On This Day in History: May 5

Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s independence day, that’s September 16. It isn’t even a federal holiday in Mexico and is only celebrated regionally in Puebla. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory of the Mexican army over French  forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. In 1861, Benito Juarez stopped making interest payments on money it owed and was attacked by France. The battle really only slowed the French down and they continued to march towards Mexico City. One year later, Mexico was occupied by France and installed Maximilion I as Emperor. 5 years after the battle of Puebla, Juarez overthrew Maximilion and executed him.

The reasons that this battle is significant is first 4,000 Mexican soldiers, who were greatly outnumbered defeated the well-equipped French army of 8,000 that had not been defeated for almost 50 years. Second, since the battle of Puebla, no country in the Americas has been invaded by an army from another continent.

It is a celebration of Mexican pride and heritage. Although mostly ignored by Mexico, Cinco de Mayo has been celebrated continuously in California since 1863. Other places outside the US and Mexico that celebrate are in Vancouver, Canada where there is a sky diving event. In the Cayman Islands there is an air guitar festival and in Malta, every one is encouraged to drink Mexican beer.

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.

1776Clinton excludes Howe and Harnett from amnesty offer: In North Carolina, British Lieutenant General Henry Clinton issues a proclamation denouncing the Patriots “wicked rebellion” and recommending that the inhabitants of North Carolina return their allegiance to the king. He offered full pardon to all persons, except Continental Army Brigadier General Robert Howe and North Carolina Patriot Cornelius Harnett.

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.

1821Emperor 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 lead the expedition of the Thousand to conquer the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies giving birth to the Kingdom of Italy.

1862Battle of Williamsburg, Virginia, begins

1863Hooker begins to retreat from the Battle of Chancellorsville

1864American 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.

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

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.

1904against 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.

1921 – Coco Chanel introduces Chanel No. 5

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

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

1944Driving pioneer Bertha Benz dies: Bertha Benz, the wife of inventor Karl Benz and the first person to drive an automobile over a long distance, dies on this day in 1944, in Ladenburg, Germany.

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

1945 – World War II: Prague uprising against German occupying forces in Czechoslovakia

1945 – World War II: US Army troops liberate the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria

1945 – World War II: Admiral Karl Dönitz, President of Germany after Hitler’s death, orders all German U-boats to cease offensive operations and return to their bases.

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.

1955West Germany gains full sovereignty.

1961The 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

1970U.S. forces capture Snoul, Cambodia. A squadron of nearly 100 tanks from the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and jet planes virtually leveled the village that had been held by the North Vietnamese. No dead North Vietnamese soldiers were found, only the bodies of four Cambodian civilians.

1972North Vietnamese turn back South Vietnamese relief column. South Vietnamese troops from the 21st Division, trying to reach beleaguered An Loc in Binh Long Province via Highway 13, are again pushed back by the communists, who had overrun a supporting South Vietnamese firebase

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

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

1985 – [http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/reagan-visits-concentration-camp-and-war-cemeteryReagan visits concentration camp and war cemetery. What he did not know was that the cemetery included the graves of 49 of Hitler s infamous SS (Schutzstaffel), the paramilitary organization that planned and carried out the massacre of approximately 6 million people in death camps during World War II.

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

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

1994 – American teenager Michael P. Fay is caned in Singapore for theft and vandalism, a punishment that the United States deemed to be excessive for a teenager committing a non-violent crime.

2005 – A United Kingdom general election results in the re-election of Tony Blair’s Labour Party for a third consecutive term.


1927 – Pat Carroll, American actress

1940 – Lance Henriksen, American actor and painter

1942 – Dr. TMC

1943 – Michael Palin, British writer, actor, and comedian

1944 – John Rhys-Davies, English-born Welsh actor

1954 – Dave Spector, American television personality and commentator

1959 – Brian Williams, American news anchor

1961 – Hiroshi Hase, Japanese professional wrestler and politician

1967 – Takehito Koyasu, Japanese seiyu (voice actor)

1973 – Tina Yothers, American actress

1974 – Seiji Ara, Japanese racing driver

1980 – DerMarr Johnson, American basketball player

1980 – Hank Green, Musician, professional blogger

1984 – Wade MacNeil, Canadian guitarist (Alexisonfire)

1985 – Shoko Nakagawa, Japanese actress, illustrator and singer

1989 – Chris Brown, American singer and actor

1 comment

  1. Diane G

    How I wish that the Mexican community would close every restaurant in Protest; so that all the white exploiters would have to stay home and make their own margaritas and tex/mex crap that passes for ameriucanized tourista food.

    ESPECIALLY in AZ; they should shut down, go home and have house parties and plan how to get REAL freedom in the US.

    But hell, that would be a lot of money to lose on the busiest day of the year.

    But viva la revolucion!

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