On this day, May 5 ...
1961: Astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. becomes America’s first space traveler as he makes a 15-minute suborbital flight aboard Mercury capsule Freedom 7.
Also on this day:
- 1494: During his second voyage to the Western Hemisphere, Christopher Columbus lands in Jamaica.
- 1818: Karl Marx, co-author of “The Communist Manifesto” and author of “Das Kapital,” is born in Prussia.
- 1821: Napoleon Bonaparte dies in exile on the island of St. Helena.
- 1862: “Cinco de Mayo” - Mexican troops defeat French occupying forces in the Battle of Puebla.
- 1891: New York’s Carnegie Hall (then known as “Music Hall”) has its official opening night, featuring Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky as a guest conductor.
- 1892: Congress passes the Geary Act, which requires Chinese people in the United States to carry certificates of residence at all times or face deportation.
- 1925: Schoolteacher John T. Scopes is charged in Tennessee with violating a state law that prohibits teaching the theory of evolution. (Scopes would be found guilty, but his conviction was set aside.)
- 1934: The first Three Stooges short for Columbia Pictures, “Woman Haters,” is released.
- 1942: Wartime sugar rationing begins in the United States.
- 1945: In the only deadly attack of its kind during World War II, a Japanese balloon bomb explodes on Gearhart Mountain in Oregon, killing the pregnant wife of a minister and five children.
- 1981: Irish Republican Army hunger-striker Bobby Sands dies at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland on his 66th day without food.
- 1994: Singapore canes American Michael Fay for vandalism, a day after the sentence was reduced from six lashes to four in response to an appeal by President Bill Clinton.
- 2009: Connie Culp, America’s first face transplant recipient, appears before reporters at the Cleveland Clinic.
- 2009: Texas health officials confirm the first death of a U.S. resident with swine flu.
- 2014: A narrowly divided Supreme Court upholds Christian prayers at the start of local council meetings.
- 2018: NASA launches its InSight spacecraft bound for Mars from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, marking the first interplanetary mission ever to depart from the West Coast.