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What Happened on May 9?

  • The FDA approved the first birth control pill. (1960) The FDA approved Enovid-10, the first commercially produced birth control pill on this day; it hit the market soon after, sparking a sexual revolution for American women.

  • Thomas Blood attempted to steal the British crown jewels. (1671) Thomas Blood, an adventurer who preferred to be known as "Captain Blood," attempted to steal the crown jewels while dressed like a clergyman. He actually got a hold of the jewels and ran off with them, but was quickly captured. He was later pardoned by the king, and given a large amount of land in Ireland.

  • Admiral Byrd allegedly flew over the North Pole. (1926) Byrd and a co-pilot, Floyd Bennett, made a flight which they claimed took them over the North Pole. The flight was disputed when Byrd's diary came out with contradictory information, and it's more likely that the true first flight over the North Pole was made by Roald Amundsen, another arctic explorer.

  • Nelson Mandela became the president of South Africa. (1994) Mandela had spent most of his life fighting against apartheid discrimination, and spent many years in jail for his protests. When the apartheid finally ended, he became the country's first black president.

  • Impeachment hearings began for Richard Nixon. (1974) Outrage over the Watergate Scandal was still going strong as the House Judiciary Committee opened impeachment hearings. When it became clear that Nixon would be impeached, he resigned in August of that year.

  • Mother's Day was declared to be a national holiday. (1914) President Woodrow Wilson created Mother's Day, an idea first suggested by Julia Ward Howe in the late 1800s. Though states had their own individual Mother's Days, the holiday went national on this day.

  • Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show opened in London. (1887) The show was phenomenally popular in the US, and continued to get rave reviews in Europe — Queen Victoria saw it twice. The show itself was extremely influential in determining the way the world thinks about cowboys, even though it was not particularly accurate.

  • West Germany joined NATO. (1955) It was considered a big victory for the West, since it was the final step of West Germany's integration into the Western defense system. It did, however, deepen the divide between East and West Germany, and by proxy the US and the USSR in the Cold War.

  • Louis Armstrong knocked the Beatles out of first place in the music charts. (1964) The Beatles's I Want to Hold Your Hand had been the number one album for over three and a half months straight. Armstrong's show tune Hello Dolly finally ended the record-breaking run on this day.

  • James M. Barrie was born. (1860) Barrie is best known for being the author of Peter Pan, though he published many more works, including short stories and a novel. Just before his death, Barrie gave the rights to Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Hospital in Scotland, a children's hospital that receives a lot of its funding from the rights to the play.

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