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Take a look at the important historical events that took place in the Month of May that changed the world.


May 1

1707 – The Act of Union joins the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

1753 – Publication of Species Plantarum by Linnaeus, and the formal start date of plant taxonomy adopted by the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.

1759 – Josiah Wedgwood founded the Wedgwood pottery company in Great Britain.

1776 – Establishment of the Illuminati in Ingolstadt (Upper Bavaria), by Jesuit-taught Adam Weishaupt.

1778 – American Revolution: The Battle of Crooked Billet begins in Hatboro, Pennsylvania.

1785 – Kamehameha I, the king of Hawaiʻi, defeats Kalanikūpule and establishes the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi.

1786 – In Vienna, Austria, Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro is performed for the first time.

1794 – War of the Pyrenees: The Battle of Boulou ends, in which French forces defeat the Spanish and regain nearly all the land they lost to Spain in 1793.

1840 – The Penny Black, the first official adhesive postage stamp, is issued in the United Kingdom. 

May 2

1670 – King Charles II of England grants a permanent charter to the Hudson's Bay Company to open up the fur trade in North America.

1672 – John Maitland becomes Duke of Lauderdale and Earl of March.

1808 – Outbreak of the Peninsular War: The people of Madrid rise up in rebellion against French occupation. Francisco de Goya later memorializes this event in his painting The Second of May 1808.

1812 – The Siege of Cuautla during the Mexican War of Independence ends with both sides claiming victory after Mexican rebels under José María Morelos y Pavón abandon the city after 72 days under siege by royalist Spanish troops under Félix María Calleja.

1816 – Marriage of Léopold of Saxe-Coburg and Princess Charlotte of Wales.

1829 – After anchoring nearby, Captain Charles Fremantle of HMS Challenger declares the Swan River Colony in Australia. 

May 3

1715 – A total solar eclipse was visible across northern Europe, and northern Asia, as predicted by Edmond Halley within 4 minutes accuracy.

1791 – The Constitution of May 3 (the first modern constitution in Europe) is proclaimed by the Sejm of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

1802 – Washington, D.C. is incorporated as a city.

1808 – Finnish War: Sweden loses the fortress of Sveaborg to Russia.

1808 – Peninsular War: The Madrid rebels who rose up on May 2 are executed near Príncipe Pío hill.

1815 – Neapolitan War: Joachim Murat, King of Naples is defeated by the Austrians at the Battle of Tolentino, the decisive engagement of the war.

1830 – The Canterbury and Whitstable Railway is opened. It's the first steam-hauled passenger railway to issue season tickets and includes a tunnel.

1837 – The University of Athens is founded in Athens, Greece. 

May 4

1675 – King Charles II of England orders the construction of the Royal Greenwich Observatory.

1686 – The Municipality of Ilagan is founded in the Philippines.

1776 – Rhode Island becomes the first American colony to renounce allegiance to King George III.

1799 – Fourth Anglo-Mysore War: The Battle of Seringapatam: The siege of Seringapatam ends when the city is invaded and Tipu Sultan is killed by the besieging British army, under the command of General George Harris.

1814 – Emperor Napoleon I of France arrives at Portoferraio on the island of Elba to begin his exile.

1814 – King Ferdinand VII of Spain signs the Decree of the 4th of May, returning Spain to absolutism.

1836 – Formation of Ancient Order of Hibernians 

May 5

1762 – Russia and Prussia sign the Treaty of St. Petersburg.

1789 – In France, the Estates-General convenes for the first time since 1614.

1809 – Mary Kies becomes the first woman awarded a U.S. patent, for a technique of weaving straw with silk and thread.

1809 – The Swiss canton of Aargau allowed citizenship to Jews.

1811 – On the second day of fighting at the Peninsular War Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro the French army, under Marshall André Masséna, drive in the Duke of Wellington's overextended right flank, but French frontal assaults fail to take the town of Fuentes de Oñoro and the Anglo-Portuguese army holds the field at the end of the day.

1821 – Emperor Napoleon dies in exile on the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.

1835 – In Belgium, the first railway in continental Europe opens between Brussels and Mechelen. 

May 6

1682 – Louis XIV moves his court to the Palace of Versailles.

1757 – Battle of Prague: A Prussian army fights an Austrian army in Prague during the Seven Years' War.

1757 – The end of Konbaung–Hanthawaddy War, and the end of Burmese Civil War (1740–1757).

1757 – English poet Christopher Smart is admitted into St Luke's Hospital for Lunatics in London, beginning his six-year confinement to mental asylums.

1782 – Construction begins on the Grand Palace, the royal residence of the King of Siam in Bangkok, at the command of King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke.

1801 – Captain Thomas Cochrane in the 14-gun HMS Speedy captures the 32-gun Spanish frigate El Gamo.

1835 – James Gordon Bennett, Sr. publishes the first issue of the New York Herald.

1840 – The Penny Black postage stamp becomes valid for use in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland 

May 7

1697 – Stockholm's royal castle (dating back to medieval times) is destroyed by fire. It is replaced by the current Royal Palace in the eighteenth century.

1718 – The city of New Orleans is founded by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville.

1763 – Pontiac's War begins with Pontiac's attempt to seize Fort Detroit from the British.

1794 – French Revolution: Robespierre introduces the Cult of the Supreme Being in the National Convention as the new state religion of the French First Republic.

1824 – World premiere of Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in Vienna, Austria. The performance is conducted by Michael Umlauf under the composer's supervision.

1832 – The independence of Greece is recognized by the Treaty of London. Otto of Wittelsbach, Prince of Bavaria is chosen, king.

1840 – The Great Natchez Tornado strikes Natchez, Mississippi killing 317 people. It is the second deadliest tornado in United States history. 

May 8

1788 – The French Parliament is suspended to be replaced by the creation of forty-seven new courts.

1794 – Branded a traitor during the Reign of Terror by revolutionists, French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, who was also a tax collector with the Ferme Générale, is tried, convicted, and guillotined all on the same day in Paris.

1821 – Greek War of Independence: The Greeks defeat the Turks at the Battle of Gravia Inn. 

May 9

1671 – Thomas Blood, disguised as a clergyman, attempts to steal England's Crown Jewels from the Tower of London.

1726 – Five men arrested during a raid on Mother Clap's molly house in London are executed at Tyburn.

1763 – The Siege of Fort Detroit begins during Pontiac's War against British forces. 

May 10

1768 – John Wilkes is imprisoned for writing an article for The North Briton severely criticizing King George III. This action provokes rioting in London.

1773 – The Parliament of Great Britain passed the Tea Act, designed to save the British East India Company by granting it a monopoly on the North American tea trade.

1774 – Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette become King and Queen of France.

1775 – American Revolutionary War: A small Colonial militia led by Ethan Allen and Colonel Benedict Arnold captures Fort Ticonderoga.

1775 – American Revolutionary War: Representatives from the Thirteen Colonies begin the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

1796 – War of the First Coalition: Napoleon I of France wins a decisive victory against Austrian forces at Lodi bridge over the Adda River in Italy. The Austrians lose some 2,000 men.

1801 – First Barbary War: The Barbary pirates of Tripoli declared war on the United States of America.

1824 – The National Gallery in London opens to the public.

1833 – The desecration of the grave of the viceroy of southern Vietnam Lê Văn Duyệt by Emperor Minh Mạng provokes his adopted son to start a revolt.

1837 – Panic of 1837: New York City banks fail, and unemployment reaches record levels. 

May 11

1672 – Franco-Dutch War: Louis XIV of France invades the Netherlands.

1745 – War of the Austrian Succession: Battle of Fontenoy: French forces defeat an Anglo-Dutch–Hanoverian army.

1792 – Captain Robert Gray becomes the first documented white person to sail into the Columbia River.

1812 – Prime Minister Spencer Perceval is assassinated by John Bellingham in the lobby of the House of Commons, London.

1813 – In Australia, William Lawson, Gregory Blaxland, and William Wentworth led an expedition to cross the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. Their route opens up inland Australia for continued expansion throughout the 19th century.

1820 – HMS Beagle, the ship that will take Charles Darwin on his scientific voyage, is launched. 

May 12

1689 – King William's War: William III of England joins the League of Augsburg starting a war with France.

1743 – Maria Theresa of Austria is crowned Queen of Bohemia after defeating her rival, Charles VII, Holy Roman Emperor.

1780 – American Revolutionary War: In the largest defeat of the Continental Army, Charleston, South Carolina is taken by British forces.

1797 – War of the First Coalition: Napoleon I of France conquers Venice.

1821 – The first major battle of the Greek War of Independence against the Turks is fought in Valtetsi. 

May 13

1779 – War of the Bavarian Succession: Russian and French mediators at the Congress of Teschen negotiate an end to the war. In the agreement, Austria receives the part of its territory that was taken from it (the Innviertel).

1780 – The Cumberland Compact is signed by leaders of the settlers in early Tennessee.

1787 – Captain Arthur Phillip leaves Portsmouth, England, with eleven ships full of convicts (the "First Fleet") to establish a penal colony in Australia.

1804 – Forces sent by Yusuf Karamanli of Tripoli to retake Derna from the Americans attack the city.

1830 – Ecuador gains its independence from Gran Colombia. 

May 14

1747 – War of the Austrian Succession: A British fleet under Admiral George Anson defeats the French at the First Battle of Cape Finisterre.

1787 – In Philadelphia, delegates convene a Constitutional Convention to write a new Constitution for the United States; George Washington presides.

1796 – Edward Jenner administers the first smallpox inoculation.

1804 – The Lewis and Clark Expedition departs from Camp Dubois and begins its historic journey by traveling up the Missouri River.

1811 – Paraguay: Pedro Juan Caballero, Fulgencio Yegros and José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia start actions to depose the Spanish governor

1836 – The Treaties of Velasco are signed in Velasco, Texas. 

May 15

1701 – The War of the Spanish Succession begins.

1718 – James Puckle, a London lawyer, patents the world's first machine gun.

1755 – Laredo, Texas is established by the Spaniards.

1776 – American Revolution: The Virginia Convention instructs its Continental Congress delegation to propose a resolution of independence from Great Britain, paving the way for the United States Declaration of Independence.

1791 – French Revolution: Maximilien Robespierre proposes the Self-denying Ordinance.

1792 – War of the First Coalition: France declares war on the Kingdom of Sardinia.

1793 – Diego Marín Aguilera flies a glider for "about 360 meters", at a height of 5–6 meters, during one of the first attempted manned flights.

1796 – War of the First Coalition: Napoleon enters Milan in triumph.

1800 – King George III of the United Kingdom survives an assassination attempt by James Hadfield, who is later acquitted by reason of insanity.

1811 – Paraguay declares independence from Spain.

1817 – Opening of the first private mental health hospital in the United States, the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason (now Friends Hospital) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1836 – Francis Baily observes "Baily's beads" during an annular eclipse. 

May 16

1770 – A 14-year-old Marie Antoinette marries 15-year-old Louis-Auguste who later becomes king of France.

1771 – The Battle of Alamance, a pre-American Revolutionary War battle between local militia and a group of rebels called The "Regulators", occurs in present-day Alamance County, North Carolina.

1811 – Peninsular War: The allies Spain, Portugal, and United Kingdom, defeat the French at the Battle of Albuera.

1812 – Russian Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov signs the Treaty of Bucharest, ending the Russo-Turkish War. Bessarabia is annexed by Imperial Russia.

1822 – Greek War of Independence: The Turks capture the Greek town of Souli.

1834 – The Battle of Asseiceira is fought, the last and decisive engagement of the Liberal Wars in Portugal. 

May 17

1673 – Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette begin exploring the Mississippi River.

1775 – American Revolutionary War: the Continental Congress bans trade with Quebec.

1792 – The New York Stock Exchange is formed under the Buttonwood Agreement.

1805 – Muhammad Ali becomes Wāli of Egypt.

1808 – Napoleon I of France orders the annexation of the Papal States to the French Empire.

1814 – Occupation of Monaco changes from French to Austrian.

1814 – The Constitution of Norway is signed and Crown Prince Christian Frederick of Denmark is elected King of Norway by the Norwegian Constituent Assembly. 

May 18

1756 – The Seven Years' War begins when Great Britain declares war on France.

1763 – Fire destroys a large part of Montreal

1783 – First United Empire Loyalists reach Parrtown (later called Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada after leaving the United States.

1803 – Napoleonic Wars: The United Kingdom revokes the Treaty of Amiens and declares war on France.

1804 – Napoleon Bonaparte is proclaimed Emperor of the French by the French Senate.

1811 – Battle of Las Piedras: The first great military triumph of the revolution of the Río de la Plata in Uruguay led by José Artigas.

1812 – John Bellingham is found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging for the assassination of British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval.

May 19

1743 – Jean-Pierre Christin developed the centigrade temperature scale.

1749 – King George II of Great Britain grants the Ohio Company a charter of land around the forks of the Ohio River.

1776 – American Revolutionary War: A Continental Army garrison surrenders in the Battle of The Cedars.

1780 – New England's Dark Day: A combination of thick smoke and heavy cloud cover causes complete darkness to fall on Eastern Canada and the New England area of the United States at 10:30 A.M.

1802 – Napoleon Bonaparte founds the Legion of Honour.

1828 – U.S. President John Quincy Adams signs the Tariff of 1828 into law, protecting wool manufacturers in the United States. 

May 20

1775 – Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence is signed in Charlotte, North Carolina

1802 – By the Law of 20 May 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte reinstates slavery in the French colonies, revoking its abolition in the French Revolution.

1813 – Napoleon Bonaparte leads his French troops into the Battle of Bautzen in Saxony, Germany, against the combined armies of Russia and Prussia. The battle ends the next day with a French victory.

1840 – York Minster is badly damaged by fire. 

May 21

1674 – The nobility elects John Sobieski King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania.

1725 – The Order of St. Alexander Nevsky is instituted in Russia by Empress Catherine I. It would later be discontinued and then reinstated by the Soviet government in 1942 as the Order of Alexander Nevsky.

1775 - Bostonians give up their arms for promised liberties!

1758 – Ten-year-old Mary Campbell is abducted in Pennsylvania by Lenape during the French and Indian War. She is returned six and a half years later.

1809 – The first day of the Battle of Aspern-Essling between the Austrian army led by Archduke Charles and the French army led by Napoleon I of France sees the French attack across the Danube held. 

May 22

1718 - Blackbeard Blockades Charleston, S.C.

1762 – Sweden and Prussia sign the Treaty of Hamburg.

1762 – Trevi Fountain in Rome is officially completed and inaugurated by Pope Clemens XIII.

1781 - Patriot Siege of Ninety Six, South Carolina, Begins

1799 - Napoleon makes a statement in support of re-establishing Jerusalem for Jews. This "statement" may actually have been a propaganda campaign to gain support for the French campaign in Egypt and Syria.

1807 – A grand jury indicts former Vice President of the United States, Aaron Burr, on a charge of treason.

1807 – Most of the English town of Chudleigh is destroyed by fire.

1809 – On the second and last day of the Battle of Aspern-Essling (near Vienna, Austria), Napoleon I is repelled by an enemy army for the first time.

1812 – Action of 22 May 1812: A small French two-frigate squadron comprising Ariane and Andromaque, returning from a commerce raiding campaign in the Atlantic, meets the 74-gun HMS Northumberland while trying the slip to Lorient through the British blockade.

1816 – A mob in Littleport, Cambridgeshire, England, riots over high unemployment and rising grain costs; the rioting spreads to Ely the next day.

1819 – The SS Savannah leaves port at Savannah, Georgia, United States, on a voyage to become the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The ship arrived in Liverpool, England, on June 20.

1826 – HMS Beagle departs on its first voyage.

1840 – The transportation of British convicts to the New South Wales colony is abolished. 

May 23

1701 – After being convicted of piracy and of murdering William Moore, Captain William Kidd is hanged in London, England.

1706 – Battle of Ramillies: John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, defeats a French army under Marshal François de Neufville, Duc de Villeroy.

1788 – South Carolina ratifies the United States Constitution as the eighth American state.

1793 – Battle of Famars during the Flanders Campaign of the War of the First Coalition.

1829 – Accordion patent granted to Cyrill Demian in Vienna, Austrian Empire. 

May 24

1689 – The English Parliament passes the Act of Toleration protecting Protestants. Roman Catholics are intentionally excluded.

1738 – John Wesley is converted, essentially launching the Methodist movement; the day is celebrated annually by Methodists as Aldersgate Day and a church service is generally held on the preceding Sunday.

1798 – The Irish Rebellion of 1798 led by the United Irishmen against British rule begins.

1813 – South American independence leader Simón Bolívar enters Mérida, leading the invasion of Venezuela, and is proclaimed El Libertador ("The Liberator").

1822 – Battle of Pichincha: Antonio José de Sucre secures the independence of the Presidency of Quito.

1830 – "Mary Had a Little Lamb" by Sarah Josepha Hale is published.

1830 – The first revenue trains in the United States begin service on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad between Baltimore, and Ellicott's Mills, Maryland.

1832 – The First Kingdom of Greece is declared in the London Conference. 

May 25

1738 – A treaty between Pennsylvania and Maryland ends the Conojocular War with the settlement of a boundary dispute and exchange of prisoners.

1787 – After a delay of 11 days, the United States Constitutional Convention formally convenes in Philadelphia after a quorum of seven states is secured

1798 – United Irishmen Rebellion: Battle of Carlow begins; executions of suspected rebels at Carnew and Dunlavin Green occur.

1809 – Chuquisaca Revolution: Patriot revolt in Chuquisaca (modern-day Sucre) against the Spanish Empire, sparking the Latin American wars of independence.

1810 – May Revolution: citizens of Buenos Aires expel Viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros during the May week, starting the Argentine War of Independence.

1819 – The Argentine Constitution of 1819 is promulgated.

1833 – The Chilean Constitution of 1833 is promulgated.

1837 – The Rebels of Lower Canada (Quebec) rebelled against the British for freedom. 

May 26

1736 – The Battle of Ackia was fought near the present site of Tupelo, Mississippi. British and Chickasaw soldiers repelled a French and Choctaw attack on the then-Chickasaw village of Ackia.

1770 – The Orlov Revolt, an attempt to revolt against the Ottoman Empire before the Greek War of Independence, ends in disaster for the Greeks.

1783 – A Great Jubilee Day held at North Stratford, Connecticut, celebrated the end of fighting in the American Revolution.

1805 – Napoléon Bonaparte assumes the title of King of Italy and is crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy in Milan Cathedral, the gothic cathedral in Milan.

1821 – Establishment of the Peloponnesian Senate by the Greek rebels.

1822 – One hundred sixteen people die in the Grue Church fire, the biggest fire disaster in Norway's history.

1828 – Feral child Kaspar Hauser is discovered wandering the streets of Nuremberg.

1830 – The Indian Removal Act is passed by the U.S. Congress; it is signed into law by President Andrew Jackson two days later. 

May 27

1703 – Tsar Peter the Great founds the city of Saint Petersburg.

1798 – The Battle of Oulart Hill takes place in Wexford, Ireland.

1799 – War of the Second Coalition: Austrian forces defeats the French at Winterthur, Switzerland, securing control of the northeastern Swiss Plateau because of the town's location at the junction of seven crossroads.

1813 – War of 1812: In Canada, American forces capture Fort George. 

May 28

1754 – French and Indian War: In the first engagement of the war, Virginia militia under the 22-year-old Lieutenant colonel George Washington defeat a French reconnaissance party in the Battle of Jumonville Glen in what is now Fayette County in southwestern Pennsylvania.

1830 – U.S. President Andrew Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act which relocates Native Americans. 

May 29

1677 – Treaty of Middle Plantation establishes peace between the Virginia colonists and the local Natives.

1727 – Peter II becomes Czar of Russia.

1733 – The right of Canadians to keep Indian slaves is upheld at Quebec City.

1780 – American Revolutionary War: At the Battle of Waxhaws, the British continue attacking after the Continentals lay down their arms, killing 113 and critically wounding all but 53 that remained.

1790 – Rhode Island becomes the last of the original United States' colonies to ratify the Constitution and is admitted as the 13th U.S. state.

1798 – United Irishmen Rebellion: Between 300 and 500 United Irishmen are massacred by the British Army in County Kildare, Ireland.

1807 – Mustafa IV became Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and Caliph of Islam. 

May 30

1806 – Future U.S. President Andrew Jackson kills Charles Dickinson in a duel after Dickinson had accused Jackson's wife of bigamy.

1814 – Napoleonic Wars: War of the Sixth Coalition: The Treaty of Paris (1814) is signed returning French borders to their 1792 extent. Napoleon is exiled to Elba.

1815 – The East Indiaman Arniston is wrecked during a storm at Waenhuiskrans, near Cape Agulhas, in present-day South Africa, with the loss of 372 lives.

1832 – End of the Hambach Festival in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

1832 – The Rideau Canal in eastern Ontario is opened.

1834 – Joaquim António de Aguiar issues a law extinguishing "all convents, monasteries, colleges, hospices and any other houses of the regular religious orders" in Portugal, earning him the nickname of "The Friar-Killer". 

May 31

1669 – Citing poor eyesight, Samuel Pepys records the last event in his diary.

1775 – American Revolution: The Mecklenburg Resolves are allegedly adopted in the Province of North Carolina.

1790 – Manuel Quimper explores the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

1790 – The United States enacts its first copyright statute, the Copyright Act of 1790.

1795 – French Revolution: The Revolutionary Tribunal is suppressed.

1805 – French and Spanish forces begin the assault against British forces occupying Diamond Rock.

1813 – In Australia, William Lawson, Gregory Blaxland and William Wentworth reach Mount Blaxland, effectively marking the end of a route across the Blue Mountains.