May 1911

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The following events occurred in May 1911:

May 1, 1911 (Monday)[edit]

  • The United States Supreme Court ruled that the federal government, rather than the individual states, had the right to set apart lands for public use. The ruling, in Light v. United States (220 U.S. 523) initially applied to forest preserves, but would be extended to other federal use of land.[1]
  • Born: Anthony Salerno, a/k/a "Fat Tony", member of American Mafia and a leader in the Genovese Family, in East Harlem, New York City (d. 1992)

May 2, 1911 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • The British House of Commons approved amendments to the Parliament Bill, a provision for veto of House of Lords power, with the first reading passing 299 to 193.[2]
  • Professor Horatio W. Parker of Yale University, and former Yale professor Brian Hooker won the $10,000 prize from New York's Metropolitan Opera for an opera written and composed entirely by Americans, with Mona receiving the grand prize.[3]

May 3, 1911 (Wednesday)[edit]

May 4, 1911 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The British National Insurance Bill, providing for both health insurance and unemployment insurance, was introduced by Chancell[5] With workers paying 4 pence, employers 3p and the government 2p per worker per week, the system became operational on January 15, 1913, and provided sickness payments of up to 10 shillings per week during illness.[6]

May 5, 1911 (Friday)[edit]

  • Sir George Kemp's suffrage bill passed its second reading, 255-88. The right to vote was proposed for every woman "possessed of the household qualification", excluding women servants and lodgers, and prohibited women from voting in the same constituency as their husbands.[7]
  • Born: Andor Lilienthal, Hungarian and Soviet chess Grandmaster, in Moscow (d. 2010)

May 6, 1911 (Saturday)[edit]

May 7, 1911 (Sunday)[edit]

May 8, 1911 (Monday)[edit]

  • In what has been described as the birth of naval aviation, Captain Washington Irving Chambers of the United States Navy awarded a contract to Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company for the Curtiss A-1 Triad.[12]
  • The Chinese Grand Council was abolished, replaced by ten member constitutional cabinet, with Yikuang, Prince Qing becoming the first Premier in China's history.[13]
  • China and the United Kingdom signed an agreement whereby the Chinese would phase out production of opium over a 7-year period, and the British would phase out exports of opium from India to China at the same rate.[14]
  • The House of Lords approved Lord Lansdowne's proposal for reconstitution of the House of Lords on its first reading.[15]
  • Germany issued a warning to France that an attempted occupation of the Moroccan city of Fes would be considered a violation of a treaty between the two nations.[16]
  • Born:
    • Robert Johnson, American blues musician, and one of the original inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; ranked by Rolling Stone magazine in 2008 as fifth greatest guitarist of all time; in Hazlehurst, Mississippi (poisoned 1938)
    • Rudolf Flesch, American educator whose 1955 book Why Johnny Can't Read successfully advocated a change from sight-word reading back to phonics; in Vienna, Austria (d. 1986)

May 9, 1911 (Tuesday)[edit]

May 10, 1911 (Wednesday)[edit]

May 11, 1911 (Thursday)[edit]

May 12, 1911 (Friday)[edit]

  • At the request of the parliament of Persia, William Morgan Shuster, a 34-year-old American lawyer, arrived in what is now Iran to manage the nation's economy as its Treasurer General. Shuster was forced to leave eight months later after the Russian Empire sent troops to prevent him from seizing the assets of the former royal family.[27]

May 13, 1911 (Saturday)[edit]

  • An Imperial Decree was issued in China, annexing the railroad lines from Hankou to Guangzhou and Chungqing, in advance of the receipt of the first installment of a loan from foreign banks to construct a new railroad.[28]
  • Born:

May 14, 1911 (Sunday)[edit]

Iyasu V

May 15, 1911 (Monday)[edit]

May 16, 1911 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • A group of 303 Chinese and five Japanese immigrants were killed in the Torreón massacre when the forces of the Mexican Revolution, led by Francisco I. Madero's brother Emilio Madero, took the city of Torreón from the Federales.[33] After a three-day defense, government troops departed and twelve hours of rioting began. Among the victims was Dr. J.W. Lim, a wealthy Chinese-Mexican banker, who was dragged through the streets before being shot.[34] In all, 316 Chinese residents were murdered during the revolution, and China's ambassador to Mexico, Shung As Sune, demanded compensation from the Mexican government of 33,600,000 pesos, worth $16,800,000 for the loss of lives and property.[35]
  • Henry Lewis Stimson was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the new U.S. Secretary of War, four days after the resignation of Jacob M. Dickinson.[36]
  • Died: Margaret A. Weller, 68, the first person to learn how to use the QWERTY keyboard. Mrs. Weller, the wife of a court reporter, tested the prototype of the typewriter invented by C. Latham Sholes in 1867.[37]

May 17, 1911 (Wednesday)[edit]

May 18, 1911 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The Illinois State Senate voted to reopen the investigation into the controversial election of U.S. Senator William Lorimer, a day after committee concluded that he would nothave been elected without bribery.[20]
  • Born: Big Joe Turner, American blues singer whose song "Shake, Rattle and Roll" made him a rock star in his 40s; inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987; in Kansas City, Missouri (d. 1985)
  • Died: Gustav Mahler, 50, Austrian composer

May 19, 1911 (Friday)[edit]

  • Parks Canada, the governmental agency which regulates national parks in the Dominion of Canada, was created as the Dominion Parks Branch of the Canadian Department of the Interior, and was the first national parks service in any nation.[38]
  • Carlo Crispi of New York became the first American to be convicted of a crime as a result of fingerprint evidence alone. Crispi, whose prints had been taken during a burglary a few years earlier, was caught after his fingerprints had been found on a pane of glass at the scene of another break in. After hearing expert testimony, Crispi pleaded guilty to burglary in return for a light (six month) sentence and in the interests of science.[39]

May 20, 1911 (Saturday)[edit]

  • The Hukuang Loan Agreement, which would prove to be the downfall of the Manchu Dynasty and the Chinese Empire, was signed in Beijing, providing for a $30,000,000 loan to the Imperial Government.[40]
  • Born:
    • Gardner Fox, American comic book writer for DC Comics, who helped create the "Justice Society of America" and later the "Justice League of America" series; in Brooklyn (d. 1986)
    • Milt Gabler, American record producer who introduced multiple innovations in the recording industry; in Harlem; inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (d. 2001)
  • Died: Williamina Fleming, 54, Scottish astronomer who perfected the Pickering-Fleming system for classification of variable stars

May 21, 1911 (Sunday)[edit]

  • The Treaty of Ciudad Juárez was signed in that city, formally ending the Mexican Revolution. The treaty was to have been signed at the customs office at Juarez, which was on the Mexican–American border and had served as the headquarters for rebel leader Francisco I. Madero, but, as the New York Times reported later, "By some mistake, as yet unexplaned, the Custom House was locked when the Police Commissioners arrived." Judge Francisco S. Carbajal, appearing as representative for Mexico's President Porfirio Díaz, and Madero and two other insurgent leaders, decided to sign the treaty on the steps of the customs building, under the illumination of automobile headlights.[41]
  • French Minister of War Henri Berteaux was killed, and Prime Minister Ernest Monis was seriously injured, after they were struck by an airplane at Issy-les-Moulineaux. The occasion was the start of a race from Paris to Madrid, with 200,000 spectators turning out to watch. Piloted by a Messieur Train, the monoplane took off without clearance, was caught in a downdraft and plunged into the assembled dignitaries. Berteaux was struck by the propeller which severed his left arm, fractured his skull and cut his throat, and Monis sustained compound fractures of his right leg and a broken nose.[42]
  • Born: Peter Hurkos, Dutch-born housepainter who claimed to have obtained psychic powers after falling from a roof in 1941; in Dordrecht (d. 1988

May 22, 1911 (Monday)[edit]

  • A monument was unveiled at Arlington, Virginia, to Pierre L'Enfant, with U.S. President Taft and French Ambassador Jusserand speaking in honor of the Frenchman who had designed the city of Washington, D.C. Said Taft, "There are not many who have to wait 100 years to receive the reward to which they are entitled, until the world shall make the progress which enables it to pay the just reward." [43]
  • Born: Anatol Rapoport, Russian-born American mathematician and pioneer in mathematical biology; in Lozovaya, Russia (d. 2007)

May 23, 1911 (Tuesday)[edit]

May 24, 1911 (Wednesday)[edit]

May 25, 1911 (Thursday)[edit]

May 26, 1911 (Friday)[edit]

May 27, 1911 (Saturday)[edit]

  • The Dreamland amusement park at New York's Coney Island was destroyed by a fire that began after workmen had been repairing a ride called the Hell Gate. The park had been built only 7 years earlier by William H. Reynolds for $3.5 million (equivalent to $70,000,000 a century later), included a 70-foot-tall tower, and employed 2,500 people. It was never rebuilt.[48]
  • Born:

May 28, 1911 (Sunday)[edit]

  • The body of Belle Walker, an African -American cook, was found 25 yards from her home on Garibaldi Street in Atlanta. Her throat had been cut by an unknown slayer, and the crime was reported in the Atlanta Constitution under the headline "Negro Woman Killed; No Clew to Slayer" [49] On June 15, another black woman, Addie Watts, was found with her throat slashed, followed on June 27 by Lizzie Watkins. The search for the serial killer, called "the Atlanta Ripper" by the press, found six different suspects, but no convictions were ever made, nor was the crime ever solved. By the end of 1911, fifteen women, all black or dark-skinned, all in their early 20s, had been murdered in the same manner. The "Ripper" may have had as many as 21 victims.[50]
  • The United States Post Office Department announced a surplus for the first time in its history. Postmaster General Frank H. Hitchcock returned $3,000,000 to the U.S. Treasury, declaring it necessary because of a surplus "considerably over $1,000,000".[51]
  • Born: Fritz Hochwälder, Austrian playwright, in Vienna, Austria-Hungary (d. 1986)

May 29, 1911 (Monday)[edit]

May 30, 1911 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Ray Harroun won the very first running of the Indianapolis 500 automobile race, driving car #32, a Marmon Wasp. At an average speed of 74.59 miles per hour, Harroun, who was the only driver not to have a mechanic riding with him, completed the race in 6 hours and 42 minutes.[54]

May 31, 1911 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • The White Star liner RMS Titanic, at the time the largest mobile object ever constructed, was launched from Belfast at 12:13 pm. It was 883 feet long, 58 feet high and weighed 46,000 tons. It would sink less than a year later.[55]
  • The terrorist bombing of the barracks at Fort La Loma in Nicaragua killed 130 people.[56]
  • Porfirio Díaz left Mexico to begin his exile in France, departing from Veracruz on the steamer Ypiranga. Before departing, he declared, "I shall die in Mexico."[57] He would die in exile in France in 1915.
  • Born: Maurice Allais, French economist, 1988 Nobel Prize in Economics laureate, in Paris (d. 2010)


  1. ^ "Nation Has a Right to Reserve Its Land", New York Times, May 2, 1911, p1; Gordon Morris Bakken, Law in the Western United States (University of Oklahoma Press, 2000) p76
  2. ^ "Lords' Veto Bill Passed by Commons", New York Times, May 3, 1911
  3. ^ "$10,000 Opera Prize Won by Yale Men", New York Times, May 3, 1911
  4. ^ "Flichner, Wilhelm", in Exploring Polar frontiers: A - M, Volume 1 (William J. Mills, ed.) (ABC-CLIO, 2003)
  5. ^ or of the Exchequer David Lloyd George. "Millions in Plan of State Insurance", New York Times, May 5, 1911
  6. ^ Keith Laybourn, Modern Britain since 1906: A Reader (I.B.Tauris, 1999) p17
  7. ^ "English Suffrage Near?", New York Times, May 6, 1911
  8. ^ Robert Bud, Manifesting Medicine: Bodies and Machines (Taylor & Francis, 1999) p36
  9. ^ "No New Colorado Senator", New York Times, May 7, 1911
  10. ^ "Colorado Now Has Two U.S. Senators", Hartford Courant, January 21, 1913, p2
  11. ^ Diaz Issues Manifesto; To Resign", Milwaukee Sentinel, May 8, 1911, p1
  12. ^ William Neufeld, Slingshot Warbirds: World War II U.S. Navy Scout-observation Airmen (McFarland, 2003) pp4-5; Chester G. Hearn,Navy: An Illustrated History: The U.S. Navy from 1775 to the 21st Century (Zenith Imprint, 2007) p51
  13. ^ "Two Reforms for China", New York Times, May 9, 1911
  14. ^ Yongming Zhou, Anti-Drug Crusades in Twentieth-century China: Nationalism, History, and State Building (Rowman & Littlefield, 1999) p29
  15. ^ "Lansdowne Plan Presented", New York Times, May 9, 1911
  16. ^ "Warning to France Given by Germany", New York Times, May 9, 1911
  17. ^ Walter E. Barton, The History and Influence of the American Psychiatric Association (American Psychiatric Pub, 1987) p111
  18. ^ "Edinburgh Empire Theatre Fire", Glasgow Herald, May 11, 1911, p7
  19. ^ Albert Glinsky, Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage (University of Illinois Press, 2000) p38
  20. ^ a b "Record of Current Events", The American Monthly Review of Reviews (June 1911), pp673–674
  21. ^ "Canal Yields Up Body of Missing Elsie Paroubek: Descriptions Tally Exactly, But Father Awaits Mother's Full Identification.", Chicago Tribune, p. 1, May 9, 1911 .
  22. ^ "Paroubek Girl Slain: Tragic Events in Day." Chicago Daily News, May 9, 1911.
  23. ^ Michael Bonesteel, Henry Darger: Art and Selected Writings. Rizzoli, 2001.
  24. ^ "Juarez Falls, Gen. Navarro a Prisoner", New York Times, May 11, 1911 Friedrich Katz, The Life and Times of Pancho Villa (Stanford University Press, 1998) p111
  25. ^ "Regulars Balked; Senate Deadlocked", New York Times, May 12, 1911
  26. ^ Richard A. Baker, 200 notable days: Senate stories, 1787 to 2002 (Government Printing Office, 2006) p104
  27. ^ Said Amir Arjomand, The Turban for the Crown: The Islamic Revolution in Iran (Oxford University Press US, 1989) p46
  28. ^ Zhengyuan Fu, Autocratic Tradition and Chinese Politics (Cambridge University Press, 1993) p152
  29. ^ "New Ruler of Abyssinia", New York Times, May 16, 1911
  31. ^ Jerry W. Markham, A Financial History of the United States: From the Age of Derivatives into the New Millennium (Volume 3) (M.E. Sharpe, 2002) p44
  32. ^ "End First Veto Bill Fight", New York Times, May 16, 1911
  33. ^ Jacques, Leo M. Dambourges (Autumn 1974). "The Chinese Massacre in Torreon (Coahuila) in 1911". Arizona and the West. University of Arizona Press. 16 (3): 233–246. JSTOR 40168453. (Subscription required (help)). 
  34. ^ "Killed in Torreon Number Hundreds- Over 200 Chinese Slain by Rebels After the Federals Evacuated the Town", New York Times, May 23, 1911
  35. ^ "Mexicans Worried by Chinese Demand", New York Times, June 11, 1911
  36. ^ Robert Sobel, Biographical directory of the United States executive branch, 1774-1989 (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1990) p341
  37. ^ "First Operator on Sholes Typewriter Dies", Milwaukee Sentinel, May 17, 1911, p1
  38. ^ Parks Canada history
  39. ^ Harris Hawthorne Wilder, Personal Identification: Methods for the Identification of Individuals, Living or Dead (R.G. Badger, 1918) pp266-267
  40. ^ E.G. Ruoff, ed., Death Throes of a Dynasty: Letters and Diaries of Charles and Bessie Ewing (Kent State University Press, 1990) p198
  41. ^ "Peace Agreement Signed at Juarez", New York Times, May 22, 1911
  42. ^ "Airship Kills War Minister; Premier Hurt", New York Times, May 22, 1911
  43. ^ "Dedicate Memorial to Major L'Enfant", New York Times, May 23, 1911
  44. ^ "City's $29,000,000 Library Is Opened", New York Times, May 24, 1911
  45. ^ a b Joseph Nathan Kane, The American Counties (4th Ed.), (The Scarecrow Press, 1983), p480
  46. ^ "Mac Veagh Pictures Aldrich Reformed", New York Times, May 25, 1911
  47. ^ "End of the Diaz Regime"; "Diaz Resigns; De La Barra In; Rioters Shot", New York Times, May 26, 1911
  48. ^ "Flames Sweep Coney Island", New York Times, May 27, 1911; Dale Samuelson and Wendy Yegoiants, The American Amusement Park (MBI Publishing Company, 2001) p31
  49. ^ "Atlanta's Jack the Ripper", by Steve Fennessy
  50. ^ Jeffrey Wells, The Atlanta Ripper: The Unsolved Story of the Gate City's Most Infamous Murders (The History Press, 2011) p72
  51. ^ "Hitchcock Economizes", New York Times, May 29, 1911
  53. ^ John W. Johnson, Historic U.S. Court Cases (Taylor & Francis US, 2001) p382
  54. ^ Ann Gaines and Jeff Gluck, Famous Finishes (Infobase Publishing, 2005) pp24-30
  55. ^ Nick Barratt, Lost Voices from the Titanic: The Definitive Oral History (Macmillan, 2010)
  56. ^ "117 Killed at Managua", New York Times, June 2, 1911
  57. ^ "Gen. Diaz Departs and Warns Mexico", New York Times, June 1, 1911