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, 1861 – During the Civil War, Federal ordnance stores were seized in Kansas City, Mo.
May 4, 1861 - The secession from the Union was not received with joy by all the residents of Southern states. In particular, the people of western Virginia were not thrilled. The mountainous region had social and cultural differences with the southern and eastern parts of the state. Meetings took place on this day in Wheeling, Kingswood, and Preston County to discuss another act of secession.
May 4, 1862 - General John B. Magruder abandoned Yorktown. Union forces under General George McClellan had established siege lines on April 5.
May 4, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Farmington, near Corinth, Miss.; at Licking, Mo.; near Bethel, Purdy and Pulaski, Tenn.; at Columbia Bridge, Culpepper Courthouse and near Williamsburg, Va.; and at Franklin and another Princeton, West Virginia. Yorktown, Va. was occupied by Federal forces.
May 4, 1863 - The Battle of Chancellorsville entered its fourth day and later ended when the Union Army retreated.
May 4, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Fort De Russy, La.; at Hankinson’s Ferry, Miss.; at Murray’s Inlet, S.C.; out from Nashville, Tenn.; and at Flemming’s Crossroads, Tunstall’s Station, Ashland Church, Hungary Station, Hanover Ferry, Aylett, Leesville, Salem Church and near Winchester, Va.
May 4, 1863 - General Joseph Hooker’s plan to flank the Confederates at Fredericksburg had ground to a complete halt almost as soon as it began. Surprise and initiative lost, he began to withdraw back across the fords of the Rappahannock. U.S. Gen. “Uncle” John Sedgwick’s forces, who had finally taken bloody Marye’s Heights in Fredericksburg, were attacked at Salem Church in an attempt to cut them off from this escape. They managed to resist and make their way to Bank’s Ford, which they crossed in the night.
May 4, 1863 - A six-day Federal operation began against Snake Indians in the Idaho Territory. The Federal vessel, George Sturgess, was sunk in its unsuccessful attempt to pass the Vicksburg, Miss. batteries. Federal operations in the area surrounding Lexington, Mo. began.
May 4, 1864 - The Army of the Potomac embarked on the biggest campaign of the Civil War and crossed the Rapidan River in Virginia, precipitating an epic showdown that eventually decided the war. In March 1864, Ulysses S. Grant became commander of all the Union forces and devised a plan to destroy the two major remaining Confederate armies: Joseph Johnston’s Army of the Tennessee, which was guarding the approaches to Atlanta, and Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Grant sent William T. Sherman to take on Johnston, and then rode along with the Army of the Potomac, which was still under the command of George Meade, to confront Lee.
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, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Varnell’s Station Road, Ga.; at Ashwood Landing, La.; with Apache Indians in Doubtful Canyon in the New Mexico Territory; at David’s Ferry, La.; near New Berne, N.C., and in the Albemarle Sound, N.C.; near Chancellorsville, Va.; at Callaghan’s Station, West Virgina.
May 4, 1864 – During the Civil War, a Federal operation began between Vicksburg and Yazoo City, Miss., with two skirmishes near Benton and another on Luce’s Plantation, Miss. Butler’s campaign began on the south side of the James River, Va.
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, 1885 – The Monroe Journal reported that U.S. President Grover Cleveland had appointed Major C.L Scott of Monroeville, Ala. as Minister to Venezuela.
May 4, 1895 – Monroe County (Ala.) Circuit Court adjourned on this Saturday morning and “Judge Anderson and Solicitor Elmore left immediately for their home in Demopolis.” Before Anderson’s departure, Capt. Thomas S. Wiggins “arose and read a resolution adopted at a previous meeting of the Monroeville bar, cordially welcoming Judge Anderson to Monroe County, and expressing its high appreciation of the able, fair and impartial manner in which he presided during the term. The bar desired to thank him for the many courtesies shown it, and hoped that the pleasant relations thus begun might continue uninterruptedly.”
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, 1905 – The Monroe Journal reported that Sheriff Fountain had captured a man who fit the description of a man who shot a Mr. Reese at Lee Station in Sumter County.
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, 1931 - W.K. Knudsen, president of the Chevrolet Motor Co. and vice-president of General Motors Corp., accompanied by Mr. D.E. Ralston, General Sales Manager of the Chevrolet Co., was in Evergreen on this Monday morning for a short while, paying a visit to the local Chevrolet agency. They were making a cross section trip through this entire zone visiting dealers at all points touched. The local dealer was Mr. C.W. Wilson.
May 4, 1931 - George Stallworth, a farmer living four miles north of Belleville, Ala., was killed by lightning late on this Monday afternoon. It was said that Stallworth was at his home alone at the time the incident occurred, his family being engaged in the berry fields near Castleberry. His body was found by neighbors sometime on Tues., May 5, lying in a path between his house and his pasture. It was thought that he had gone to the pasture to turn out his cows and was stricken while on the way. J.D. Skinner and several others from Belleville held an inquest over the body soon after its discovery and returned a coroner’s verdict that he came to his death as a result of lightning. According to reports, the clothing was practically torn from his body.
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, Ala.
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, 1961 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Howard Fore, the President of the Evergreen Junior Baseball League, announced that week the following list of new players with their respective managers: Dodger-Chicks: Gene Glass, Skipper Carlton, Vernon Millsap, Mike Bethune, Barry Turk, John Skipper, William H. Kahl, Rodney Powell, Danny Hall, Billy Jack Smith, Ivan Gomes, Billy Griggers, David Stonestreet, John Crum Sessions, Herbert Ellis, Myles Covin, Marvin Salter and Gerald Salter. Managers for the Dodgers are Robert Glass and Frank Chavers. Dizzy Dean and W.G. Langford will manage the Chicks. Giants-Pelicans: Sammie Simpson, Wayne Hicks, Joe Brown, Tim Skipper, Johnny Stokes, Eric Pugh, Bobby Snowden, Paul Drummond, Robert Ward, Bill Snowden, Harold Wright, Larry Wright, Robert Williams, Jim Williams, John Barron, George Fontaine and John Shanklin. Giants managers are Moreno White and Marvin Hicks. Managers for the Pelicans are W.S. Simpson and Robert Quarles. Yankees-Orioles: John Autrey, Jerry Sasser, Ralph Pugh, Stanley Aaron, James Coker, Frank Bilbro, David Davis, Jimmy Bell, Shelby Windham, Dallas Kelly, Gregory Hall, Danny Crosby and Harold Bolton. Waynard Price and Randy Moorer will manage the Yankees and the Orioles will be managed by Bill Murner and Terry Sullivan.
May 4, 1961 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Cadet 1st Lt. Marvin Padgett had been selected as the national recipient for the 1961 Frank G. Brewer – Civil Air Patrol Memorial Aerospace Award. The selection was made by a special committee at the National CAP Headquarters, Ellington Air Force Base, Texas. Padgett was a cadet in the Evergreen Composite Squadron of the CAP, which was led by Commander C.P. Strong. A charter member of the Evergreen CAP cadets, Padgett joined in the summer of 1958 and had missed only three of the weekly meetings since then. At Evergreen High School, where Padgett was a junior in 1961, he was a member of the Dramatics Club, Journalism Club, Beta Club and Echo staff. After finishing high school, he planned to enter the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
May 4, 1961- At a press conference, Secretary of State Dean Rusk reported that Viet Cong forces had grown to 12,000 men and that they had killed or kidnapped more than 3,000 persons in 1960. While declaring that the United States would supply South Vietnam with any possible help, he refused to say whether the United States would intervene militarily. At a press conference the next day, President John F. Kennedy said that consideration was being given to the use of United States forces. Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, did eventually commit more than 500,000 American troops to the war.
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, 1970 – During the Vietnam War’s “Kent State shootings,” the Ohio National Guard, sent to Kent State University after disturbances in the city of Kent the weekend before, opened fire killing four unarmed students and wounding nine others. The students were protesting the Cambodian Campaign of the United States and South Vietnam.
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, 1976 - There was an unusually heavy turnout of voters in this Tuesday’s primary elections in Conecuh County, Ala., and they completed nominating Democratic candidates for county offices in all but one race. Approximately 5,050 voted, compared to about 5,150 in 1974’s first primary when there were races for governor and sheriff which are usually more attractive to voters. The only runoff was in District 2, Place 4, where veteran commissioner C.L. Smith lacked 92 votes of obtaining a majority in a three-man race. Smith led with 1,154 votes, Bert Gorum qualified for the runoff with 807 and E. Eugene Darby had 439.
May 4, 1976 – Major League Baseball outfielder Ben Grieve was born in Arlington, Texas. He went on to play for the Oakland Athletics, the Tampa Ray Devil Rays, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago Cubs.
May 4, 1976 – Major League Baseball outfiedler Jason Michaels was born in Tampa, Fla. He went on to play for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Cleveland Indians, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Houston Astros.
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 single 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 homeruns 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.