Today in History
On April 19, 1989, 47 sailors were killed when a gun turret exploded aboard the USS Iowa in the Caribbean. (The Navy initially suspected that a dead crew member, Clayton Hartwig, had deliberately sparked the blast, but later said there was no proof of that.)
On this date:
In 1775, the American Revolutionary War began with the battles of Lexington and Concord.
In 1861, a week after the Civil War began, President Abraham Lincoln authorized a blockade of Southern ports.
In 1912, a special subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee opened hearings in New York into the Titanic disaster.
In 1939, Connecticut became the last of the original 13 colonies to ratify the Bill of Rights, 147 years after it took effect.
In 1943, during World War II, tens of thousands of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto began a valiant but ultimately futile battle against Nazi forces.
In 1951, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, relieved of his Far East command by President Harry S. Truman, bade farewell in an address to Congress in which he quoted a line from a ballad: “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”
In 1960, South Korean students began an uprising that toppled the government of President Syngman Rhee a week later. The South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO) was founded in Namibia.
In 1975, India launched its first satellite atop a Soviet rocket.
In 1989, investment banker Trisha Meili, a jogger in New York’s Central Park, was brutally beaten and raped. (Five teenagers were convicted of the crime; all served prison time. But their convictions were vacated in 2002 after Matias Reyes, a murderer and serial rapist, confessed that he alone had attacked Meili.)
In 1993, the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, ended as fire destroyed the structure after federal agents began smashing their way in; dozens of people, including sect leader David Koresh, were killed.
In 1994, a Los Angeles jury awarded $3.8 million to beaten motorist Rodney King. The Supreme Court, 6-3, outlawed the practice of excluding people from juries because of their gender.
In 1995, a truck bomb destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. (Bomber Timothy McVeigh was later convicted of federal murder charges and executed.)
Ten years ago: A Russian rocket roared into space carrying an American, a Russian and a Dutchman to the international space station on the third manned mission since the halt of the U.S. shuttle program. Catherine Ndereba won the Boston Marathon for the third time, finishing in 2:24:27; Timothy Cherigat won the men’s race in 2:10:37 to complete a Kenyan sweep. McDonald’s Corp. chairman and CEO Jim Cantalupo died in Orlando, Fla., at age 60.
Five years ago: The Summit of the Americas wrapped up in Trinidad and Tobago; afterward, President Barack Obama held a news conference in which he defended his brand of world politics, saying he “strengthens our hand” by reaching out to enemies of the United States. Author J.G. Ballard, a survivor of a Japanese prison camp who reached a wide audience with the autobiographical “Empire Of The Sun,” died in London at age 78. Felix “Doc” Blanchard, football superhero for Army and winner of the 1945 Heisman Trophy, died at his central Texas home at age 84.
One year ago: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old college student wanted in the Boston Marathon bombings, was taken into custody after a manhunt that had left the city virtually paralyzed; his older brother and alleged accomplice, 26-year-old Tamerlan, was killed earlier in a furious attempt to escape police. Newspaper publisher Al Neuharth, 89, died in Coco Beach, Fla. Children’s author E.L. Konigsburg, 83, died in Falls Church, Va.
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