Today in History

April 5, 1936: An F5 tornado in Tupelo, Mississippi kills at least 216 and injures over 700. This is the fourth deadliest tornado in US history. The storm missed the home of one-year old Elvis Presley by less than a half mile.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge began on April 9, 1917, with the four Canadian divisions and one British division attacking the Ridge, held by the German army with three divisions. The German army had held the Ridge since October 1914, against various unsuccessful attacks. The 1917 attack on Vimy Ridge was part of the largely unsuccessful Nivelle_Offensive.

The Canadians and British took most of the Ridge on the first day.

April 16, 1947: The Texas City Explosion, considered the worst industrial accident in US history, kills at least 500 (and likely many more). Over 5000 were injured.

April 17, 1982: Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, on a rainy day on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, signed the Proclamation bringing the Constitution Act, 1982, into force, patriating the Constitution of Canada and ending the British Parliament’s ability to legislate for Canada.

April 23, 1564:
Though no one can truly confirm William Shakespeare’s birthdate, baptismal traditions point to it as being April 23, 1564.

However, and somewhat coincidentally, it IS known that he died on April 23, 1616 at the age of 52.


April 30, 1789

George Washington and John Adams were sworn in as the first President and Vice President of the United States, at Federal Hall in the temporary capital of New York City (and I have stood at that very spot, at 26 Wall Street).

As portrayed in the excellent 2008 HBO miniseries John Adams:

May 7, 1840

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the great Russian composer, is born in Votkinsk.

On May 15, 1942, gasoline rationing began in 17 Eastern states as an attempt to help the American war effort during World War II. By the end of the year, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had ensured that mandatory gasoline rationing was in effect in all 48 states.

Today was also the day (in 1536) when Anne Boleyn was tried for her ‘crimes’, which led to her head being separated from her body four days later.

Glory Be! On May 28, 1863 the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, made up of freed Blacks, left Boston to fight for the Union in the Civil War.

AND, in 1973 President Franklin D. Roosevelt pushed a button in the White House that signaled traffic to start flowing across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Ignatz wrote:

AND, in 1973 President Franklin D. Roosevelt pushed a button in the White House that signaled traffic to start flowing across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Good trick, that, considering he died in 1945. I think you meant 1937.


I always thought four terms for FDR was too many… but ten is right out!

May 29, 1917

John F. Kennedy is born in Brookline, Mass. A Democrat, in 1960, he would be elected as the first Catholic to become President of the United States; the second, Joe Biden of Delaware, also a Democrat, would not be elected until 2020.

June 8, 1924: George Mallory and Andrew Irvine disappear into the clouds less than a thousand feet below the summit of Mount Everest. Were they the first to reach the top? We will probably never know.

June 8, 1867

Frank Lloyd Wright is born in Richland Center, Wisc. A visionary architect and designer but a pretty awful human being.

June 10

1692 - the first execution resulting from the Salem, Massachusetts, witch trials took place as Bridget Bishop was hanged.

1942 - During World War II, German forces massacred 173 male residents of Lidice, Czechoslovakia, in retaliation for the killing of Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich.

1944 - German forces massacred 643 of the inhabitants, including women and children, of the French village Ouradour-sur-Glane. (Its burnt out buildings remain as a memorial to the disaster.)

June 11, 1955: Eighty-three spectators are killed and at least 100 are injured after an Austin-Healey and a Mercedes-Benz collide at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the deadliest ever accident in motorsports.

June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were slashed to death outside her Los Angeles home.

June 12, 1967: The United States Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia declares all U.S. state laws which prohibit interracial marriage to be unconstitutional.

June 12, 1981 — "Raiders of the Lost Ark" premieres, introducing the planet to the world of Indiana Jones and his peculiar form of archaeology.


June 13, 1893: Grover Cleveland notices a rough spot in his mouth and on July 1 undergoes secret, successful surgery to remove a large, cancerous portion of his jaw; the operation was not revealed to the public until 1917, nine years after the president’s death.