April 1, 1865 – During the American Civil War,
Confederate troops of General George Pickett were defeated and cut off at Five
Forks, Virginia. This sealed the fate of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s
armies at Petersburg and Richmond and hastened the end of the war
April 1, 1998 – A federal judge in Little Rock,
Arkansas, dismissed a sexual harassment case against President Bill Clinton,
stating the case had no “genuine issues” worthy of trial. Although
President Clinton had denied any wrongdoing, a unanimous ruling by the U.S.
Supreme Court in May 1997 allowed the case to proceed, thereby establishing a
precedent allowing sitting presidents to be sued for personal conduct that
allegedly occurred before taking office.
April 2, 1513 – Spanish explorer Ponce De Leon sighted
Florida and claimed it for the Spanish Crown after landing at the site of
present day St. Augustine, now the oldest city in the continental U.S.
April 2, 1792 – Congress established the first U.S.
Mint at Philadelphia.
April 2, 1863 – A bread riot occurred in the
Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, as angry people demanded bread from
a bakery wagon then wrecked nearby shops. The mob dispersed only after
Confederate President Jefferson Davis made a personal plea and
threatened to use force.
April 2, 1865 – General Robert E. Lee informed
Confederate President Jefferson Davis that he must evacuate the Confederate
capital at Richmond, Virginia. Davis and his cabinet then fled by train.
April 2, 1982 – The beginning of the Falkland Islands
War as troops from Argentina invaded and occupied the British colony located
near the tip of South America. The British retaliated and defeated the
Argentineans on June 15, 1982, after ten weeks of combat, with about 1,000
Birthday – Fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen
(1805-1875) was born in Odense, Denmark. He created 168 fairy tales for
children including the classics The Princess and the Pea, The Snow
Queen and The Nightingale.
Birthday – French writer Emile Zola (1840-1902) was
born in Paris. His works included a series of 20 books known as the Rougon-Macquart
Novels in which he defined men and women as products of heredity and environment,
portraying them as victims of their own passions and circumstances of birth. In
his later years, he became involved in resolving the Dreyfus affair, a
political-military scandal in which Captain Alfred Dreyfus had been wrongly
accused of selling military secrets to the Germans was sent to Devil’s Island.
April 3, 1860 – In the American West, the Pony Express
service began as the first rider departed St. Joseph, Missouri. For $5 an
ounce, letters were delivered 2,000 miles to California within ten days. The
famed Pony Express riders each rode from 75 to 100 miles before handing the
letters off to the next rider. A total of 190 way stations were located about
15 miles apart. The service lasted less than two years, ending upon the completion
of the overland telegraph.
April 3, 1865 – The Confederate capital of Richmond
surrendered to Union forces after the withdrawal of General Robert E. Lee’s
April 3, 1944 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1
that African Americans cannot be barred from voting in the Texas Democratic
primaries. The Court stated that discrimination against blacks violates the
15th Amendment and that political parties are not private associations.
April 3, 1948 – President Harry S. Truman signed
the European Recovery Program, better known as the Marshall Plan, intended to
stop the spread of Communism and restore the economies of European countries
devastated by World War II. Over four years, the program distributed $12
billion to the nations of Western Europe. The program was first proposed by
Secretary of State George C. Marshall during a historic speech at
Harvard University on June 5, 1947.
April 3, 1995 – Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day
O’Connor became the first woman to preside over the Court, sitting in for Chief
Justice William H. Rehnquist who was out of town.
Birthday – American writer Washington Irving (1783-1859)
was born in New York City. His works include; Rip Van Winkle, The
Legend of Sleepy Hollow and historical biographies such as the Life
Birthday – Tammany Hall ‘Boss’ William M. Tweed
(1823-1878) was born in New York City. From 1851 to 1871, his ‘Tweed Ring’ of
political corruption looted millions from New York City, bringing the city to
the verge of bankruptcy. Methods included padding city bills by 85 percent and
writing checks to non-existent persons and companies. His power was broken
after a series of critical editorial cartoons by Thomas Nast were published
in Harper’s Weekly magazine. Tweed was arrested and convicted on
charges of larceny and forgery. He died in prison.
April 4, 1887 – The first woman mayor
was elected in the U.S. as Susanna M. Salter became mayor of Argonia, Kansas.
April 4, 1949 – Twelve nations signed the treaty creating
NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The nations united for common
military defense against the threat of expansion by Soviet Russia into Western
April 4, 1968 – Civil Rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther
King was shot and killed by a sniper in Memphis, Tennessee. As head of the
Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he had championed non-violent
resistance to end racial oppression and had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
in 1964. He is best remembered for his I Have a Dream speech
delivered at the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington. That march and King’s
other efforts helped the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting
Rights Act of 1965. In 1986, Congress established the third Monday in January
as a national holiday in his honor.
Birthday – American social reformer Dorothea Dix
(1802-1887) was born in Hampden, Maine. She founded a home for girls in Boston
while only in her teens and later crusaded for humane conditions in jails and
insane asylums. During the American Civil War, she was superintendent of women
Birthday – Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
(1884-1943) was born in Nagaoko, Honshu. He was the main strategist behind the
failed Japanese attack on Midway Island in June of 1942, which turned the
course of the war against Japan. He was killed on April 18, 1943, after
Americans intercepted radio reports of his whereabouts and shot down his plane.
April 5, 1986 – A bomb exploded at a
popular discotheque frequented by American military personnel in West Berlin,
killing two U.S. soldiers and a Turkish woman. American intelligence analysts
attributed the attack to Muammar Qaddafi of Libya. Nine days later, President
Ronald Reagan ordered a retaliatory air strike against Libya.
Birthday – African American educator Booker T.
Washington (1856-1915) was born a slave in Franklin County, Virginia.
Freed by the Civil War, he taught himself the alphabet and eventually graduated
from an agricultural institute. In June of 1881, he was asked to become the
principal of a new training school for blacks at Tuskegee, Alabama. The
Tuskegee Institute began in single building with 30 students but through his
efforts grew into a modern university.
April 6, 1896 – After a break of 1500 years, the first
Olympics of the modern era was held in Athens, Greece.
April 6, 1917 – Following a vote by Congress approving
a declaration of war, the U.S. entered World War I in Europe.
April 6, 1994 – The beginning of genocide in
Rwanda as a plane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was shot
down. They had been meeting to discuss ways of ending ethnic rivalries between
the Hutu and Tutsi tribes. After their deaths, Rwanda descended into chaos,
resulting in genocidal conflict between the tribes. Over 500,000 persons were
killed with two million fleeing the country.
Birthday – Renaissance artist Raphael (1483-1520) was
born in Urbino, Italy. He created some of the world’s greatest masterpieces
including 300 pictures with a Madonna theme. He died on his 37th birthday in
April 7, 1712 – In New York City, 27 black slaves
rebelled, shooting nine whites as they attempted to put out a fire started by
the slaves. The state militia was called out to capture the rebels. Twenty one
of the slaves were executed and six committed suicide.
April 8th – Among Buddhists, celebrated as the
birthday of Buddha (563-483 B.C.). An estimated 350 millions persons currently
profess the Buddhist faith.
April 8, 1952 – President Harry S. Truman seized
control of America’s steel mills to prevent a shutdown by strikers. However, on
April 29th, the seizure was ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court.
Workers immediately began a strike lasting 53 days, ending it when they
received a 16-cents per-hour wage increase and additional benefits.
April 8, 1913 – The 17th Amendment to the
U.S. Constitution was ratified requiring direct popular election of U.S.
senators. Previously, they had been chosen by state legislatures.
April 8, 1990 – Ryan White died at age 18 of
complications from AIDS. As a young boy, White, a hemophiliac, contracted the
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome from a blood transfusion. At age ten, he
was banned from school. He then moved with his mother to Cicero, Indiana, where
he was accepted by the students. As his plight was publicized, he gained international
celebrity status and helped promote understanding of the dreaded disease.
April 9, 1865 – After over 500,000 American deaths,
the Civil War effectively ended as General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General
Ulysses S. Grant in the village of Appomattox Court House. The surrender
occurred in the home of Wilmer McLean. Terms of the surrender, written by
General Grant, allowed Confederates to keep their horses and return home.
Officers were allowed to keep their swords and side arms.
April 9, 1866 – Despite a veto by President Andrew
Johnson, the Civil Rights Bill of 1866 was passed by Congress granting blacks
the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship.
Birthday – African American actor and singer Paul
Robeson (1898-1976) was born in Princeton, New Jersey. Best known for his
performance in The Emperor Jones, he also enjoyed a long run on
Broadway in Shakespeare’s Othello. In 1950, amid ongoing anti-Communist
hysteria, Robeson was denied a U.S. passport after refusing to sign an
affidavit on whether he had ever been a member of the Communist Party.
April 10, 1942 – During World War II in the
Pacific, the Bataan Death March began as American and Filipino prisoners were
forced on a six-day march from an airfield on Bataan to a camp near Cabanatuan.
Some 76,000 Allied POWs including 12,000 Americans were forced to walk 60 miles
under a blazing sun without food or water to the POW camp, resulting in over
5,000 American deaths.
April 10, 1945 – The Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald
was liberated by U.S. troops. Located near Weimar in Germany, Buchenwald
was established in July 1937 to hold criminals and was one of the first major
concentration camps. It later included Jews and homosexuals and was used as a
slave labor center for nearby German companies. Of a total of 238,980
Buchenwald inmates, 56,545 perished. Following its liberation, Supreme Allied
Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and other top U.S. commanders visited
the sub-camp at Ohrdruf. U.S. Troops also forced German civilians from nearby
towns into the camp to view the carnage.
April 10, 1998 – Politicians in Northern Ireland
reached an agreement aimed at ending 30 years of violence which had claimed
over 3,400 lives. Under the agreement, Protestants and Catholics in Northern
Ireland would govern together in a new 108-member Belfast assembly, thus ending
26 years of ”direct rule” from London.
Birthday – Publisher Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911) was
born in Budapest, Hungary. He came to America in 1864 and fought briefly in the
Civil War for the Union. He then began a remarkable career in journalism and
publishing. His newspapers included the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and
the New York World. He also endowed the journalism school at Columbia
University and established a fund for the Pulitzer Prizes, awarded annually for
excellence in journalism.
April 11, 1968 – A week after the assassination of
Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was signed into law by
President Lyndon B. Johnson. The law prohibited discrimination in housing,
protected civil rights workers and expanded the rights of Native Americans.
April 11, 1970 – Apollo 13 was launched from
Cape Kennedy at 2:13 p.m. Fifty-six hours into the flight an oxygen tank
exploded in the service module. Astronaut John L. Swigert saw a warning light
that accompanied the bang and said, “Houston, we’ve had a problem
here.” Swigert, James A. Lovell and Fred W. Haise then transferred
into the lunar module, using it as a “lifeboat” and began a perilous
return trip to Earth, splashing down safely on April 17th.
April 11, 1983 – Harold Washington became the first
African American mayor of Chicago, receiving 51 percent of the vote. Re-elected
in 1987, he suffered a fatal heart attack at his office seven months later.
Birthday – American orator Edward Everett (1794-1865)
was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts. In 1863, at the dedication of the
Gettysburg Battlefield, he delivered the main address, lasting two hours. He
was then followed by President Abraham Lincoln who spoke for about two minutes
delivering the Gettysburg Address.
April 12, 1861 – The American Civil War began
as Confederate troops under the command of General Pierre Beauregard opened
fire at 4:30 a.m. on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.
April 12, 1945 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt died
suddenly at Warm Springs, Georgia, after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. He
had been President since March 4, 1933, elected to four consecutive terms and
had guided America out of the Great Depression and through World War II.
April 12, 1961 – Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin
became the first human in space. He traveled aboard the Soviet spacecraft Vostok
I to an altitude of 187 miles (301 kilometers) above the earth and
completed a single orbit in a flight lasting 108 minutes. The spectacular
Russian success intensified the already ongoing Space Race between the Russians
and Americans. Twenty-three days later, Alan Shepard became the first American
in space. This was followed in 1962 by President Kennedy’s open call to
land an American on the moon before the decade’s end.
April 12, 1981 – The first space shuttle flight
occurred with the launching of Columbia with astronauts
John Young and Robert Crippen aboard. Columbia spent 54 hours in
space, making 36 orbits, then landed at Edwards Air Force Base in
Birthday – Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was
born in Albermarle County, Virginia. He was an author, inventor, lawyer,
politician, architect, and one of the finest minds of the 1700’s. He authored
the American Declaration of Independence and later served as the 3rd
U.S. President from 1801 to 1809. He died on July 4, 1826, the same day as his
old friend and one-time political rival John Adams.
April 14, 1775 – In Philadelphia, the first
abolitionist society in American was founded as the “Society for the
relief of free Negroes unlawfully held in bondage.”‘
April 14, 1828 – The first dictionary of
American-style English was published by Noah Webster as the American
Dictionary of the English Language.
April 14, 1865 – President Abraham Lincoln was
shot and mortally wounded while watching a performance of Our
American Cousin at Ford’s Theater in Washington. He was taken to a nearby
house and died the following morning at 7:22 a.m.
April 14, 1986 – U.S. warplanes, on orders from
President Ronald Reagan, bombed the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Benghazi
in retaliation for the April 5th terrorist bombing of a discotheque in West
Berlin in which two American soldiers were killed. Among the 37 person killed
in the air raid was the infant daughter of Muammar Qaddafi, Libya’s head of
April 15, 1817 – The first American school for the
deaf was founded by Thomas H. Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc in Hartford,
April 15, 1912 – In the icy waters off Newfoundland,
the luxury liner Titanic with 2,224 persons on board sank at 2:27
a.m. after striking an iceberg just before midnight. Over 1,500 persons drowned
while 700 were rescued by the liner Carpathia which arrived about two
hours after Titanic went down.
April 16, 1862 – Congress abolished slavery in the
District of Columbia and appropriated $1 million to compensate owners of freed
April 16, 1995 – Iqbal Masih, a young boy from
Pakistan who spoke out against child labor, was shot to death. At age four, he
had been sold into servitude as a carpet weaver and spent the next six years
shackled to a loom. At age ten, he escaped and began speaking out, attracting
worldwide attention as a featured speaker during an international labor
conference in Sweden.
Birthday – American aviation pioneer Wilbur Wright
(1867-1912) was born in Millville, Indiana. On December 17, 1903, along with
his brother Orville, the Wright brothers made the first successful flight of a
motor driven aircraft. It flew for 12 seconds and traveled 120 feet. By 1905,
they had built a plane that could stay airborne for half an hour, performing
figure eights and other aerial maneuvers. Wilbur died of Typhoid fever in May
Birthday – Film comedian Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977)
was born in London. He began in vaudeville and was discovered by American film
producer Mack Sennett. He then went to Hollywood to make silent movies,
developing the funny ‘Little Tramp’ film character. Chaplin’s classics
include The Kid, The Gold Rush, City Lights and Modern
Times. In 1940, he made The Great Dictator poking fun at Adolf
Hitler, who bore a resemblance to Chaplin. In his later years, Chaplin had a
falling out with Americans, but returned in 1972 to receive a special Academy
Award. In 1975, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
April 17, 1961 – A U.S.-backed attempt to overthrow
Premier Fidel Castro of Cuba failed disastrously in what became known as the
Bay of Pigs fiasco. About 1,400 anti-Castro exiles invaded the island’s
southern coast along the Bay of Pigs but were overrun by 20,000 Cuban soldiers
and jailed. Trained and guided by the U.S., the exiles had expected support
from U.S. military aircraft and help from anti-Castro insurgents on the island.
Instead, due to a series of mishaps, they had fended for themselves with no
support. The failed invasion heightened Cold War tensions between Cuba’s
political ally, Soviet Russia, and the fledgling administration of President
John F. Kennedy. The following year, the Russians brazenly installed
nuclear missiles in Cuba resulting in the Cuban Missile Crisis.
April 17, 1989 – The Polish labor union Solidarity was
granted legal status after nearly a decade of struggle, paving the way for the
downfall of the Polish Communist Party. In the elections that followed,
Solidarity candidates won 99 out of 100 parliamentary seats and eventually
forced the acceptance of a Solidarity government led by Lech Walesa.
Birthday – American financier John Pierpont (J.P.)
Morgan (1837-1913) was born in Hartford, Connecticut. He displayed
extraordinary management skills, reorganizing and consolidating a number of
failing companies to make them profitable. His extensive interests included
banking, steel, railroads and art collecting. In 1895, he aided the failing
U.S. Treasury by carrying out a private bond sale among fellow financiers to
replenish the treasury.
April 18, 1775 – The Midnight Ride of Paul
Revere and William Dawes occurred as the two men rode out of Boston about 10
p.m. to warn patriots at Lexington and Concord of the approaching British.
April 18, 1906 – The San Francisco Earthquake struck
at 5:13 a.m., followed by a massive fire from overturned wood stoves and broken
gas pipes. The fire raged uncontrollably for three days resulting in the
destruction of over 10,000 acres of property and 4,000 lives lost.
April 18, 1942 – The first air raid on mainland Japan
during World War II occurred as General James Doolittle led a squadron of B-25
bombers taking off from the carrier Hornet to bomb Tokyo and three
other cities. Damage was minimal, but the raid boosted Allied morale following
years of unchecked Japanese military advances.
April 18, 1982 – Queen Elizabeth II of England signed
the Canada Constitution Act of 1982 replacing the British North America Act of
1867, providing Canada with a new set of fundamental laws and civil rights.
Birthday – American attorney Clarence Darrow
(1857-1938) was born in Kinsman, Ohio. He championed unpopular causes, and is
best known for the Scopes ‘monkey trial’ in which he defended a teacher who
taught the theory of evolution.
April 19, 1775 – At dawn in Massachusetts, about 70
armed militiamen stood face to face on Lexington Green with a British advance
guard unit. An unordered ‘shot heard around the world’ began the American
Revolution. A volley of British rifle fire was followed by a charge with
bayonets leaving eight Americans dead and ten wounded.
April 19, 1943 – Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto staged
an armed revolt against Nazi SS troops attempting to forcibly deport them to
April 19, 1989 – Forty-seven U.S. sailors were killed
by an explosion in a gun turret on the USSIowa during gunnery exercises in
the waters off Puerto Rico.
April 19, 1993 – At Waco, Texas, the compound of the
Branch Davidian religious cult burned to the ground with 82 persons inside,
including 17 children. The fire erupted after federal agents battered buildings
in the compound with armored vehicles following a 51-day standoff.
April 19, 1995 – At 9:02 a.m., a massive car-bomb
explosion destroyed the entire side of a nine story federal building in
Oklahoma City, killing 168 persons, including 19 children inside a day care
center. A decorated Gulf War veteran was later convicted for the attack.
April 20, 1914 – Miners in Ludlow, Colorado, were
attacked by National Guardsmen paid by the mining company. The miners were
seeking recognition of their United Mine Workers Union. Five men and a boy were
killed by machine gun fire while 11 children and two women burned to death as
the miners’ tent colony was destroyed.
April 20, 1999 – The deadliest school shooting in U.S.
history occurred in Littleton, Colorado, as two students armed with guns and
explosives stormed into Columbine High School at lunch time then killed 12
classmates and a teacher and wounded more than 20 other persons before killing
Birthday – Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) was born
in Braunau am Inn, Austria. As leader of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, he
waged a war of expansion in Europe, precipitating the deaths of an
estimated 50 million persons through military conflict and through the Holocaust in
which the Nazis attempted to exterminate the entire Jewish population of
April 21, 1836 – The Battle of San Jacinto between
Texans led by Sam Houston and Mexican forces led by Santa Anna took
place near present day Houston. The Texans decisively defeated the Mexican
forces thereby achieving independence.
April 21, 1918 – During World War I, the Red
Baron (Manfred von Richtofen) was shot down and killed during the Battle of the
Somme. He was credited with 80 kills in less than two years, flying a red
Fokker triplane. British pilots recovered his body and buried him with full
April 22, 1864 – “In God We Trust” was
included on all newly minted U.S. coins by an Act of Congress.
April 22, 1889 – The Oklahoma land rush began at noon
with a single gunshot signaling the start of a mad dash by thousands of
settlers. They were seeking to claim part of nearly two million acres made
available by the federal government. The land originally belonged to Creek and
Seminole Indian tribes.
Birthday – Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) was born in
Simbirsk, Russia. He led the Russian Revolution of October 1917 which toppled
Czar Nicholas and paved the way for a harsh Communist regime. Following his
death in 1924, his body was embalmed and placed on display in Moscow’s Red
Square, becoming a shrine that was visited by millions during the years of the
April 23rd – Established by Israel’s Knesset as
Holocaust Day in remembrance of the estimated six million Jews killed by Nazis.
Birthday – William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
was born at Stratford-on-Avon, England. Renowned as the most influential writer
in the English language, he created 36 plays and 154 sonnets, including Romeo
and Juliet, Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice.
Birthday – James Buchanan (1791-1868) the
15th U.S. President was born in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania. He was the only
life-long bachelor to occupy the White House, serving just one term from 1857
April 24, 1800 – The Library of Congress was
established in Washington, D.C. It is America’s oldest federal cultural
institution and the world’s largest library. Among the 145 million items in its
collections are more than 33 million books, 3 million recordings, 12.5
million photographs, 5.3 million maps, 6 million pieces of sheet music and 63
million manuscripts. About 10,000 new items are added each day.
April 24, 1915 – In Asia Minor during World War I,
the first modern-era genocide began with the deportation of Armenian
leaders from Constantinople and subsequent massacre by Young Turks. In May,
deportations of all Armenians and mass murder by Turks began, resulting in the
complete elimination of the Armenians from the Ottoman Empire and all of the
historic Armenian homelands. Estimates vary from 800,000 to over 2,000,000
April 25, 1967 – The first law
legalizing abortion was signed by Colorado Governor John Love, allowing abortions
in cases in which a panel of three doctors unanimously agreed.
Birthday – Radio inventor Guglielmo Marconi
(1874-1937) was born in Bologna, Italy. He pioneered the use of wireless
telegraphy in the 1890’s. By 1921, Marconi’s invention had been developed into
wireless telephony (voice radio).
April 26, 1937 – During the Spanish Civil War, the
ancient town of Guernica was attacked by German warplanes. After destroying the
town in a three hour bombing raid, the planes machine-gunned fleeing civilians.
April 26, 1944 – Federal troops seized the Chicago
offices of Montgomery Ward and removed its chairman after his refusal to obey
President Roosevelt’s order to recognize a CIO union. The seizure ended when
unions won an election to represent the company’s workers.
April 26, 1986 – At the Chernobyl nuclear power plant
in the Ukraine, an explosion caused a meltdown of the nuclear fuel and spread a
radioactive cloud into the atmosphere, eventually covering most of Europe. A
300-square-mile area around the plant was evacuated. Thirty one persons were
reported to have died while an additional thousand cases of cancer from
radiation were expected. The plant was then encased in a solid concrete tomb to
prevent the release of further radiation.
April 26, 1994 – Multiracial elections were held for
the first time in the history of South Africa. With approximately 18 million
blacks voting, Nelson Mandela was elected president and F.W. de Klerk vice
Birthday – American artist and naturalist John J.
Audubon (1785-1851) was born in Haiti. He drew life-like illustrations of the
birds of North America.
Birthday – Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted
(1822-1903) was born in Hertfors, Connecticut. He helped design some of the
most famous parks in America including Central Park in New York, the Emerald
Necklace series of connecting parks in Boston, and Yosemite National Park.
Birthday – Nazi Rudolf Hess (1894-1987)
was born in Alexandria, Egypt. He was Deputy Führer of Nazi Germany and a member
of Hitler’s inner circle. On May 10, 1941, he made a surprise solo flight and
parachuted into Scotland intending to negotiate peace with the British.
However, the British promptly arrested him and confined him for the duration.
Following the war, he was taken to Nuremberg and put on trial with other top
Nazis. He died in captivity in 1987, the last of the major Nuremberg war
April 27, 1865 – On the Mississippi River, the worst
steamship disaster in U.S. history occurred as an explosion aboard the Sultana killed
nearly 2,000 passengers, mostly Union solders who had been prisoners of war and
were returning home.
Birthday – Telegraph inventor Samuel F.B. Morse (1791-1872)
was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts. He developed the idea of an
electromagnetic telegraph in the 1830’s and tapped out his first message
“What hath God wrought?” in 1844 on the first telegraph line, running
from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore. The construction of the first telegraph
line was funded by Congress ($30,000) after Morse failed to get any other
financial backing. After Western Union was founded in 1856, telegraph lines
were quickly strung from coast to coast in America.
Birthday – Civil War General and 18th U.S.
President Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) was born in Point Pleasant,
Ohio. During the war, he earned the nickname “Unconditional
Surrender” Grant and was given command of the Union armies. He served as
President from 1869 to 1877 in an administration plagued by scandal. He then
went on to write his memoirs and died in 1885, just days after its completion.
April 28, 1789 – On board the British ship Bounty,
Fletcher Christian led a mutiny against Captain William Bligh, setting him and
18 loyal crew members adrift in a 23-foot open boat. Bligh survived a 47-day
voyage sailing over 3,600 miles before landing on a small island. Christian
sailed the Bounty back to Tahiti, eventually settling on Pitcairn
Island and burning the ship.
April 28, 1945 – Twenty-three years of Fascist rule in
Italy ended abruptly as Italian partisans shot former Dictator Benito
Mussolini. Other leaders of the Fascist Party and friends of Mussolini were
also killed along with his mistress, Clara Petacci. Their bodies were then hung
upside down and pelted with stones by jeering crowds in Milan.
Birthday – James Monroe (1758-1831) the 5th
U.S. President was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He served two terms
from 1817 to 1825 and is best known for the Monroe Doctrine which declared the
U.S. would not permit any European nation to extend its holdings or use armed
force in North or South America.
April 29, 1992 – Riots erupted in Los Angeles
following the announcement that a jury in Simi Valley, California, had failed
to convict four Los Angeles police officers accused in the videotaped beating
of an African American man.
Birthday – American publisher William Randolph Hearst
(1863-1951) was born in San Francisco. The son of a gold miner, in 1887 he dropped
out of Harvard to take control of the failing San Francisco Examiner which
his father had purchased. He saved the Examiner, then went to New York and
bought the New York Morning Journal to compete with Joseph Pulitzer.
Hearst’s sensational style of “yellow” journalism sold unprecedented
numbers of newspapers and included promoting a war with Cuba in 1897-98. He
expanded into other cities and into magazine publishing, books and films. He also
served in Congress and nearly became mayor of New York City.
Birthday – Japan’s Emperor Hirohito (1901-1989) was
born in Tokyo. In 1926, he became the 124th in a long line of monarchs and then
presided over wartime Japan which was led by militarist Prime Minister Hideki
Tojo. Following the dropping of two atomic bombs by the U.S., he made a radio
address urging his people to stop fighting. After the war, he remained the
symbolic head of state in Japan’s new parliamentary government. In 1946, he
renounced his divinity and then pursued his interest in marine biology,
becoming a recognized authority in the subject.
April 30, 1789 – George Washington became
the first U.S. President as he was administered the oath of office on the
balcony of Federal Hall at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets in New York
April 30, 1948 – Palestinian Jews declared their
independence from British rule and established the new state of Israel. The
country soon became a destination for tens of thousands of Nazi Holocaust
survivors and a strong U.S. ally.
April 30, 1967 – Boxer Muhammad Ali was stripped of his world heavyweight boxing championship after refusing to be inducted into the American military. He had claimed religious exemption.