  • 1752 – John Brooks, American soldier and politician, 11th Governor of Massachusetts (d. 1825).
  • 1820 – John Whiteaker, American soldier, judge, and politician, 1st Governor of Oregon (d. 1902).
  • 1827 – John Hanning Speke, English soldier and explorer (d. 1864).
  • 1884 – Richard Baggallay, English army officer and cricketer (d. 1975).
  • 1907 – Lincoln Kirstein, American soldier and playwright, co-founded the New York City Ballet (d. 1996).
  • 1916 – Richard Proenneke, American soldier, carpenter, and meteorologist (d. 2003).
  • 1918 – Kakuei Tanaka, Japanese soldier and politician, 64th Prime Minister of Japan (d. 1993).
  • 1923 – Stanley Biber, American soldier and physician (d. 2006).
  • 1928 – Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian air marshal and politician, 4th President of Egypt (d.2020).
  • 1929 – Manuel Contreras, Chilean general (d. 2015).

People (Deaths)

  • 1436 – Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson, Swedish rebel leader.
  • 1811 – Nikolay Kamensky, Russian general (b. 1776).
  • 1816 – Samuel Dexter, American lawyer and politician, 4th United States Secretary of War, 3rd United States Secretary of the Treasury (b. 1761).
  • 1916 – Ned Daly, Irish rebel commander (Easter Rising) (b. 1891).
  • 1916 – Joseph Plunkett, Irish rebel and writer (b. 1887).
  • 1919 – Milan Rastislav Štefánik, Slovak general and politician (b. 1880).
  • 1945 – Fedor von Bock, German field marshal (b. 1880).
  • 1980 – Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslav field marshal and politician, 1st President of Yugoslavia (b. 1892).
  • 2005 – David Hackworth, American colonel and journalist (b. 1930).
  • 2013 – Morgan Morgan-Giles, English admiral and politician (b. 1914).

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