This Day In History : May 5

1862 Mexico

Cinco de Mayo Celebrated in Mexico and the United States

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army's victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, during the Franco-Mexican War. While not a major holiday in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo has become a significant cultural celebration, especially in the United States, where it is observed as a day to honor Mexican heritage and pride.

Also on This Day in History May 5

Discover what happened on May 5 with HISTORY's summaries of major events, anniversaries,
famous births and notable deaths.

Births on This Day, May 5
  • 1818 Karl Marx

    German philosopher and economist

  • 1903 James Beard

    American chef and cookbook author

  • 1989 Chris Brown

    American singer, songwriter, and dancer

  • 1983 Henry Cavill

    British actor

  • 1813 Søren Kierkegaard

    Danish philosopher and theologian

Deaths on This Day, May 5
  • 1821 Napoleon Bonaparte

    French military leader and Emperor

  • 2002 George Sidney

    American film director

  • 1997 Walter Gotell

    German actor

  • 2006 Naushad Ali

    Indian composer, and Hindi film music director

  • 2014 Butler Derrick

    American politician


Alan Shepard Becomes the First American in Space (1961)

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard piloted the Freedom 7 spacecraft, becoming the first American astronaut to travel into space. His suborbital flight lasted just 15 minutes but marked a crucial milestone in the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Napoleon Bonaparte Dies in Exile (1821)

Napoleon Bonaparte, the French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution, died in exile on the island of Saint Helena on May 5, 1821. His legacy continues to be debated, with his achievements and ambitions shaping European history for decades.

The First McDonald's Restaurant Opens (1940)

On May 5, 1940, the first McDonald's restaurant opened in San Bernardino, California, by Richard and Maurice McDonald. Initially a barbecue restaurant, it later evolved into the fast-food chain known worldwide for its hamburgers, french fries, and golden arches.

The Battle of the Coral Sea Begins (1942)

The Battle of the Coral Sea, fought between the Imperial Japanese Navy and Allied naval and air forces, began on May 5, 1942. It was the first naval battle in history where opposing fleets engaged without seeing each other, relying instead on aircraft carriers and airplanes. The battle was strategically significant in halting Japanese expansion in the Pacific during World War II.
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