Dixie Puts America in Space – Today In Southern History

5 May 1961  

On this date in 1961…

The first American astronaut, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., blasted into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida inside the Freedom 7 space capsule a 15-minute suborbital flight as part of the Mercury spaceflight program. The space program was a largely Southern endeavor, with the rockets and vehicles produced in Alabama, launched from Florida, and the flights trained and controlled from Texas. 

Other Years:

  • 1800 – William Augusta Bowles, with Creek and Cherokee allies, proclaimed a new nation, Muscogee, out of lands claimed by Spain along the Gulf coast. As “Director-General” of Muscogee, Bowles declared war on Spain and began a campaign against their posts along the Gulf.
  • 1862 – The Battle of Williamsburg, Virginia.
  • 1863 – Confederate troops routed federal forces at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia
  • 1863 – In the middle of the night a company of federal troops broke down the door, barged into Ohio politician and Southern sympathizer Clement Vallandigham’s home, and dragged him from his bed. He was hurried off to Cincinnati to be tried for sedition.
  • 1864 – The Battle of the Wilderness, Virginia began.
  • 1925 – High school science teacher John Scopes was arrested for teaching evolution in a Tennessee public school.
  • 1939 – Flash flooding killed 75 people in northeastern Kentucky.
  • 1947 – Flooding in the Mississippi Valley flooding killed 16 people and caused $850 million in damage.
  • 1966 – Willie Mays of Westfield, Alabama broke the National League record for home runs when he hit his 512th. 

Read: Why Know Southern History?

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