Today in history – May 8

1541 – Hernando de Soto reaches the Mississippi River.

1639 – William Coddington founds Newport, Rhode Island

1846 – Mexican-American War: Zachary Taylor defeats a Mexican force north of the Rio Grande in the first major battle of the war.

1886 – Pharmacist John Pemberton first sells a carbonated beverage named “Coca-Cola” as a patent medicine.

1945 – President Harry S. Truman officially declared V-E Day, the end of World War II in Europe.

1972 – Vietnam War: President Richard Nixon announces his order to place naval mines in major North Vietnamese ports in order to stem the flow of weapons and goods to that nation.

1973 – A 71-day standoff between federal authorities and the American Indian Movement members occupying the Pine Ridge Reservation at Wounded Knee, South Dakota ends with the surrender of the militants.

1980 – The World Health Organization confirms the eradication of smallpox.

1984 – The Soviet Union declared it wouldn’t take part in the Los Angeles Olympics, citing fears about safety for its athletes. The decision came four years after the United States team boycotted the Games in Moscow.