1204 Fourth Crusade: Constantinople is sacked by the Crusaders. "...The bulk of the fourth Crusade never reached the Holy Land at all. It started at Venice (1202), captured Zara, encamped at Constantinople (1203), and finally, in 1204, stormed the city. After an easy siege the gates were thrown open, and the Latins entered the city in triumph. The city was sacked. Naturally the pope protested at this second diversion of the crusading army "Ye took not the Cross to avenge the wrongs of the prince Alexius," he wrote. "Ye are under the solemn obligation to avenge the Crucified, to Whose service ye are sworn." They knew that Constantinople was a richer prize than all the Holy Land - and that it could be taken more easily. Constantinople had withstood Moslem armies for 5 centuries, it now fell. The imperial capital was stormed by the very men whose forefathers had promised rescue a century before. Untold treasures of gold, silver, and holy relics were plundered during the subsequent pillage and rape. Literary classics, great and wonderful works of art and treasures untold were either destroyed or carried away. Many of its priceless treasures were carried off to Europe. But the greatest prize of all were the relics; bones, heads and arms of saints. the crown of thorns, St. Thomas, the doubter's finger. The patriarch fled on an ass without a single attendant. Tombs were robbed. Women were outraged. Churches were desecrated. Horses were ridden in the sanctuary. Communion cups and sacred vessels were used as drinking cups in drunken revels. Prostitutes danced on the altar. Icons, even portraits of Christ were used as gaming tables. The Byzantine emperor was murdered by his own people in a revolt. Venice took much of the coast and islands of the Empire, and the crusaders set up a 'Latin Empire' with a Latin, Baldwin of Flanders as emperor. Pope Innocent II could express disapproval, but the Greeks were schismatics and heretics so their own rule was set up over the Greek Empire, which lasted 50 years..."
1606 King James of England had ordered a Union Flag combining the cross of St. George of England and the cross of St. Andrew of Scotland, creating the Union Jack.
1654 The Ordinance of Union goes into effect, uniting Ireland and Scotland with England.
1776 The Halifax Resolves: North Carolina becomes the first colony to call for independence against Great Britain as the colony's Provincial Congress voting in the town of Halifax approves a document considered to be the precursor of the US Declaration of Independence, The Halifax Resolves: "The Select Committee taking into Consideration the usurpations and violences attempted and committed by the King and Parliament of Britain against America, and the further Measures to be taken for frustrating the same, and for the better defence of this province reported as follows, to wit, It appears to your Committee that pursuant to the Plan concerted by the British Ministry for subjugating America, the King and Parliament of Great Britain have usurped a Power over the Persons and Properties of the People unlimited and uncontrouled and disregarding their humble Petitions for Peace, Liberty and safety, have made divers Legislative Acts, denouncing War Famine and every Species of Calamity daily employed in destroying the People and committing the most horrid devastations on the Country. That Governors in different Colonies have declared Protection to Slaves who should imbrue their Hands in the Blood of their Masters. That the Ships belonging to America are declared prizes of War and many of them have been violently seized and confiscated in consequence of which multitudes of the people have been destroyed or from easy Circumstances reduced to the most Lamentable distress. And whereas the moderation hitherto manifested by the United Colonies and their sincere desire to be reconciled to the mother Country on Constitutional Principles, have procured no mitigation of the aforesaid Wrongs and usurpations and no hopes remain of obtaining redress by those Means alone which have been hitherto tried, Your Committee are of Opinion that the house should enter into the following Resolve, to wit: Resolved that the delegates for this Colony in the Continental Congress be impowered to concur with the other delegates of the other Colonies in declaring Independency, and forming foreign Alliances, resolving to this Colony the Sole, and Exclusive right of forming a Constitution and Laws for this Colony, and of appointing delegates from time to time (under the direction of a general Representation thereof to meet the delegates of the other Colonies for such purposes as shall be hereafter pointed out."
1796 Napoleon Bonaparte's forces defeat the Austrian and Sardinian armies at the end of the Battle of Montenotte; Napoleon's first significant victory.
1799 Phineas Pratt patents the comb cutting machine.
1833 Charles Gaylor patents the fireproof safe in New York City.
1838 English settlers in South Africa defeat the Zulus at Tugela.
1861 US Civil War: The bloodiest four years in American history begins when Confederate shore batteries under General P.G.T. Beauregard open fire at 4:30 AM on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina's Charleston Bay. During the next 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launch more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. On 13 April, US Major Robert Anderson will surrender the fort. Two days later, US President Abraham Lincoln will issue a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern insurrection. Four years after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, the Confederacy will be defeated at the total cost of 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers dead.
1862 US Civil War: Union volunteers led by James Andrews steal a Confederate train near Marietta, Georgia, but are later caught.
1877 Great Britain annexes the Boer South African Republic as the Transvaal.
1892 Voters in Lockport, New York, become the first in the US to use voting machines.
1902 Boer War: South African Republic peace delegates meet Lord Kitchener at Pretoria.
1918 WW1: General Haig, after announcing, "Our backs are to the wall," forbids further retreat and galvanizes British resistance at Lys.
1922 Weimar: Hitler gives an early speech in Munich that is well received by the faithful, but completely ignored by the press. Hitler has yet to get any press coverage to speak of. The speech mainly deals with the strengthening of the movement. "And when I look on my people I see it work and work and toil and labor, and at the end of the week it has only for its wage wretchedness and misery. When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil, if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom today this poor people is plundered and exploited..."
1933 A debate in the British House of Lords considers the fate of German Jews under Nazi rule. The British cabinet considers the Jewish refugee situation.
1934 Holocaust: The German Ministry of Justice introduces the "protective custody" warrant.
1934 Julius Streicher is appointed Gauleiter of the German state of Franconia.
1937 Church and Reich: The German Foreign Ministry sends a note of protest to Papal Secretary of State Pacelli describing the Pope's encyclical as a call to battle against the leadership of the German state and a grave violation of the Concordat (See March 21). (Lewy)
1938 The state of New York passes a law requiring medical tests for marriage license applicants, the first state to do so.
1943 WW2: The Germans, familiar enough with atrocities to know one when they come across one, announce the discovery of a group of mass graves in the Katyn Forest containing the bodies of 4,100 Polish officers, murdered by the Soviets.
1944 Diary of Leon Gladun: We're leaving this sector. Everybody says that we're bound for some more active sector near Cassino but it turned out we're going for a two-week rest behind lines. We left at night and arrived near Prata, actually between the towns of Prata Sannita and Fontegreca. The area is beautiful and scenic--in a word an ideal setting with healthy air, clean water...if only all of us were as healthy.
1944 Death: Adolf Wagner, NSDAP member from 1923. Nazi party provincial chief of Munich and Upper Bavaria. Bavarian interior minister after 1933.
1945 WW2: US forces reach the Elbe River only 60 miles from Berlin. Eisenhower informs Stalin that he is leaving the capture of Berlin to the Soviets. Systematic bombing by Soviet artillery and Allied air power soon reduces the German capital to ruins. The Luftwaffe, with its corps of pilots depleted, its airfields destroyed, and its fuel supply nonexistent, is unable to protect the city.
1945 WW2: The Ist Polish Armored Division liberates 1,728 female AK members from Oberlangen Stalag.
1944 WW2: King Victor Emmanuel of Italy announces his intention to abdicate in favor of the Prince of Piedmont when the Allies enters Rome.
1945 Death: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the longest serving president in American history, of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia, three months into his fourth term and less than one month before the surrender of Germany. He is succeeded by Vice President Harry S. Truman. "...The unending stress and strain of the war literally wore Roosevelt out. By early 1944 a full medical examination disclosed serious heart and circulatory problems; and although his physicians placed him on a strict regime of diet and medication, the pressures of war and domestic politics weighed heavily on him. During a vacation (in the company of his mistress of many years) at Warm Springs, Georgia, on April 12, 1945, he suffered a massive stroke (shortly after complaining of a headache smoking one last Camel cigarette) and died two and one-half hours later without regaining consciousness. He was 63 years old. His death came on the eve of complete military victory in Europe and within months of victory over Japan in the Pacific. President Roosevelt was buried in the Rose Garden of his estate at Hyde Park, New York."
1955 The polio vaccine of Dr. Jonas Salk is termed 'safe, effective and potent' by the University of Michigan Polio Vaccine Evaluation Center.
1961 In a triumph for the Soviet Union, Major Yuri Gagarin, at 27, becomes the first man to fly in space. In his 4-1/2 ton Vostok space craft, the cosmonaut makes a single orbit of the earth in a 108-minute flight before coming home to a hero's welcome. The US reaction is resigned, but admiring, 'A fantastic achievement,' declares NASA.
1980 Death: Liberian President William Tolbert; assassinated in a military coup. Samuel K. Doe is installed as the new head of state.
1981 STS-1: Regular flights of the world's first reusable space shuttle begin with the launching of the Columbia into space on a 54 hour mission at Cape Canaveral. Piloted by astronauts Robert L. Crippen and John W. Young, the Columbia undertakes 36 orbits before successfully touching down at Edwards Air Force Base on 14 April.
1982 Falkland Wars: Britain declares a 200-mile maritime exclusion zone around the Falkland Islands.
1984 Challenger astronauts make the first satellite repair in orbit by returning a healthy Solar Max satellite to space. Note: The orbiting sun watcher had been circling the Earth for three years with all circuits dead.
1985 Federal inspectors declare that four animals of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus are not unicorns as the circus advertised, but goats with horns which had been surgically implanted. The circus is ordered to quit advertising the fake unicorns as anything else but goats.
1985 Senator Joseph 'Jake' Garn becomes the first space politician as he lifts off this day from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
1989 Death: Abbie Hoffman, found dead at the age of 52 in his home at New Hope, Pennsylvania, radical activist, author; Steal This Book, Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture.
1990 The Soviet Union admits the massacre of some 15,000 Polish officers at Katyn in the Soviet Union in 1940.
1990 In its first meeting, East Germany's first democratically elected parliament acknowledges responsibility for the Nazi Holocaust, and asks the forgiveness of those who had suffered.
1995 In a move that stuns the business world, billionaire Kirk Kerkorian and former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca make an unsolicited $22.8 billion-dollar bid to buy the nation's third largest automaker. Chrysler responds that it isn't for sale.
1996 Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers are declared the world's tallest buildings by a committee of experts meeting in the shadow of the previous title-holder, Chicago's Sears Tower.
1999 US District Judge Susan Webber Wright cites President Clinton for contempt of court, concluding that the president had lied about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky in a deposition in the Paula Jones case.
1999 For the second time in four months, 60 Minutes apologizes on the air over a report on drug smuggling, acknowledging that a memo cited by the newsmagazine had turned out to be bogus. The apology is part of a settlement reached with a customs official who had sued CBS. 60 Minutes issues the apology over a report on 20 April 1997, about drugs flowing across the US-Mexico border at San Diego. Correspondent Lesley Stahl, who makes the apology, emphasizes that CBS stuck by the underlying theme of the report. In December 1998, 60 Minutes founder Don Hewitt apologized for airing a June 1997 story based on a British documentary about smugglers swallowing heroin in latex gloves to get past authorities. An investigative panel later found that the documentary producers had faked locations and paid actors to portray drug couriers.
2003 Coalition forces take steps to put police back on Baghdad's streets amid anarchic scenes in the Iraqi capital.
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