May 2nd in history:
The search for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden ended with a raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2nd, 2011. Bin Laden and four other people were shot and killed by Navy SEALs under cover of darkness. It was still May 1st in the U.S., when President Barack Obama announced bin Laden’s death on television. The raid was dramatized in the 2012 film “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was shot by his own troops on May 2nd, 1863, at the Civil War Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia. The troops reportedly mistook Jackson and his companions for Union soldiers. Jackson died eight days later.
German flying ace Manfred von Richthofen, better known by the nickname “The Red Baron,” shot down 80 enemy pilots during the first World War. The Baron was born on this date in 1892. Other people born on May 2nd who became famous under assumed names: British singer Engelbert Humperdinck (born Arnold Dorsey in 1936), and pro wrestler turned actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (1972).
February 12th in history:
Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were both born on February 12th in the same year, 1809.
One of the states that joined the Confederacy during Lincoln’s presidency was founded as a colony on February 12th, 1733. James Oglethorpe founded Georgia as the 13th European colony in the New World.
It was a new world for women in one U.S. territory on this date in 1870: The Utah Territory gave women the vote. Women wouldn’t be granted that right nationwide for another 50 years.
November 6 in history:
Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States on November 6th, 1860. Over the next 12 months, several Southern states would secede and form the Confederacy. Their first presidential election was exactly one year after Lincoln’s election, on this date in 1861. Former U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis had already been appointed Confederate president before winning the election.
The Civil War ended and the Confederacy folded before Davis got to finish his six-year term. After a few years under the Stars and Bars, the Southern states returned to the Stars and Stripes, forever. Saaaay, that might make a good song title! Composer John Philip Sousa thought so. “The Stars and Stripes Forever” is one of the most popular marches written by the “March King,” born on November 6th, 1854.
Sousa commissioned the development of the sousaphone, and another musician who has an instrument named after him shares Sousa’s birthday. Belgian Adolphe Sax, born on this date in 1814, patented the saxophone when he was 31.
Both the sousaphone and saxophone are popular marching-band instruments played at football games. The very first official college football game in the U.S. was played in New Jersey on November 6th, 1869, at Rutgers University. In that first contest, each score was worth only one point, and they played until 10 total points had been scored. Rutgers beat Princeton, 6 to 4.
The streets of one New Jersey city inspired the names of spaces on a classic board game for which Parker Brothers obtained patents on this date in 1935. Pass “Go” and collect $200 if you knew that the landmarks on a “Monopoly” board are actual places in Atlantic City.