1887 “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” show opens Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show opens in London, giving Queen Victoria and her subjects their first look at real cowboys and Indians. A well-known scout for the army and a buffalo hunter for the railroads (which earned him his nickname), Cody had gained national prominence 15 years earlier thanks to a fanciful novel written by Edward Zane Carroll Judson. Writing under the pen name Ned Buntline, Judson made Cody the hero of his highly sensationalized dime novel The Scouts of the Plains; or, Red Deviltry As It Is.” In 1872, Judson also convinced Cody to travel to Chicago to star in a stage version of the book. Cody broke with Judson after a year, but he enjoyed the life of a performer and stayed on the stage for 11 seasons. In 1883, Cody staged an outdoor extravaganza called the “Wild West, Rocky Mountain, and Prairie Exhibition” for a Fourth of July celebration in North Platte, Nebraska. When the show was a success, Cody realized he could evoke the mythic West more effectively if he abandoned cramped theater stages for large outdoor exhibitions. The result was “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West,” a circus-like pageant celebrating life in the West. During the next four years, Cody performed his show all around the nation to appreciative crowds often numbering 20,000 people. Audiences loved Cody’s reenactments of frontier events: an attack on a Deadwood stage, a Pony Express relay race, and most exciting of all, the spectacle of Custer’s Last Stand at the Little Big Horn. Even more popular were the displays of western outdoor skills like rope tricks, bulldogging, and amazing feats of marksmanship. Cody made a star of Annie Oakley, an attractive young Ohio woman who earned her nickname “Little Sure Shot” by shooting a cigar out of an assistant’s mouth. Many American’s were convinced that Cody’s spectacle was an authentic depiction of the Wild West. Cody encouraged the impression by bringing audiences “genuine characters”-real Native American performers Cody had recruited from several tribes. Even the famous Sitting Bull toured with the show for one season. Enthralled by the site of “genuine” Indians, few audience members questioned whether these men wearing immense feathered headdresses and riding artfully painted horses accurately represented tribal life on the Great Plains. Having effectively defined the popular image of the West for many Americans, Cody took his show across the Atlantic to show Europeans. He staged his first international performance at the Earls Court show ground in London on this day in 1887 to a wildly appreciative audience. Queen Victoria herself attended two command showings. After London, Cody and his performers amazed audiences throughout Europe and then became a truly international success. One bronco rider, who stayed with the show until 1907, traveled around the world more than three times and recalled giving a performance in Outer Mongolia. Though his Wild West show waned in popularity in the 20th century-in part because of competition from thousands of local rodeos that borrowed his idea-Cody remained on the road with the show for 30 years. When the show finally collapsed from financial pressures in 1913, Cody continued to perform in other similar shows until two months before his death in 1917. More than 18,000 attended the great showman’s funeral, and the romantic power of his vision still draws thousands of visitors a year to his grave site on Lookout Mountain above Denver. 1914 Woodrow Wilson proclaims the first Mother’s Day holiday On this day in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issues a presidential proclamation that officially establishes the first national Mother’s Day holiday to celebrate America’s mothers. The idea for a “Mother’s Day” is credited by some to Julia Ward Howe (1872) and by others to Anna Jarvis (1907), who both suggested a holiday dedicated to a day of peace. Many individual states celebrated Mother’s Day by 1911, but it was not until Wilson lobbied Congress in 1914 that Mother’s Day was officially set on the second Sunday of every May. In his first Mother’s Day proclamation, Wilson stated that the holiday offered a chance to “[publicly express] our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” In 2002, President George W. Bush echoed Wilson’s sentiments by acknowledging mothers in his official statement on Mother’s Day in 2002. He commended foster mothers as well as his own “fabulous mother” for their “love and sacrifice.” He also mentioned past presidents’ expressions of appreciation for their mothers. He quoted John Quincy Adams as having said “all that I am my mother made me” and Abraham Lincoln’s sentiment that “all that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother ?[my mother’s prayers] have clung to me all my life.” Bush’s own mother, Barbara, was a popular first lady when the elder Bush served as president from 1989 to 1992. 1671 Irish adventurer “Captain Blood” steals crown jewels In London, Thomas Blood, an Irish adventurer better known as “Captain Blood,” is captured attempting to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. Blood, a Parliamentarian during the English Civil War, was deprived of his estate in Ireland with the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660. In 1663, he put himself at the head of a plot to seize Dublin Castle from supporters of King Charles II, but the plot was discovered and his accomplices executed. He escaped capture. In 1671, he hatched a bizarre plan to steal the new Crown Jewels, which had been refashioned by Charles II because most of the original jewels were melted down after Charles I’s execution in 1649. On May 9, 1671, Blood, disguised as a priest, managed to convince the Jewel House keeper to hand over his pistols. Blood’s three accomplices then emerged from the shadows, and together they forced their way into the Jewel House. However, they were caught in the act when the keeper’s son showed up unexpectedly, and an alarm went out to the Tower guard. One man shoved the Royal Orb down his breeches while Blood flattened the Crown with a mallet and tried to run off with it. The Tower guards apprehended and arrested all four of the perpetrators, and Blood was brought before the king. Charles was so impressed with Blood’s audacity that, far from punishing him, he restored his estates in Ireland and made him a member of his court with an annual pension. Captain Blood became a colorful celebrity all across the kingdom, and when he died in 1680 his body had to be exhumed in order to persuade the public that he was actually dead.