May 8, 1541 - South of present-day Memphis, Tenn., Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto reached the Mississippi River, one of the first European explorers to ever do so. He named it Rio de Espiritu Santo.
May 8, 1781 - The British surrendered Pensacola, Fla. to Louisiana governor and Spanish military officer Bernardo de Galvez.
May 8, 1792 - The U.S. Congress passed the second portion of the Militia Act. It required that every free able-bodied white male citizen be enrolled in the militia. The act provided for the President of the United States to take command of the state militias in times of imminent invasion or insurrection.
May 8, 1794 - The United States Post Office was established.
May 8, 1820 – Future Civil War Union general William Tecumseh Sherman was born in Lancaster, Ohio.
May 8, 1820 - The Alabama Supreme Court convened for the first time. The court, meeting in the capital of Cahaba, was composed of Alabama's circuit court judges. Clement C. Clay, who later served in Congress and as governor, was appointed Chief Justice.
May 8–9, 1825 – The steamboat Mechanic, conveying the Marquis de Lafayette and party to Louisville, Ky., sank on the Ohio River. All passengers reached shore safely, but Lafayette lost property and money. The party was picked up the following day by the passing steamboat Paragon.
May 8, 1835 - Alabama author Augusta Jane Evans Wilson was born in Columbus, Ga.
May 8, 1842 – French admiral and explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville passed away at the age of 51 when the train he and his family was traveling in from Versailles to Paris derailed and caught fire. He explored the south and western Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica. As a botanist and cartographer he left his mark, giving his name to several seaweeds, plants and shrubs, and places such as D'Urville Island.
May 8, 1858 – National Baseball Hall of Fame first baseman Dan Brouthers was born in Sylvan Lake, N.Y. He went on to play for the Troy Trojans, the Buffalo Bisons, the Detroit Wolverines, the Boston Beaneaters, the Boston Reds, the Brooklyn Grooms, the Baltimore Orioles, the Louisville Colonels, the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Giants. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1945.
May 8, 1861 – During the Civil War, Richmond, Va. was named the capital of the Confederate States of America.
May 8, 1862 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Elkton Station, in the vicinity of Athens, Ala.
May 8, 1862 – During the Civil War, the Battle of McDowell, Virginia, took place.
May 8, 1862 – John Jefferson Simpson enlisted in Monroeville, Ala. as a private in Co. F of the 36th Alabama Regiment. He was taken prisoner at Missionary Ridge on Nov. 25, 1863 and was forwarded to Louisville Military Prison in Kentucky on Dec. 7, 1863. He was later forwarded to Rock Island, Ill. Prison on Dec. 8, 1863 and was paroled at the end of the war. He is buried in the Mexia Cemetery.
May 8, 1862 – During the Civil War, the Confederate arsenal at Baton Rouge, La. was captured by Federal forces. Federal reconnaissance was also conducted toward Corinth, Miss., and a skirmish was fought at Glendale, Miss. in the vicinity of Corinth, Miss.
May 8, 1862 – During the Civil War, a Federal naval demonstration too place at Sewell’s Point, Va. and an engagement was fought at McDowell, Va. From Staunton, Major General T.J. Jackson marched his army west along the Parkersburg Road to confront two brigades of Frémont’s force (Milroy and Schenck), advancing toward the Shenandoah Valley from western Virginia. At McDowell on May 8, Milroy seized the initiative and assaulted the Confederate position on Sitlington’s Hill. The Federals were repulsed after severe fighting, lasting four hours. Afterwards, Milroy and Schenck withdrew into western Virginia, freeing up Jackson’s army to march against the other Union columns threatening the Valley.
May 8, 1863 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Grove Church, Va.
May 8, 1863 - All during the Civil War, the draft laws of the United States had applied only to citizens, thereby leaving alien residents exempt. (Aliens served, of course, and in large numbers, but they were all volunteers.) On this day Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation announcing that henceforth the draft would be extended to include any non-citizen who had applied for citizenship. The impulse to serve was not universal, and many citizenship papers were hastily withdrawn.
May 8, 1863 - Clement Vallandigham, a leader of the Copperheads, was arrested for violating General Ambrose Burnside's Order No. 38. The order stated that public criticism of the war woudl not be tolerated.
May 8, 1864 - Yankee troops arrived at Spotsylvania Court House, Va., to find the Rebels already there. After the Battle of the Wilderness (May 5-6), Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Potomac marched south in the drive to take Richmond. Grant hoped to control the strategic crossroads at Spotsylvania Court House, so he could draw Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia into open ground.
May 8, 1864 – George Wilson of the Conecuh Guards wounded at Spotsylvania Court House.
May 8, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought northeast of Maysville, Ark.; at Resaca, Snake Creek Gap, Rocky Face Ridge, Mill Creek Gap, Dug Gap, and Sugar Valley, Ga.; at Bayou Robert, La.; and at Jeffersonville and Halltown, West Virginia.
May 8, 1865 – Joseph R. Bass of Evergreen, Ala. was discharged from the Confederate Army at Forsythe, Ga. He would move to Texas after the war and is buried in Caddo Mills, Texas.
May 8, 1865 – During the Civil War, a 14-day Federal reconnaissance from Spring Hill, Ala. to Baton Rouge, La. began.
May 8, 1865 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought near Readsville, Mo. Two days of Federal operations in Saline, La Fayette and Cooper Counties, Mo. began. A 15-day Federal reconnaissance from Plum Creek to Midway Station in the Nebraska Territory began.
May 8, 1878 - Paul Hines made baseball's first unassisted triple play.
May 8, 1884 – Harry S. Truman, future U.S. President and prominent Freemason, was born in Lamar, Missouri.
May 8, 1886 – Pharmacist John Pemberton first sold a carbonated beverage named "Coca-Cola" as a patent medicine.
May 8, 1891 – Russian occultist, spirit medium and author Helena Blavatsky passed away at the age of 59 from influenza in London, England. Known as a 'pioneer esotericist,' she co-founded the Theosophical Society in 1875. She gained an international following as the leading theoretician of Theosophy, the esoteric movement that the Society promoted.
May 8, 1893 – National Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder Edd Roush was born in Oakland City, Indiana. He went on to play for the Chicago White Sox, the Indianapolis Hoosiers, the Newark Peppers, the New York Giants and the Cincinnati Reds. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962.
May 8, 1895 – Writer Edmund Wilson was born in Red Bank, New Jersey.
May 8, 1895 – On this Wednesday night, a large lamp in Dr. Wiggins’ store in Monroeville, Ala. fell to the floor and exploded. The escaping oil caught fire and filled the room with flames. Clerk Charles Russell and Chas. Wiggins extinguished the fire before any “material damage” was done.
May 8, 1901 – Evergreen, Alabama’s first electrical system was turned on for the first time “amid loud and enthusiastic cheers, echoed from all parts of town” as Virginia Savage, the small daughter of Evergreen’s mayor, pressed the button that turned the current on along the nearly four miles of wires that “set Evergreen ablaze for the first time with brilliant electric lights.”
May 8, 1901 – National Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder Turkey Stearnes was born in Nashville, Tenn. He went on to play for the Nashville Giants, the Montgomery Grey Sox, the Detroit Stars, the New York Lincoln Giants, the Kansas City Monarchs, the Chicago American Giants and the Philadelphia Stars. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.
May 8, 1909 - Chief Bender of the Philadelphia Athletics hit two inside the park home runs against Boston.
May 8, 1915 – On this Saturday afternoon, Jeddo’s baseball team beat McGill, 11-0.
May 8, 1919 – The USS Herbert, named after Greenville, Ala. native and former Secretary of the Navy Hilary A. Herbert, was launched by Herbert’s daughter Mrs. Benjamin Micou.
May 8, 1930 – Poet Gary Snyder was born in San Francisco.
May 8, 1930 – Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Doug Atkins was born in Humboldt, Tenn. He went on to play for the University of Tennessee, the Cleveland Browns, the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982.
May 8, 1935 - Author Clarence Cason died in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
May 8, 1935 - Ernie Lombardi of the Cincinnati Reds hit four doubles on consecutive at-bats against four different Philadelphia pitchers.
May 8, 1937 – Novelist Thomas Pynchon was born in the Long Island city of Glen Cove, N.Y.
May 8, 1938 – On this Sunday, the Andalusia Rams baseball team beat the Evergreen Greenies, 12-7, in Andalusia, Ala.
May 8, 1945 - U.S. President Harry Truman announced that World War II had ended in Europe.
May 8, 1945 – German SS officer Wilhelm Rediess committed suicide at the age of 44 in Oslo, Norway.
May 8, 1947 – Evergreen’s semi-pro baseball team was scheduled to play Frisco City in Frisco City, Ala.
May 8, 1949 – The first ever baseball game was played at Vanity Fair Park in Monroeville, Ala. The team from the Atmore State Prison Farm won, 7-3.
May 8, 1951 - The synthetic fabric Dacron debuted on this day and was the first polyester fiber unleashed on the public.
May 8, 1959 – Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback and safety Ronnie Lott was born in Albuquerque, N.M. He went on to play for Southern Cal, the San Francisco 49ers, the Los Angeles Raiders, the New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.
May 8, 1961 - New Yorkers selected a new name – The Mets - for their new National League baseball franchise.
May 8, 1963 – South Vietnamese soldiers of Catholic President Ngo Dinh Diem opened fire on Buddhists defying a ban on the flying of the Buddhist flag on Vesak, killing nine and sparking the Buddhist crisis.
May 8, 1966 - Frank Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles became the first player to hit a ball completely out of Cleveland's Memorial Stadium.
May, 8, 1966 - The St. Louis Cardinals played their last game at Busch Stadium. They lost to San Francisco, 10-5.
May 8, 1968 – Army Staff Sgt. Armstead Johnson of Castleberry, Ala. was killed in action in Vietnam.
May 8, 1970 – The Hard Hat Riot occurred in the Wall Street area of New York City as blue-collar construction workers clashed with demonstrators protesting the Vietnam War.
May 8, 1970 - President Nixon, at a news conference, defended the U.S. troop movement into Cambodia, saying the operation would provide six to eight months of time for training South Vietnamese forces and thus would shorten the war for Americans. Nixon reaffirmed his promise to withdraw 150,000 American soldiers by the following spring.
May 8, 1972 – During the Vietnam War, U.S. President Richard Nixon announced his order to place mines in major North Vietnamese ports in order to stem the flow of weapons and other goods to that nation.
May 8, 1973 – A tornado ripped through Megargel, Ala., destroying houses, mobile homes, downing 200 pecan trees and blowing a refrigerator 250 yards from its original location.
May 8, 1973 - In Cincinnati, Ralph Miller, the last of the 19th century baseball players, died at the age of 100.
May 8, 1973 – The Coffee County Courthouse in Elba, Ala. was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
May 8, 1974 – Retired merchant James Randolph Moorer of Evergreen, Ala. passed away at the age of 80 in a local hospital. According to The Evergreen Courant, “as a young man he was an outstanding athlete and perhaps the best baseball player ever to grow up here. He was widely known and highly respected.”
May 8, 1978 – The first ascent of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen was accomplished by Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler.
May 8, 1978 - David R. Berkowitz, known as the "Son of Sam," pled guilty to six murder charges.
May 8, 1983 – The Enoch Johnson Memorial Church of the Nazarene in Excel, Ala. was dedicated. The pastor was the Rev. Comer R. Johnson and the church’s Board of Trustees included Glennon Russell, Randy Kelly and Sam Kelly. Board of Stewards were David Cole, Marvin Marrow, Mazie Petty, Linnil Stacey and Beverly Marrow.
May 8, 1984 - Kirby Puckett of the Minnesota Twins debuted with four singles.
May 8, 1984 - The Chicago White Sox beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 7-6, in 25 innings. The game was actually completed on May 9.
May 8, 1999 - Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners hit his 361st home run. The feat tied him for 45th place on the all-time home run list with Joe DiMaggio.
May 8, 2000 - Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals hit his 534th home run. He tied Jimmie Foxx for ninth place on the all-time home run list.
May 8, 2000 - Jason and Jeremy Giambi of the Oakland Athletics became the 10th set of brothers to hit home runs in the same game.
May 8, 2006 – George Lutz of “Amityville Horror” fame passed awat at the age of 59 from heart disease.
May 8, 2012 - Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers became the 16th Major League Baseball player to hit four home runs in one game.