May 4

1493 – Pope Alexander VI divides the New World between Spain and Portugal along the Line of Demarcation defined in the Treaty of Tordesillas as along a meridian 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands, off the west coast of Africa.

1776 – Rhode Island becomes the first American colony to renounce allegiance to King George III.

1871 – The National Association, the first professional baseball league, opens its first season in Fort Wayne, Indiana with the Fort Wayne Kekiongas winning over the Cleveland Forest Citys, 2-0.

1904 – The United States begins construction of the Panama Canal.

1927 – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is incorporated in Beverly Hills, California.

1932 – At United States Penitentiary, Atlanta, mobster Alphonse Capone begins serving an 11 year prison sentence for tax evasion.

1942 – During World War II, the Battle of the Coral Sea begins with an attack by aircraft from the carrier USS Yorktown on Japanese naval forces at Tulagi Island in the Solomon Islands..

1945 – During World War II, at Lüneburg Heath in northern Germany, Commander in Chief of the German navy Admiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg and Colonel Fritz Poleck representing the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, sign surrender documents for all Wehrmacht units in the Netherlands, Denmark and northwest Germany.

1946 – At Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, San Francisco Bay, U.S. Marines stop a two-day riot with 5 people killed.

1970 – At Kent State University, Ohio, National Guard troops open fire on demonstrators protesting the Vietnam War, killing 4 students and wounding 9 others.

1972 – The “Don’t Make A Wave Committee”, an environmental organization founded in Canada in 1971, officially changes its name to the  “Greenpeace Foundation”.

1973 – The 108 story Sears Tower in Chicago is topped out at 1,451 feet becoming the world’s tallest building at the time.

1982 – During the Falklands War, 20 Royal Navy sailors are killed when the British destroyer HMS Sheffield is hit by an Exocet missile fired from an Argentinian Super Étendard fighter aircraft.

1988 – Near Henderson, Nevada, several tons of Space Shuttle solid fuel detonate during a fire at the PEPCON chemical plant, killing 2 people, injuring over 370 more and causing over $100 million in damages.

1989 – As part of the Iran–Contra affair, former White House aide LtC. Oliver North USMC is convicted on 3 charges and acquitted of 9 others with the convictions later overturned on appeal.

1998 – A federal judge in Sacramento, California, sentences “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski to 4 life sentences plus 30 years after Kaczynski accepts a plea agreement sparing him from the death penalty.

2003 – A Supercell Thunderstorm beginning in Oklahoma, spawning 86 tornados enters southwest Missouri, with 1 tornado hitting the center of Pierce City, traveling north of Aurora and ending after going through the center of Battlefield, killing 5 people and another hitting the town of Carl Junction before dissipating, killing 2 people.

2007 – An EF5 hits Greensburg, Kansas, destroying most of the town and killing 11 people.