History: April 16

April 16

1705 England's Queen Anne knights Isaac Newton, regarded as one of history's greatest scientists. Best remembered for his theory of universal gravitation, his work in physics and mathematics will completely revolutionize science.


1746 Battle of Culloden: Near Inverness, Scotland, The Duke of Cumberland's forces defeat the Jacobite Scots. Under Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender, 'Bonnie Prince Charlie,' the Scots lose more than 1,000 men and most of the remaining prisoners are massacred. Its aftermath results in the slaughter of Catholic Scots up and down the Scottish glens. Bonnie Prince Charles goes into hiding with a price of £30,000 on his head and is hunted across the Highlands and Islands from April to September.

1789 President-elect Washington leaves his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia, for his inauguration in New York.

1862 US Civil War: A bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia becomes law.

1867 Birth: Wilbur Wright, aviation pioneer.

1883 Paul Kruger assumes the presidency of the South African Republic.


1889 Birth: Charlie Chaplin, actor, director, silent screen comedian, in London.

1900 The US Postal Service issues the world's first book of postage stamps. The two-cent stamps are available in books of 12, 24 and 48 stamps.

1905 Andrew Carnegie donates $10,000,000 of personal money to set up the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and a college teachers’ pension fund.

1917 WW1: Lenin, Zinoviev, Lunacharski and 30 other Bolsheviks, a number of them from New York City, arrive in Petrograd by train from Switzerland, via Germany, Sweden and Finland.


1917 WW1: The second Battle of the Aisne River in northern France begins when commander Robert Nivelle launches an offensive. The French armies attack on a 40-mile front between Soissons and Reims to take the Chemin des Dames, a series of rocky, wooded ridges running parallel to the front. The Germans, fully aware of French plans as a result of Nivelle's confident public boasts, turn the assault into a disaster. The entire operation is a colossal failure, costing the French nearly 120,000 men in 5 days.

1922 Weimar: The Soviet Union and Germany sign the Treaty of Rapallo under which Germany recognizes the Soviet Union and diplomatic and trade relations are restored.

1922 Belvin Maynard, better known as the flying parson, gives his first sermon from an airplane.

1937 Holocaust: Swiss officials announce that they are refusing to grant permanent resident permits to German Jewish refugees to avoid flooding the labor market.

1938 Britain signs a pact of friendship with Italy without giving adequate notice to the United States. (Freedman)

1939 Church and Reich: After Franco, with the help of Hitler and Mussolini, has successfully defeated the "Loyalists," Pope Pius XII sends the Spanish Catholics his expressions of "immense joy" and "fatherly congratulations for the gift of peace and victory with which God has deigned to crown the Christian heroism of your faith and charity, proved through such great and generous sufferings." (Lewy)

1941 Holocaust: German troops enter Sarajevo and demolish the main Jewish synagogue. A few Jews escape over the mountains into Italian occupied territory, but the majority of Bosnian Jews are soon deported to concentration camps controlled by the Fascist Croatian "Ustachi." Nearly all will die. (Atlas)

1941 Holocaust: At Suresnes, outside Paris, the first executions of Jews in the resistance takes place. During 1941, a total of 133 Jews are shot for resistance in France, according to Gestapo records. (Atlas)

1942 Holocaust: Berlin is informed by the local SS that "the Crimea is purged of Jews." (Atlas)


1942 Holocaust: 2,000 Jews from Gostynin are deported to Chelmno (Kulmhof) for execution. (Atlas)

1943 Katyn Massacre: The Polish government in exile in London asks for a Red Cross investigation of the mass murders in the Katyn Forest.


1945 WW2: General Zhukov launches his final attack on Berlin. "...Zhukov's 1st Byelorussian Front attacked at 05.00 on the 16th April and Koniev's 1st Ukrainian Front at 06.15. Although Koniev's attack across the River Neisse went well, Zhuvok's forces soon ran into trouble. The battle just west of the River Oder proved to be no walkover as the Seelw Heights were a critical defensive position in Army Group Vistula's sector, and the Germans, under no illusions as to what a Soviet breakthrough would mean, fought desperately. The Army Group had been under Col Gen G. Heinrici since the end of March after Hitler replaced Himmler with Heinrici, a veteran of the Eastern Front and expert on defensive tactics. He had pulled his men back from the forward positions just before the start of the attack and thus the artillery bombardment hit only empty positions while the searchlights merely lit up the Soviet tanks and infantry for the German gunners to rake with murderous fire. Stalin was furious at the delay, as well as Zhukov's attempt to overcome it – the deployment of his mobile reserves, the 1st and 2nd Guards Tank Armies – that contravened Stavka's (the Soviet High Command) orders. After fierce fighting, Zhukov overcame the positions on the Seelw Heights but because of German reinforcements (Col Gen Helmuth Weidling’s LVI Panzer Corps) still found the going tough. As a result, Stalin ordered Koniev to direct his armoured forces directly at Berlin with the result that two Soviet Fronts were advancing for the city..."


1945 In his first speech to Congress, President Harry S. Truman pledges to carry out the war and peace policies of his late predecessor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. "...So that there can be no possible misunderstanding, both Germany and Japan can be certain, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that America will continue the fight for freedom until no vestige of resistance remains! We are deeply conscious of the fact that much hard fighting is still ahead of us. Having to pay such a heavy price to make complete victory certain, America will never become a party to any plan for partial victory! To settle for merely another temporary respite would surely jeopardize the future security of all the world. Our demand has been, and it remains-Unconditional Surrender! We will not traffic with the breakers of the peace on the terms of the peace. The responsibility for making of the peace-and it is a very grave responsibility-must rest with the defenders of the peace. We are not unconscious of the dictates of humanity. We do not wish to see unnecessary or unjustified suffering. But the laws of God and of man have been violated and the guilty must not go unpunished. Nothing shall shake our determination to punish the war criminals even though we must pursue them to the ends of the earth. Lasting peace can never be secured if we permit our dangerous opponents to plot future wars with impunity at any mountain retreat - however distant. In this shrinking world, it is futile to seek safety behind geographical barriers. Real security will be found only in law and in justice..."

1945 WW2: US troops reach the outskirts of Nuremberg, Germany.


1947 At 9.12am in Texas City's port on Galveston Bay, a fire aboard the French freighter Grandcamp ignites ammonium nitrate and other explosive materials in the ship's hold, causing a massive blast that destroys much of the city and takes nearly 600 lives. The port of Texas City, a small industrial city with a population of about 18,000, is teaming with chemical plants and oil refineries that provide steady, good-paying jobs for much of the town. In the industrial sector, minor accidents and chemical fires are rather commonplace, and many stand around the port casually watching the reddish orange blaze that breaks out on the Grandcamp early on a Wednesday morning. Twenty-seven members of the Texas City Volunteer Fire Department are called out to douse the flames, but the ship is so hot that the water from their fire hoses is instantly vaporized. At 12 minutes past nine, the fire ignites the freighter's stores of ammonium nitrate, a compound used to make dynamite, and Texas City blows up. Wood-frame houses in the city are flattened, additional blasts are triggered at nearby chemical plants, and fires break out across the city. The mushroom cloud from the blast rises 2,000 feet, and fragments of the Grandcamp are hurled thousands of feet into the air, landing on buildings and people. The ship's anchor, weighing 1.5 tons, is flung two miles and embeds 10 feet into the ground at the Pan American refinery. The explosion is heard as far as 150 miles away. Devastating fires will burn for days, and on 17 April the freighter High Flyer, also loaded with nitrates, will also explode, further devastating the port and causing a new string of explosions at nearby plants. Fortunately, most of Texas City's population had been evacuated by then, and the city's losses are primarily material. By late in the day on 18 April, emergency crews will have the situation under control. Some eyewitnesses declare that the scene was worse than anything they had seen in Europe during WW2. The Grandcamp explosion is the most devastating industrial accident in US history, with 600 people killed and more than 3,000 wounded. (Bradley)

1947 Financier and presidential confidant Bernard Baruch declares in a speech at the South Carolina statehouse: "Let us not be deceived - we are today in the midst of a cold war." 

1948 The Organization for European Economic Cooperation is set up in Paris.

1951 The British submarine Affray sinks in the English Channel with the loss of 75 lives.

1951 The famous 'Lighthouse Storm' rages near Boston Harbor, Massachusetts, destroying Minot Light with its two keepers still inside. Whole gales and gigantic waves from the storm result in major shipping losses and severe coastal erosion.

1958 Pigs on the Wing: A tornado rips through the community of Watrous, Saskatchewan. A large barn is destroyed trapping 100 pigs within and others are scattered by the winds. Five are discovered more than 3 miles from the barn.

1972 Apollo 16 is launched to make the fifth manned moon landing.

1975 The government of Cambodia asks the communist insurgents for a cease-fire and offers to turn power over to them.

1982 Queen Elizabeth proclaims Canada's new constitution, severing the last colonial links with Britain.

1988 Palestinian commando chief Khalil el-Wazir, also known as Abu Jihad, is assassinated in Tunis.

1991 The first Jewish settlement under the Israeli government opens in the occupied territories, defying a US request to stop such settlement activity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

1992 The US House ethics committee releases the names of more than 300 check-bouncers, ending an inquiry into the House bank scandal that rocked US Congress and raised havoc in election campaigns.

1992 The US Food and Drugs Administrative (FDA) rules that silicone breast implants may be returned to market, but only with severe restrictions limiting them to women who have 'urgent need.'

1994 Bosnian Serbs shoot down a British fighter jet as it attempts to fire on a Serbian tank. The pilot parachutes to safety.

1995 The European Union and Canada end a bitter dispute over fishing rights in the north Atlantic with a deal both sides declare will protect threatened fish stocks.

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