On This Day

What Happened in May 1881

Historical Events

  • May 5 Anti-Jewish rioting in Kiev, Ukraine

AgreementContract of Interest

May 8 Henry Morton Stanley signs the first of many contracts with the Congolian monarch

Journalist and Explorer Henry Morton Stanley
Journalist and Explorer
Henry Morton Stanley
  • May 10 Lighthouse on Ameland begins operation
  • May 11 Bedrich Smetana's opera "Libusa" premieres in Prague
  • May 12 Treaty of Bardo, Tunisia becomes a French protectorate
  • May 16 World's 1st electric tram enters service in Lichterfelder (near Berlin)
  • May 17 7th Kentucky Derby: Jim McLaughlin aboard Hindoo wins in 2:40

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 17 Frederick Douglass appointed recorder of deeds for Washington, D.C.

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass
  • May 17 Revised version of New Testament

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 21 American Red Cross founded by Clara Barton

Pioneering Nurse and Humanitarian Clara Barton
Pioneering Nurse and Humanitarian
Clara Barton
  • May 21 US National Lawn Tennis Association is established in NYC, New York
  • May 24 Canadian ferry Princess Victoria sinks near London Ontario, 200 die
  • May 24 Turkey cedes Thessaly and Arta back to Greece.
  • May 27 9th Preakness: T Costello aboard Saunterer wins in 2:40.5

Famous Birthdays

  • May 1 Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French philosopher and paleontologist (The Phenomenon of Man), born in Orcines, Auvergne, France (d. 1955)
  • May 11 Jan van Gilse, composer/resistance fighter (Frau Helga von Staveren)
  • May 11 Pascual Rogatis, composer
  • May 11 Al Cabrera, Spanish-born Cuban baseball player (d. 1964)
  • May 11 Theodore von Kármán, Hungarian physicist (d. 1963)
  • May 13 Ilona Durigo, Hungarian singer
  • May 14 Ed Walsh, American Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, manager (Chicago WS; MLB ERA record 1.82), born in Plains Township, Pennsylvania (d. 1959)
  • May 14 G. Murray Hulbert, American politician (d. 1950)

Person of interestMustafa Kemal Atatürk

May 19 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, 1st President of Turkey (1923-38) and founder of the Republic of Turkey, born in Salonica, Ottoman Empire (d. 1938) real date unknown this adopted to align with Turkish Independence Day

President and Founder of the Republic of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
President and Founder of the Republic of Turkey
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
  • May 20 Władysław Sikorski, Polish World War II general and Prime Minister of Poland in exile (1939-43), born in Tuszów Narodowy, Austria-Hungary (d. 1943)
  • May 24 Mikuláš Schneider-Trnavský, Slovak composer, born in Trnava, Slovakia (d. 1958)
  • May 27 Rudolf Pannwitz, German writer and philosopher (Urblik), born in Crossen/Oder, Province of Brandenburg, Prussia (now in Poland) (d. 1969)
  • May 29 Frederik Septimus Kelly, Australian-British composer and rower (Summer Olympic gold 1908), born in Sydney, Australia (d. 1916)
  • May 30 Georg von Küchler, German field marshal and WWII war criminal, born in Schloss Philippsruh, German Empire (d. 1968)

Famous Weddings

LoveWedding of Interest

May 1 Physiologist Ivan Pavlov (32) weds Seraphima Karchevskaya

Physiologist Ivan Pavlov
Ivan Pavlov

Famous Deaths

  • May 1 John S. Preston, American Brigadier General (Confederate Army), dies at 72
  • May 3 Josip Jurcic, Slovic writer (Schone Vida), dies
  • May 11 Henri-Frédéric Amiel, Swiss writer (Journal Intime), dies at 59
  • May 24 Samuel Palmer, British landscape painter, dies at 76
  • May 26 Jakob Bernays, German philologist (b. 1824)