May 2 – On this Day in History

This article highlights key historical events that occurred on May 2nd, detailing their significance and enduring impact on society and global history.

From royal decrees and critical battles to technological and cultural breakthroughs, each event offers insight into the diverse facets of human history.

Join us as we explore these pivotal moments that have shaped our past and continue to influence the present.

May 2nd Events in History

1194 – King Richard I of England gives Portsmouth its first Royal Charter

King Richard I, also known as Richard the Lionheart, granted the city of Portsmouth, located on the southern coast of England, its first Royal Charter.

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This historic act recognized the strategic importance of Portsmouth, which served as a significant port for the Royal Navy. The charter allowed Portsmouth certain rights that were crucial for its development as a naval and mercantile hub.

1335 – Otto the Merry, Duke of Austria, becomes Duke of Carinthia

Otto the Merry, a member of the Habsburg dynasty, became the Duke of Carinthia after already serving as the Duke of Austria. His nickname “the Merry” reflects his reputation for being jovial and generous.

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His accession to the ducal throne of Carinthia expanded the influence of the Habsburgs in Central Europe, further consolidating their power across several regions.

Anne Boleyn

1536 – Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, is arrested and imprisoned on charges of adultery, incest, treason, and witchcraft

Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII of England, was arrested on May 2, 1536, on charges that included adultery, incest, treason, and witchcraft.

These charges are widely considered to have been fabricated to allow Henry to annul their marriage and marry Jane Seymour, whom he hoped would bear him a male heir.

Anne’s arrest led to her execution later that month, a pivotal moment in English history that also marked a significant step in the English Reformation.

1611 – The King James Bible is published for the first time in London, England, by printer Robert Barker

The King James Bible, also known as the Authorized Version, was first published on May 2, 1611, by Robert Barker, the King’s Printer. This translation was commissioned by King James I of England in 1604 and involved a team of some 50 translators and scholars.

The aim was to provide a version of the Bible that was suitable for reading in churches across England. The King James Bible has since become one of the most influential and widely read books in the English-speaking world.

1670 – King Charles II of England grants a permanent charter to the Hudson’s Bay Company to open up the fur trade in North America

On May 2, 1670, King Charles II of England granted a charter to “The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay.”

This charter gave the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) the rights to the fur trade in the vast region surrounding Hudson Bay in what is now Canada.

The HBC’s control over the fur trade was instrumental in the economic and territorial development of Canada, and the company played a significant role in the history of the North American continent.

1808 – Outbreak of the Dos de Mayo Uprising against French occupation in Madrid

The Dos de Mayo Uprising was a significant revolt by the people of Madrid against the occupation of the city by French forces under Napoleon Bonaparte. The uprising began when French troops attempted to relocate the Spanish royal family, sparking widespread resistance among the citizens.

Although the revolt was eventually crushed by the French, it inspired a broader Spanish resistance movement and led to the Peninsular War, which became an important part of the Napoleonic Wars. The event remains a symbol of Spanish national pride and resistance against foreign domination.

1816 – Marriage of Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Charlotte Augusta of Wales

On May 2, 1816, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who later became King Leopold I of Belgium, married Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, the only legitimate child of the Prince Regent (later King George IV) and heiress presumptive to the British throne.

Their marriage was seen as a union that could potentially stabilize the future of the British monarchy. Tragically, Charlotte died following childbirth the next year, leading to a succession crisis that eventually placed Queen Victoria (Leopold’s niece) on the throne.

Stonewall Jackson

1863 – American Civil War: Stonewall Jackson is wounded by friendly fire at the Battle of Chancellorsville

During the American Civil War, Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was accidentally wounded by his own men at the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia. It occurred at night when he was returning to camp after reconnoitering enemy positions.

His injuries led to the amputation of his left arm, and he died of pneumonia eight days later. Jackson’s death was a severe setback for the Confederacy, as he was one of its most skilled and inspirational generals.

1885 – Good Housekeeping magazine goes on sale for the first time

Good Housekeeping magazine was first published on May 2, 1885. The magazine quickly became a cornerstone of American media, offering readers advice on various household activities, including cooking, cleaning, health, and product testing.

It established the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval in 1909, which guarantees a product’s reliability and reflects the magazine’s commitment to advocating for consumer interests. Over the decades, Good Housekeeping has become an influential guide for homemakers across the United States.

1887 – Hannibal Goodwin patents celluloid photographic film

Reverend Hannibal Goodwin, an American Episcopal priest from New Jersey, patented a process for making celluloid photographic film on May 2, 1887. This invention allowed for the development of flexible and transparent roll film, which replaced the rigid glass plates previously used in photography.

Goodwin’s invention laid the groundwork for the mass production of film and was crucial in the development of both the photographic and motion picture industries.

The introduction of this film technology enabled easier handling and broader use in cameras, significantly impacting how visual information was captured and disseminated.

1902 – The first full-time movie theater in the United States opens in Los Angeles, California

The Electric Theater, opened in Los Angeles on May 2, 1902, is often regarded as the first permanent, dedicated movie theater in the United States.

This marked a significant moment in the evolution of American cinema, transitioning from temporary venues and vaudeville theaters to establishments solely dedicated to showing films.

The opening of the Electric Theater heralded the beginning of cinema’s golden age and the subsequent rise of Hollywood as the film capital of the world.

1920 – The first game of the Negro National League baseball is played in Indianapolis

The Negro National League (NNL), one of the several leagues formed during the era of organized baseball’s color line, which excluded black players from the major leagues, played its first game on May 2, 1920. This game, featuring African American players, took place in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The league was founded earlier that year by Rube Foster, a former player and owner, who sought to provide a structured opportunity for African American players to showcase their talents. The NNL was a crucial institution in the development of baseball and remained active until the integration of the major leagues in the late 1940s.

1933 – In Germany, Adolf Hitler bans trade unions

Shortly after coming to power, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party took decisive steps to consolidate control by banning all trade unions on May 2, 1933. This action was part of a broader campaign to eliminate any potential sources of opposition or dissent.

The unions were replaced by the German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF), which was designed to serve the interests of the state under Nazi ideology, effectively removing workers’ rights to strike and collectively bargain.

1945 – World War II: The Soviet Union announces the fall of Berlin

On May 2, 1945, the Soviet Union announced the fall of Berlin, marking a decisive end to one of the most brutal battles of World War II and leading to the imminent defeat of Nazi Germany.

The capture of Berlin by Soviet troops was a significant event, symbolizing the collapse of the Third Reich and the effective end of the war in Europe. The victory was celebrated in Moscow with a salute of several hundred artillery shells from 324 guns.

1952 – The world’s first jet airliner, the De Havilland Comet, makes its maiden flight from London to Johannesburg

The De Havilland DH 106 Comet, the world’s first commercial jet airliner, completed its maiden flight from London to Johannesburg on May 2, 1952. This represented a major breakthrough in aviation technology, signaling the start of the jet age for passenger travel.

The Comet promised faster, smoother, and more efficient air travel compared to propeller-driven aircraft. However, its early promise was marred by structural failures that led to several fatal crashes, prompting redesigns and improvements in aircraft safety and engineering standards.

1955 – Tennessee Williams wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”

Tennessee Williams, one of America’s most celebrated playwrights, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama on May 2, 1955, for his play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” The play, which was Williams’ third major success following “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Glass Menagerie,” explores themes of mendacity, familial conflict, and the strains of societal expectations.

It centers on a Southern family in crisis, particularly focusing on the troubled relationship between Brick and his wife, Maggie. The play is renowned for its vivid characters and emotional intensity, and it remains a staple of American theater.

1964 – The first American unmanned Gemini spacecraft (Gemini 1) is launched

Gemini 1, the first mission in NASA’s Gemini program, was launched on May 2, 1964. This unmanned test flight was crucial for the United States’ efforts to gain an edge in the space race against the Soviet Union.

The Gemini program was designed to develop space travel techniques to support the Apollo missions, which aimed to land humans on the Moon. Gemini 1 tested the structural integrity of the new two-person spacecraft and helped validate its design under real-world orbital conditions.

1982 – The Weather Channel airs on cable television for the first time in the United States

On May 2, 1982, The Weather Channel made its debut on American cable television, founded by meteorologist John Coleman and entrepreneur Frank Batten. The channel was the first of its kind, dedicated entirely to weather forecasts, meteorological analysis, and related programming.

The launch of The Weather Channel met with skepticism, but it soon became an indispensable tool for millions of viewers, especially during severe weather events, significantly impacting public awareness and safety.

1994 – Nelson Mandela claims victory after South Africa’s first post-apartheid elections

Nelson Mandela, leading the African National Congress (ANC), declared victory on May 2, 1994, following South Africa’s first multiracial elections, marking the end of apartheid.

Mandela’s victory not only symbolized a profound change in South African politics but also served as a beacon of hope for racial reconciliation worldwide.

His election as President ushered in a new era of democratic governance and social reform in South Africa, focusing on healing the divisions of the past and building a more inclusive society.

2011 – Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the September 11 attacks and the FBI’s most wanted man is killed by US Special Forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan

On May 2, 2011, Osama bin Laden, the leader of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda and the architect of numerous global terror attacks, including the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, was killed in a raid by U.S. Navy SEALs.

The operation, codenamed Operation Neptune Spear, took place in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and marked the culmination of a nearly decade-long manhunt. Bin Laden’s death was a significant moment in the global fight against terrorism and served as a critical milestone in the U.S. efforts to dismantle al-Qaeda.