April 1

The world’s first weather satellite was launched on this date in 1960 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Officially called the Television Infrared Observation Satellite, (TIROS-1 for short) it changed the way weather is forecasted forever. With eyes in the sky, it allowed for some warning before major storms hit an area thus saving countless lives. For example, before weather satellites, the public had to rely on reports of hurricanes from shippers that happened to get caught up in the melee. Now word could be disseminated days, even weeks in advance. It is something we take for granted now, but weather events were a major cause of concern during the time before satellites and regions were caught completely off guard by "surprise" storms, such as the hurricane that swept over Long Island in 1938.

April 2

In 1513, Juan Ponce de León was a Spanish explorer that is credited for "discovering" the island of Puerto Rico and Florida for Spain in 1513. He led another expedition to Florida in 1521 supposedly in search of the "Fountain of Youth", but like so much of our accepted history today, that is disputed by most historians. He actually died in Cuba that same year after being wounded on that last expedition by natives.

April 3

In 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed the Marshall Plan into law, officially known as the Foreign Assistance Act. The plan was named after then Secretary of State George C. Marshall and was an effort by the USA to inject billions of dollars into rebuilding the infrastructure of much of Europe that had been devastated by years of war. However, Russia which controlled eastern Europe after the war and prevented any of the economic aid from being used for that part of Europe. Consequently, that area lagged behind the "west" for decades, even to this day decades after the fall of the Soviet Union.

April 4

On this date in 1974, Hank Aaron became the official home run champ, breaking Babe Ruth’s old record by hitting his 715th home run in his career in front of the home crowd at Atlanta General MacArthurCredit: OpensourceFulton County Stadium. For many, he is still considered the true Home Run King because he did not play in the era of steroids in major league baseball.

April 5

General Douglas MacArthur died in Washington, D.C at the age of 84 from liver and kidney failure. He is best known for his campaign in the Philippines during World War II for which he received the Medal of Honor. However many consider his greatest military achievement to be leading the UN forces in the Korean War and his success in pushing back North Korean and Chinese military forces across the 38th parallel.

April 6

In 1909 American explorer Robert Edwin Peary, Sr., along with his associate Matthew Henson and Inuit members of his expedition, were the first people credited to reach the actual geographic point of the North Pole on Earth. But as with much of recorded history, it is up for debate because no one really knows how many times this point was reach inadvertently by natives around the Arctic Circle in the centuries before.

April 7

Henry Ford, the auto maker credited with developing the modern assembly line of production still in use today, died in 1947.

April 8

One week after “discovering” Florida, Juan Ponce de Leon officially claimed the territory for Spain in 1513. It would stay under Spanish control until 1821 when the Adams-Onis Treaty was signed in which Spain agreed to give up control of Florida to the United States in return for the United States renouncing any claim on Texas. Most Americans are completely unaware that the area we know as Florida today was under Spanish control for at least a century more than it has been under the control of the USA.

April 9

On this day in 1865, the American Civil War officially ended when the leader of the Confederate army, General Robert E. Lee, surrendered to General Grant at the courthouse in Appomattox, Virginia.

Appomattox Courthouse 1865Credit: Opensource

April 10

F. Scott Fitzgerald released the Great Gatsby is a 1925, a novel set in the roaring 20s on Long Island. The book has been made into numerous films, most recently in 2013 starring Leonardo Di Caprio as the lead, Jay Gatsby. Personally, it is one of my favorite books, and none of the movies that I have seen come close to doing it justice, although the 1974 version starring Robert Redford as the illusive millionaire comes as close as anything in my opinion.

The Great Gatsby
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April 11

The new Congress of the 13 original American colonies officially declared an end to the Revolutionary War with Great Britain in 1783.

April 12

American President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in 1945 at his favorite retreat in his home in Warm Springs, Georgia, a place he frequented often because of the warm pools of water that allowed him to escape his wheel chair. He was elected an unprecedented 4 terms to the US Presidency, before the consecutive two term limit was set by Congress.

April 13

The first shot fired in the American Civil was an attack by Confederate forces on Fort Sumter  in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. The Union army had refused to give up the fort which eventually led to an assault by cannons. Union forces officially surrendered the fort on this day in 1861.

Fort Sumter under fire in Charleston HarborCredit: Opensource

April 14

Five days after the Confederate Army officially surrendered to the Union, American President Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth at the Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. on this date in 1865. Lincoln was taken across the street to a boarding house where he died the next day. He was 56 years old.

April 15

On this day in 1912, the luxury liner Titanic struck an iceberg after 11 pm and sank a couple of hours later  with over 1500 people still on board.

National Geographic - How the Titanic Really Sank

April 16

In 1862, in the middle of the American Civil War, a law was signed by President Lincoln Benjamin FranklinCredit: Opensourceofficially ending the trade of possession of slaves within the District of Columbia.

April 17

American Benjamin Franklin, one of the greatest inventors and patriots in the 18th century died in 1790. If he had never been involved in the creation and signing of the Declaration of Independence, he would have been remembered for his scientific discoveries, as well as his many inventions, most of which were never patented.

April 18

In 1906, most of San Francisco was leveled by an earthquake and subsequent fire that burned most of the city.

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
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April 19

In 1995, Timothy McVeigh left a Rider truck filled with explosive fertilizers outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma that left 168 people dead and hundreds injured. He was motivated by his hatred of the Federal Government which he considered liable in the deaths of the cult 2 years before in Waco Texas. He was executed for his act in 2001. 

Oklahoma City Bombing
Credit: Opensource

April 20

The territory of Wisconsin, previously known as the Northwest Territory, was established by an act of Congress in 1836. It initially included all of what we know today as the states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa, as well as parts of North and South Dakota.Samuel Clemens AKA Mark TwainCredit: Opensource

April 21

Samuel Clemens better known by his writing alias as Mark Twain, died at his home in  Connecticut in 1910.

April 22

The Indian Appropriations Bill of 1889 led to the Oklahoma Land Rush when thousands of settlers staked claims to land to what was considered some of the best unoccupied land in the country and thousands line up waiting for the official start of the rush on started at noon on April 22nd, 1889.

April 23

In 1616, William Shakespeare died. Amazingly, he was born on the same day in 1564. Although he was only 52 and the cause of his death is unknown, the actually lived longer than the average for a person in London of that era. Most were lucky to make it to 35 years old due to plagues, syphilis, typhus, scurvy, tuberculosis, smallpox, malaria, dysentery and toothaches that Spanish American WarCredit: Opensourceafflicted that era of history. Imagine only having an expected lifespan of 35 years old. No wonder girls married at 12 back then.

April 24

In 1898, the United States declared was on Spain two months after the sinking of the Battleship Maine in Havana harbor. The Treaty of Paris ended the war eight months later, but Spain did not fair well, basically losing their entire colonial empire, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippine Islands to name a few.

April 25

Construction officially started on the Suez Canal in 1859and was completed 10 years later. It remained under the control of the British and French for 70 years before Egyptian President Nasser nationalized it in 1956 leading to war with Britain, France and Israel. In 1957, the canal was reopened and a force from the United Nations was stationed there as a neutral zone for the area.

The Suez Canal - BBC Documentary

Liberty! The American Revolution
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Chernobyl Abandoned
Credit: Opensource

April 26

In 1986, the Soviet nuclear reactor in Chernobyl melted down making the region of the Ukraine uninhabitable. The area is still a ghost town 25 years later. It was the worst nuclear accident in history.

April 27

In 1861, part of then Virginia became West Virginia after Virginia seceded from the United States. The move was initiated after 50 northwestern Virginian counties, mostly in rugged mountainous areas with no slaves, voted to break away and join the union. The new state of West Virginia officially became a state in 1863 during the Civil War.

April 28

In 1788, Maryland officially became the 7th state to join the Union of states following the American Revolutionary War.

April 29

The United States army freed 32,000 prisoners from the notorious German concentration camp at Dachau in 1945.

A People's History of the United States
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The Lousiana Purchase

The Louisiana Purchase
Credit: Opensource

April 30

Considered by everyone to be the greatest real estate deal in history, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 for $15 million. The deal essentially doubled the size of the young nation. Given the amount of territory involved, the actual purchase price worked out to about 3 cents per acre.