This Day In History – May 11th
FIRST AND ONLY BRITISH PRIME MINISTER ASSASSINATED – MAY 11, 1812
The House of Commons at Westminister circa 1806. This chamber was destroyed by fire in 1834
Spencer Perceval (1 November 1762 – 11 May 1812) was a British statesman and Prime Minister. He is the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated, and the only Solicitor General or Attorney General, to have been Prime Minister. Perceval was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge and studied law at Lincoln’s Inn, practising as a barrister on the Midland Circuit and becoming a King’s Counsel, before entering politics at the age of 33 as a Member of Parliament for Northampton. Perceval was opposed to Catholic emancipation and reform of Parliament; he supported the war against Napoleon and the abolition of the slave trade. Perceval became Prime Minister in October 1809.
At 5:15 on the evening of 11 May 1812, Perceval was on his way to attend the inquiry into the Orders in Council. As he entered the lobby of the House of Commons, a man stepped forward, drew a pistol and shot him in the chest. At first it was feared that the shot might signal the start of an uprising, but it soon became apparent that the assassin – who had made no attempt to escape – was a man with an obsessive grievance against the Government and had acted alone. John Bellingham was a merchant who had been unjustly imprisoned in Russia and felt he was entitled to compensation from the Government, but all his petitions had been rejected.
Perceval left a widow and twelve children aged between twenty and three. [Source: Wikipedia]
SALVADOR DALI IS BORN – MAY 11, 1904
Apparition of Face and Vase on a Beach, 1938
Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989), commonly known as Salvador Dalí was a prominent Spanish Catalan surrealist painter born in Figueres. Dalí was a skilled draftsman, best known for the striking and bizarre images in his surrealist work. His painterly skills are often attributed to the influence of Renaissance masters. Dalí’s expansive artistic repertoire includes film, sculpture, and photography, in collaboration with a range of artists in a variety of media.
Dalí attributed his “love of everything that is gilded and excessive, my passion for luxury and my love of oriental clothes” to a self-styled “Arab lineage,” claiming that his ancestors were descended from the Moors. Dalí was highly imaginative, and also had an affinity for partaking in unusual and grandiose behavior. His eccentric manner and attention-grabbing public actions sometimes drew more attention than his artwork to the dismay of those who held his work in high esteem and to the irritation of his critics. [Source: Wikipedia]
In 1941, American photographer Philippe Halsman met the surrealist artist Salvador Dalí in New York City and they began to collaborate in the late 1940s. The 1948 work Dali Atomicus explores the idea of suspension, depicting three cats flying, water thrown from a bucket, an easel, a footstool and Salvador Dalí all seemingly suspended in mid-air. The title of the photograph is a reference to Dalí’s work Leda Atomica (at that which can be seen in the right of the photograph behind the two cats.)
Halsman reported that it took 28 attempts to be satisfied with the result. This is the unretouched version of the photograph that was published in LIFE magazine. In this version the wires suspending the easel and the painting, the hand of the assistant holding the chair and the prop holding up the footstool can still be seen. The frame on the easel is still empty.
USS BUNKER HILL HIT BY KAMIKAZES KILLING 346 – MAY 11, 1945
USS Bunker Hill was one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during World War II for the United States Navy. The ship, the second US Navy ship to bear the name, was named for the Battle of Bunker Hill. Bunker Hill was commissioned in May 1943, and served in several campaigns in the Pacific Theater of Operations, earning eleven battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation. She was badly damaged in May 1945 by Japanese kamikaze attacks, with the loss of hundreds of her crew, becoming one of the most heavily damaged carriers to survive the war.
On the morning of 11 May 1945, while supporting the Okinawa invasion, Bunker Hill was hit and severely damaged by two kamikazes. An A6M Zero appeared from a low cloud, dived toward the flight deck and dropped a 551 lb (250 kg) bomb, which went through the vessel and exploded in the sea. The Zero then crashed onto the flight deck, destroying parked planes full of fuel, causing a huge fire. The remains of the Zero went over the deck and dropped into the sea. Then, a scant 30 seconds later, a second Zero, piloted by Ensign Kiyoshi Ogawa, plunged into a suicide dive. The Zero went through the AA fire, dropped a 551 lb (250 kg) bomb, and crashed into the flight deck near the control tower. The ship suffered the loss of 346 men killed, 43 missing, and 264 wounded. Although badly crippled, Bunker Hill managed to return to Bremerton via Pearl Harbor. [Source: Wikipedia]
BOB MARLEY DIES – MAY 11, 1981
Nesta Robert “Bob” Marley (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and musician. He was the rhythm guitarist and lead singer for the ska, rocksteady and reggae band Bob Marley & The Wailers (1963–1981). Marley remains the most widely known and revered performer of reggae music, and is credited with helping spread both Jamaican music and the Rastafari movement to a worldwide audience.
Marley’s music was heavily influenced by the social issues of his homeland, and he is considered to have given voice to the specific political and cultural nexus of Jamaica. His best-known hits include “I Shot the Sheriff”, “No Woman, No Cry”, “Could You Be Loved”, “Stir It Up”, “Jamming”, “Redemption Song”, “One Love” and, together with The Wailers, “Three Little Birds”, as well as the posthumous releases “Buffalo Soldier” and “Iron Lion Zion”. The compilation album Legend (1984), released three years after his death, is reggae’s best-selling album, going ten times Platinum (Diamond) in the U.S., and selling 25 million copies worldwide. [Source: Wikipedia]
Bob Marley and The Wailers @ Crystal Palace, 1980 – Photograph by Tankfield
THE MOUNT EVEREST DISASTER – MAY 11, 1996
Photograph by Yann Arthus Bertrand
The 1996 Mount Everest disaster refers to a single day of the 1996 climbing season, May 11, 1996, when eight people died on Mount Everest during summit attempts. In the entire season, fifteen people died trying to reach the summit, making it the deadliest single year in Mount Everest’s history. The disaster gained wide publicity and raised questions about the commercialization of Everest.
Journalist Jon Krakauer, on assignment from Outside magazine, was in one of the affected parties, and afterwards published the bestseller Into Thin Air which related his experience. Anatoli Boukreev, a guide who felt impugned by Krakauer’s book, co-authored a rebuttal book called The Climb. Expedition members Beck Weathers and Lene Gammelgaard wrote about their experiences of the disaster in their respective books, Left For Dead and Climbing High. The storm’s impact on climbers on the mountain’s other side, the North Ridge, where several climbers also died, was detailed in a first-hand account by British filmmaker and writer Matt Dickinson in his book The Death Zone (later republished as The Other Side of Everest). [Source: Wikipedia]
Photograph by Barry C. Bishop
This 1963 picture from photographer Barry Bishop gave proof that Americans had finally reached the summit of Mount Everest. Bishop’s teammates became the first Americans to summit Everest on May 1, 1963.
DEEP BLUE DEFEATS KASPAROV – MAY 11, 1997
The Sixth game of the Deep Blue – Kasparov rematch, played in New York City on May 11, 1997 and starting at 3:00 p.m. EDT, was the last chess game in the rematch of 1997 of Deep Blue versus Garry Kasparov. (Deep Blue was further strengthened from the previous year’s match with Kasparov and was unofficially nicknamed “Deeper Blue”.) It marked the first time that a computer had defeated a World Champion in a match of several games. This, as well as the fact that Kasparov had only lasted 19 moves in this game, attracted much media attention. This final game lasted barely more than an hour.
Before this game the score was tied at 2½-2½. Kasparov had won the first game, lost the second game (after resigning in a drawn position) and drawn games 3, 4 and 5 after having advantageous positions in all three. After the game Kasparov was in a foul mood and accused the Deep Blue team of cheating (i.e. having a team of human masters to aid the computer). Although Kasparov wanted another rematch, IBM declined and ended their Deep Blue program. [Source: Wikipedia]