May 13th in History

Quote of the Day

“I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this Government: ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.’ We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.”

Winston Churchill, prime minister, in a speech before the House of Commons, May 13, 1940.

Today in History

  • The “First Fleet” sets sail to establish a penal colony in Australia (1787)
  • Brazil abolishes slavery (1888)
  • Winston Churchill promises “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” to the House of Commons (1940)
  • The Afrika Korps surrenders (1943)
  • Pope John Paul II is shot in an attempted assassination, but survives (1981)


  • Arthur Sullivan, Gilbert partner (1842)
  • Daphne du Maurier, author (1907)
  • Joe Louis, boxer (1914)
  • Bea Arthur, actress (1922)
  • Jim Jones, cult leader (1931)
  • Roger Zelazny, science fiction writer (1937)
  • Harvey Keitel, actor (1939)
  • Senta Berger, actress (1941)
  • Ritchie Valens, singer-songwriter (1941)
  • Armistead Maupin, author (1944)
  • Marv Wolfman, comic book writer (1946)
  • Stevie Wonder, singer-songwriter (1950)
  • Dennis Rodman, basketball player (1961)
  • Stephen Colbert, comedian and talk show host (1964)
  • Sunny Leone, porn star (1981)


  • Cyrus McCormick, co-founder of International Harvester (1884)
  • שלום־עליכם (Sholem Aleichem), author (1916)
  • Gary Cooper, actor (1961)
  • Dan Blocker, actor (1972)
  • Gene Sarazen, golfer (1999)
  • Joyce Brothers, psychologist (2013)

Holidays and Celebrations

  • Abbotsbury Garland Day (Dorset, UK)
  • Lemuralia (ancient Rome)
Informal and made-up holidays include Frog Jumping Day, Leprechaun Day, and National Apple Pie Day.