April 20th in History

This day in historyApril 20 is the 110th day of the year (111th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 255 days remaining until the end of the year.



In 735, B.C., according to the Roman historian Varro, Romulus founded the city of Rome.

In 1303,  The Sapienza University of Rome is instituted by Pope Boniface VIII.

In 1453,  The last naval battle in Byzantine history occurs, as three Genoese galleys escorting a Byzantine transport fight their way through the huge Ottoman blockade fleet and into the Golden Horn.

In 1534,  Jacques Cartier begins the voyage during which he discovers Canada and Labrador.

Reposing woman with three men, only one of whom is looking at her.In 1534,  Elizabeth Barton, English nun (b. 1506) is executed. She was known as “The Nun of Kent“, “The Holy Maid of London“, “The Holy Maid of Kent” and later “The Mad Maid of Kent“, was an English Catholic nun. She was executed as a result of her prophecies against the marriage of King Henry VIII of England to Anne Boleyn.

In 1528 she held a private meeting with Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the second most powerful man in England next to King Henry, and soon thereafter met twice with the king himself. King Henry accepted Barton because her prophecies did not at that time challenge the existing order. Her prophecies warned against heresy and condemned rebellion at a time when the King was attempting to stamp out Lutheranism and was afraid of possible uprising or even assassination by his enemies.

However, when the King began the process of obtaining an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and seizing control of the Church in England from Rome, he turned against her. Barton strongly opposed the English Reformation and, around 1532, began prophesying that if Henry remarried, he would die shortly thereafter, and said she had seen the place in Hell where he would go (in fact, Henry lived for another 15 years).

Remarkably, Barton went unpunished for nearly a year, largely, it appears, because she was more popular than the King among rich and poor alike. Since she had not committed any treasonous actions, the King was compelled to pass an attainder, an Act of Parliament authorizing punishment without trial. The King’s agents spread rumours that she was engaged in sexual relationships with priests and that she suffered from mental illness. Many prophecies, as Thomas More thought, were fictitiously attributed to her. Her reputation thus undermined, the Crown arrested Barton in 1533 and forced her to confess that she had fabricated her revelations.

However, all that is known regarding her confession comes from Thomas Cromwell, his agents, and other sources on the side of the Crown. Friar John Laurence of the Observant Friars of Greenwich gave evidence against the Maid and fellow Observants, Friars Hugh Rich and Richard Risby, and then requested to be named to one of the posts left vacant due to their imprisonment. She, along with five of her chief supporters, four of whom were priests, were executed for treason and hanged at Tyburn.  She was buried at Greyfriars Church in Newgate Street, but her head was put on a spike on London Bridge, the only woman in history accorded that dishonour.

In 1535,  The Sun dog phenomenon observed over Stockholm and depicted in the famous painting Vädersolstavlan.

In 1653,  Oliver Cromwell dissolves the Rump Parliament.

In 1657,  Admiral Robert Blake destroys a Spanish silver fleet under heavy fire at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

In 1657,  Freedom of religion is granted to the Jews of New Amsterdam (later New York City).

In 1689,  The former king, James II of England, now deposed, lays siege to Derry.

In 1752,  Start of Konbaung–Hanthawaddy War, a new phase in the Burmese Civil War (1740–57)

Pontiac-chief-artist-impression-414px.jpgIn 1769,  Chief Pontiac, American tribal leader (b. 1720) dies. He was an Ottawa leader who became famous for his role in Pontiac’s War (1763–1766), an American Indian struggle against British military occupation of the Great Lakes region following the British victory in the French and Indian War. Pontiac’s importance in the war that bears his name has been debated. Nineteenth century accounts portrayed him as the mastermind and leader of the revolt, but some subsequent scholars argued that his role had been exaggerated. Historians today generally view him as an important local leader who influenced a wider movement that he did not command.

In 1770,  The Georgian king, Erekle II, abandoned by his Russian ally Count Totleben, wins a victory over Ottoman forces at Aspindza.

In 1775,  American Revolutionary War: the Siege of Boston begins, following the battles at Lexington and Concord.

In 1777, New York adopts new constitution as an independent state.

In 1789,  President George Washington arrives in Philadelphia after his inauguration to elaborate welcome at Gray’s Ferry just after noon first inauguration of George Washington

In 1792,  France declares war against the “King of Hungary and Bohemia“, the beginning of French Revolutionary Wars.

In 1799, Napoleon issues a decree calling for establishing Jerusalem for Jews.

In 1809,  Two Austrian army corps in Bavaria are defeated by a First French Empire army led by Napoleon I of France at the Battle of Abensberg on the second day of a four-day campaign that ended in a French victory.

In 1810,  The Governor of Caracas declares independence from Spain.

In 1812, the fourth vice president of the United States, George Clinton, died in Washington at age 73, becoming the first vice president to die while in office.

In 1818,  The case of Ashford v Thornton ends, with Abraham Thornton allowed to go free rather than face a retrial for murder, after his demand for trial by battle is upheld.

In 1828,  René Caillié becomes the first non-Muslim to enter Timbouctou.

In 1832, Hot Springs National Park, the first national park in the country, was established by an act of Congress. It had been a reservation prior to becoming a national park.

In 1836,  U.S. Congress passes an act creating the Wisconsin Territory.

In 1841, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allan Poe, considered the first detective story, was published in Graham’s Magazine in Philadelphia.

In 1853, Harriet Tubman started her Underground Railroad.

In 1859, “A Tale Of Two Cities” was first published by Charles Dickens. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…

In 1861,  American Civil War: Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army in order to command the forces of the state of Virginia.

In 1862,  Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard complete the experiment falsifying the theory of spontaneous generation.

In 1865,  Astronomer Pietro Angelo Secchi demonstrates the Secchi disk, which measures water clarity, aboard Pope Pius IX‘s yacht, the L’Immaculata Concezion.

In 1871,  The Civil Rights Act of 1871 becomes law.

In 1876,  The April Uprising, a key point in modern Bulgarian history, leading to the Russo-Turkish War and the liberation of Bulgaria from domination as an independent part of the Ottoman Empire.

In 1879, the first “mobile home” (horse drawn) was used for a journey between London and Cyprus.

In 1884,  Pope Leo XIII publishes the encyclical Humanum Genus.

In 1898, President McKinley signed a congressional resolution recognizing Cuban independence from Spain and authorizing U.S. military intervention to achieve that goal.

In 1902,  Pierre and Marie Curie refine radium chloride.

In 1908,  Opening day of competition in the New South Wales Rugby League.

In 1912,  Opening day for baseball‘s Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Michigan, and Fenway Park in Boston.

Bram Stoker 1906.jpgIn 1912,  Bram Stoker, Irish author (b. 1847) dies. He was an Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula. During his lifetime, he was better known as personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, which Irving owned. Before writing Dracula, Stoker met Ármin Vámbéry who was a Hungarian writer and traveler. Dracula likely emerged from Vámbéry’s dark stories of the Carpathian mountains. Stoker then spent several years researching European folklore and mythological stories of vampires. Dracula is an epistolary novel, written as a collection of realistic, but completely fictional, diary entries, telegrams, letters, ship’s logs, and newspaper clippings, all of which added a level of detailed realism to his story, a skill he developed as a newspaper writer. At the time of its publication, Dracula was considered a “straightforward horror novel” based on imaginary creations of supernatural life.  “It gave form to a universal fantasy . . . and became a part of popular culture.”

In 1914,  Nineteen men, women, and children die in the Ludlow Massacre during a Colorado coal-miner’s strike.

In 1916,  The Chicago Cubs play their first game at Weeghman Park (currently Wrigley Field), defeating the Cincinnati Reds 7–6 in 11 innings.

In 1918,  Manfred von Richthofen, aka The Red Baron, shoots down his 79th and 80th victims, his final victories before his death the following day.

In 1922,  The Soviet government creates South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast within Georgian SSR.

In 1926,  Western Electric and Warner Bros. announce Vitaphone, a process to add sound to film.

In 1936, Jews repel an Arab attack in Petach Tikvah Palestine.

In 1939,  Adolf Hitler’s 50th birthday is celebrated as a national holiday in Nazi Germany.

In 1939,  Billie Holiday records the first civil rights song “Strange Fruit“.

In 1940, RCA publicly demonstrated its new and powerful electron microscope in Philadelphia, Pa.

In 1942, German occupiers forbids Dutch access to their beach.

In 1942, Heavy German assault on Malta.

In 1945,  World War II: US troops capture Leipzig, Germany, only to later cede the city to the Soviet Union.

In 1945,  World War II: Führerbunker: Adolf Hitler makes his last trip to the surface to award Iron Crosses to boy soldiers of the Hitler Youth.

In 1945,  Twenty Jewish children used in medical experiments at Neuengamme are killed in the basement of the Bullenhuser Damm school.

In 1945, US forces conquer Motobu peninsula on Okinawa.

In 1946,  The League of Nations officially dissolves, giving most of its power to the United Nations.

In 1949, scientists at the Mayo Clinic announced they’d succeeded in synthesizing a hormone found to be useful in treating rheumatoid arthritis; the substance was named “cortisone.”

In 1951,  Dan Gavriliu performs the first surgical replacement of a human organ.

In 1961,  Failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion of US-backed Cuban exiles against Cuba.

In 1964,  BBC Two launches with a power cut because of the fire at Battersea Power Station.

In 1967, the U.S. planes bomb Haiphong for the first time during the Vietnam War.

In 1968,  English politician Enoch Powell makes his controversial Rivers of Blood speech.

In 1970, Bruno Kreisky becomes first socialistic chancellor of Austria.

In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of busing to achieve racial desegregation in schools.

In 1972,  Apollo 16, commanded by John Young, lands on the moon.

In 1973, L. Patrick Gray, acting director of the FBI, resigns after admitting he destroyed evidence connected to Watergate.

In 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal courts could order low-cost housing for minorities in a city’s white suburbs to ease racial segregation.

In 1977, The U.S. Supreme Court said car owners could refuse to display state mottoes on license plates, such as New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die”.

In 1978,  Korean Air Lines Flight 902 is shot down by the Soviet Union.

In 1980,  Climax of Berber Spring in Algeria as hundreds of Berber political activists are arrested.

In 1984,  The Good Friday Massacre, an extremely violent ice hockey playoff game, is played in Montreal, Canada.

In 1985,  The ATF raids The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord compound in northern Arkansas.

In 1986,  Pianist Vladimir Horowitz performs in his native Russia for the first time in 61 years.

In 1987, Karl Linnas, sentenced to death by the Soviets in 1962 for running a World War II concentration camp, became the first Nazi war criminal returned by the United States to the Soviet Union against his will. (Linnas, who maintained his innocence, died of heart disease in Leningrad the following July.

In 1990, Former junk bond financier Michael Milken agreed to plead guilty to six felonies and pay $600 million in penalties to settle the largest securities fraud case in history.

In 1991, the United States announced plans to open a temporary office in Hanoi to investigate the unresolved cases of 2,278 American soldiers still listed as MIAs and POWs.

In 1993, President Clinton told a news conference he accepted responsibility for the decision to try and end the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Texas, but said David Koresh bore “ultimate responsibility” for the deaths that resulted.

In 1995, In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, the FBI announced it was looking for two men suspected of renting the truck used to carry the explosive; meanwhile, rescue teams suspended the search for survivors so that the remaining structure of the Alfred P. Murrah Building could be shored up.

In 1996, the U.S. Marines arrived in war-torn Liberia.

In 1998,  German terrorist group the Red Army Faction announces their dissolution after 28 years.

In 1999,  Columbine High School massacre: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold kill 13 people and injure 24 others before committing suicide at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado.

In 2007,  Johnson Space Center shooting: William Phillips with a handgun barricades himself in NASA‘s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas before killing a male hostage and himself.

In 2008,  Danica Patrick wins the Indy Japan 300 becoming the first female driver in history to win an Indy car race.

In 2010,  The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven workers and beginning an oil spill that would last six months.

In 2013,  Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Japan’s last reactor is shut down at midnight.

In 2013,  A 6.6-magnitude earthquake strikes Lushan County, Ya’an, in China’s Sichuan province, killing more than 150 people and injuring thousands.

In 2015,  Ten people are killed in a bomb attack on a convoy carrying food supplies to a United Nations compound in Garowe in the Somali region of Puntland.

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