May 1912

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May 14, 1912: Denmark's King Frederik VIII dies during German visit
May 23, 1912: Imperator, world's largest ocean liner, launched
May 24, 1912: Piltdown Man hoax continues with delivery of skull fragments
May 18, 1912: USS Texas, largest U.S. warship, launched
May 30, 1912: Wilbur Wright dead at 45
May 18, 1912: The Kongo, largest Japanese battleship, launched

The following events occurred in May 1912:

May 1, 1912 (Wednesday)

  • The United States Baseball League, an 8-team challenger to the National League and American League, played its first game, with New York and the visiting team from Reading, Pennsylvania, playing to a 10-10 tie before a crowd of 2,500. Other games played on opening day were Richmond 2, Washington 0; Pittsburgh 11, Cleveland 7; and Chicago 5, Cincinnati 0.[1] After teams dropped out, the season, which was set to run until September 21,[2] ended on June 26.[3]
  • Congressman Oscar W. Underwood of Alabama won the Democratic primary in Georgia, defeating New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson.[4]
  • Born: Otto Kretschmer, the most successful U-Boat commander in World War II, in Heidau, German Empire (now Nysa, Poland). Kretschmer's U-23 and U-99 sank 47 ships in the first 18 months of the war. (d. 1998); and Winthrop Rockefeller, multimillionaire native of New York City who served as the 37th Governor of Arkansas (1967–71) (d. 1973)

May 2, 1912 (Thursday)

  • The "Symphony for Negro Music" was performed at Carnegie Hall by the all-black Clef Club Orchestra, with 125 singers and musicians led by conductor James Reese Europe, and marked the most prestigious event for African-American musicians up to that time.[5]
  • Italian Army Captain Alberto Margenhi Marengoon made the first nighttime reconnaissance flight in history, using an airplane to assess Turkish troop strength near Benghazi.[6]

May 3, 1912 (Friday)

May 4, 1912 (Saturday)

  • Rhodes, largest of the Dodecanese islands that had historically been a part of Greece, was captured by Italy from Turkey.[9]
  • The seamen of the RMS Olympic were found guilty of mutiny, but no penalty was imposed.[10]
  • Died: Nettie Stevens, 50, American biologist and geneticist

May 5, 1912 (Sunday)

  • The first competitive events of the 1912 Summer Olympics took place in Stockholm, Sweden, with lawn tennis being played until May 12. Most of the competition took place between June 29 and July 22, with the opening ceremonies being held on July 6.[11]
  • Pravda, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, and later the leading daily paper for the Soviet Union between 1922 and 1991, published its first issue. Founded by Vladimir Lenin, and published daily in Saint Petersburg, at that time the capital of the Russian Empire. Pravda (Russian for "The Truth") served as the leading newspaper for the Soviet Union between 1922 and 1991. The first issue carried the date "22 April 1912" (22 Апрель 1912),[12] in that Russia was still using the Julian Calendar, which was 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar. The paper would later carry the slogan "Newspaper founded 5 May 1912 by V. I. Lenin".[13]
  • The first issue of Our Sunday Visitor, was introduced in Roman Catholic churches in the United States. The 35,000 copies of the first issue sold for one cent apiece.[14]
  • Born: Adolf Ottman, Anne-Marie Ottman, Emma Ottman and Elisabeth Ottman, the longest-lived quadruplets to date, in Munich, Germany. All four were 79 years, 316 days old when Adolf became the first to pass away on March 17, 1992.[15]

May 6, 1912 (Monday)

  • The will of John Jacob Astor, who died in the Titanic disaster, was probated. His $150,000,000 estate (worth more than $3.3 billion in 2012)[16] was left to his 22-year-old son, Vincent Astor.[17]
  • The cable ship Minia brought 17 more bodies from the Titanic to Halifax. Only one of the persons had drowned, and the others had died of the cold.[18]
  • Born: Bill Quinn, American actor whose career spanned eight decades; in New York City (d. 1994)

May 7, 1912 (Tuesday)

May 8, 1912 (Wednesday)

  • Pascual Orozco, who had helped in the revolution that made Francisco I. Madero the President of Mexico six months earlier, then led a second revolution against Madero, ordered his 6,000 insurrectionists to fight against Madero's troops at the state of Coahuila. Reports of the day described the oncoming clash as "the greatest body of rebels and government troops that has ever come what is expected to be the turning point of the revolution".[20]

May 9, 1912 (Thursday)

May 10, 1912 (Friday)

May 11, 1912 (Saturday)

  • W. B. Atwater, a salesman for the Curtiss Aeroplane Company, persuaded the Japanese Navy to begin developing its own air corps. Atwater impressed the Minister of the Navy, Adm. Saitō Makoto, by taking aloft a Curtiss hydroplane from the ocean, in the first water takeoff ever seen in the Orient. On the third and final flight, Atwater took one of the Japanese officers with him as a passenger, then dropped a message to the Minister Saito. Japan bought four Curtiss Triads. "From this slight beginning," author Walter J. Boyne would note later, "grew the naval air force that twenty-nine years later would strike at Pearl Harbor." [25]
  • Born: Foster Brooks, American actor and comedian known for portraying a drunken man; in Louisville (d. 2001); and Saadat Hassan Manto, Pakistani short story writer in the Urdu language, in Samrala, Punjab, British India (d. 1955)

May 12, 1912 (Sunday)

  • Bulgaria and Serbia signed a mutual defense treaty, with Bulgaria pledging 200,000 men to defend Serbia against an attack by Austria-Hungary, while Serbia agreed to send 200,000 to protect against a Bulgarian invasion by Romania, and each pledging to assist the other in a fight against the Ottoman Empire.[26]
  • Born: Archibald Cox, American prosecutor during the Watergate scandal; in Plainfield, New Jersey (d. 2004)

May 13, 1912 (Monday)

  • The U.S. House of Representatives voted 237-39 to send the proposed Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution to the 48 states for ratification. The amendment, which provided for U.S. Senators to be elected directly by popular vote, rather than by the state legislatures, followed 86 years worth of rejections. In 1894, 1898, 1900 and 1902, the House had approved an amendment and the Senate had rejected it.[27] The Amendment would be ratified by April 8, 1913, after Connecticut became the 36th of 48 states to give its approval.[28]
  • The first jury trial ever conducted in China began in Shanghai.[29]
  • Italian ships captured more islands from Turkey, seizing Piskopi, Nisero, Kalismo, Leno and Patmos.[10]
  • Born: Gil Evans, Canadian jazz composer, as Ian Ernest Gilmore Green, in Toronto (d. 1988)

May 14, 1912 (Tuesday)

  • Saved from the Titanic, a silent film produced by the Eclair Film Company and starring Dorothy Gibson, was released in the United States. Coming out on the one month anniversary of the day RMS Titanic struck the iceberg, it was the first disaster film, and the first to use special effects, interspersing film of the RMS Olympic with models "sometimes resembling a toy boat in a bathtub" [30] to recreate the sinking. Ms. Gibson, at the time the most famous movie star in America, actually had been a passenger on the ship when it began to sink, and literally had been "saved from the Titanic".
  • China's legislature rejected the six power railroad loan agreement.[29]
  • In the California presidential primaries, Theodore Roosevelt won all 26 of the Republican delegates, defeating President Taft in all 58 counties. Former House Speaker Champ Clark won the Democratic delegates, defeating Woodrow Wilson by a 2-1 ratio. Women, though not allowed to vote in national elections, were able to participate in the primaries.[31]
  • Died: Frederik VIII, 68, King of Denmark since 1906. The King had been on vacation in Germany, and went out alone, with no identification, for an evening stroll. After he collapsed and died on the street, he was taken as a "John Doe" to a morgue in a local hospital.[32]
  • Died: Albino Jara, 35, former President of Paraguay; and August Strindberg, 63, Swedish author and painter

May 15, 1912 (Wednesday)

File:Ty Cobb LC-DIG-ggbain-08006 crop.jpg
Batting king (.367) Ty Cobb
King Christian X
  • Crown Prince Christian, brother of King Haakon VII of Norway, was proclaimed as King Christian X of Denmark.[29]
  • Count Karl von Stürgkh, the Austrian Prime Minister within Austria-Hungary, stepped down due to sudden blindness caused by "an affection of the retina resulting from overwork", and was temporarily succeeded by the Interior Minister, Baron von Heinold.[33]
  • Detroit Tigers baseball star Ty Cobb, angry after being taunted by New York Highlanders (later the Yankees) fan Claude Lueker at Hilltop Park, charged into the stands and punched and kicked the his tormentor.[34] Lueker, who was "a cripple, who lost one hand and three fingers of the other", said that when someone yelled "Don't kick him, he has no hands", Cobb replied "I don't care if he has no feet!" [35] Cobb would be suspended by the American League for ten days, leading to a sympathy strike by his teammates on May 18.[36]
  • Born: Alexis Kagame, Rwandan philosopher, in Kiyanza, German East Africa (now part of Kigali, Rwanda (d. 1981); and Arthur Berger, American composer, in New York City (d. 2003)

May 16, 1912 (Thursday)

  • Two small boys who had survived the sinking of the Titanic were reunited with their mother after having been identified. Michel Navratil, Jr., 3, and Edmond Navratil, 2, had been placed into a lifeboat by their father.[37] Michel would be the last male survivor of the disaster, dying on January 31, 2001[38]
  • Born: Studs Terkel, American writer and broadcaster, in New York City (d. 2008)

May 17, 1912 (Friday)

  • The opera Don Quichotte, by Massenet, opened in London.[10]
  • The Socialist Party nominated Eugene V. Debs for President and Emil Seidel for Vice-President.[10]
  • Born: Ace Parker, American NFL Hall of Famer, and MLB player; in Portsmouth, Virginia (still living in 2012)

May 18, 1912 (Saturday)

May 19, 1912 (Sunday)

  • Julia Clark of Great Britain became only the third woman in history to receive an airplane pilot's license. On June 17, she would become the first woman to be killed while piloting an airplane.[41]

May 20, 1912 (Monday)

May 21, 1912 (Tuesday)

May 22, 1912 (Wednesday)

  • The United States Marines entered into military aviation, as 2nd Lieutenant Alfred A. Cunningham reported for flight training at the Navy Aviation Center.[48]
  • Count István Tisza, formerly the Prime Minister for the Hungarian side of Austria-Hungary, was elected President of the Hungarian Chamber of Deputies after a fight between the legislators. Reportedly, "all the inkpots and other articles that could be used as missiles were removed from the chamber before the voting began", and the Socialist Union party members walked out after fistfights broke out.[49]
  • Massachusetts became the first state to ratify the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as the state Senate voted 30-0 in favor of direct election of U.S. Senators, after the House had approved the measure by acclamation.[50]
  • Born: Herbert C. Brown, English-born chemist, 1979 Nobel Prize laureate, as Herbert Brovarnik, in London (d. 2004)

May 23, 1912 (Thursday)

Haakon, Christian and Gustaf

May 24, 1912 (Friday)

May 25, 1912 (Saturday)

  • In Tyler, Texas, Dan Davis, an African-American who had confessed to raping and then slitting the throat of a young white woman on May 13, was burned at the stake after a mob of 2,000 people overpowered his jailers. Davis's executioners had brought "several wagon loads of wood" to the town's public square and tied him to a rail. After Davis said, "I am guilty," he was set ablaze.[55]

May 26, 1912 (Sunday)

May 27, 1912 (Monday)

  • A fire at a movie theater in Villa Real in Spain killed 80 people.[56]
  • James Duncan of the United States set the first internationally recognized record for the discus throw, with a distance of Lua error in Module:Convert at line 452: attempt to index field 'titles' (a nil value)..[57]
  • Born: Sam Snead, American professional golfer, in Ashwood, Virginia (d. 2002); John Cheever, American novelist and short story writer, in Quincy, Massachusetts (d. 1982); and Cedric Phatudi, Chief Minister of Lebowa, a semi-independent bantustan in South Africa (d. 1987)

May 28, 1912 (Tuesday)

May 29, 1912 (Wednesday)

May 30, 1912 (Thursday)

  • 1912 Indianapolis 500: In the second running of the annual auto race, Ralph DePalma was less than two laps away from victory when his Mercedes developed engine trouble on Lap 198. DePalma had led all the way, and was six laps ahead of the nearest competitor, Joe Dawson, who completed the race in 6 hours, 21 minutes and 8 seconds.[59]
  • The first contingent of U.S. Marines, dispatched to Cuba, landed at Daiquirí.[60]
  • Died: Wilbur Wright, 45, the older of the two Wright Brothers who invented the airplane, died of typhoid fever at his home in Dayton, Ohio. Wilbur had become ill on May 4 while on a business trip to Boston. On December 17, 1903, Wilbur became the second man in history to pilot an airplane, after his brother Orville made the first flight.[61]
  • Born: Julius Axelrod, American biochemist, 1970 Nobel Prize laureate, in New York City (d. 2004); and Joseph Stein, American playwright, in New York City (d. 2010)

May 31, 1912 (Friday)

  • An experiment at Wichita Falls, Texas, to "make rain", after two weeks of drought, failed. Six thousand pounts of dynamite seemed to work at first, as cloudy skies and occasional flashes of lighting swept into the area, but without precipitation.[62]
  • Born: Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson, American politician, who represented Washington state from 1941-53 as U.S. Representative, and from 1953 until his death as U.S. Senator, in Everett, Washington (d. 1983); Alfred Deller, English countertenor, in Margate (d. 1979); and Chien-Shiung Wu, sometimes called "The First Lady of Physics" or "The Chinese Marie Curie", nuclear physicist who assisted in the Manhattan Project; in Taicang (d. 1997)


  1. "Large Crowds at U.S. League Opening Games", Reading Eagle, May 2, 1912, p1, p9
  2. "Official Schedule of the United States League, Season 1912", Richmond Times-Dispatch, April 8, 1912, p6
  3. Robert Wiggins, The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs: The History of an Outlaw Major League, 1914-1915 (McFarland, Oct 29, 2008) p6
  4. "Underwood Wins Georgia", New York Times, May 2, 1912
  5. Cary D. Wintz and Paul Finkelman, Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance: A-J (Taylor & Francis, 2004) p230
  6. Henry Villard, Contact! The Story of the Early Aviators (Courier Dover Publications, 2002) p230
  7. Khireddine Mourad, Marrakech Et La Mamounia (ACR Edition-Internationale, 1994) p64
  8. "Bury 59 Titanic Dead", New York Times, May 4, 1912
  9. "Italian Fleet Seizes Rhodes", New York Times, May 5, 1912
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 The Britannica Year-Book 1913: A Survey of the World's Progress Since the Completion in 1910 of the Encyclopaedia Britannica] (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1913) pp xxvi-xxvii
  11. The Olympic Games of Stockholm 1912: Official Report (The Swedish Olympic Committee, 1912) p139, p307
  12. Tony Cliff, Building the Party: Lenin 1893-1914 (Volume 1) (Haymarket Books, 2002) p397
  13. Joseph Gibbs, Gorbachev's Glasnost: The Soviet Media in the First Phase of Perestroika (Texas A&M University Press, 1999) p95
  14. "Our Sunday Visitor celebrates 100th Anniversary in 2012",
  15. Peter Matthews, ed., The Guinness Book of Records 1995 (Guinness World Records, Ltd., 1994) p59
  16. "The Inflation Calculator"
  17. "Astor Fortune Goes to Vincent", New York Times, May 7, 1912
  18. "Cable Ship Brings More Titanic Dead", New York Times, May 6, 1912; "Cold Killed Many of Titanic Victims", New York Times, May 7, 1912
  19. Joshua Stoff, Aviation Firsts: 336 Questions and Answers (Courier Dover Publications, 2000) p10
  20. "Mexicans Arrayed for Decisive Fight", Milwaukee Sentinel, May 9, 1912, p1
  21. Michael J. H. Taylor, Aviators: A Photographic History of Flight (Harper Collins, 2005) p96
  22. Henry Gariepy, Christianity in Action: The International History of The Salvation Army (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2009) pp82-83
  23. "Paraguay Rebels Routed", New York Times, May 14, 1912
  24. Henry Villard, Contact! The Story of the Early Aviators (Courier Dover Publications, 2002) p165
  25. Walter J. Boyne, Clash of Wings: World War II in the Air (Simon and Schuster, 2012)
  26. Edward J. Erickson, Defeat in Detail: The Ottoman Army in the Balkans, 1912-1913 (Greenwood Publishing, 2003) p49
  27. "Senators by Direct Vote Passes House", New York Times, May 14, 1912
  28. The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation (Government Printing Office, 2005) p34
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 "Record of Current Events", The American Monthly Review of Reviews (June 1912), pp675-679
  30. Paul Heyer, Titanic Century: Media, Myth, and the Making of a Cultural Icon (ABC-CLIO, 2012) p139
  31. "Roosevelt Wins in California", New York Times, May 15, 1912
  32. "Deepest Sorrow Prevades the Danish Kingdom", Dubuque (IA) Telegraph-Herald, May 15, 1912, p1; "Beloved King of Denmark No More", St. Petersburg Evening Independent, May 15, 1912, p1
  33. "Austrian Premier Blind", New York Times, May 16, 1912
  34. "Cobb Whips Hilltop Fan for Insults; Detroit Player Hurdles Into the Stand and Thrashes a Profane Commentator", New York Times, May 16, 1912
  35. "Denies Insulting Cobb", New York Times, May 19, 1912
  36. "Ty Cobb's Anger Led To Baseball's First Strike, A Comedy Of Errors", Sports Illustrated, August 29, 1977
  37. "Mother of Waifs Due To-Day", New York Times, May 16, 1912
  38. "Navratil was last known male survivor of Titanic sinking", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 2, 2001, p5B
  39. "Detroit Tigers Walk Off the Ball Field, Inaugurate Strike Over Cobb Ruling", Pittsburg Press, May 19, 1912, p1]
  40. John J. Joughin, Shakespeare and National Culture (Manchester University Press, 1997) p126
  41. Eileen F. Lebow, Before Amelia: Women Pilots in the Early Days of Aviation (Potomac Books, Inc., 2002) p250
  42. William Luis, Culture and Customs of Cuba (Greenwood Publishing, 2001) pp7-8
  43. Robert Benedetto, Presbyterian Reformers in Central Africa (BRILL, 1996) p453
  44. Robert Elsie, Historical Dictionary of Kosovo (Scarecrow Press, 2010) p83
  45. John H. Maurer, Churchill and Strategic Dilemmas Before the World Wars: Essays in Honor of Michael I. Handel (Frank Cass Publishing, 2003) p20
  46. The Randal Gray and Przemyslaw Budzbon, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906-1921 (Naval Institute Press, 1985) p135
  47. Jamye K. Landis, Images of America: Sand Springs, Oklahoma (Arcadia Publishing, 1999) p48
  48. Chester G. Hearn, Marines: An Illustrated History: The United States Marine Corps from 1775 to the 21st Century (Zenith Imprint, 2007) p48
  49. "Inkpots Were Taken Away", New York Times, May 23, 1912
  50. Ralph A. Rossum, Federalism, the Supreme Court, and the Seventeenth Amendment: The Irony of Constitutional Democracy (Lexington Books, 2001) p214
  51. "Kaiser Is Near Death", Milwaukee Sentinel, May 24, 1912, p1
  52. "Funeral of Ruler is Notable Event", Milwaukee Sentinel, May 24, 1912, p1
  53. Benjamin R. Beede, The War of 1898, and U.S. Interventions, 1898-1934: An Encyclopedia (Taylor & Francis, 1994) p309
  54. J. S. Weiner, The Piltdown Forgery (Oxford University Press, 2004) pp112-1133
  55. "2,000 Aid in Burning Negro at the Stake", New York Times, May 26, 1912
  56. "84 Dead by Theatre Fire", New York Times, May 30, 1912
  57. Peter Matthews, Historical Dictionary of Track and Field (Scarecrow Press, 2012) p64
  58. Peter F. Ostwald, Vaslav Nijinsky: A Leap Into Madness (Carol Publishing, 1996) p60-61
  59. "Joe Dawson Wins Famous Auto Race", Manitoba Free Press (Winnipeg), May 31, 1912, p6
  60. Hugh Thomas, Cuba, Or, The Pursuit of Freedom (Da Capo Press, 1998) p523
  61. "Wilbur Wright Dies of Typhoid Fever", New York Times, May 31, 1912
  62. "Rainmaking Test Fails", New York Times, June 1, 1912