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Throwback Thursday for May 9

Adam Gall

Here is what happened on May 9!

  • 1502: Christopher Columbus began his last expedition to the New World. He went to Cape Honduras and ran into a horrible storm. After surviving the storm, he named the cape Cape Gracias a Dios, meaning “thanks to God.” However, he ran into bad luck again while trying to find India. The ships ran aground near Jamaica and had to wait eight months for the rescue ship to get there. While Columbus and his surviving crew did make it home, this was the last of Columbus’s explorations.
  • 1754: The first American political cartoon, Join, or Die, was published. It was in Benjamin Franklin’s newspaper out of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Gazette. It showed a snake broken up into pieces that represented the different colonies.
  • 1860: The Constitutional Union Party was formed. The Southern branch of the Whig Party and the American “Know-Nothing” Party combined in an effort to keep the North and South together. It was based solely on supporting the Constitution and didn’t take a stand on slavery so they wouldn’t alienate anyone.
  • 1926: Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett supposedly became the first people to fly over the North Pole. Their plane was called the Josephine Ford. They took off and landed from Spitsbergen, Norway, and the flight took about 15 ½ hours. The men became famous and were given the Medal of Honor in other awards. However, some historians don’t believe they actually achieved what they said they did.
  • 1928: Tennis great Richard “Pancho” Gonzales was born in Los Angeles, California. When he was a boy, Gonzales’ mother bought him a tennis racquet for 51 cents. He was competing in Junior boys tournaments by 14 years old. He won the U.S. men’s singles titles in both 1948 and 1949. A few years after turning pro, he became the uncontested champion between 1954 and 1961. He had a killer serve that could reach 110 miles per hour. He also had a bad temper, partly because of all the racism he faced.
  • 1931: Nobel laureate Albert Mickelson died. Mickelson, a Prussian American physicist, won the 1907 Nobel Prize in physics based on his work studying light waves. He wrote about this in Light Waves and Their Uses in 1903. His overall work improved our ability to make very precise measurements and affected math, astronomy, and spectroscopy.
  • 1942: Japanese Americans in an area near San Francisco had to be evacuated by noon. They were notified by posters put up around their community on May 3. The poster told them where and when to go for further instructions, what they should bring with them, and what they had to leave behind.
  • 2009: Jacob Zuma was installed as the president of South Africa. This happened only after state prosecutors stopped investigating corruption allegations into Zuma. One of his goals as president was to oversee a land redistribution program. This would transfer roughly one-third of the South African farmland to black farmers.


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