May 05 2011

On This Day In History May 5

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

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May 5 is the 125th day of the year (126th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 240 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1862, the Mexican Army defeated the French forces at the Battle of Puebla

Certain that French victory would come swiftly in Mexico, 6,000 French troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles. From his new headquarters in the north, Juarez rounded up a rag-tag force of loyal men and sent them to Puebla. Led by Texas-born General Zaragoza, the 2,000 Mexicans fortified the town and prepared for the French assault. On the fifth of May, 1862, Lorencez drew his army, well-provisioned and supported by heavy artillery, before the city of Puebla and began their assault from the north. The battle lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers to the fewer than 100 Mexicans killed.

Although not a major strategic victory in the overall war against the French, Zaragoza’s victory at Puebla tightened Mexican resistance, and six years later France withdrew. The same year, Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, who had been installed as emperor of Mexico by Napoleon in 1864, was captured and executed by Juarez’ forces. Puebla de Los Angeles, the site of Zaragoza’s historic victory, was renamed Puebla de Zaragoza in honor of the general.


Cinco de Mayo is a regional holiday limited primarily to the state of Puebla. There is some limited recognition of the holiday in other parts of the country.

United States

In a 1998 study in the Journal of American Culture it was reported that there were more than 120 official U.S. celebrations of Cinco de Mayo, and they could be found in 21 different states. An update in 2006, found that the number of official Cinco de Mayo events was 150 or more, according to Jose Alamillo, professor of ethnic studies at Washington State University in Pullman, who has studied the cultural impact of Cinco de Mayo north of the border.

In the United States Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico. The date is perhaps best recognized in the United States as a date to celebrate the culture and experiences of Americans of Mexican ancestry, much as St. Patrick’s Day, Oktoberfest, and the Chinese New Year are used to celebrate those of Irish, German, and Chinese ancestry respectively. Similar to those holidays, Cinco de Mayo is observed by many Americans regardless of ethnic origin. Celebrations tend to draw both from traditional Mexican symbols, such as the Virgen de Guadalupe, and from prominent figures of Mexican descent in the United States, including Cesar Chavez. To celebrate, many display Cinco de Mayo banners while school districts hold special events to educate pupils about its historical significance. Special events and celebrations highlight Mexican culture, especially in its music and regional dancing. Examples include baile folklorico and mariachi demonstrations held annually at the Plaza del Pueblo de Los Angeles, near Olvera Street. Commercial interests in the United States have capitalized on the celebration, advertising Mexican products and services, with an emphasis on beverages, foods, and music.

 553 – The Second Council of Constantinople begins.

1215 – Rebel barons renounce their allegiance to King John of England – part of a chain of events leading to the signing of the Magna Carta.

1260 – Kublai Khan becomes ruler of the Mongol Empire.

1494 – Christopher Columbus lands on the island of Jamaica and claims it for Spain.

1640 – King Charles I of England dissolves the Short Parliament.

1762 – Russia and Prussia sign the Treaty of St. Petersburg.

1789 – In France, the Estates-General convenes for the first time since 1614.

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

1809 – The Swiss canton of Aargau denies citizenship to Jews.

1811 – In the second day of fighting at the Peninsular War Battle of Fuentes de Onoro the French army, under Marshall Massena, drive in the Duke of Wellington’s overextended right flank, but French frontal assults fail to take the town of Fuentes de Onoro and the Anglo-Portugese army holds the field at the end of the day.

1821 – Emperor Napoleon I dies in exile on the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.

1835 – In Belgium, the first railway in continental Europe opens between Brussels and Mechelen.

1860 – Giuseppe Garibaldi sets sail from Genoa, leading the expedition of the Thousand to conquer the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and giving birth to the Kingdom of Italy.

1862 – Cinco de Mayo: troops led by Ignacio Zaragoza halt a French invasion in the Battle of Puebla in Mexico.

1864 – American Civil War: The Battle of the Wilderness begins in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.

1865 – In North Bend, Ohio (a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio), the first train robbery in the United States takes place.

1866 – Memorial Day first celebrated in United States at Waterloo, New York.

1877 – Indian Wars: Sitting Bull leads his band of Lakota into Canada to avoid harassment by the United States Army under Colonel Nelson Miles.

1886 – The Bay View Tragedy: A militia fires into a crowd of protesters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, killing seven.

1891 – The Music Hall in New York City (later known as Carnegie Hall) has its grand opening and first public performance, with Tchaikovsky as the guest conductor.

1904 – Pitching against the Philadelphia Athletics at the Huntington Avenue Grounds, Cy Young of the Boston Americans throws the first perfect game in the modern era of baseball.

1920 – Authorities arrest Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti for alleged robbery and murder.

1925 – Scopes Trial: serving of an arrest warrant on John T. Scopes for teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act.

1925 – The government of South Africa declares Afrikaans an official language

1936 – Italian troops occupy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

1940 – World War II: Norwegian refugees form a government-in-exile in London

1940 – World War II: Norwegian Campaign – Norwegian squads in Hegra Fortress and Vinjesvingen capitulate to the Nazis after all other Norwegian forces in southern Norway had laid down their arms.

1941 – Emperor Haile Selassie returns to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; the country commemorates the date as Liberation Day or Patriots’ Victory Day.

1945 – World War II: Canadian and UK troops liberate the Netherlands and Denmark from Nazi occupation when Wehrmacht troops capitulate.

1946 – The International Military Tribunal for the Far East begins in Tokyo with twenty-eight Japanese military and government officials accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

1949 – The Treaty of London establishes the Council of Europe in Strasbourg as the first European institution working for European integration.

1950 – Bhumibol Adulyadej crowns himself King Rama IX of Thailand.

1955 – West Germany gains full sovereignty.

1961 – The Mercury program: Mercury-Redstone 3 – Alan Shepard becomes the first American to travel into outer space, making a sub-orbital flight of 15 minutes.

1964 – The Council of Europe declares May 5 as Europe Day.

1972 – Alitalia Flight 112 crashes into Mount Longa near Palermo, Sicily, killing all 115 aboard, making it the deadliest single-aircraft disaster in Italy.

1980 – Operation Nimrod: The British Special Air Service storms the Iranian embassy in London after a six-day siege.

1981 – Bobby Sands dies in the Long Kesh prison hospital after 66 days of hunger-striking, aged 27.

1987 – Iran-Contra affair: start of Congressional televised hearings in the United States of America

1991 – A riot breaks out in the Mt. Pleasant section of Washington, D.C. after police shoot a Salvadoran man.

1992 – Ratification by Alabama brings into effect the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

1994 – The signing of the Bishkek Protocol between Armenia and Azerbaijan effectively freezes the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

2006 – The government of Sudan signs an accord with the Sudan Liberation Army.

2010 – Mass protests in Greece erupt in response to austerity measures imposed by the government as a result of the Greek debt crisis.

Holidays and observances

   * Children’s Day (Japan)

   * Children’s Day (South Korea)

   * Cinco de Mayo (Mexico and the United States)

   * Christian Feast Day:

       Angelus of Jerusalem

       Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice

       Hilary of Arles

       Jutta of Kulmsee

       May 5 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

   * Constitution Day (Kyrgyzstan)

   * Coronation Day, commemorates the coronation of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1950. (Thailand)

   * Europe Day (Council of Europe)

   * Feast of al-Khadr or St. George (Palestinian)

   * Indian Arrival Day (Guyana)

   * International Midwives’ Day (International)

   * Liberation Day (Denmark)

   * Liberation Day (The Netherlands)

   * Lusophone Culture Day (Community of Portuguese-speaking countries)

   * Martyrs’ Day (Albania)

   * Men’s Day or Ziua Barbatului (Romania)

   * Patriots’ Victory Day (Ethiopia)

   * Senior Citizens Day (Palau)