On this April Day in History

April 2, 1513.  Spanish explorer Ponce De Leon sighted Florida and claimed it for Spain. His landing site is now present day St. Augustine -  the oldest city in the continental United States.

April 2, 1792.  Congress established the first U.S. Mint in the city of Philadelphia.

The Cold War : a new history by John Lewis Gaddis

April 4, 1949. NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was created with the signing of a treaty by twelve nations united for common military defense against the threat of expansion by Soviet Russia into Western Europe.

April 4, 1968. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

April 6, 1917. The United States. entered World War I in Europe.

April 9, 1865. The Civil War  ended as General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant in the village of Appomattox Court House

April 10, 1942  During World War II, the Bataan Death March began as American and Filipino prisoners were forced on a six-day march from the Philippine province of Bataan to a camp near Cabanatuan.  Approximately 76,000 Allied POWs -  including 12,000 Americans - were forced to walk over 60  miles under a blazing sun without food or water resulting in thousands of deaths.

April 10, 1945.  The Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald was liberated by U.S. troops. Buchenwald was established in July 1937. Of a total of 238,980 Buchenwald inmates, 56,545 perished.

April 10, 1998. Politicians in Northern Ireland reached an agreement ending 30 years of violence which had claimed over 3,400 lives in the ongoing conflict between Protestants and Catholics.

April 11, 1970. Apollo 13 was launched from Cape Kennedy. Fifty-six hours into the flight an oxygen tank exploded in the service module. Despite limited power, loss of cabin heat, and a shortage of potable water, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.

April 12, 1861.  The Civil War began as Confederate troops opened fire 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, after being  elected to four consecutive terms.

April 14, 1828.  Noah Webster published the first dictionary of American-style English as the American Dictionary of the English Language.

April 14, 1865.  President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated  while watching a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater in Washington.

A night to remember by Walter Lord

April 15, 1912.  The luxury liner Titanic sank with 2,224 persons on board after striking an iceberg in the icy waters of Newfoundland. Over 1,500 persons drowned, while 700 were later rescued by the liner Carpathia which arrived about two hours after the Titanic went down in the Atlantic.

April 17, 1961.  A United States - backed attempt to overthrow Premier Fidel Castro of Cuba failed disastrously in what became known as the Bay of Pigs fiasco. The failed invasion heightened Cold War tensions between Cuba, Soviet Russia, and the new U.S. administration of President John F. Kennedy.

Paul Revere's ride by David Hackett Fischer

April 18, 1775.  "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" occurred as Revere and the lesser known William Dawes  rode out of Boston  to warn patriots at Lexington and Concord of the approaching British.

April 18, 1906.  San Francisco was struck by an earthquake early in the morning, followed by a massive fire from overturned wood stoves and broken gas pipes. The fire raged for three days resulting in the destruction of over 10,000 acres of property and the loss of 4,000 lives.

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  to bomb Tokyo and three other cities.

April 19, 1775. The Battle of Lexington was faught at dawn in Massachusetts.

April 19, 1995.  A massive car-bomb explosion destroyed the entire side of the nine story federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 persons, including 19 children inside a day care center.

April 20, 1914. Miners in Ludlow, Colorado, seeking recognition of the United Mine Workers of America, were attacked by the Colorado National Guard - paid by the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company.

Columbine by David Cullen

April 20, 1999. Two students armed with guns and explosives stormed into Columbine High School and killed 12 classmates and a teacher.

April 21, 1836. The Battle of San Jacinto was fought between Texans led by Sam Houston, and Mexican forces led by Santa Anna.

April 21, 1918.  Manfred von Richtofen, the "Red Baron," was shot down and killed during the WWI Battle of the Somme.

April 22, 1889. The "Oklahoma land rush" began at noon with a single gunshot. This  signalled the start of a mad dash by thousands of settlers to claim part of nearly two million acres made available by the federal government.

April 26, 1994. Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa.

April 27, 1865.  The worst steamship disaster in U.S. history occurred as an explosion aboard the Sultana, travellng on the Mississippi River, killed nearly 2,000 passengers. The majority of the casualties were Union solders who had been prisoners of war and were returning home.

April 28, 1789. On board the British ship Bounty, Fletcher Christian led a mutiny against Captain William Bligh.

April 28, 1945.  Italian partisans executed Benito Mussolini after 23 years of Fascist rule in Italy.

April 29, 1992.  Riots erupted in Los Angeles following the announcement that a jury had failed to convict four Los Angeles police officers accused in the beating of an African American man.

April 30, 1789. George Washington was sworn in as the first United States president.