On April 12, 1954, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission opened a hearing on whether Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, scientific director of the Manhattan Project, should have his security clearance reinstated amid questions about his loyalty (it wasn’t). Bill Haley and His Comets recorded “Rock Around the Clock” in New York for Decca Records.
On this date:
In 1606, England’s King James I decreed the design of the original Union Flag, which combined the flags of England and Scotland.
In 1776, North Carolina’s Fourth Provincial Congress authorized the colony’s delegates to the Continental Congress to support independence from Britain.
In 1861, the American Civil War began as Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina.
In 1864, Confederate troops led by Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest took Union-held Fort Pillow in Tennessee; almost half of the Union garrison was made up of black soldiers, many of whom were slain by the Confederates.
In 1912, Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, died in Glen Echo, Md., at age 90.
In 1934, “Tender Is the Night,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, was first published in book form after being serialized in Scribner’s Magazine.
In 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Ga., at age 63; he was succeeded by Vice President Harry S. Truman.
In 1955, the Salk vaccine against polio was declared safe and effective.
In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to fly in space, orbiting the earth once before making a safe landing.
In 1963, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested and jailed in Birmingham, Ala., charged with contempt of court and parading without a permit. (During his time behind bars, King wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”)
In 1981, the space shuttle Columbia blasted off from Cape Canaveral on its first test flight. Former world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis died in Las Vegas, Nev., at age 66.
In 1989, former boxing champion Sugar Ray Robinson died in Culver City, Calif., at age 67; radical activist Abbie Hoffman was found dead at his home in New Hope, Pa., at age 52.
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