May 08, 2005
Today in history—May 8
1541: Hernando de Soto becomes the first European to reach (or at least report the existence of) the Mississippi River, which he names Río de Espíritu Santo.
1794: The father of modern chemistry, Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier, is guillotined in France because of his day job as an administrator of the Ferme Générale, the private tax collection franchise, and as chair of the forerunner of the Banque de France.
1861: The new Confederate States of America moves its capital to Richmond, Virginia.
1873: British East India Co. executive John Stuart Mill dies at Avignon, France.
1886: Dr. John Stith Pemberton, whose popular "Pemberton's French Wine Coca" is made illegal when Atlanta passes a prohibition law, formulates a "temperance" version which he will call "Coca-Cola."
1898: The Italian Football League plays its first-ever series of games at Turin. Today it has five levels and hundreds of clubs.
1912: William Wadsworth Hodkinson merges 11 small film-rental outfits into a company which, with a certain amount of optimism, he names "Paramount Pictures." Hodkinson’s big innovation is his creation of the first nation-wide distribution system.
1928: Future lawyer Theodore C. Sorenson (Nebraska Law 1951), who will write the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Profiles in Courage, is born at Lincoln, Nebraska.
1947: Henry Gordon Selfridge, the Wisconsin-born retailer who founded the Selfridge’s department store in London, dies at Putney. Having made a fortune as a partner in America’s Marshall Field, he spent £400,000 to open his new store at the unfashionable end of Oxford Street in 1909, but the Depression and a gambling habit will lead him to die in poverty.
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