#TodayInHistory – May44 min read
May 4 – Some important events on this day
1471 👉🏼 Battle of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. The final battle and one of the decisive moments of the Wars of the Roses, the conflict between the Houses of Lancaster and York, in England: Prince of Wales, Edward of Westminster killed and King Edward IV restored to his throne.
At Tewkesbury the House of Lancaster was annihilated by the forces of York.
Not only was the Lancastrian heir to the throne, Edward, Prince of Wales, killed in the battle, the Lancastrian king Henry IV was murdered shortly afterward while he was a prisoner in the Tower of London.
The battle essentially ended the Lancastrian royal line for a time and brought stability to England until the death of York king Edward IV in 1483.
1535 👉🏼 Five Carthusian monks from London Charterhouse monastery hung, drawn and quartered at Tyburn, London, for refusing to acknowledge King Henry VIII as head of the Church of England.
1776 👉🏼 Rhode Island becomes first colony to declare independence from England
1814 👉🏼 King Ferdinand VII of Spain signs the Decree of the 4th of May, returning Spain to absolutism
1846 👉🏼 US state Michigan ends death penalty
1859 👉🏼 The Cornwall Railway opens across the Royal Albert Bridge linking the counties of Devon and Cornwall in England.
1878 👉🏼 Thomas Edison’s Phonograph shown for 1st time at Grand Opera House.
Thomas Edison was one of the great inventors and designers in the history of the world. He invented the first practical light bulb, the motion picture camera and the phonograph. Others had attempted to invent the latter but Edison’s was the first to actually reproduce the sound.
The phonograph was Edison’s first major invention and the one that earned him the moniker “the wizard of Menlo Park” as the invention was so unexpected by the public as to appear magical. His first invention recorded on tinfoil around a grooved cylinder, and although the recordings could only be played a few times due to low quality, Edison’s reputation was cemented.
He demonstrated the device on November 29, 1877, having announced its invention days before. He would patent it later that February. Recalling a demonstration in December, an employee of Scientific American magazine wrote: “In December, 1877, a young man came into the office of the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, and placed before the editors a small, simple machine about which very few preliminary remarks were offered. The visitor without any ceremony whatever turned the crank, and to the astonishment of all present the machine said: ‘Good morning. How do you do? How do you like the phonograph?’ The machine thus spoke for itself, and made known the fact that it was the phonograph…”
Edison did not improve on his design but Alexander Graham Bell invented an improved phonograph using wax cylinders in 1880.
1893 👉🏼 Cowboy Bill Pickett invents bulldogging, the skill of grabbing cattle by the horns and wrestling them to the ground
1896 👉🏼 1st edition of London Daily Mail (halfpenny)
1904 👉🏼 Construction begins by the United States on the Panama Canal
1945 👉🏼 German forces in Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands surrender unconditionally to British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery at Luneburg Heath.
“Monty” was appointed to lead the British 8th Army in North Africa in 1942 and won the pivotal Battle of El Alamein.
He subsequently commanded the 8th Army in Sicily and Italy before assisting in the planning for the D-Day invasion in Normandy.
He was in command of all Allied ground forces during Operation Overlord from the initial landings until after the Battle of Normandy. He also commanded the failed Allied airborne assault into the Netherlands, codenamed Operation Market Garden, and accepted the surrender of German forces on this day in Northern Europe at Luneburg Heath.
1972 👉🏼 “The Don’t Make A Wave Committee,” a fledgling environmental organization founded in Canada in 1971, officially changes its name to the “Greenpeace Foundation”
1979 👉🏼 Margaret Thatcher becomes the first woman to be elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1990 👉🏼 Electric chair malfunctions in Florida, leading states to change execution methods.
Jesse Tafero is executed in Florida after his electric chair malfunctions three times, causing flames to leap from his head. Tafero’s death sparked a new debate on humane methods of execution. Several states ceased use of the electric chair and adopted lethal injection as their means of capital punishment.
As the 20th century came to an end, some states were having difficulty finding experienced executioners while others were unable to find technicians who could repair electric chairs. The move toward lethal injection was also problematic since there were few qualified people who knew how to construct a proper system. If done incorrectly, an injection containing a combination of a paralytic drug and a lethal dose of potassium chloride can paralyze an inmate and result in a painful death.