Today In History

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April 20st

Events

1303 – The Sapienza University of Rome is instituted by Pope Boniface VIII.
1453 – Three Genoese galleys and a Byzantine blockade runner fight their way through an Ottoman blockading fleet a few weeks before the fall of Constantinople.
1534 – Jacques Cartier begins his first voyage to what is today the east coast of Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador.
1535 – The sun dog phenomenon observed over Stockholm and depicted in the famous painting Vädersolstavlan.
1653 – Oliver Cromwell dissolves the Rump Parliament.
1657 – Admiral Robert Blake destroys a Spanish silver fleet under heavy fire at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
1657 – Freedom of religion is granted to the Jews of New Amsterdam (later New York City).
1689 – Deposed monarch James II of England lays siege to Derry.
1752 – Start of Konbaung–Hanthawaddy War, a new phase in the Burmese Civil War (1740–57).
1770 – The Georgian king, Erekle II, abandoned by his Russian ally Count Totleben, wins a victory over Ottoman forces at Aspindza.
1775 – American Revolutionary War: The Siege of Boston begins, following the battles at Lexington and Concord.
1789 – George Washington arrives at Grays Ferry, Philadelphia while en route to Manhattan for his inauguration.
1792 – France declares war against the "King of Hungary and Bohemia", the beginning of French Revolutionary Wars.
1800 – The Septinsular Republic is established.
1809 – Two Austrian army corps in Bavaria are defeated by a First French Empire army led by Napoleon at the Battle of Abensberg on the second day of a four-day campaign that ended in a French victory.
1810 – The Governor of Caracas, Venezuela declares independence from Spain.
1818 – The case of Ashford v Thornton ends, with Abraham Thornton allowed to go free rather than face a retrial for murder, after his demand for trial by battle is upheld.
1826 – Major Gordon Laing becomes the first non-Muslim to enter Timbuktu.
1828 – René Caillié becomes the second non-Muslim to enter, and the first to return from, Timbuktu, following Major Gordon Laing.
1836 – U.S. Congress passes an act creating the Wisconsin Territory.
1861 – American Civil War: Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army in order to command the forces of the state of Virginia.
1862 – Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard complete the experiment falsifying the theory of spontaneous generation.
1865 – Astronomer Angelo Secchi demonstrates the Secchi disk, which measures water clarity, aboard Pope Pius IX's yacht, the L'Immaculata Concezion.
1876 – The April Uprising begins. Its suppression shocks European opinion, and Bulgarian independence becomes a condition for ending the Russo-Turkish War.
1884 – Pope Leo XIII publishes the encyclical Humanum genus.
1898 – U.S. President William McKinley signed a joint resolution to Congress for declaration of War against Spain, beginning the Spanish–American War.
1902 – Pierre and Marie Curie refine radium chloride.
1908 – Opening day of competition in the New South Wales Rugby League.
1912 – Opening day for baseball's Tiger Stadium in Detroit, and Fenway Park in Boston.
1914 – Nineteen men, women, and children die in the Ludlow Massacre during a Colorado coal-miner's strike.
1916 – The Chicago Cubs play their first game at Weeghman Park (currently Wrigley Field), defeating the Cincinnati Reds 7–6 in 11 innings.
1918 – Manfred von Richthofen, a.k.a. The Red Baron, shoots down his 79th and 80th victims, his final victories before his death the following day.
1922 – The Soviet government creates South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast within Georgian SSR.
1945 – World War II: U.S. troops capture Leipzig, Germany, only to later cede the city to the Soviet Union.
1945 – World War II: Führerbunker: Adolf Hitler makes his last trip to the surface to award Iron Crosses to boy soldiers of the Hitler Youth.
1945 – Twenty Jewish children used in medical experiments at Neuengamme are killed in the basement of the Bullenhuser Damm school.
1946 – The League of Nations officially dissolves, giving most of its power to the United Nations.
1961 – Cold War: Failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion of US-backed Cuban exiles against Cuba.
1968 – English politician Enoch Powell makes his controversial Rivers of Blood speech.
1972 – Apollo program: Apollo 16, commanded by John Young, lands on the moon.
1999 – Columbine High School massacre: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people and injured 24 others before committing suicide at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado.
2007 – Johnson Space Center shooting: William Phillips with a handgun barricades himself in NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas before killing a male hostage and himself.
2008 – Danica Patrick wins the Indy Japan 300 becoming the first female driver in history to win an Indy car race.
2010 – The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven workers and beginning an oil spill that would last six months.
2012 – One hundred twenty-seven people are killed when a plane crashes in a residential area near the Benazir Bhutto International Airport near Islamabad, Pakistan.
2013 – A 6.6-magnitude earthquake strikes Lushan County, Ya'an, in China's Sichuan province, killing more than 150 people and injuring thousands.
2015 – Ten people are killed in a bomb attack on a convoy carrying food supplies to a United Nations compound in Garowe in the Somali region of Puntland.

Births

1492 – Pietro Aretino, Italian author, playwright, and poet (d. 1556)
1494 – Johannes Agricola, German theologian and reformer (d. 1566)
1544 – Renata of Lorraine, Duchess consort of Bavaria (d. 1602)
1586 – Rose of Lima, Peruvian mystic and saint (d. 1617)
1633 – Emperor Go-Kōmyō of Japan (d. 1654)
1646 – Charles Plumier, French botanist and author (d. 1704)
1650 – William Bedloe, English spy (d. 1680)
1718 – David Brainerd, American missionary (d. 1747)
1723 – Cornelius Harnett, American merchant, farmer, and politician (d. 1781)
1727 – Florimond Claude, Comte de Mercy-Argenteau, Belgian-Austrian minister and diplomat (d. 1794)
1745 – Philippe Pinel, French physician and psychiatrist (d. 1826)
1748 – Georg Michael Telemann, German composer and theologian (d. 1831)
1772 – William Lawless, Irish revolutionary and French general (d. 1824)
1808 – Napoleon III, French politician, 1st President of France (d. 1873)
1816 – Bogoslav Šulek, Croatian philologist, historian, and lexicographer (d. 1895)
1818 – Heinrich Göbel, German-American mechanic and engineer (d. 1893)
1826 – Dinah Craik, English author and poet (d. 1887)
1836 – Eli Whitney Blake, Jr., American scientist and academic (d. 1895)
1839 – Carol I of Romania, King of Romania (d. 1914)
1840 – Odilon Redon, French painter and illustrator (d. 1916)
1850 – Daniel Chester French, American sculptor, designed the Lincoln statue (d. 1931)
1851 – Alexander Dianin, Russian chemist (d. 1918)
1851 – Siegmund Lubin, Polish-American businessman, founded the Lubin Manufacturing Company (d. 1923)
1860 – Justinien de Clary, French target shooter (d. 1933)
1871 – Sydney Chapman, English economist and civil servant (d. 1951)
1875 – Vladimir Vidrić, Croatian poet and lawyer (d. 1909)
1879 – Paul Poiret, French fashion designer (d. 1944)
1882 – Holland Smith, American general (d. 1967)
1884 – Princess Beatrice of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (d. 1966)
1884 – Oliver Kirk, American boxer (d. 1960)
1884 – Daniel Varoujan, Armenian poet and educator (d. 1915)
1889 – Albert Jean Amateau, Turkish rabbi, lawyer, and activist (d. 1996)
1889 – Prince Erik, Duke of Västmanland (d. 1918)
1889 – Marie-Antoinette de Geuser, French mystic (d. 1918)
1889 – Adolf Hitler, Austrian-German soldier and politician, Chancellor of Germany (d. 1945)
1889 – Tonny Kessler, Dutch footballer (d. 1960)
1890 – Maurice Duplessis, Canadian lawyer and politician, 16th Premier of Quebec (d. 1959)
1890 – Adolf Schärf, Austrian soldier and politician, 6th President of Austria (d. 1965)
1891 – Dave Bancroft, American baseball player and manager (d. 1972)
1893 – Harold Lloyd, American actor, comedian, and producer (d. 1971)
1893 – Joan Miró, Spanish painter and sculptor (d. 1983)
1895 – Emile Christian, American trombonist and composer (d. 1973)
1895 – Henry de Montherlant, French essayist, novelist, and dramatist (d. 1972)
1896 – Wop May, Canadian captain and pilot (d. 1952)
1899 – Alan Arnett McLeod, Canadian lieutenant, Victoria Cross recipient (d. 1918)
1904 – Bruce Cabot, American actor (d. 1972)
1907 – Miran Bux, Pakistani cricketer (d. 1991)
1907 – Augoustinos Kantiotes, Greek bishop (d. 2010)
1908 – Lionel Hampton, African-American vibraphone player, pianist, bandleader, and actor (d. 2002)
1910 – Fatin Rüştü Zorlu, Turkish diplomat and politician (d. 1961)
1913 – Mimis Fotopoulos, Greek actor and poet (d. 1986)
1913 – Willi Hennig, German biologist and entomologist (d. 1976)
1913 – Roger Rochard, French runner (d. 1993)
1914 – Betty Lou Gerson, American actress (d. 1999)
1915 – Joseph Wolpe, South African-American psychotherapist and physician (d. 1997)
1916 – Nasiba Zeynalova, Azerbaijani actress (d. 2004)
1918 – Kai Siegbahn, Swedish physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2007)
1919 – Richard Hillary, Australian lieutenant and pilot (d. 1943)
1920 – Frances Ames, South African neurologist, psychiatrist, and human rights activist (d. 2002)
1920 – Clement Isong, Nigerian banker and politician, Governor of Cross River State (d. 2000)
1920 – Ronald Speirs, American colonel (d. 2007)
1920 – John Paul Stevens, American lawyer and jurist, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
1923 – Mother Angelica, American nun and broadcaster, founded Eternal Word Television Network (d. 2016)
1923 – Irene Lieblich, Polish-American painter and illustrator (d. 2008)
1923 – Tito Puente, American drummer and producer (d. 2000)
1924 – Nina Foch, Dutch-American actress (d. 2008)
1924 – Leslie Phillips, English actor and producer
1924 – Guy Rocher, Canadian sociologist and academic
1925 – Ernie Stautner, German-American football player and coach (d. 2006)
1925 – Elena Verdugo, American actress (d. 2017)
1927 – Bud Cullen, Canadian judge and politician, 1st Canadian Minister of Employment and Immigration (d. 2005)
1927 – Phil Hill, American race car driver (d. 2008)
1927 – K. Alex Müller, Swiss physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
1928 – Robert Byrne, American chess player and author (d. 2013)
1928 – Johnny Gavin, Irish footballer (d. 2007)
1929 – Harry Agganis, American baseball and football player (d. 1955)
1929 – Bobby Hollander, American film director, actor, and magazine publisher (d. 2002)
1930 – Dwight Gustafson, American composer and conductor (d. 2014)
1930 – Antony Jay, English director and screenwriter (d. 2016)
1931 – Michael Allenby, 3rd Viscount Allenby, English lieutenant and politician (d. 2014)
1931 – John Eccles, 2nd Viscount Eccles, English businessman and politician
1936 – Pauli Ellefsen, Faroese technician, surveyor, and politician, 6th Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands (d. 2012)
1936 – Pat Roberts, American captain, journalist, and politician
1936 – Christopher Robinson, English organist and conductor
1937 – Jiří Dienstbier, Czech journalist and politician, Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs (d. 2011)
1937 – Antonios Kounadis, Greek discus thrower
1937 – Harvey Quaytman, American painter and educator (d. 2002)
1937 – George Takei, American actor
1938 – Betty Cuthbert, Australian sprinter
1938 – Manfred Kinder, German runner
1938 – Peter Snow, British historian and journalist
1938 – Eszter Tamási, Hungarian actress (d. 1991)
1939 – Peter S. Beagle, American author and screenwriter
1939 – Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norwegian physician and politician, 22nd Prime Minister of Norway
1939 – Johnny Tillotson, American singer-songwriter
1940 – James Gammon, American actor (d. 2010)
1941 – Ryan O'Neal, American actor
1942 – Giles Henderson, English lawyer and academic
1942 – Arto Paasilinna, Finnish journalist and author
1943 – Alan Beith, English academic and politician
1943 – John Eliot Gardiner, English conductor and director
1943 – Edie Sedgwick, American model and actress (d. 1971)
1944 – Toivo Aare, Estonian journalist and author (d. 1999)
1945 – Michael Brandon, American actor and director
1945 – Alistair Cooke, Baron Lexden, English historian and author
1945 – Thein Sein, Burmese general and politician, 8th President of Burma
1945 – Steve Spurrier, American football player and coach
1945 – Naftali Temu, Kenyan runner (d. 2003)
1946 – Sandro Chia, Italian painter and sculptor
1946 – Tommy Hutton, American baseball player and sportscaster
1946 – Julien Poulin, Canadian actor, director, producer, and screenwriter
1946 – Gordon Smiley, American race car driver (d. 1982)
1947 – Rita Dionne-Marsolais, Canadian economist and politician
1947 – David Leland, English actor, director, and screenwriter
1947 – Viktor Suvorov, Russian intelligence officer, historian, and author
1947 – Andrew Tobias, American journalist and author
1948 – Gregory Itzin, American actor
1948 – Matthias Kuhle, German geographer and academic (d. 2015)
1949 – Veronica Cartwright, English-American actress
1949 – Toller Cranston, Canadian-Mexican figure skater and painter (d. 2015)
1949 – Massimo D'Alema, Italian journalist and politician, 76th Prime Minister of Italy
1949 – Jessica Lange, American actress
1950 – Steve Erickson, American author and critic
1950 – Alexander Lebed, Russian general and politician (d. 2002)
1950 – N. Chandrababu Naidu, Indian politician, 13th Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh
1951 – Luther Vandross, American singer-songwriter and producer (d. 2005)
1952 – Louka Katseli, Greek economist and politician
1952 – Božidar Maljković, Serbian basketball player and coach
1952 – Eric Pickles, English politician, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
1953 – Sebastian Faulks, English journalist and author
1955 – Donald Pettit, American engineer and astronaut
1956 – Beatrice Ask, Swedish politician, Swedish Minister for Justice
1956 – Kakha Bendukidze, Georgian economist and politician, Georgian Minister of Economy (d. 2014)
1958 – Viacheslav Fetisov, Russian ice hockey player and coach
1960 – Debbie Flintoff-King, Australian hurdler and coach
1961 – Don Mattingly, American baseball player, coach, and manager
1963 – Maurício Gugelmin, Brazilian race car driver
1963 – Rachel Whiteread, English sculptor
1964 – Crispin Glover, American actor
1964 – Andy Serkis, English actor and director
1964 – Rosalynn Sumners, American figure skater
1965 – Kostis Chatzidakis, Greek politician, Ministry of Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism
1965 – Adrián Fernández, Mexican race car driver
1966 – David Chalmers, Australian philosopher and academic
1966 – David Filo, American businessman, co-founded Yahoo!
1966 – Vincent Riendeau, Canadian ice hockey player
1967 – Mike Portnoy, American drummer and songwriter
1967 – Raymond van Barneveld, Dutch darts player
1968 – Yelena Välbe, Russian skier and manager
1968 – Roman Virastyuk, Ukrainian shot putter
1969 – Felix Baumgartner, Austrian skydiver and BASE jumper
1969 – Will Hodgman, Australian politician, 45th Premier of Tasmania
1970 – Sarantuya, Mongolian soprano
1970 – Sven Benken, German footballer and manager
1970 – Avishai Cohen, Israeli singer-songwriter and bassist
1970 – Shemar Moore, American actor
1971 – Carla Geurts, Dutch swimmer, physiologist, and academic
1971 – Allan Houston, American basketball player and manager
1971 – Nikos Kyzeridis, Greek footballer
1972 – Lê Huỳnh Đức, Vietnamese footballer, coach, and manager
1972 – Carmen Electra, American model and actress
1972 – Željko Joksimović, Serbian singer-songwriter and producer
1972 – Stephen Marley, American singer, guitarist, and producer
1973 – Isabel dos Santos,[1] Angolan businesswoman and first African woman billionaire
1973 – Lamond Murray, American basketball player
1974 – Adrian Ilie, Romanian footballer
1974 – Urmas Paet, Estonian journalist and politician, 26th Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs
1976 – Aldo Bobadilla, Paraguayan footballer
1976 – Shay Given, Irish footballer and manager
1976 – Chris Mason, Canadian ice hockey player
1979 – Ludovic Magnin, Swiss footballer and coach
1979 – Nate Marquardt, American mixed martial artist
1980 – Gunta Baško, Latvian basketball player
1982 – Jacqueline Govaert, Dutch singer-songwriter and pianist
1982 – Dario Knežević, Croatian footballer
1983 – Danny Granger, American basketball player
1983 – Miranda Kerr, Australian model
1984 – Nelson Évora, Ivorian-Portuguese triple jumper
1984 – Edixon Perea, Colombian footballer
1984 – Jenna Shoemaker, American triathlete
1985 – Curt Hawkins, American wrestler
1985 – Brent Seabrook, Canadian ice hockey player
1987 – Robin Schulz, German DJ, musician and record producer
1988 – Brandon Belt, American baseball player
1989 – Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014
1989 – Carlos Valdes, Colombian-American actor and singer
1990 – Luhan, Chinese singer, actor and ex-member of Korean boy band EXO (band).
1992 – Kristian Álvarez, Mexican footballer
1992 – Marko Meerits, Estonian footballer
1995 – Damian McKenzie, New Zealand rugby union player
1995 – Jean Marie Dongou, Cameroonian footballer

Deaths

689 – Cædwalla, king of Wessex (b. 659)
767 – Taichō, Japanese monk (b. 682)
888 – Xi Zong, Chinese emperor (b. 862)
1099 – Peter Bartholomew (b. 1061)
1164 – Antipope Victor IV
1176 – Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, English-Irish politician, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland (b. 1130)
1248 – Güyük Khan, Mongol ruler, 3rd Great Khan of the Mongol Empire (b. 1206)
1284 – Hōjō Tokimune, regent of Japan (b. 1251)
1314 – Pope Clement V (b. 1264)
1322 – Simon Rinalducci, Italian Augustinian friar
1521 – Zhengde, Chinese emperor (b. 1491)
1534 – Elizabeth Barton, English nun and martyr (b. 1506)
1558 – Johannes Bugenhagen, German priest and theologian (b. 1485)
1643 – Christoph Demantius, German composer and poet (b. 1567)
1703 – Lancelot Addison, English clergyman and educator (b. 1632)
1769 – Chief Pontiac, American tribal leader (b. 1720)
1831 – John Abernethy, English surgeon and anatomist (b. 1764)
1873 – William Tite, English architect, designed the Royal Exchange (b. 1798)
1874 – Alexander H. Bailey, American lawyer, judge, and politician (b. 1817)
1881 – William Burges, English architect and designer (b. 1827)
1886 – Charles-François-Frédéric, marquis de Montholon-Sémonville, French general and diplomat, French ambassador to the United States (b. 1814)
1887 – Muhammad Sharif Pasha, Greek-Egyptian politician, 2nd Prime Minister of Egypt (b. 1826)
1899 – Joseph Wolf, German ornithologist and illustrator (b. 1820)
1902 – Joaquim de Sousa Andrade, Brazilian poet and educator (b. 1833)
1912 – Bram Stoker, Anglo-Irish novelist and critic, created Count Dracula (b. 1847)
1918 – Karl Ferdinand Braun, German-American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1850)
1927 – Enrique Simonet, Spanish painter and educator (b. 1866)
1929 – Prince Henry of Prussia (b. 1862)
1931 – Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon, 5th Baronet, Scottish-English fencer and businessman (b. 1862)
1932 – Giuseppe Peano, Italian mathematician and philosopher (b. 1858)
1935 – John Cameron, Scottish footballer and manager (b. 1872)
1935 – Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, English fashion designer (b. 1863)
1942 – Jüri Jaakson, Estonian businessman and politician, 6th State Elder of Estonia (b. 1870)
1944 – Elmer Gedeon, American baseball player and pilot (b. 1917)
1945 – Erwin Bumke, Polish-German jurist and politician (b. 1874)
1946 – Mae Busch, Australian actress (b. 1891)
1947 – Christian X of Denmark (b. 1870)
1951 – Ivanoe Bonomi, Italian politician, 25th Prime Minister of Italy (b. 1873)
1961 – Ado Vabbe, Estonian painter (b. 1892)
1967 – Léo-Paul Desrosiers, Canadian journalist and author (b. 1896)
1968 – Rudolph Dirks, German-American illustrator (b. 1877)
1969 – Vjekoslav Luburić, Croatian war criminal and Porajmos perpetrator (b. 1911)
1980 – M. Canagaratnam, Sri Lankan politician (b. 1924)
1982 – Archibald MacLeish, American poet, playwright, and lawyer (b. 1892)
1986 – Sibte Hassan, Pakistani journalist, scholar, and activist (b. 1916)
1991 – Steve Marriott, English singer-songwriter and producer (b. 1947)
1991 – Don Siegel, American director and producer (b. 1912)
1992 – Marjorie Gestring, American springboard diver (b. 1922)
1992 – Benny Hill, English comedian, actor, and screenwriter (b. 1924)
1993 – Cantinflas, Mexican actor, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1911)
1995 – Milovan Đilas, Yugoslav communist, politician, theorist and author (b. 1911)
1996 – Trần Văn Trà, Vietnamese general and politician (b. 1918)
1999 – Casualties of the Columbine High School massacre:
Cassie Bernall, American student (b. 1981)
Eric Harris, American student and murderer (b. 1981)
Dylan Klebold, American student and murderer (b. 1981)
Rachel Scott, American student, inspired the Rachel's Challenge (b. 1981)
2001 – Giuseppe Sinopoli, Italian conductor and composer (b. 1946)
2002 – Alan Dale, American singer (b. 1925)
2003 – Daijiro Kato, Japanese motorcycle racer (b. 1976)
2003 – Bernard Katz, German-English biophysicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1911)
2004 – Lizzy Mercier Descloux, French musician, singer-songwriter, composer, actress, writer and painter (b. 1956)
2005 – Fumio Niwa, Japanese journalist and author (b. 1904)
2007 – Andrew Hill, American pianist, composer, and bandleader (b. 1931)
2007 – Michael Fu Tieshan, Chinese bishop (b. 1931)
2008 – Monica Lovinescu, Romanian journalist and author (b. 1923)
2010 – Dorothy Height, American educator and activist (b. 1912)
2011 – Tim Hetherington, English photographer and journalist (b. 1970)
2012 – Bert Weedon, English guitarist and songwriter (b. 1920)
2014 – Mithat Bayrak, Turkish wrestler and trainer (b. 1929)
2014 – Rubin Carter, American-Canadian boxer (b. 1937)
2014 – Neville Wran, Australian lawyer and politician, 35th Premier of New South Wales (b. 1926)
2016 – Chyna, American wrestler (b. 1969)
2016 - Victoria Wood, British Comedian (b. 1953)
2017 – Cuba Gooding Sr., American singer and actor (b. 1944)
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