May 1909

January – February – March – April – May – June – July – August – September – October – November – December

May 17, 1909: First Lady Nellie Taft suffers stroke
May 7, 1909: University of Zurich offers patent inspector Albert Einstein full time job as a professor
May 12, 1909: Leopold Stokowski makes debut as conductor
May 13, 1909: Luigi Ganna wins the first Giro d'Italia

The following events occurred in May, 1909.


May 1, 1909 (Saturday)

  • Tens of thousands of California residents turned out at San Francisco to greet the visiting Japanese ships Aso and Soya, which had been captured from Russia during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905.[1]
  • Walter Reed Medical Center opened for treatment of Washington D.C. residents and veterans.[2]

May 2, 1909 (Sunday)

  • Mark Twain began work on the "Ashcroft-Lyon" manuscript, never published, three weeks after firing his secretary, Isabel Lyon, who had married Ralph Ashcroft.[3]
  • Manuel Amador Guerrero, the first President of Panama and founder of the nation, died a few months after the expiration of his term of office. Fort Amador, which defends the Pacific side of the canal along with Fort Grant, was named in his honor.[4]

May 3, 1909 (Monday)

  • Jesús Malverde, "El Rey de Sinaloa", was killed in Mexico and made his way into local folklore.
  • Ensign Chester Nimitz began a career in submarine warfare, taking command of the USS Plunger
  • The Preakness Stakes, second jewel of the Triple Crown of American horseracing, returned to Maryland and the Pimlico racetrack, after having been run since 1890 in New York.[5]

May 4, 1909 (Tuesday)

  • Tony Malfeti body found; had been kidnapped on March 14
  • In Las Cruces, New Mexico, Wayne Brazel was acquitted of the February 29, 1908, murder of Pat Garrett. The trial had begun on April 19, and the jury took 15 minutes to reach the verdict that Brazel, who fired his shot while Garrett was urinating, had acted in self-defense.[6]

May 5, 1909 (Wednesday)

  • A change in the electoral law of the German free state of Saxony took effect, providing for four different classes of voters. All taxpaying men, 25 or older, had one vote, and men with higher incomes had two, three or four votes. Men received an additional vote upon turning 50.[7]
  • Jackson County, Colorado, was created from the western section of Larimer County.[8]

May 6, 1909 (Thursday)

  • The U.S. Senate ratified a treaty that had been signed in December 1904, between the United States and Russia, providing legal recognition by each nation of the corporations of the other. Prior to the signing of the agreement, American business corporations had had no legal standing in the Russian Empire.[9]
  • Born: Loyd Sigmon, inventor of the "Sig Alert", in Stigler, Oklahoma (d. 2004)

May 7, 1909 (Friday)

May 8, 1909 (Saturday)

  • Herbert Lang and Jampes P. Chapin set off on the SS Zeeland on the first project to catalog the plant and animal species of Central Africa. The Congo Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History yielded thousands of specimens.[12]
  • The town of Concrete, Washington, was incorporated as a merger of the communities of Baker (which had the Superior Portland Cement Company) and Cement City (which Washington Portland Cement Company).[13] The town was featured in the 1993 Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio film This Boy's Life.
  • The famous Indian "Bhawal Sanyasi "died(?) on this day – at about 7 pm at Darjeeling at "Step aside" building. His body was taken to Cremation ground – when ? – here the controversy starts and three marathon legal battles start. Ultimately the Privy Council – London upheld the theory that Kumar Ramendranath roy – alias Bhawal Sanyasi – did not die actually – but his comatose body was brought to Cremation ground – ultimately the effort was abandoned due to a whirlwind in which the corpse was stolen by some sadhus and later revived).[14]

May 9, 1909 (Sunday)

  • Japanese sugar plantation workers in Hawaii walked out on strike, after five months of trying to get wages comparable to those paid to Portuguese and Puerto Rican laborers for the same work. By June, 7000 had walked off the job. After five months, the plantation owners relented and brought the Asian workers' pay up to par.[15]

May 10, 1909 (Monday)

  • The American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) was founded by fifteen physicians who gathered at the New Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., to identify and honor outstanding physicians engaged in biomedical research.[16]
  • Born: Maybelle Carter, American country musician, in Scott County, Virginia (d. 1978)
  • Died: Futabatei Shimei, 45, Japanese novelist (The Drifting Cloud)

May 11, 1909 (Tuesday)

  • U.S. Design Patent No. 39,984 was awarded to Harrison D. McFaddin for the "banker desk lamp" [1][17]

May 12, 1909 (Wednesday)

  • Leopold Stokowski made his debut as a conductor, for the Colonne Orchestra in Paris.
  • In South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, at least twenty employees of the Callanan Road Improvement Company were killed by the premature explosion of 1,000 pounds of dynamite as they were preparing to shoot inside a quarry, including the vice-president.[18]

May 13, 1909 (Thursday)

  • The first Giro d'Italia, Italy's premiere bicycle race, began at 2:53 in the morning in Milan with 127 starters. On May 30, Luigi Ganna was the first of the 49 remaining riders to return to Milan for the win.[19]
  • The British platinum producer Lonmin was incorporated as the London and Rhodesian Mining and Land Co., Ltd.[20]

May 14, 1909 (Friday)

May 15, 1909 (Saturday)

  • Saint Paulinus of Nola (354–431 AD) returned to his home in Nola, in Southern Italy, after nearly a millennium. His body had been at the Tiber Island in Rome since the 11th century. Paulinus was reinterred at the cathedral that had been dedicated there a week earlier.[22]
  • Born: James Mason, English-born film actor, in Huddersfield (d. 1984)

May 16, 1909 (Sunday)

  • Harper B. Lee, the first gringo (American-born) bullfighter, made his first appearance in Mexico City's Plaza el Toreo.[23]
  • A hail storm in Uvalde County, Texas, caused major damage, but not as seriously as reported in some papers. The hailstones, some weighing as six pounds, were heavy enough to kill several cows. A San Antonio paper reported that "Damage in the amount of at least $10,000 was done in Uvalde and five or six head of stock were killed," and added "The report that several Mexicans had been killed by hail stones is not correct.".[24] Dispatches from Galveston greatly exaggerated the damage in the rest of the nation. The New York Times reported that the hailstones "are said to have measured nearly a foot and a half in circumference and ranged in weight from seven to ten pounds", and that "eight lives are reported lost, while the number of live stock killed is reported anywhere from 500 to 2,000 dead ... loss to crops and farm property will aggregate between $200,000 and $300,000. The hailstones piled up in some places four feet high.".[25] The New York Herald said that the hailstones killed rancher James Carpenter "and seven Mexican hired men".[26]

May 17, 1909 (Monday)

  • First Lady Nellie Taft, wife of U.S. President William Taft, suffered a stroke while at the White House, impairing her speech abilities. She recovered after one year.[27]
  • The United States Supreme Court ruled in the case of Welch v. Swasey, 214 U.S. 191 (1909), that it upheld the right of governments to set limits on the height of buildings.[28]
  • Born: Julius Sumner Miller, pioneer of the television science program, in Billerica, Massachusetts (d. 1987)

May 18, 1909 (Tuesday)

  • In Germany, patent No. 226,239 was awarded to Heinrich Hoerlein of the Bayer company for a sulfanilamide, the first synthesized sulfonamide. It was not until 1935 that the antibiotic properties of sulfonamides were realized, and the first sulfa drugs created.[29]
  • Menelik II, Emperor of Ethiopia, resolved the question of who would succeed him, selecting his 14 year old grandson Lij Iyasu as the heir apparent. Iyasu V reigned from 1913 to 1916, but was deposed in favor of Menelik's daughter Zauditu.[30]
  • Born: Fred Perry, English tennis player (No. 1 ranked 1934–38), in Stockport (d. 1995)
  • Died: Isaac Albéniz, 48, Spanish composer

May 19, 1909 (Wednesday)

May 20, 1909 (Thursday)

  • Saint Clement Hofbauer (1751–1820), a prominent leader of the Redemptionist movement, was canonized. He is now considered the Patron Saint of Vienna[33]
  • Born: Sir Matt Busby, Scottish football manager (Manchester United), in Bellshill (d. 1994)

May 21, 1909 (Friday)

  • St. Cloud, Florida, created as a community for retired Union veterans of the American Civil War, received its first resident, Albert Hantsch of Chicago.[34] By 2009, the population of St. Cloud passed 25,000.
  • Born: Guy de Rothschild, French billionaire and banker, in Paris (d. 2007)

May 22, 1909 (Saturday)

  • Nearly 700,000 acres (2,800 km2) of federally owned land in Washington, Montana and Idaho were opened for settlement by executive order of U.S. President William Howard Taft.[35]

May 23, 1909 (Sunday)

  • The Daily Bioscope theatre opened, introducing the British public to newsreels, the first showing of filmed news stories.[36]
  • The equestrian statue of Tsar Alexander III astride a horse, sculpted by Paolo Troubetskoy, was unveiled in St. Petersburg at Znamenskaya Square. After St. Petersburg was renamed Leningrad in 1924, the unpopular memorial was moved in 1937 to the backyard of the city museum. In 1994, with the city again called St. Petersburg, the statue was again moved, and placed in front of one of the Marble Palace.[37]

May 24, 1909 (Monday)

May 25, 1909 (Tuesday)

  • The Indian Councils Act of 1909 (9 Edw. VII, c.4) was given royal assent after passing the British parliament. For the first time, the legislative councils for the various provinces of British India would include members elected by the Indians themselves. Formerly, all members had been appointed by the Crown. Additional seats on the provincial executive councils were created, opening the way for more Indian officeholders. The Reforms of 1909 were the first step toward self-government in India.[39]
  • Israel Greene, who had led the United States Marines in the capture of abolitionist John Brown at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, on October 18, 1859, died at the age of 85 at his farm near Mitchell, South Dakota.[40]

May 26, 1909 (Wednesday)

May 27, 1909 (Thursday)

  • A meteor crashed through the roof of a house in Shepard, Texas.[42]
  • Born: Rachel Carson, American environmentalist whose work led to the banning of DDT, in Springdale, PA (d. 1964); and W.W. Hansen, physicist and pioneer in microwave electronics, in Fresno (d. 1949)

May 28, 1909 (Friday)

May 29, 1909 (Saturday)

  • Augusto B. Leguía, the President of Peru, was briefly taken hostage during an attempted coup, but rescued by loyal troops.[44] The uprising had begun four days earlier when an anti-Chinese rally of the Workers' Party degenerated into a riot in Lima. As a concession to the rioters, President Leguia halted Chinese immigration to Peru, admitting only those immigrants who had at least 500 pounds sterling in resources.[45]
  • The first sale of an airplane to a non-military buyer took place when the G.H. Curtiss Manufacturing Co. delivered its Curtiss No. 1, nicknamed the Golden Flyer, to the New York Aeronautical Society to complete a $5,000 purchase.[46]

May 30, 1909 (Sunday)

May 31, 1909 (Monday)

  • The National Negro Conference, chaired by Charles Edward Russell and attended by 300 people, convened in New York at the United Charities building, then moved for an afternoon session to Cooper Union with 1,500 attending.[49] From the meeting emerged the National Negro Committee, which would be renamed the following year as the NAACP. As one historian would later note, "The events at the conference set the tone for future race relations within the [NAACP] movement for decades to come."[50]


  1. ^ "All San Francisco Welcomes Japanese", New York Times, May 2, 1909, p1
  2. ^ Woodie Swancutt, El Curador (iUniverse, 2000), p246
  3. ^ Karen Lystra, Dangerous Intimacy: The Untold Story of Mark Twain's Final Years (University of California Press, 2004), p218
  4. ^ Miles P. DuVal, Jr., And The Mountains Will Move (Stanford University Press, 1947), p304
  5. ^ Bud Rogner, Tales of Delmarva and Other Places (iUniverse, 2002), p126
  6. ^ Dale L. Walker, The Calamity Papers: Western Myths and Cold Cases (Macmillan, 2006), pp 189–191
  7. ^ W.F. Dodd, "Constitutional Developments in Foreign Countries During 1908 and 1908", The American Political Science Review (August 1910) pp339–340
  8. ^ Joseph Nathan Kane, The American Counties (4th Ed.), (The Scarecrow Press, 1983), p480
  9. ^ "Agreement with Russia", New York Times, May 7, 1909, p1
  10. ^ Edmond Hugues de Ragnau, The Vatican: The Center of Government of the Catholic World (D. Appleton and company, 1913), p357
  11. ^ Djordje Krstić and Janez Mayer, Mileva & Albert Einstein: Their Love and Scientific Collaboration (Didakta d.o.o. Radovljica, 2004), p238
  12. ^ The Congo's First Thorough Biological Survey
  13. ^ Welcome to Concrete.
  14. ^ Partha Chatterjee, A Princely Imposter? The Strange And Universal History of the Kumar of Bhawal ('Kumar' means 'prince').
  15. ^ "1909 Plantation Strike", Japanese American History: An A-to-Z Reference from 1868 to the Present (Verlag für die Deutsche Wirtschaft AG, 1993), pp256–57
  16. ^ D. Howell, "A history of the American Society for Clinical Investigation"
  17. ^ The lamps of H.G. McFaddin & Co. Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, 1909
  18. ^ "Blast In A Quarry Kills Twenty Men", New York Times, May 13, 1909, p1
  19. ^ William Fotheringham, A Century of Cycling: The Classic Races and Legendary Champions (MBI Publishing Company, 2003), p104
  20. ^ Melvin E. Page, ed., Colonialism: An International, Social, Cultural, and Political Encyclopedia (ABC-CLIO, 2003) pp350–351
  21. ^ Joseph P. Schwieterman, When the Railroad Leaves Town: American Communities in the Age of Rail Line Abandonment (Truman State University, 2004), pp166–167
  22. ^ Dennis E. Trout, Paulinus of Nola: Life, Letters, and Poems (University of California Press, 1999), p267
  23. ^ Lyn Sherwood and Barnaby Conrad, Yankees in the Afternoon: An Illustrated History of American Bullfighters (McFarland, 2008) p50
  24. ^ "Hail Stones at Uvalde Weighed Six Pounds" San Antonio Light, May 18, 1909, p1
  25. ^ "Deadly Texas Hailstones", New York Times, May 19, 1909, p1
  26. ^ "Texas Hailstones Kill Eight Persons; Fell Like Cannon Balls and Weighed 6 and 7 Pounds", Gettysburg Times, May 20, 1909, p3
  27. ^ Miller Center of Public Affairs
  28. ^ Jeffrey Stein, "Bringing Architecture to Light: The Pioneering Work of William Atkinson"
  29. ^ Satyavan Sharma and Nitya Anand, Approaches to Design and Synthesis of Antiparasitic Drugs (Elsevier, 1997), pp439–440
  30. ^ David H. Shinn and Thomas P. Ofcansky, Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia (Scarecrow Press, 2004), p279
  31. ^ Modris Eksteins, Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000), pp25–26
  32. ^ John T. Bethell, Harvard Observed: An Illustrated History of the University in the Twentieth Century (Harvard University Press, 1998), pp42–45
  33. ^ "Clement Mary Hofbauer", The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 4 (Encyclopedia Press, 1913), pp44–45
  34. ^ Jim Robison and Robert A. Fisk, Images of America: St. Cloud (Arcadia Publishing, 2002), p62
  35. ^ The Encyclopedia of American Facts and Dates p416
  36. ^ Simon Popple and Joe Kember, Early Cinema: From Factory Gate to Dream Factory (Wallflower Press, 2004) p56
  37. ^ Solomon Volkov, St. Petersburg: A Cultural History (translator Antonina W. Bouis) (Simon & Schuster, 1997) p216
  38. ^ "The European Day of Parks",
  39. ^ Courtenay Peregrine Ilbert, The Government of India (1910, reprinted by BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2008), p410
  40. ^ Dale Lee Sumner, The Forgotten Marines: "The Capture of John Brown" (, 2008), pU; "John Brown's Captor Dead", New York Times, May 27, 1909, p1
  41. ^ "Minoru Wins Derby; Sir Martin Falls", New York Times, May 27, 1909, p1
  42. ^ "Meteor Drops in Texas", New York Times, May 29, 1909, p1
  43. ^ Bill Mallon, with Ian Buchanan, Historical Dictionary of the Olympic Movement (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), pxlii
  44. ^ "Peruvian Rebels Seize President", New York Times, May 30, 1909, p1
  45. ^ Adam McKeown, Chinese Migrant Networks and Cultural Change: Peru, Chicago, Hawaii, 1900–1936 (University of Chicago Press, 2001), p45
  46. ^ F. Robert Van der Linden, Best of the National Air and Space Museum (HarperCollins, 2006), p42
  47. ^ "Zeppelin Flies Over 24 Hours", New York Times, May 31, 1909, p1
  48. ^ Robert Neil Minor, The Religious, the Spiritual, and the Secular: Auroville and Secular India (SUNY Press, 1999), p21
  49. ^ Robert Miraldi, The Pen is Mightier: The Muckraking Life of Charles Edward Russell (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), p167
  50. ^ Christopher Robert Reed, The Chicago NAACP and the Rise of Black Professional Leadership, 1910–1966 (Indiana University Press, 1997), pp17–18

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