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What Happened on May 1?

  • The Ford Motor Company adopted the 40-hour workweek. (1926) The Ford was the first big company in America to adopt the 40-hour workweek. Before their policy, the standard work week was six days a week, and leisure time was considered a privilege for rich people.

  • The Empire State Building was dedicated. (1931) Created to rival the Chrysler building that was being built in Manhattan, the Empire State Building went up in less than a year. At the time of its completion, the Empire State Building was the world's tallest skyscraper.

  • Citizen Kane premiered. (1941) Considered by many critics the best American film ever made, Citizen Kane was so controversial when it came out that some theaters refused to show it. Media mogul William Randolph Hearst, whom the film parodied, was so offended that he tried to block the film's distribution, and forbid his newspapers from running ads for it. The film was booed at the Oscars, and only became popular on its re-release years later.

  • The Illuminati were founded. (1776) The group was modeled on the Freemasons, and formed to promote logic, science, and reason as opposed to any kind of tradition or dogma. The group was almost immediately outlawed when people got the idea that it was trying to infiltrate governments, and has been a staple of conspiracy theorists ever since.

  • The Hong Kong Police Force formed. (1844) It was only the second modern police force to operate in the world, and was the first one to operate in Asia.

  • The Wedgwood company was founded. (1759) The company went on to become one of the premier pottery and ceramics manufacturers in the world, and antique pieces now sell for tens of thousands of US Dollars (USD).

  • Naomi Uemura became the first man to reach the North Pole alone. (1978) Uemura was a Japanese adventurer and was also the first person to raft the Amazon alone and climb Mount McKinley alone.

  • The largest trade union in the world was founded. (1925) The All-China Federation of Trade Unions was China's first and only trade union, and went on to become the largest in the world, with over 130 million members.

  • Amtrak went into service. (1971) The company was formed to take over the majority of US inter-city rail travel in hopes of boosting the industry. Despite controversy surrounding its management, the company has shown steady passenger growth. Even so, the US remains one of the countries with the lowest rates of inter-city rail travel.

  • President Bush gave the "Mission Accomplished" speech. (2003) Bush announced that "major combat operations in Iraq" were over in a speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln on this day. The speech sparked a lot of controversy in the following months as guerrilla operations continued in Iraq.

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