Today is Friday, May 4, the 125th day of 2012. There are 241 days left in the year.
On May 4, 1942, the Battle of the Coral Sea, the first naval clash fought entirely with carrier aircraft, began in the Pacific during World War II. (The outcome was considered a tactical victory for Imperial Japan, but ultimately a strategic one for the Allies.)
On this date:
In 1626, Dutch explorer Peter Minuit landed on present-day Manhattan Island.
In 1776, Rhode Island declared its freedom from England, two months before the Declaration of Independence was adopted.
In 1862, after a monthlong siege, Union forces prepared to unleash a massive bombardment against Confederate troops at Yorktown, Va., only to discover the Confederates had slipped away during the night.
In 1886, at Haymarket Square in Chicago, a labor demonstration for an 8-hour work day turned into a deadly riot when a bomb exploded.
In 1904, the United States took over construction of the Panama Canal.
In 1916, responding to a demand from President Woodrow Wilson, Germany agreed to limit its submarine warfare. (However, Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare the following year.)
In 1932, mobster Al Capone, convicted of income-tax evasion, entered the federal penitentiary in Atlanta. (Capone was later transferred to Alcatraz Island.)
In 1959, the first Grammy Awards ceremony was held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Domenico Modugno won Record of the Year and Song of the Year for “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)”; Henry Mancini won Album of the Year for “The Music from Peter Gunn.”
In 1961, the first group of “Freedom Riders” left Washington, D.C., to challenge racial segregation on interstate buses and in bus terminals.
In 1970, Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire during an anti-war protest at Kent State University, killing four students and wounding nine others.
In 1980, Marshal Josip Broz Tito, president of Yugoslavia, died three days before his 88th birthday.
In 1994, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat signed an accord on Palestinian autonomy that granted self-rule in the Gaza Strip and Jericho.