Today in History
On April 15, 2013, two bombs packed with nails and other lethal metal shards exploded at the Boston Marathon finish line, killing two women and an 8-year-old boy and injuring more than 260 people. (Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges, including the use of a weapon of mass destruction; his brother and alleged accomplice, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died in a shootout with police.)
On this date:
In 1764, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, the highly influential mistress of France’s King Louis XV, died at Versailles at age 42.
In 1850, the city of San Francisco was incorporated.
In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln died, nine hours after being shot the night before by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington; Andrew Johnson became the nation’s 17th president.
In 1874, an exhibition of paintings by 30 artists, including Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Paul Cezanne, opened in Paris. (A critic derisively referred to the painters as “Impressionists,” a name which stuck.)
In 1912, the British luxury liner RMS Titanic foundered in the North Atlantic off Newfoundland more than 21/2 hours after hitting an iceberg; 1,514 people died, while less than half as many survived.
In 1914, Mooseheart, Ill., held its “Good Roads Day,” organized by the Moose Lodge, in which Illinois Gov. Edward F. Dunne used a shovel to ceremonially start work on paving a two-mile section of the Lincoln Highway by volunteers using state-loaned equipment.
In 1945, during World War II, British and Canadian troops liberated the Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen.
In 1947, Jackie Robinson, baseball’s first black major league player, made his official debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on opening day. (The Dodgers defeated the Boston Braves, 5-3.)
In 1964, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel connecting Virginia’s Eastern Shore with Virginia Beach was opened to traffic.
In 1974, members of the Symbionese Liberation Army held up a branch of the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco; a member of the group was SLA kidnap victim Patricia Hearst, who by this time was going by the name “Tania” (Hearst later said she’d been forced to participate).
In 1986, the United States launched an air raid against Libya in response to the bombing of a discotheque in Berlin on April 5; Libya said 37 people, mostly civilians, were killed.
In 1989, 96 people died in a crush of soccer fans at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England. Students in Beijing launched a series of pro-democracy protests; the demonstrations culminated in a government crackdown at Tiananmen Square.
Ten years ago: In an audiotape, a man identifying himself as Osama bin Laden offered a “truce” to European countries that did not attack Muslims, saying it would begin when their soldiers left Islamic nations; key European nations, including Iraq war opponents Germany and France, vigorously rejected the overture. Iraqi militants freed three Japanese hostages after holding them about a week. In the finale to the first edition of the NBC reality show “The Apprentice,” Donald Trump “hired” Bill Rancic (RAN’-sihk) over Kwame Jackson during a segment that was telecast live.
Five years ago: Whipped up by conservative commentators and bloggers, tens of thousands of protesters staged “tea parties” around the country to tap into the collective angst stirred up by a bad economy, government spending and bailouts. A U.S. Army master sergeant was convicted of murder at a court-martial in Vilseck, Germany in the 2007 killings of four bound and blindfolded Iraqis. (John Hatley initially received life in prison, but had his sentence later reduced to 40 years.) Pirates released the Greek-owned cargo ship Titan that had been hijacked off the Somali coast on March 19.
One year ago: Venezuela’s electoral council quickly certified the razor-thin presidential victory of Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro. North Koreans celebrated the birthday of their first leader, Kim Il Sung, by dancing in plazas and snacking on peanuts. The Denver Post won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colo., while The New York Times captured four awards for reporting on a harrowing avalanche, the rise of a new aristocracy in China and the business practices of Apple and Wal-Mart. Adam Johnson’s “The Orphan Master’s Son” won the Pulitzer for fiction, while Ayad Akhtar’s “Disgraced” won the drama prize.
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