Today in History May 10

The Astor Place Riot occurred on May 10, 1849 and left a few dozen rioters dead and more than one hundred injured.
28 BC – A sunspot is observed by Han dynasty astronomers during the reign of Emperor Cheng of Han, one of the earliest dated sunspot observations.
1503 – Christopher Columbus visits the Cayman Islands and names them Las Tortugas after the numerous turtles there.
1768 – John Wilkes is imprisoned for writing an article for The North Britonseverely criticizing King George III. This action provokes rioting in London.
1773 – The Parliament of Great Britain passes the Tea Act, designed to save the British East India Company by granting it a monopoly on the North American tea trade.
1774 – Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette become King and Queen of France.
1775 – American Revolutionary War: Representatives from the Thirteen Colonies begin the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.
1824 – The National Gallery in London opens to the public.
1837 – Panic of 1837: New York City banks fail, and unemployment reaches record levels.
1849 – Astor Place Riot: A riot breaks out at the Astor Opera House in Manhattan, over a dispute between actors Edwin Forrest and William Charles Macready, killing at least 25 and injuring over 120.

In the first half of the 19th century, theatre as entertainment was wildly popular, and theatre riots were not a rare occurrence in New York.

This riot had been decades in the making, since the Stamp Act riots of 1765, when an entire theatre was torn apart while British actors were performing on stage.
There was a dispute involving Edwin Forrest, America’s best-known actor, and William Charles Macready, a notable English actor, and largely revolved around which of them was better at the major roles of Shakespeare.
Local agitators and supporters of Forrest, bought hundreds of tickets to the top level of the Astor Opera House, and brought Macready’s performance of Macbeth to a grinding halt by throwing at the stage rotten eggs, potatoes, apples, lemons, shoes, bottles of stinking liquid, and ripped up seats.
On the day of the riot, police chief George Washington Matsell informed Caleb S. Woodhull, the new Whig mayor, that there was not sufficient manpower to quell a serious riot, and Woodhull called out the militia.
General Charles Sandford assembled the state’s Seventh Regiment in Washington Square Park, along with mounted troops, light artillery, and hussars, a total of 350 men who would be added to the 100 policemen outside the theater in support of the 150 inside.
The New York Tribune reported: “As one window after another cracked, the pieces of bricks and paving stones rattled in on the terraces and lobbies, the confusion increased, till the Opera House resembled a fortress besieged by an invading army rather than a place meant for the peaceful amusement of civilized community.”
1865 – American Civil War: Jefferson Davis is captured by U.S. troops near Irwinville, Georgia.
1869 – The First Transcontinental Railroad, linking the eastern and western US, is completed at Promontory Summit, Utah with the golden spike.
1872 – Victoria Woodhull becomes the first woman nominated for President of the United States.
1904 – The Horch & Cir. Motorwagenwerke AG is founded. It would eventually become the Audi company.
1924 – J. Edgar Hoover is appointed first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and remains so until his death in 1972.
1933 – Censorship: In Germany, the Nazis stage massive public book burnings.
1940 – World War II: Winston Churchill is appointed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain.
1941 – World War II: Rudolf Hess parachutes into Scotland to try to negotiate a peace deal between the United Kingdom and Nazi Germany.
1946 – First successful launch of an American V-2 rocket at White Sands Proving Ground.
1960 – The nuclear submarine USS Triton completes Operation Sandblast, the first underwater circumnavigation of the earth.
1975 – Sony introduces the Betamax videocassette recorder in Japan.
1994 – Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president.
2002 – FBI agent Robert Hanssen is sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for selling United States secrets to Russia for $1.4 million in cash and diamonds.
2005 – A hand grenade thrown by Vladimir Arutyunian lands about 65 feet from President George W. Bush while he is giving a speech to a crowd in Tbilisi, Georgia, but it malfunctions and does not detonate.
2013 – One World Trade Center becomes the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
John Wilkes Booth
Births
213 – Claudius Gothicus, Roman emperor (d. 270)
874 – Meng Zhixiang, Chinese general and emperor (d. 934)
955 – Al-Aziz Billah, Fatimid caliph (d. 996)
1002 – Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Iraqi historian and scholar (d. 1071)
1755 – Robert Gray, American captain and explorer (d. 1806)
1838 – John Wilkes Booth, assassin of Abraham Lincoln (d. 1865)
1840 – Hadzhi Dimitar, Bulgarian warlord (d. 1868)
1899 – Fred Astaire, American actor, singer, and dancer (d. 1987)
1902 – David O. Selznick, American director and producer (d. 1965)
1904 – David Brown, English businessman (d. 1993)
1957 – Sid Vicious, English singer and bass player (d. 1979)
Deaths
1482 – Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, Italian mathematician and astronomer (b. 1397)
1566 – Leonhart Fuchs, German physician and botanist (b. 1501)
1774 – Louis XV of France (b. 1710)
1818 – Paul Revere, American engraver and soldier (b. 1735)
1999 – Shel Silverstein, American poet, author, and illustrator (b. 1930)
2012 – Carroll Shelby, American race car driver and designer (b. 1923)
2015 – Chris Burden, American sculptor, illustrator, and academic (b. 1946)

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