On This Day in History: May 4

On this day in 1970, At Kent State University, 100 National Guardsmen fire their rifles into a group of students, killing four and wounding 11. This incident occurred in the aftermath of President Richard Nixon’s April 30 announcement that U.S. and South Vietnamese forces had been ordered to execute an “incursion” into Cambodia to destroy North Vietnamese bases there. In protest, a wave of demonstrations and disturbances erupted on college campuses across the country.

There were no warnings when the Guardsmen opened fire. 60 rounds were fire into the crowd of demonstrators. After an investigation, all the charges were dropped against the National Guard in 1974.

New audio from the day of the shootings has been released on a website dubbed KentState1970.org. The site also features images of the historic day’s tragic events.

1256 – The mendicant Order of Saint Augustine is constituted at the Lecceto Monastery when Pope Alexander IV issues a papal bull Licet ecclesiae catholicae.

1471 – Wars of the Roses: The Battle of Tewkesbury: Edward IV defeats a Lancastrian Army and kills Edward, Prince of Wales.

1493 – Pope Alexander VI gives most of the New World to Spain via the papal bull Inter caetera.

1626 – Dutch explorer Peter Minuit arrives in New Netherland (present day Manhattan Island) aboard the See Meeuw.

1675 – King Charles II of England orders the construction of the Royal Greenwich Observatory.

1776Rhode 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 assaulted and the Tipu Sultan killed by the besieging British army, under the command of General George Harris.

1814 – Emperor Napoleon I of France arrives at Portoferraio on the island of Elba to begin his exile.

1814 – King Ferdinand VII of Spain signs the Decrete of the 4th of May, returning Spain to absolutism.

1855 – American adventurer William Walker departs from San Francisco with about 60 men to conquer Nicaragua.

1859 – The Cornwall Railway opens across the Royal Albert Bridge linking the counties of Devon and Cornwall in England.

1863American Civil War: The Battle of Chancellorsville ends with a Union retreat.

1864 Army of the Potomac crosses the Rapidan he Army of the Potomac embarks on the biggest campaign of the Civil War and crosses the Rapidan River, precipitating an epic showdown that eventually decides the war. In March 1864, Ulysses S. Grant became commander of all the Union forces and devised a plan to destroy the two major remaining Confederate armies.

1864 House of Representatives approves the Wade-Davis Reconstruction Bill over Lincoln’s objections

1865 Lincoln is buried in Springfield, Illinois

1869 – The Naval Battle of Hakodate takes place in Japan.

1871 – The National Association, the first professional baseball league, opens its first season in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

1886Haymarket Square Riot: A bomb is thrown at policemen trying to break up a labor rally in Chicago, Illinois, United States, killing eight and wounding 60. The police fire into the crowd.

1904 – The United States begins construction of the Panama Canal

1904 – Charles Stewart Rolls meets Frederick Henry Royce at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, England.

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.

1932 – In Atlanta, Georgia, mobster Al Capone begins serving an eleven-year prison sentence for tax evasion.

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: British forces liberate Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg.

1945 – World War II: The North Germany Army surrenders to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.

1946 – In San Francisco Bay, U.S. Marines from the nearby Treasure Island Navy Base stop a two-day riot at Alcatraz federal prison. Five people are killed in the riot.

1949 – The entire Torino football team (except for one player who did not take the trip due to an injury) is killed in a plane crash at the Superga hill at the edge of Turin, Italy.

1953 – Ernest Hemingway is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea.

1961 – American civil rights movement: The “Freedom Riders” begin a bus trip through the South.

1972 – The Don’t Make A Wave Committee, a fledgling environmental organization founded in Canada in 1971, officially changes its name to “Greenpeace Foundation”.

1974 – An all-female Japanese team reaches the summit of Manaslu, becoming the first women to climb an 8,000-meter peak.

1979 – Margaret Thatcher becomes the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

1980 – President Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia dies in Ljubljana at the age of 87.

1982 – Twenty sailors are killed when the British Type 42 destroyer HMS Sheffield is hit by an Argentinian Exocet missile during the Falklands War.

1987 – United States Supreme Court building is designated a National Historic Landmark.

1989 – Iran-Contra Affair: Former White House aide Oliver North is convicted of three crimes and acquitted of nine other charges. The convictions are, however, later overturned on appeal.

1990 – Latvia proclaims the renewal of its independence after the Soviet occupation.

1994Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat sign the Oslo accords regarding Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and Jericho.

1996 – José María Aznar is elected Prime Minister of Spain, ending 13 years of Socialist rule.

1998 – A federal judge in Sacramento, California, gives “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski four life sentences plus 30 years after Kaczynski accepts a plea agreement sparing him from the death penalty.

2001 – The Milwaukee Art Museum addition, the first Santiago Calatrava-designed structure in the United States, opens to the public.

2007 – Greensburg, Kansas is almost completely destroyed by a 1.7mi wide EF-5 tornado.


82 – Hosni Mubarak, President of Egypt

80 – Roberta Peters, American soprano

80 – Katherine Jackson, mother of the Jackson musical family

70 – Robin Cook, American novelist

69 – George Will, American writer

64 – Gary Bauer, American politician, former presidential candidate

63 – Richard Jenkins, American actor

59 – Jackie Jackson, American singer and musician (The Jackson 5)

55 – Lynne Spears, author and mother of Britney Spears, Bryan Spears and Jamie Lynn Spears

51 – Inger Nilsson, Swedish actress

51 – Randy Travis, American musician

41 – Lance Bass, American singer (*NSYNC)


  1. TMC

  2. Edger

    Apparently is the day The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour remixes were done by Producer: George Martin; Engineer: Geoff Emerick; 2nd Engineer: Richard Lush.

    Which, of course, is how we all made it this far, yes?

    The magical mystery tour is coming to take you away,

    Coming to take you away.

  3. Edger

    Richard Nixon told the band to play…

Leave a Reply