May 10 marks the 130th day of the year (131st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. Today is also International Migratory Birds Day. The theme for this year is ‘Spread Your Wings for Bird Conservation’. So while you sit ensconced in the cool environs of your homes, spare a thought for the feathered friends and resolve to leave water and birdfeed out on your terrace or balcony. And do this through the year.
May 10 is also significant to the history of India as the day marks the beginning of the first war of Indian Independence. The Indian Rebellion of 1857 took place in Meerut when sepoys mutinied against their commanding officers. Use of greased cartridges in the new Enfield P-53 rifle was an immediate trigger. The unrest quickly spread to large parts of the upper Gangetic Plain. The rebellion posed a major threat to the power of the East India Company in the region and was contained only with the fall of Gwalior on 20 June 1858. This historic event was the first large-scale uprising in its kind against British rule in India and perhaps first instilled the idea of nationalism in many Indians.
Other historical events that took place on May 10 through previous years are:
• 1503 – Christopher Columbus discovered the Cayman Islands.
• 1773 – The Tea Act is passed by the Parliament of Great Britain. This Act aimed to save the East India Company by allowing it a monopoly over the trade of tea in North America.
• 1774 – In France, Louis XVI was crowned King of France and his wife Marie Antoinette, the Queen.
• 1869 – The first transcontinental railroad in the United States was completed and to mark the occasion, a golden spike was driven at Promontory, in Utah.
• 1877 – Romania declares itself independent from the rule of the Ottoman Empire.
• 1908 – Grafton, in West Virginia, creates history by observing Mother’s Day for the very first time.
• 1924 – J. Edgar Hoover becomes the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation – which was the parent organisation of the FBI in its present form. Hoover remained director of the FBI till 1972 when he passed away.
• 1940 – Germany invades Belgium, Luxembourg, France and the Netherlands as part of World War II and also raids on shipping convoys and military airfield of Great Britain.
• 1940 – Neville Chamberlain resigns and Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
• 1941 – Rudolf Hess, the second-in-command to Adolf Hitler, parachutes into Scotland to fulfil what he called a “peace mission’.
• 1962 – The first issue of The Incredible Hulk is published by Marvel Comics.
• 1981 – François Mitterrand becomes the first Socialist President of France after winning the presidential election.
• 1994 – Nelson Mandela is sworn in as South Africa’s first black president.
• 1999 – “Still Life With Curtain, Pitcher and Bowl of Fruit”, painted by Cezanne, is sold for nearly 61 million dollars.
• 2005 – Germany opens a memorial for the Holocaust.
• 2013 – World Trade Centre One is officially announced to be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
May 10 is also the birth date of John Wilkes Booth (1838), a former actor, who assassinated Abraham Lincoln; Sir Thomas Lipton (1850), English merchant who built the tea empire; Fred Astair (1899); Indian author Nayantara Sehgal (1927); noted romantic English-American author Barbara Taylor Bradford (1933); and Canadian supermodel Linda Evangelista (1965).
Text by Aarti Kapur Singh