1649 – The Maryland Toleration Act, which provided for freedom of worship for all Christians, was passed by the Maryland assembly.
1828 – Noah Webster published the first American dictionary. [see Apr 14] It took grammarian and editor Noah Webster nearly 20 years to complete his two-volume dictionary of more than 35,000 entries.
1832 – Abraham Lincoln (23) assembled with his New Salem neighbors for the Black Hawk War on the Western frontier. Illinois Governor John Reynolds had called for volunteers to beat back a new Indian threat. Black Hawk, chief of the Sac and Fox Indians, had returned to his homeland at the head of a band of 450 warriors, intent on forcibly reversing the treaty he had signed 28 years earlier that ceded control of the tribe’s ancestral home in northwestern Illinois to the U.S. government.
1836 – During the Texan War for Independence, the Texas militia under Sam Houston launches a surprise attack against the forces of Mexican General Santa Anna along the San Jacinto River. The Mexicans were thoroughly routed, and hundreds were taken prisoner, including General Santa Anna himself. After gaining independence from Spain in the 1820s, Mexico welcomed foreign settlers to sparsely populated Texas, and a large group of Americans led by Stephen F. Austin settled along the Brazos River. The Americans soon outnumbered the resident Mexicans, and by the 1830s attempts by the Mexican government to regulate these semi-autonomous American communities led to rebellion. In March 1836, in the midst of armed conflict with the Mexican government, Texas declared its independence from Mexico. The Texas volunteers initially suffered defeat against the forces of Santa Anna–Sam Houston’s troops were forced into an eastward retreat, and the Alamo fell. However, in late April, Houston’s army surprised a Mexican force at San Jacinto, and Santa Anna was captured, bringing an end to Mexico’s effort to subdue Texas. In exchange for his freedom, Santa Anna recognized Texas’s independence; although the treaty was later abrogated and tensions built up along the Texas-Mexico border. The citizens of the so-called Lone Star Republic elected Sam Houston as president and endorsed the entrance of Texas into the United States. However, the likelihood of Texas joining the Union as a slave state delayed any formal action by the U.S. Congress for more than a decade. Finally, in 1845, President John Tyler orchestrated a compromise in which Texas would join the United States as a slave state. On December 29, 1845, Texas entered the United States as the 28th state, broadening the irrepressible differences in the U.S. over the issue of slavery and igniting the Mexican-American War.
1855 – The 1st train crossed the Mississippi River’s 1st bridge.
1861 – U.S.S. Saratoga, Commander Alfred Taylor, captured slave shipNightingale with 961 slaves on board.
1861 – Colonel Charles F. Smith. USA, reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles he had seized and placed under guard steamers Baltimore, Mount Vernon, Philadelphia. and Powhatan near Washington, D.C. Steamers plied between Aquia Creek and Washington; these were ordered to be outfitted at Washington Navy Yard for defense of the Capital. Aquia Creek, terminal point of railroad connection with Richmond, was the first location on the Potomac where Confederate naval officers erected batteries.
1863 – Union Colonel Abel Streight begins a raid into northern Alabama and Georgia with the goal of cutting the Western and Atlantic Railroad between Chattanooga and Atlanta. The raid ended when Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest captured Streight’s entire command near Rome, Georgia. The plan called for Streight and General Greenville Dodge to move from central Tennessee into northwestern Alabama. Dodge would lead a diversionary attack on Tuscumbia, Alabama, while Streight would take nearly 2,000 troopers across northern Alabama and into Georgia. Streight outfitted his men with mules instead of horses, as he felt they were better adapted to the rugged terrain of the southern Appalachians. The expedition ran into trouble almost immediately when the mules arrived at Nashville in poor condition. A Confederate cavalry detachment swooped in and caused the mules to stampede, and it took two days to round them up. The first part of the expedition went well. Dodge captured Tuscumbia, and Streight continued east toward Georgia. But on April 29, Streight’s command was attacked by part of General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry. Streight’s men set a trap for the pursuing Rebels, and it worked well. The Confederate cavalry detachment, led by Captain William Forrest, brother of Nathan Bedford, found itself under fire from two sides. William Forrest was wounded, and the Federals continued on their mission. But now General Forrest was on Steight’s trail, and he would not let up. The Yankees were in hostile territory, and several times the Rebels received important information from local residents that allowed them to gain the upper hand. Finally, Forrest confronted the exhausted Union troops. Under a flag of truce, they discussed terms of surrender on May 3. Forrest had just 600 men, less than half of what Streight now possessed. But Forrest spread his men around the woods. As he met with Streight, couriers from nonexistent units rode up with reports. Streight took the bait, and agreed to surrender. When the Confederates finally emerged to gather the Yankee’s weaponry, the Union colonel realized that he had been had by the crafty Forrest.
1863 – Confederate guns at Vicksburg opened fire on Union Army steamers attempting a night passage of the batteries. Tigress was sunk and Empire City was totally disabled; Moderator was badly damaged, but J. W. Cheeseman, Anglo Saxon, and Horizon passed safely.
1864 – U.S.S. Petrel, Acting Master McElroy, U.S.S. Prairie Bird, Acting Ensign John W. Chambers, and transport Freestone steamed up the Yazoo River to operate with Union troops attacking Yazoo City. Coming abreast the city, Petrel was fired upon by a Confederate battery and sharp shooters. The river was too narrow to come about, so Petrel steamed past the batteries to avoid the direct line of fire. The 170-ton Prairie Bird, however dropped downriver out of range of the bat-teries. McElroy made preparation to join her, but on April 22nd, was again taken under attack by rifle and artillery fire and disabled. McElroy attempted to destroy Petrel to prevent her being taken as a prize, but was captured before he could successfully put his small wooden gunboat to the torch. Reporting the capture, Confederate General Wirt Adams wrote: I removed her fine armament of eight 24-pounder guns and the most valuable stores and had her burned to the water’s edge.”
1864 – Boat crews from U.S.S. Howquah, Fort Jackson, and Niphon, commanded by Acting Lieutenant Joseph B. Breck, destroyed Confederate salt works on Masonboro Sound, North Carolina. The sailors landed under cover of darkness at 9 p.m. without being detected and rapidly demolished the works while taking some 160 prisoners. Breck then returned to the ships, which were stand-ing by to cover the operation with gunfire if necessary. Major General W.H.C. Whiting, CSA, noted that the incident demonstrated the necessity of maintaining a guard to protect “these points”, and that henceforth there would be no salt works constructed at Masonboro Inlet. The Union Navy conducted a regular campaign against Southern salt works as the need for salt was critical in the Confederacy.
1864 – Boat crews from U.S.S. Ethan Allan, Acting Master Isaac A. Pennell, landed at Cane Patch, near Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina, and destroyed a salt work which Pennell, who led the expedition himself, described as “much more extensive than I expected After mixing most of the 2,000 bushels of salt into the sand of the beach, the Union sailors fired the four salt works as well as some 30 buildings in the surrounding area. The next day, off Wither’s Swash, Pennell sent Acting Master William H. Winslow and Acting Ensign James H. Bunting ashore with two boat crews to destroy a smaller salt work.
1864 – Boat expedition commanded by Acting Master John K. Crosby from U.S.S. Cimarron destroyed a rice mill and 5,000 bushels of rice stored at Winyah Bay, South Carolina. The blockaded South could ill afford to lose such food stuffs.
1898 – The United States Navy begins a blockade of Cuban ports. When the U.S. Congress issued a declaration of war on April 25, it declared that a state of war had existed from this date. The U.S. North Atlantic Fleet, under the command of Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, was ordered to begin the blockade of Cuba on April 21, 1898. The fleet with the armored cruiser New York steamed out of Key West, Fla., at 6:30 a.m. the next morning. The fleet had hardly left port when it pursued and captured a Spanish merchant vessel, Buenaventura. The Spanish-American War had begun.
1914 – U.S. marines occupied Vera Cruz, Mexico. They stayed for six months.
1914 – A German arms shipment to Mexico is intercepted by the U.S. Navy near Veracruz, Veracruz. The Ypiranga Incident occurred on April 21, 1914, at the port of Veracruz in Mexico. The SS Ypiranga was a German steamer that was commissioned to transport arms and munitions to the Mexican federal government under Victoriano Huerta. The United States had placed Mexico under an arms embargo to stifle the flow of weaponry to the war-torn state, then in the throes of civil war, forcing the Mexican government to look to Europe for aid. The Ypiranga tried to enter the harbor at Veracruz to unload on the first day of the US occupation but was detained by US troops who were ordered by President of the United States Woodrow Wilson to enforce the arms embargo he had placed on Mexico. There was neither a declaration of war on Mexico by the United States nor a formal blockade on its ports, thus the detention of the Ypiranga was not legal and it was released. It proceeded to a port where the US military was absent, Puerto México (modern-day Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz), and was able to offload its cargo to Huerta’s officials. The arms on the Ypiranga required “three trains of ten cars each” to unload.
1918 – Baron Manfred von Richthofen, the leading air ace of the war with 80 confirmed kills is shot down and killed. His command is taken by German ace, Hermann Goering.
1924 – Navy vessels authorized transferred to Coast Guard for law enforcement purposes. The Coast Guard was authorized to commission temporary officers.
1925 – The Manifesto of the Fascist Intellectuals is published in Il Mondo, establishing the political and ideological foundations of Italian Fascism.
1934 – Moe Berg, Senators catcher (and later US spy), played an AL record 117th consecutive, errorless game. In 1934, five years before he retired as a player, Berg made a trip to Japan as part of a traveling major league All-Star team. One might wonder what the seldom-used catcher, a .251 hitter that season, was doing playing with the likes of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Berg, who spoke Japanese, took home movies of the Tokyo skyline that were used in the planning of General Jimmy Doolittle’s 1942 bombing raids on the Japanese capital. The U.S. government wrote a letter to Berg, thanking him for the movies.
1943 – President Roosevelt announced that several Doolittle pilots were executed by Japanese.
1943 – Admiral Koga is appointed to succeed Yamamoto as Commander in Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet.
1944 – US Task Force 58 (Admiral Mitscher) attacks Wakde Island, Sawar, Sarmi and Hollandia. The American force includes 12 carriers and cruisers. Aircraft strike during the day and cruisers bombard the Japanese positions at night.
1944 – Marshal Badoglio forms a coalition government in liberated Italy.
1945 – A mutual assistance treaty is concluded between the Soviet government and the Provisional Government of Poland, based on the Lublin Committee. The further recognition bestowed on the communist Poles, at a time when the London based Polish government in exile continues to receive western recognition, becomes an issue in postwar period.
1945 – Bologna is captured by units of the Polish 2nd Corps (part of British 8th Army). Units of US 2nd Corps (part of US 5th Army) enter the town a few hours later. US 5th Army forces have now cleared the Appenines and advancing rapidly on the Lombard Plain. East of Bologna, British 8th Army is advancing rapidly.
1945 – The heavy fighting near Baguio is continuing, with the attacks of the US 37th Division making some gains near the Irisan River and the 33rd Division advancing to the west of the city. 1945 – The US 77th Infantry Division completes the occupation of Ie Shima. The island and its airfield have been secured after six days of heavy fighting during which about 5000 Japanese troops have been killed. The division is ferried to Okinawa to join in the battle in the south.
1951 – Carrier-based Marine planes downed three Yaks in the first air-to-air contact of Marine air with the North Korean Air Force.
1951 – U.S. Air Force Captain Robert J. Love, 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, scored his fifth and sixth aerial victories in his F-86 Sabre “Bernie’s Bo” to become the 11th ace of the Korean War.
1952 – A tremendous internal blast from turret one rocked the cruiser USS Saint Paul, killing 30 sailors. This gunpowder fire of unknown origin caused the U.S. Navy’s greatest single loss of life during the war.
1953 – Roy Cohn and David Schine, two of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s chief aides, return to the United States after a controversial investigation of United States Information Service (USIS) posts in Europe. Upon their recommendation, thousands of books were removed from USIS libraries in several Western European countries. Cohn and Schine had risen to fame on the coattails of Senator McCarthy as he conducted his well-publicized hunt for subversives and communists in the United States. Cohn became chief counsel to the McCarthy Senate subcommittee devoted to investigating communism in the U.S. government, and Schine, one of Cohn’s close friends, became a “special consultant.” In the spring of 1953, Cohn and Schine departed for a seven-nation tour of Western Europe. Their primary task was to investigate the workings of the USIS posts, foreign offices of the United States Information Agency that had recently been established to serve as propaganda centers. The posts hosted speakers, showed movies, and set up libraries containing what were considered to be representative pieces of American literature. Cohn and Schine were appalled by the authors they found on the USIS bookshelves. The two men reported that over 30,000 books in the libraries were by “pro-communist” writers and demanded their removal. The authors they targeted included crime novelist Dashiell Hammett, African-American intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois, Herman Melville, John Steinbeck, and Henry Thoreau. The State Department, which oversaw the operations of USIS, immediately ordered thousands of books removed from the libraries. The irony of the situation did not escape commentators of the time. With the Nazi book burnings of World War II still fresh in the collective memory, many felt it was questionable that America had joined the ranks of nations that censored literature. In the fight against communism, even Moby Dick was dispensable.
1954 – USAF flew a French battalion to Vietnam.
1964 – Republican leaders of the Senate, Everett Dirksen (IL) and the House, Charles Halleck (IN), hold a joint news conference in Washington DC and charge that the Johnson administration is concealing the extent of US involvement in the war.
1964 – A US Navy Transit-5bn satellite fails to reach orbit after launch; as it re-enters the atmosphere, 2.1 pounds (0.95 kg) of radioactive plutonium in its SNAP RTG power source is widely dispersed.
1965 – The Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency report a “most ominous” development: a regiment of the People’s Army of Vietnam–the regular army of North Vietnam–division is now operating with the Viet Cong in South Vietnam. Prior to this, it was believed that South Vietnam was dealing with an internal insurgency by the Viet Cong; the report detailed that, in fact, the Viet Cong forces were being joined in the war against the Saigon government by North Vietnamese army units. In short, the report revealed that South Vietnam was now involved in a much larger war than originally believed. The situation far outstripped the combat capability of the South Vietnamese forces. In order to stabilize the situation, President Lyndon B. Johnson would have to commit U.S. ground combat units, leading to a much greater American involvement in the war. Indeed, eventually over 500,000 U.S. troops were stationed in South Vietnam.
1966 – “GEORGIA” operation southwest of DaNang started (21 Apr – 10 May).
1966 – South Vietnam expels a group of six US pacifists for seeking to stage anti-war demonstrations in Saigon.
1967 – Josef Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, defected to the US.
1968 – An NVA defector reveals enemy plans for a second wave of attacks on Saigon to begin 22 April.
1972 – Moonwalk in the Descartes Highlands by CAPT John W. Young, USN Commander of Apollo 16 and Charles Duke, Lunar Module Pilot. Young was the ninth man to walk on the moon. LCDR Thomas K. Mattingly II, USN was the Command Module Pilot. During the 11 day, 1 hour and 51 minute mission, 213 lbs. of lunar material was collected. Recovery by HC-1 helicopters from USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14)
1975 – Members of the SLA robbed the Carmichael Bank in suburban Sacramento, Ca. Myrna Opsahl, a mother (42) of four, was shot dead. Patty Hearst drove the getaway car. Emily Harris shot Opsahl with a 12-gauge shotgun. 4 SLA members were arrested for the murder of Opsahl in 2002. Michael Bortin, William Harris, Sara Jane Olson and Emily Montague all pleaded guilty. Fugitive James Kilgore was arrested in South Africa Nov 8, 2002. In 2003 Montague was sentenced to 8 years, Harris to 7 years, Olson and Bortin to 6 years. In 2004 Kilgore was sentenced to 4 ½ years.
1975 – Xuan Loc, the last South Vietnamese outpost blocking a direct North Vietnamese assault on Saigon, falls to the communists. The North Vietnamese had launched a major offensive in March to capture the provincial capital of Ban Me Thuot in the Central Highlands. The South Vietnamese defenders fought very poorly and were quickly overwhelmed by the North Vietnamese attackers. Despite previous promises to provide support to the South Vietnamese if the communists violated the provisions of the cease-fire, the United States did nothing. In an attempt to reposition his forces for a better defense, South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu ordered his forces in the Highlands to withdraw to more defensible positions to the south. What started out as a reasonably orderly withdrawal soon degenerated into a panic that spread throughout the South Vietnamese armed forces. They abandoned Pleiku and Kontum in the Highlands with very little fighting and the North Vietnamese pressed the attack from the west and north. In quick succession, Quang Tri, Hue, and Da Nang in the north fell to the communist onslaught. The North Vietnamese continued to attack south along the coast, defeating the South Vietnamese forces at each encounter. As the North Vietnamese forces closed on the approaches to Saigon, the politburo in Hanoi issued an order to Gen. Van Tien Dung to launch the “Ho Chi Minh Campaign,” the final assault on Saigon itself. Dung began to move his forces into position for the final battle. The South Vietnamese 18th Division made a valiant final stand at Xuan Loc, 40 miles northeast of Saigon, and the South Vietnamese soldiers destroyed three of Dung’s divisions. However, the South Vietnamese succumbed to the superior North Vietnamese numbers. With the fall of Xuan Loc, President Nguyen Van Thieu resigned and transferred authority to Vice-President Tran Van Huong. Thieu then fled Saigon, flying to Taiwan on April 25 and eventually on to Great Britain, where he now resides. By April 27, the North Vietnamese had completely encircled Saigon and began to maneuver for their final assault. By the morning of April 30, the war was over. When the North Vietnamese tanks broke through the gates of the Presidential Palace in Saigon, the South Vietnamese surrendered and the Vietnam War came to an end.
1980 – Boats with Cuban migrants on board began departing Mariel, Cuba. The first two boats arrive in Miami the same day, marking the largest Cuban migration to the U.S. to date. Cuban leader Fidel Castro then declared the port of Mariel “open”, increasing the number of boats involved in the exodus and giving the exodus its name. This becomes the largest Coast Guard operation ever undertaken to date since World War II.
1981 – US furnished $1 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia.
1987 – The Senate panel investigating the Iran-Contra affair voted to grant limited immunity to President Reagan’s former national security adviser, Rear Adm. John M. Poindexter.
1989 – Six days after the death of Hu Yaobang, the deposed reform-minded leader of the Chinese Communist Party, some 100,000 students gather at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to commemorate Hu and voice their discontent with China’s authoritative communist government. The next day, an official memorial service for Hu Yaobang was held in Tiananmen’s Great Hall of the People, and student representatives carried a petition to the steps of the Great Hall, demanding to meet with Premier Li Peng. The Chinese government refused such a meeting, leading to a general boycott of Chinese universities across the country and widespread calls for democratic reforms. Ignoring government warnings of violent suppression of any mass demonstration, students from more than 40 universities began a march to Tiananmen on April 27. The students were joined by workers, intellectuals, and civil servants, and by mid-May more than a million people filled the square, the site of communist leader’s Mao Zedong’s proclamation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. On May 20, the government formally declared martial law in Beijing, and troops and tanks were called in to disperse the dissidents. However, large numbers of students and citizens blocked the army’s advance, and by May 23 government forces had pulled back to the outskirts of Beijing. On June 3, with negotiations to end the protests stalled and calls for democratic reforms escalating, the troops received orders from the Chinese government to reclaim Tiananmen at all costs. By the end of the next day, Chinese troops had forcibly cleared Tiananmen Square and Beijing’s streets, killing hundreds of demonstrators and arresting thousands of protesters and other suspected dissidents. In the weeks after the government crackdown, an unknown number of dissidents were executed, and communist hard-liners took firm control of the country. The international community was outraged at the incident, and economic sanctions imposed by the United States and other countries sent China’s economy into decline. However, by late 1990, international trade had resumed, thanks in part to China’s release of several hundred imprisoned dissidents.
1991 – US Marines in northern Iraq began building the first safe-haven settlement for Kurdish refugees. General H. Norman Schwarzkopf arrived at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida to a hero’s welcome.
1995 – The FBI arrested former soldier Timothy McVeigh at an Oklahoma jail where he had spent two days on minor traffic and weapons charges; he was charged in connection with the Oklahoma City bombing two days earlier in which over 200 people were killed by a truck bomb that exploded in front of a Federal building.
1998 – US and Britain had begun a secretive removal of nuclear materials near Tbilisi. Britain volunteered to accept the material and had already taken 270 pounds. The unused highly enriched uranium was to be processed by a Scottish plant.
1999 – NATO and the US agreed to renew planning for ground troops in Kosovo as leaders converged on Washington to begin summit talks.
1999 – NATO warplanes hit a Serbian refugee camp near Djakovica. 4 Serbs were reported killed in the camp where 200-300 Serb refugees from the Krajina region lived. A NATO spokesman said NATO planes were not operating in that area. NATO bombs hit transmitters for radio and TV along with other business and party offices of people close to Milosevic.
2000 – In Bosnia NATO troops arrested Dragan Nikolic (42) for war crimes at the Susica detention camp in 1992.
2000 – In Russia the lower house of parliament ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which the US Senate rejected in 1999. It would oblige Russia to end all nuclear test explosions.
2001 – Western hemisphere leaders meeting in Quebec ratified a plan barring undemocratic nations from a massive free trade zone they hoped would expand prosperity across their 34 nations. For a second day, protesters clashed with nightstick-wielding police who fired water cannons and rubber bullets.
2003 – The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was established as the temporary governing body of Iraq. Retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, Pres. Bush’s appointed post-war administrator, arrived in Baghdad. His priority was to restore basic services such as water and electricity.
2003 – Muhammad Hamza al-Zubaydi (queen of spades), was captured by the Iraqi opposition. He was known as Saddam’s “Shiite Thug” for his role in Iraq’s bloody suppression of the Shiite Muslim uprising of 1991.
2004 – U.S. forces battled Taliban holdouts in a forbidding mountain range in southern Afghanistan, killing two fighters and arresting two others.
2004 – U.S Marines backed by tanks and helicopter gunships battled insurgents in northern Fallujah.
2005 – American, French and Israeli naval forces rescue three Syrian and Egyptian sailors from a North Korean ship that sank in international waters off the coast of Nahariya, Israel.
2005 – U.S. Army Sergeant Hassan Akbar is found guilty by a military jury of the murder of two fellow officers in Kuwait, just prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
2005 – Five American Muslims sue the Department of Homeland Security for racial profiling after they were detained for hours on the Canadian border while returning from a religious conference.
2006 – An aircraft of the United States Navy’s Blue Angels precision flight team crashes during an air show in Beaufort, South Carolina, killing the pilot and injuring eight people on the ground.
2013 – NASA’s The Antares rocket makes its maiden flight, successfully carrying a mockup Cygnus spacecraft into orbit.
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