Today in History


By the Associated Press

Today is Tuesday, April 12, the 103rd day of 2016. There are 263 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to fly in space, orbiting the earth once before making a safe landing.

On this date:

In 1606, England’s King James I decreed the design of the original Union Flag, which combined the flags of England and Scotland.

In 1776, North Carolina’s Fourth Provincial Congress authorized the colony’s delegates to the Continental Congress to support independence from Britain.

In 1861, the American Civil War began as Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

In 1934, “Tender Is the Night,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, was first published in book form after being serialized in Scribner’s Magazine.

In 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia, at age 63; he was succeeded by Vice President Harry S. Truman.

In 1955, the Salk vaccine against polio was declared safe and effective.

In 1963, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested and jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, charged with contempt of court and parading without a permit. (During his time behind bars, King wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”)

In 1966, singer Jan Berry, of Jan and Dean fame, was seriously injured in a car accident in Beverly Hills, California.

In 1975, singer, dancer and civil rights activist Josephine Baker, 68, died in Paris.

In 1981, the space shuttle Columbia blasted off from Cape Canaveral on its first test flight. Former world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, 66, died in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In 1985, Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, became the first sitting member of Congress to fly in space as the shuttle Discovery lifted off.

In 1990, in its first meeting, East Germany’s first democratically elected parliament acknowledged responsibility for the Nazi Holocaust, and asked the forgiveness of Jews and others who had suffered.

Ten years ago: Jurors in the Zacarias Moussaoui (zak-uh-REE’-uhs moo-SOW’-ee) trial listened to a recording of shouts and cries in the cockpit as desperate passengers twice charged hijackers during the final half hour of doomed United Flight 93 on 9/11. The Rev. William Sloane Coffin, a former Yale chaplain known for Vietnam-era peace activism, died in Strafford, Vermont, at age 81. Indian movie star Rajkumar (cq) died in Bangalore at age 77.

Five years ago: Japan ranked its nuclear crisis at the highest possible severity on an international scale – the same level as the 1986 Chernobyl disaster – even as it insisted radiation leaks were declining at its tsunami-crippled nuclear plant. The state of Ohio executed two-time murderer Clarence Carter for beating and stomping to death a fellow jail inmate. Booming cannons, plaintive period music and hushed crowds ushered in the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War during morning ceremonies in Charleston, South Carolina.

One year ago: Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into presidential politics, announcing in a video her much-awaited second campaign for the White House. Pope Francis marked the 100th anniversary of the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks, calling it “the first genocide of the 20th century,” a politically explosive declaration that provoked a furious reaction from Turkey. Jordan Spieth (speeth) romped to his first major championship with a record-tying performance at the Masters, shooting an 18-under 270 to become the first wire-to-wire winner of the green jacket since 1976.

Today’s Birthdays: Country singer Ned Miller is 91. Actress Jane Withers is 90. Opera singer Montserrat Caballe is 83. Playwright Alan Ayckbourn (AYK’-bohrn) is 77. Jazz musician Herbie Hancock is 76. Rock singer John Kay (Steppenwolf) is 72. Actor Ed O’Neill is 70. Actor Dan Lauria is 69. Former talk show host David Letterman is 69. Author Scott Turow is 67. Singer David Cassidy is 66. Actor-playwright Tom Noonan is 65. Rhythm-and-blues singer JD Nicholas (The Commodores) is 64. Singer Pat Travers is 62. Actor Andy Garcia is 60. Movie director Walter Salles (SAL’-ihs) is 60. Country singer Vince Gill is 59. Actress Suzzanne (cq) Douglas is 59. Model/TV personality J Alexander (TV: “America’s Next Top Model”) is 58. Rock musician Will Sergeant (Echo & the Bunnymen) is 58. Rock singer Art Alexakis (al-ex-AH’-kis) (Everclear) is 54. Country singer Deryl Dodd is 52. Folk-pop singer Amy Ray (Indigo Girls) is 52. Actress Alicia Coppola is 48. Rock singer Nicholas Hexum (311) is 46. Actor Nicholas Brendon is 45. Actress Shannen Doherty is 45. Actress Marley Shelton is 42. Actress Sarah Jane Morris is 39. Actress Jordana Spiro is 39. Rock musician Guy Berryman (Coldplay) is 38. Actor Riley Smith is 38. Actress Claire Danes is 37. Actress Jennifer Morrison is 37. Actor Matt McGorry is 30. Contemporary Christian musician Joe Rickard (Red) is 29. Rock singer-musician Brendon Urie (Panic! at the Disco) is 29. Actress Saoirse (SUR’-shuh) Ronan is 22.

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