May 1900

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May 17, 1900: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz published
May 28, 1900: United Kingdom conquers Orange Free State

The following events occurred in May 1900:

May 1, 1900 (Tuesday)[edit]

May 2, 1900 (Wednesday)[edit]

The Hepburn Bill, for construction of the proposed Nicaragua Canal passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 225–35, but would end up stalling in the U.S. Senate.[5] The bill proposed American purchase of land in Costa Rica and Nicaragua to build a canal from Greytown, Nicaragua on the Caribbean to Breto on the Pacific.[6]

May 3, 1900 (Thursday)[edit]

  • Negotiations between Denmark and the United States for purchase of what would become the American Virgin Islands fell through.[7] The Danish West Indies would eventually be sold to America in 1917.
  • Harry Burke, captain of the University of Cincinnati track team, was fatally injured while practicing the pole vault. The pole snapped and the fall broke Burke's thoracic spine. He died four days later.[8]

May 4, 1900 (Friday)[edit]

May 5, 1900 (Saturday)[edit]

  • General Arthur MacArthur replaced General Elwell S. Otis as military governor of the Philippines. The father of General Douglas MacArthur set up his office at the Malacañan Palace in Manila.[12]
  • Albert Ellis of the Pacific Islands Company Ltd. signed a lease with the chiefs of the Banaban people of Ocean Island, a tiny atoll that is now part of the nation of Kiribati, granting the company a 999-year exclusive right to mine phosphate,[13] in exchange for 50 British pounds per year. The islanders, including the misidentified "King of Ocean Island", Temate, didn't have the authority to sell mining rights, and were likely not aware of what Ellis intended to do. Following the British annexation of Ocean Island on September 28, 1901, "The British government reduced the term of the lease to a more realistic 99 years".[14]

May 6, 1900 (Sunday)[edit]

  • The 18th birthday of Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany was celebrated in ceremonies at the Royal Chapel in Berlin. Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph named the Crown Prince as Chief of the Hussar regiment. The Prince became Governor of Pomerania and the Prince of Oeis, titles lost after his father was deposed in 1918.[15]

May 7, 1900 (Monday)[edit]

  • San Francisco Mayor James D. Phelan addressed an anti-Asian rally at Union Square and declared "The Chinese and Japanese are not bonafide citizens. They are not the stuff of which American citizens can be made." [16]
  • Mount Vesuvius began erupting, with lava threatening the city of Torre del Greco.[17]
  • Harry Burke died due to a fatal injury on his spine.

May 8, 1900 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Richard Etheridge, the first African-American keeper of a Coast Guard station, died while attempting a rescue near the Pea Island Life-Saving Station at North Carolina. He was posthumously awarded the Gold Life Saving Medal for heroism, albeit not until March 5, 1996.[18]
  • Cambridge University zoologist William Bateson was riding a train to London when he read the recently rediscovered 1866 paper by Gregor Mendel, and soon became the greatest champion of Mendel's discoveries of the laws of heredity. As one author would later note, "the first half of genetics was officially underway".[19] Bateson translated Mendel's paper and published it in the 1902 book Mendel's Principles of Heredity: A Defence.[20]
  • The National Basket Ball League title was won by the Trenton Nationals, who defeated the Millville Glass Blowers, 22–19 [21], in the third game of the best-of-three championship of the first professional basketball league in the United States.[22]

May 9, 1900 (Wednesday)[edit]

May 10, 1900 (Thursday)[edit]

  • Japan's Crown Prince Yoshihito and Princess Kujo Sadako were married in Tokyo, marking the first imperial wedding to include a religious ceremony.[24] Soon thereafter, commoners began requesting similar ceremonies and the Shinto wedding soon became popular throughout the nation.[25]
  • Responding to the famine in India, the U.S. paid for the shipment of donations of 200,000 bushels of corn and substantial quantities of seed, via the ship Quito, which sailed from Brooklyn. Christian Herald editor Louis Klopsch, who had lbbied the government to pay the shipping costs, also cabled $40,000 to India for famine relief.[26]

May 11, 1900 (Friday)[edit]

  • Former heavyweight boxing champion "Gentleman Jim" Corbett took on title holderJames J. Jeffries, and attempted to regain the title that he had lost in 1897, and almost succeeded. In the bout at the New York Athletic Club, Corbett was the better fighter for the first 22 rounds, but in the 23rd, Jeffries knocked him down with a right to the jaw. Corbett's amazing endurance and Jeffries's comeback made the fight a boxing classic.[27]

May 12, 1900 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Lin Shao-mao, who had led a rebellion on the island of Taiwan against its Japanese rulers, surrendered along with his men in a formal ceremony held at Ahou (now Pingtung City). Lin and his men were allowed to live peaceably at Houpilin, but he was eventually killed in a battle on May 30, 1902.[28]
  • Born: Helene Weigel, East German actress, wife of Bertolt Brecht, in Vienna, (d. 1971)
  • Field Cornet S. Eloff led a force of 240 Boers in an assault on the town of Mafeking, during the Siege of Mafeking which was part of the Second Boer War.

May 13, 1900 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Wilbur Wright wrote to aviation expert Octave Chanute, sharing his own findings and seeking advice on the ideal place to test a flying machine. Written on the letterhead of the Wright Cycle Co. of 1127 West Third Street in Dayton, Wright's initial missive began, "For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man. My disease has increased in severity and I feel that it will soon cost me an increased amount of money, if not my life." Over the next several years, the correspondence continued between Wright and Chanute, whose suggestions aided in the Wright Brothers first flight on December 17, 1903.[29]

May 14, 1900 (Monday)[edit]

May 15, 1900 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Montana's William A. Clark resigned from the United States Senate while that body debated his expulsion. After Clark's name was stricken from the Senate roster, the news came that Montana Lieutenant Governor Spriggs, acting in the absence of Governor Smith, had re-appointed Clark to fill the vacancy[31] When Governor Smith returned, Martin Maginnis was appointed on May 18.[32]
  • Fish fell from the sky during a late afternoon thunderstorm in Providence, Rhode Island. Richard H. Tingley, a witness, reported that "streets and yards for several blocks were alive with squirming little perch and bullspouts".[33] The fish were heaviest at Olneyville.[34]

May 16, 1900 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Chicago's Chief Milk Inspector, Thomas Grady, announced plans to ban dangerous additives from milk. "Formalin, the chemical used in milk preservatives, will kill a cat", he told reporters. "What will it do to a child?".[35] Formalin, a diluted form of formaldehyde, had been added to raw milk near the end of the 19th century before its toxic effects were realized. Britain banned the practice in 1901.[36]

May 17, 1900 (Thursday)[edit]

  • At 3:30 in the morning, the Siege of Mafeking ended after seven months, when Colonel Bryan Mahon led troops to relieve the besieged British residents during the Boer War. General Piet Cronjé attacked the city on October 13, 1899, and Colonel Robert Baden-Powell had led the defence.[37]
  • At the village of Kaolo "midway between Peking (Beijing) and Paotingfu (Baoding", 61 Chinese Christian converts were massacred in the worst attack to that time in the Boxer Rebellion.[38] American minister Conger telegraphed, "Situation becoming serious. Request warship Taku soon as possible." [39]
  • The first copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, came off the press. The first run of 10,000 copies sold out prior to publication.[40]

May 18, 1900 (Friday)[edit]

  • At 9:17 p.m. in London, the Reuters news agency broke the news of the victory at Mafeking. As author Phillip Knightley noted, "Britain went mad. The celebrations lasted for five nights, and surpassed the victory celebrations of the First and Second World Wars in size, intensity, and enthusiasm. Baden-Powell became the most popular English hero since Nelson, and a household name not only in Britain but also throughout the United States."[41]

May 19, 1900 (Saturday)[edit]

  • A day after signing a treaty with King Taufa'ahau Tupou II of Tonga, emissary Basil Thomson declared the South Pacific kingdom to be a protectorate of the United Kingdom. Thomson had spent six weeks in trying to persuade the reluctant King to accept British protection, before threatening to depose the monarch as a last option.[42]
  • The Convention for the Preservation of Wild Animals, Birds and Fish in Africa was signed in London by representatives of the European colonial powers, marking the first international agreement to protect wildlife.[43]
  • Mining prospector Jim Butler was returning to his home in Belmont, Nevada, when he and his burro stopped to dig at a high canyon near Tonopah. There, he discovered a large outcropping of silver and went from poverty to wealth, while his find set off a mining boom.[44][45]

May 20, 1900 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Voters in Switzerland overwhelmingly rejected a law providing for sickness and accident insurance. The Kranken und Unfallversicherungsgesetz (KUVG), sponsored by Ludwig Forrer and passed the Federal Assembly, but was challenged by a referendum, where more than 70% of the voters were against it. Health reform would finally pass in 1911.[46]
  • The Free Homes Bill was signed into law by President McKinley, and the debts of all homesteaders in Oklahoma were forgiven by the United States government. Up until then, settlers had been compelled to pay, in addition to other requirements, an annual federal fee ranging from $1.00 to $2.50 per acre.[47]
  • Born: Sumitranandan Pant, Hindi poet, in Kausani, India; (d. 1977)

May 21, 1900 (Monday)[edit]

  • Plans for a Nicaraguan Canal ended when the United States Senate killed came to an end after they declined to bring it up for debate and a vote. While the Hepburn Bill had passed the House, 225–35, Alabama's Senator John Tyler Morgan was unable to persuade the Senate to vote on the matter. A motion to bring an early vote as "unfinished business" failed by a vote of 28–21.[48] A commission then recommended construction of a Panama Canal.
  • Following an emergency meeting in Beijing, representatives of the foreign powers (the U.S., Britain, Germany, France and Japan) provided a five-day ultimatum to the Empress of China. If the Boxers were not arrested and punished by that time, armies would be sent to invade.[49]

May 22, 1900 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • The first test was made of the Adams Air Splitting Train, on a run from Washington to Baltimore, then back again. Inventor Frederick Adams had forecast that the aerodynamic, "cigar-shaped" train could be run at a speed of 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) with less expenditure than is now required to keep up a speed of 50 miles per hour (80 km/h).[50] However, the train achieved no more than 60 m.p.h.[51]
  • At 4:30 in the afternoon, an explosion at the Cumnock Mining Company, near Sanford, North Carolina, killed twenty-two coal miners. The accident was believed to have been "caused by a broken gauze in a safety lamp".[52]
  • Born: Clyde Tolson, Associate Director of the FBI and right-hand man of J. Edgar Hoover, in Laredo, Missouri; (d.1975)

May 23, 1900 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Nearly thirty-seven years after performing an act of heroism in the American Civil War, Sergeant William Harvey Carney of the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry was awarded the Medal of Honor by vote of Congress. Although there had been previous African-American recipients of the Medal, Carney's action on July 18, 1863, preceded that of all other black award winners. The first award of the Medal of Honor to an African-American had been to Robert Blake in 1864.[53]
  • The Associated Press was formally incorporated as a New York corporation. Although several regional corporations had shared news between publishers as early as 1848, an unfavorable ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court on February 19[54] led AP clients to form a national organization.[55]
  • Born: Hans Frank, Nazi military governor of Poland 1939–1945, in Karlsruhe, Germany; executed 1946 after conviction for war crimes.

May 24, 1900 (Thursday)[edit]

May 25, 1900 (Friday)[edit]

  • The Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. § 3371–3378, was signed into law by President McKinley. Sponsored by conservationist and Iowa Congressman John F. Lacey, the Act was described on its centennial as the "first far-reaching federal wildlife protection law", and one "setting the stage for a century of progress in safeguarding wildlife resources".[61] Its most important provision was to make it a federal crime to ship "wild animals and birds take in defiance of existing state laws" across state lines.[62]

May 26, 1900 (Saturday)[edit]

  • The Battle of Palonegro concluded after fifteen days in Santander, Colombia, marking a turning point in the Thousand Days' War. General Próspero Pinzón of the Conservative forces defeated Liberal forces commander Gabriel Vargas Santos. An estimated 2,500 people died during the fighting.[63] In January 1901, a pile of hundreds of human skulls would be assembled as a grisly monument that would not be dismantled until 12 years later.[64]

May 27, 1900 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Sixty-four Vietnamese Martyrs were beatified by Pope Leo XIII. The Vietnamese Martyrs, including 53 others beatified later, were canonized on June 19, 1988.[65]

May 28, 1900 (Monday)[edit]

  • At noon, the Orange Free State was annexed to the British Empire, in a proclamation at Bloemfontein by its new Military Governor, Major General George T. Pretyman.[66] Located in Southern Africa, the Orange Free State had existed as an independent republic from 1854 until Britain's victory in the Second Boer War. President Martinus Steyn, who had fled Bloemfontein in March, claimed control over the unoccupied areas of the state until surrendering in 1902. Adding an area of 48,326 square miles (125,200 km2) to the Empire, the area was renamed the Orange River Colony.[67] The colony would become part of the Union of South Africa in 1910.
  • At the 1900 Paris Exposition, Gare d'Orsay opened as the first electrified urban rail terminal.
  • Millions of observers turned out to watch a total eclipse of the sun, visible in a pathway that ran through Mexico and the southeastern United States and to Spain. As the first since the introduction of the Brownie camera, and with more advance publicity than ever before, the eclipse became the most photographed event up to that time. "Amateur photographers throughout the city are making extensive preparations for the event," noted the New York Times, "and it would be hard to estimate the number of snapshots that will be taken to-day."[68] "It has been eleven years since a similar event was witnessed, but the advancement of astronomical science and the marvelous improvements in telescopes, photography, and electrical apparatus insured more complete observations than eyer before known."[69] The eclipse began at about 7:26 a.m. Eastern time with totality at 8:36 in the morning.[70]
  • Born: Tommy Ladnier, American jazz trumpeter, in Florenceville, Louisiana (d. 1939)

May 29, 1900 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • The word "escalator" was introduced into the English language, as the Patent and Trademark Office formally granted the trademark to Charles Seeberger for a moving stairway.[71] However, Seeberger lost the trademark fifty years later when a patent commissioner ruled that the term had become generic, in Haughton Elevator Co. v. Seeberger, 85 U.S.P.Q. 80 (Comm'r Pat. 1950)[72]
  • William P. Dun Lany and Herbert R. Palmer were awarded a patent for their invention, described as "a certain new and useful improvement in Facsimile Telegraphs... to simplify such telegraph instrument, to render them more accurate and efficient, more easily adjustable to meet the varying conditions presented, and adapt them to receive a message or picture by a direct impression or a hammer and anvil movement instead of by an electrochemical change in the receiving surface." They received U.S. Patent No. 650,381 for the device,[73] which Palmer would demonstrate a year later at Columbia University.[74]

May 30, 1900 (Wednesday)[edit]

Lord Roberts was met outside of Johannesburg by its Governor, Fritz Krause, for terms of surrender. "He begged me to defer entering the town for twenty-four hours, as there were many armed burghers still inside," General Roberts cabled. "I agreed to this, as I am most anxious to avert the possibility of anything like disturbance inside the town ..."[75] At 10:00 the next morning, Lord Roberts and the British army entered the town, hauled down the South African flag from the courthouse, and raised the Union Jack in its place.[76] The armies then began the march to the capital, Pretoria, which had been evacuated the day before.

May 31, 1900 (Thursday)[edit]


  1. ^ "Most Appalling Mine Horror!", The Salt Lake Tribune, May 2, 1900, p1
  2. ^ Gunter Dinhobl, Ralf Roth, Across the Borders: Financing the World's Railways in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, (Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2008) pp196–97
  3. ^ Leopold H. Haimson, The Making of Three Russian Revolutionaries: Voices from the Menshevik Past (Cambridge University Press, 1987), p472
  4. ^ Leo Stanton Rowe, The United States and Porto Rico (Longmans, Green, and co., 1904), p118
  5. ^ World Almanac and Book of Facts 1901, p96; "House Votes for Nicaragua Canal", New York Times, May 3, 1900, p1
  6. ^ "Text of the Bill", NYT, Id.
  7. ^ The Annual Register: A Review of Public Events at Home and Abroad For the Year 1900 (Longmans, Green, and Co., 1901) pp13–16; "Sale of Islands Abandoned", Atlanta Constitution, May 4, 1900, p1
  8. ^ "College Athlete Badly Hurt", New York Times, May 4, 1900, p1
  9. ^ Theodore S. Woolsey, "The Naval War Code", Columbia Law Review, 1901, p305
  10. ^ Annual Register, p13
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-27. Retrieved 2009-01-11.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ William F. Nimmo, Stars and Stripes Across the Pacific (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001), p38
  13. ^ W. David McIntyre, Winding up the British Empire in the Pacific Islands (Oxford University Press, 2014) p14
  14. ^ David Stanley, Fiji Islands Handbook (Moon Publications, 1996) p223
  15. ^ Annual Register, p13; "Berlin Festivities End", New York Times, May 7, 1900, p7
  16. ^ Noel J. Kent, America in 1900 (M. E. Sharpe, 2000), pp107–108
  17. ^ Annual Register, p13
  18. ^ Carolyn Bonner and Kit Bonner, Always Ready: Today's U.S. Coast Guard (Zenith Imprint, 2004), p10
  19. ^ Kevin Davies, Cracking the Genome: Inside the Race to Unlock Human DNA (Simon and Schuster, 2001), p250
  20. ^ T. R. Birkhead, A Brand New Bird: How Two Amateur Scientists Created the First Genetically Engineered Animal (Basic Books, 2003) p116
  21. ^ "Trenton Defeats Millville", Philadelphia Inquirer, May 9, 1900, p6
  22. ^ "1900: Basketball's first dynasty", by Jon Blackwell, The Trentonian; "NATIONAL BASKET BALL LEAGUE (1898–99 TO 1903–04), by John Grasso and Robert Bradley,
  23. ^ American Pharmacy (1852–2002): A Collection of Historical Essays, p93
  24. ^ Richard M. Jaffe, Neither Monk Nor Layman: Clerical Marriage in Modern Japanese Buddhism (Princeton University Press, 2001), p218
  25. ^ Walter Edwards, Modern Japan Through Its Weddings (Stanford University Press, 1990), pp103–104
  26. ^ Merle Eugene Curti American Philanthropy Abroad (Rutgers University Press, 1963; Transaction Publishers, 1988), p136
  27. ^ Stuart Miller, The 100 Greatest Days in New York Sports (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006), pp215–219
  28. ^ David Oakley, On the Trail of Lin Shao-Mao, the Last Outlaw
  29. ^ Stephanie Sammartino McPherson and Joseph Sammartino Gardner, Wilbur & Orville Wright: Taking Flight (Twenty-First Century Books, 2003), pp38–40
  30. ^ Annual Register, p14
  31. ^ "Clark Gives Up Seat in Senate", New York Times, May 16, 1900, p1
  32. ^ "Another Man Named to Succeed Clark", New York Times, May 19, 1900, p1
  33. ^ Robert E. Martin, "It Does Rain FISH!", Popular Science (July 1932), pp24–25;
  34. ^ "Rained Fish", AP report in the Lowell (Mass.) Sun, May 16, 1900, p4
  35. ^ "Food Preservative Fatal", New York Times, May 17, 1900, p2
  36. ^ Walter Bruno Gratzer, Terrors of the Table: The Curious History of Nutrition (Oxford University Press, 2005), pp101–102
  37. ^ George Forrest, Sepoy Generals, Wellington to Roberts (W. Blackwood, 1901), p434
  38. ^ Peter Thompson and Robert Macklin, The Life and Adventures of Morrison of China (Allen & Unwin, 2008), p204
  39. ^ Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States (G.P.O. 1902) p127
  40. ^ Katharine M. Rogers, L. Frank Baum, pp73–94
  41. ^ Phillip Knightley, The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-maker from the Crimea to Iraq (JHU Press, 2004) p76
  42. ^ Noel Rutherford, Shirley Baker and the King of Tonga (University of Hawaii Press, 1996), p222
  43. ^ John M. MacKenzie, The Empire of Nature: Hunting, Conservation, and British Imperialism (Manchester University Press, 1997), p202
  44. ^ Arthur Bernard Knapp, Vincent C. Pigott and Eugenia W. Herbert, Social Approaches to an Industrial Past: The Archaeology and Anthropology of Mining (Routledge, 1998), pp103–104;
  45. ^ Russell R. Elliott and William D. Rowley, History of Nevada (University of Nebraska Press, 1987), p211
  46. ^ Matthius Leimgruber, Solidarity Without the State?: Business and the Shaping of the Swiss Welfare State, 1890–2000 (Cambridge University Press, 2008), p36
  47. ^ Oklahoma Historical Society, Review of Inception and Progress (1905) pp27–28
  48. ^ "Set-Back for the Nicaragua Canal", New York Times, May 22, 1900, p1
  49. ^ X. L. Woo, Empress Dowager Cixi (Algora Publishing, 2002), p214
  50. ^ "Atmospheric Resistance; Its Relation to the Speed of Railway Trains", Railway and Locomotive magazine, August 1900, p345
  51. ^ "'Air Splitting' Train Tried", New York Times, May 23, 1900, p1
  52. ^ "Twenty-Two Killed", Nebraska State Journal, May 24, 1900, p2
  53. ^ Ron Owens, Medal of Honor: Historical Facts & Figures (Turner Publishing Company, 2004), pp20–21
  54. ^ "Associated Press Loses", The Post-Standard (Syracuse), February 20, 1900, p2
  55. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-29. Retrieved 2007-11-30.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link); James Melvin Lee, History of American Journalism (Houghton Mifflin 1917), p415
  56. ^ Edwin Howard Simmons, The United States Marines: A History (Naval Institute Press, 2003), p73
  57. ^ "Beautiful Rites in Rome Today", The Daily Gazette (Janesville, Wis.), May 24, 1900, p1
  58. ^ "John Baptist de la Salle", The Catholic Encyclopedia (Universal Knowledge Foundation, 1913), pp444–48.
  59. ^ Ferdinand Holböck, Married Saints and Blesseds: Through the Centuries (Ignatius Press, 2002), pp269–271
  60. ^ Annual Register, p16
  61. ^
  62. ^ Mark V. Barrow, A Passion for Birds: American Ornithology After Audubon (Princeton University Press, 2000), pp132–133
  63. ^ Bert Ruiz, The Colombian Civil War (McFarland, 2001), pp41–42
  64. ^ René De La Pedraja, Wars of Latin America, 1899–1941 (McFarland, 2006) p25
  65. ^ "117 Vietnamese church martyrs are canonized", Chicago Herald, June 20, 1988, p3
  66. ^ "The Free State Annexation", New York Times, May 31, 1900, p2
  67. ^ Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events 1903, p638
  68. ^ "Local Eclipse Preparations", New York Times, May 28, 1900, p1
  69. ^ "Eclipse Observers Report Success", New York Times, May 29, 1900, p1
  70. ^ "Princeton Party's Success", Id.
  71. ^ Patent and Trade Mark Review, p304
  72. ^ Siegrun D. Kane, Trademark Law, pp5–18
  73. ^ "Facsimile telegraph."
  74. ^ "Pictures Sent by Wire", Chicago Daily Tribune, April 13, 1901, p1
  75. ^ "Fate of Pretoria Not Yet Certain", New York Times, June 1, 1900, p1
  76. ^ The Times History of the War in South Africa 1899–1902 (Sampson Low, Marston, 1906), v.4, pp.151–152
  77. ^ Byron Farwell, The Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-century Land Warfare (W. W. Norton & Company, 2001), 124
  78. ^ Chester M. Biggs, Jr., The United States Marines in North China, 1894–1942 (McFarland Press, 2003) pp65–66
  79. ^ Annual Register, p16