May 4, 1626 – Dutch explorer Peter Minuit arrived in New Netherland (present day Manhattan Island) aboard the See Meeuw. Native Americans later sold the island (20,000 acres) for $24 in cloth and buttons.
May 4, 1675 – King Charles II of England ordered the construction of the Royal Greenwich Observatory.
May 4, 1692 – In connection with the Salem witchcraft trials, George Burroughs was arrested in Maine.
May 4, 1776 - Rhode Island became the first North American colony to renounce its allegiance to King George III, declaring its freedom from England two months before the Declaration of Independence was adopted.
May 4, 1796 – Horace Mann was born in Franklin, Mass. He was the first great American advocate of public education. He believed that, in a democratic society, education should be free and universal.
May 4, 1825 – During his tour of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette arrived in Nashville, Tenn.
May 4, 1827 – English soldier and explorer John Hanning Speke was born in Bideford, Devon, England. He was an officer in the British Indian Army who made three exploratory expeditions to Africa and who is most associated with the search for the source of the Nile and was in fact the first European that reached Lake Victoria and as such is the "discoverer of the source of the Nile."
May 4, 1829 – Eldridge Swepson Greening of Sparta, Ala. died in surrey accident on way to Pensacola. He was Junior Grand Warden of the Alabama Grand Lodge in 1825 and Greening Lodge No. 53 in Evergreen was later named in his honor.
May 4, 1858 – French botanist and explorer Aimé Bonpland passed away at the age of 84 in Paso de los Libres, Argentina.
May 4, 1862 - General John B. Magruder abandoned Yorktown. Union forces under General George McClellan had established siege lines on April 5.
May 4, 1863 - The Battle of Chancellorsville entered its fourth day and later ended when the Union Army retreated.
May 4, 1864 - The Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan River. The next day General Robert E. Lee attacked Union General Ulysses S. Grant.
May 4, 1864 - The House of Representatives approved the Wade-Davis Reconstruction Bill.
May 4, 1864 – William Tecumseh Sherman's Atlanta campaign began and in the first few months his troops engaged in several fierce battles with Confederate soldiers on the outskirts of the city, including the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, which the Union forces lost.
May 4, 1865 - U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was laid to rest in Oak Ridge Cemetery outside Springfield, Ill.
May 4, 1865 - At Citronelle, Ala., three and a half weeks after Lee's surrender at Appomattox, the last major Confederate force east of the Mississippi surrendered. Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor surrendered the 12,000 troops of the Department of East Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to Maj. Gen. E. R. S. Canby of the U.S. Army.
May 4, 1871 – The National Association, the first professional baseball league, opened its first season in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The first game of the National Association of Baseball Players was played, and Fort Wayne beat Cleveland, 2-0.
May 4, 1884 – Chemist and Home Economics pioneer Agnes Fay Morgan was born in Peoria, Ill.
May 4, 1903 – An election in the Town of Evergreen for Mayor and five councilmen to serve for the ensuing 12 months was scheduled to be held in Evergreen, Ala.
May 4, 1904 – The United States began construction of the Panama Canal.
May 4, 1906 - U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt warned the U.S. Congress that Standard Oil was in violation of antitrust laws.
May 4, 1929 - Lou Gehrig hit three consecutive home runs.
May 4, 1932 – College football and NFL wide receiver Harlon Hill was born in Killen, Ala. He went on to play for North Alabama, the Chicago Bears, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Detroit Lions. Hill was the NFL Rookie of the Year in 1954 and winner of the Jim Thorpe Trophy as the NFL Player of the Year in 1955. The Harlon Hill Trophy, named in his honor, is awarded annually to the nation's best NCAA Division II football player.
May 4, 1933 - The discovery of mysterious radio waves from the center of the Milky Way galaxy was described by Karl Jansky in a presentation he made to the International Radio Union.
May 4, 1933 - Alabama author T. S. Stribling was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Novels for his book “The Store.”
May 4, 1936 – William E. Molett graduated from Southwest State Agricultural School in Evergreen, Ala. After graduation, he joined the military, became a master navigator, recorded 6,000 hours as an aircraft navigator, including 91 flights over the North Pole. He also taught polar aviation for three years and returned as a Lt. Col. in the Air Force. In 1996, he wrote a book called “Robert Peary and Matthew Henson at the North Pole.” He passed away on March 26, 2005 and is buried in the West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery in Memphis, Tenn.
May 4, 1939 – Israeli writer Amos Oz was born in Jerusalem.
May 4, 1947 – The Tri-County Baseball League (Semi-Pro) was scheduled to open the 1947 season. Evergreen, managed by Wendell Hart, who also pitched, was scheduled to play Frisco City at 3 p.m. in Evergreen.
May 4, 1948 - Twenty-five-year-old Norman Mailer’s first novel, “The Naked and the Dead,” was published on this day. The book was critically acclaimed and is widely considered one of the best novels to come out of World War II.
May 4, 1953 – Ernest Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize for “The Old Man and the Sea.”
May 4, 1954 - The Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals set a National League record when they used 42 players in one game. The Phillies won, 14-10.
May 4, 1959 – Searchers found the bodies of the last four members of the Dyatlov Expedition under four meters of snow in a ravine.
May 4, 1963 - Pitcher Bob Shaw set a record with five balks in a game.
May 4, 1964 - Alabama journalist Hazel Brannon Smith of The Lexington (Miss.) Advertiser was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing.
May 4, 1965 - San Francisco Giants outfielder Willie Mays, a native of Alabama, hit his 512th career home run to break Mel Ott’s National League record for home runs. Mays would finish his career with 660 home runs, good for third on the all-time list at the time of his retirement.
May 4, 1970 - Alabama journalist Harold Eugene Martin of The Montgomery Advertiser and The Alabama Journal was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Local Investigative Specialized Reporting for his exposure of a scheme to use Alabama prisoners for medical experimentation.
May 4, 1973 - The Phillies beat the Braves, 5-4, in 20 innings in the longest game to date at Veterans Stadium.
May 4, 1974 – An all-female Japanese team reached the summit of Manaslu, becoming the first women to climb an 8,000-meter peak.
May 4, 1975 - Bob Watson of the Houston Astros scored the one-millionth run in Major League Baseball history.
May 4, 1980 - Mike Squires of the Chicago White Sox played the position of catcher in the final inning against the Brewers. It was the first time a left handed catcher had played since 1958.
May 4, 1984 - Dave Kingman hit a fly ball that got stuck in the ceiling of the Metrodome.
May 4, 1990 – “Tales from the Darkside: The Movie,” one segment written by Alabama author Robert McDowell, was released.
May 4, 1991 - Chris James of the Cleveland Indians set a club record with nine RBI in a game.
May 4, 1992 - Alma Martin Post 50 of the American Legion installed new officers for the 1992-93 year at the Legion Home on Highway 31 South in Evergreen, Ala. New officers were Gene Shipp, Sergeant-at-Arms; Elmer Parker, Second Vice Commander; Charlie Holcombe, First Vice Commander; Joe W. Merrill, Commander; and Howard Fore, Chaplain.
May 4, 1998 – A federal judge in Sacramento, California, gave "Unabomber" Theodore Kaczynski four life sentences plus 30 years after Kaczynski accepted a plea agreement sparing him from the death penalty.
May 4, 2001 - The Harper Lee Award for Alabama's Distinguished Writer was given to Alabama author Sena Jeter Naslund at the Alabama Writers Symposium in Monroeville, Ala.
May 4, 2003 - The first cloned animal in the horse family, a mule named Idaho Gem, was born at the University of Idaho.
May 4, 2004 - Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees hit his 350th career home run and drove in his 1,000th run. He was the youngest player to reach 350 home runs at 28 years, 282 days.
May 4, 2007 - The Harper Lee Award for Alabama's Distinguished Writer was given to Alabama author William Cobb at the Alabama Writers Symposium in Monroeville, Ala.
May 4, 2014 – “The Island with Bear Grylls” was first shown on Channel 4. This series features 13 British men on an uninhabited Pacific island with very little equipment.