Today in History

Today is Friday, April 25, the 115th day of 2014. There are 250 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight:

On April 25, 1507, a world map produced by German cartographer Martin Waldseemueller contained the first recorded use of the term “America,” in honor of Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci.

On this date:

In 1792, highwayman Nicolas Jacques Pelletier became the first person under French law to be executed by the guillotine.

In 1859, ground was broken for the Suez Canal.

In 1862, during the Civil War, a Union fleet commanded by Flag Officer David G. Farragut captured the city of New Orleans.

In 1898, the United States formally declared war on Spain.

In 1901, New York Gov. Benjamin Barker Odell Jr. signed an automobile registration bill that imposed a 15 mph speed limit on highways.

In 1915, during World War I, Allied soldiers invaded the Gallipoli Peninsula in an unsuccessful attempt to take the Ottoman Empire out of the war.

In 1944, the United Negro College Fund was founded.

In 1945, during World War II, U.S. and Soviet forces linked up on the Elbe River, a meeting that dramatized the collapse of Nazi Germany’s defenses. Delegates from some 50 countries met in San Francisco to organize the United Nations.

In 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway opened to shipping.

In 1964, vandals sawed off the head of the “Little Mermaid” statue in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In 1974, the “Carnation Revolution” took place in Portugal as a bloodless military coup toppled the Estado Novo regime.

In 1983, 10-year-old Samantha Smith of Manchester, Maine, received a reply from Soviet leader Yuri V. Andropov to a letter she’d written expressing concern about possible nuclear war; Andropov reassured Samantha that the Soviet Union did not want war, and he invited her to visit his country, a trip Samantha made in July.

Ten years ago: Hundreds of thousands of abortion-rights supporters marched in Washington, D.C. to protest Bush administration policies.

Five years ago: In her first trip to Iraq as America’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton tried to reassure nervous Iraqis that the U.S. wouldn’t abandon them, even as she said the American troop withdrawal would stay on schedule. Finance ministers meeting in Washington said they saw signs the global economy was stabilizing but cautioned it would take until the middle of next year for the world to emerge from the worst recession in decades. University of Georgia professor George Zinkhan, 57, shot and killed his wife and two men outside a community theater in Athens before taking his own life. Actress Beatrice Arthur died in Los Angeles at 86.

One year ago: President Barack Obama consoled a rural Texas community rocked by a deadly fertilizer plant explosion, telling mourners during a memorial service at Baylor University they were not alone in their grief. President Obama joined his four living predecessors to dedicate the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. Reggaeton star Don Omar was the top winner of the Billboard Latin Music Awards in Coral Gables, Fla., taking home 10 prizes.

Associated Press

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