History: April 23

April 23

0303 Death: Saint George, Patron Saint of England from 1350. He will be so revered by the Crusaders that for many years, English soldiers will wear the red cross of St. George on a white background as a badge; and it remains a part of the British Union flag. The martyred hero is still honored throughout England on this day: Saint George Feast Day. The Crusaders from the 1300s will tell the story of George using his magic sword to kill a dragon - just in the nick of time - to save the king’s daughter from being sacrificed to the fire-breathing beast. This dragon is said to have had an insatiable appetite and it was only through his deep faith that George was able to accomplish this deed. Little factual information is known about Saint George other than his becoming a soldier and rising to a high rank under Diocletian. Because of his strong and open belief in Christianity, he is arrested, tortured and put to death at Nicomedia on this day in 303AD. 

1014 Brian Boru, high king of Ireland, is killed repelling Viking invaders at the battle of Clontarf.

1349 King Edward III of England establishes the Order of the Garter.

1564 Birth: William Shakespeare, English poet and dramatist. "...William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, a small country town. Stratford was famous for its malting. The black plague killed in 1564 one out of seven of the town's 1,500 inhabitants....Very little is known about Shakespeare early life, and his later works have inspired a number of interpretations. T.S. Eliot wrote that "I would suggest that none of the plays of Shakespeare has a "meaning," although it would be equally false to say that a play of Shakespeare is meaningless." Shakespeare is assumed to have been educated at Stratford Grammar School, and he may have spent the years 1580-82 as a teacher for the Roman Catholic Houghton family in Lancashire. When Shakespeare was 15, a woman from a nearby village drowned in the Avon. Her death was ruled accidental but it may have been a suicide. Later in Hamlet Shakespeare left open the question whether Ophelia died accidentally or by her own hand. At the age of 18, Shakespeare married a local girl..."

1616 Death: William Shakespeare, at the age of 52.

1616 Death: Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, creator of the knight-errant Don Quixote de la Mancha, at the age of 68.

1633 The League of Heilbronn is established, uniting South German Protestants with Sweden and France against the Catholic League and the Imperialists.

1635 The first public school in America opens; the Boston Latin School.

1789 President-elect George Washington and his wife move into the first executive mansion, the Franklin House, in New York.

1791 Birth: James Buchanan, 15th president of the United States, born in Stony Batter, near Mercersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania. "...President Buchanan held the North responsible for all the troubles arising out of the Kansas disputes; and in his messages to Congress wrote vehemently against what he styled "the long-continued and intemperate interference of the Northern people with the question of slavery in the Southern States." He met the crisis of secession in a timid and vacillating spirit, temporizing with both parties, and studiously avoiding the adoption of a decided policy. In his message of December 8, 1860, he characteristically argued that while the Constitution affords no warrant for the secession of a State, it also affords no warrant for the "coercion" of a State that desires to secede, and its compulsory retention in the Union. To every appeal from the loyal men of the country for an energetic and patriotic opposition to the plots of the Secessionists, his only reply was: "The South has no right to secede, but I have no power to prevent them." Temporizing in this pitiful manner with the gravest crisis that ever fell upon a nation, he did nothing to prevent the accomplishment of secession; and when his successor, Abraham Lincoln, was inaugurated, on the 4th of March, 1861, he retired to the privacy of his home in Wheatland, followed by the ill-will of every section of the country..."

1865 US Civil War: 'Panic has seized the country...," Confederate President Jefferson Davis writes to his wife in Georgia, Varina, concerning the desperate situating facing the Confederates. Davis is in Charlotte, North Carolina, on his flight away from Yankee troops. It is three weeks since Davis had fled the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, as Union troops were overrunning the trenches nearby. Davis and his government headed west to Danville, Virginia, in hopes of reestablishing offices there. When General Robert E. Lee was forced to surrender his army at Appomattox Court House on April 9, Davis and his officials traveled south in hopes of connecting with the last major Confederate army, the force of General Joseph Johnston. Johnston, then in North Carolina, is himself in dire straits, as General William T. Sherman's massive force is bearing down. Davis continues to his wife, "The issue is one which it is very painful for me to meet. On one hand is the long night of oppression which will follow the return of our people to the 'Union'; on the other, the suffering of the women and children, and carnage among the few brave patriots who would still oppose the invader.' The Davis' are reunited a few days later as the president continues to flee and continue the fight. Two weeks later, Union troops will finally capture the Confederate president in northern Georgia.

1879 The first Shakespeare Memorial Theatre opens in Stratford on Avon.

1896 The new Edison 'Vitascope' movie projector is publicly demonstrated for the first time at Koster and Bial's Music Hall in New York City.

1898 Spanish-American War: The US government asks for 125,000 volunteers to fight against Spain in Cuba.

1899 Birth: Vladimir Nabokov, Russian-American author, born in St. Petersburg, Russia.

1900 The word, 'hillbilly', is first used in print in an article in the New York Journal. Spelled a little differently, the story declares that a Hill-Billie is a 'free and untrampled white citizen of Alabama who lived in the hills'. The article continues that 'he has no means to speak of, dresses as he can, talks as he pleases, drinks whiskey when he gets it and fires off his revolver as the fancy takes him.'

1918 WW1: The British Navy under Admiral Keyes raids the German submarine base at Zeebrugge.

1923 Joseph Stalin officially opens the Moscow Underground.

1934 Holocaust: Brandenburg concentration camp is closed by the Gestapo.

1935 Holocaust: The Nazi Race Bureau declares that Jewish children will be excluded from German public schools.

1935 Holocaust: A new Polish constitution is adopted that severely limits minority rights, especially for Jews.

1941 Church and Reich: Adolf Wagner, Gauleiter and Minister of Education and Religious Affairs in Bavaria, issues an order prohibiting the opening of the school day with a prayer and suggests the gradual removal of all crucifixes (See August 28, 1941). (Lewy)

1941 WW2: King George of the Hellenes and the Greek government flee the Greek mainland from the advancing Germans; the Greek army surrenders.

1941 At an 'America First' rally in New York City, aviator Charles Lindbergh declares, 'It is obvious that England is losing the war'.

1942 WW2: In retaliation for the British raid on Lubeck, German bombers hit Exeter and later Bath, Norwich, York, and other 'medieval-city centres,' killing almost 1,000 English civilians. On 28 March of the same year, 234 British bombers struck the German port of Lubeck, an industrial town of only "moderate importance." The attack was ordered (according to Sir Arthur Harris, head of British Bomber Command) as more of a morale booster for British flyers than anything else, but the destruction wreaked on Lubeck was significant: Two thousand buildings were totaled, 312 German civilians were killed, and 15,000 Germans were left homeless. As an act of reprisal, the Germans attack cathedral cities of great historical significance on this day. The 15th-century Guildhall, in York, as an example, is destroyed. The Germans call their air attacks "Baedeker Raids," named for the German publishing company famous for guidebooks popular with tourists. The Luftwaffe vows to bomb every building in Britain that the Baedeker guide had awarded 'three stars.'

1942 Resistance: The "White Rose" resistance group begins distributing leaflets composed by a group of students and a professor of philosophy at the University of Munich. Their leaflets tell of the murders of 300,000 Jews in Poland and ask why the German people remain so apathetic in the face of these "revolting crimes." "Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be governed without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct. It is certain that today every honest German is ashamed of his government. Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes - crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure - reach the light of day? If the German people are already so corrupted and spiritually crushed that they do not raise a hand, frivolously trusting in a questionable faith in lawful order of history; if they surrender man’s highest principle, that which raises him above all other God’s creatures, his free will; if they abandon the will to take decisive action and turn the wheel of history and thus subject it to their own rational decision; if they are so devoid of all individuality, have already gone so far along the road toward turning into a spiritless and cowardly mass - then, yes, they deserve their downfall..."

1943 Holocaust: The SS begins an all-out operation to eliminate the remaining Jews still hiding in the Warsaw ghetto. Resistance continues for three more weeks. (See May 8 and May 16)

1943 Holocaust: The Last Letter From Mordecai Anielewicz, Warsaw Ghetto Revolt Commander: "It is impossible to put into words what we have been through. One thing is clear, what happened exceeded our boldest dreams. The Germans ran twice from the ghetto. One of our companies held out for 40 minutes and another for more than 6 hours. The mine set in the "brushmakers" area exploded. Several of our companies attacked the dispersing Germans. Our losses in manpower are minimal. That is also an achievement. Y. [Yechiel] fell. He fell a hero, at the machine-gun. I feel that great things are happening and what we dared do is of great, enormous importance....Beginning from today we shall shift over to the partisan tactic. Three battle companies will move out tonight, with two tasks: reconnaissance and obtaining arms. Do you remember, short-range weapons are of no use to us. We use such weapons only rarely. What we need urgently: grenades, rifles, machine-guns and explosives. It is impossible to describe the conditions under which the Jews of the ghetto are now living. Only a few will be able to hold out. The remainder will die sooner or later. Their fate is decided. In almost all the hiding places in which thousands are concealing themselves it is not possible to light a candle for lack of air. With the aid of our transmitter we heard the marvelous report on our fighting by the "Shavit" radio station. The fact that we are remembered beyond the ghetto walls encourages us in our struggle. Peace go with you, my friend! Perhaps we may still meet again! The dream of my life has risen to become fact. Self-defense in the ghetto will have been a reality. Jewish armed resistance and revenge are facts. I have been a witness to the magnificent, heroic fighting of Jewish men in battle.-M. Anielewicz [Kann]

1943 WW2: Ukrainian Nationalists set fire to village of Zabara, and execute 750 Polish inhabitants.

1943 WW2: Anglo-US Headquarters is set up in London to plan the invasion of Europe.

1945 Resistance: SS guards execute Albrecht Haushofer (above) and a group of antifascist prisoners, including Klaus Bonhffer (Bonhoeffer), brother of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, outside Lehrterstrasse prison in Moabit during the battle for Berlin.

1945 WW2: Goering sends a message to Hitler offering to take over the leadership of Germany. Hitler, egged on by Bormann, orders Goering's immediate arrest.

1945 Holocaust: The Russian army liberates the Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrueck concentration camps.

1948 The Republic of Israel is established.

1951 The Associated Press (AP) begins use of a new service, teletypesetting. The AP provides a perforated, paper-tape message to a news bureau in Charlotte, North Carolina. The message is then fed to a monitor for preparation into a printer. From there, the newspaper copy is completed.

1961 British Census: Population; England & Wales 46 million; Scotland 5.1 million, Northern Ireland 1.4 million.

1961 Charles De Gaulle seizes dictatorial powers in France.

1965 More than 200 US planes struck North Vietnam in one of the heaviest raids of the Vietnam War.

1967 The USSR launches Soyuz 1 to the moon at 00:40 GMT from Baikonur. Due to problems, one of the solar panels fails to deploy and maneuvering the spacecraft proves difficult. The decision is made to try to bring Komarov back. See April 24.

1968 Students begin a one-week takeover of Columbia University.

1969 Sirhan Sirhan is sentenced to death by the gas-chamber for assassinating New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy. The sentence is later commuted to life imprisonment.

1972 The Apollo 16 astronauts continue exploring the surface of the moon.

1982 The Conch Republic secedes from Florida.

1984 A Paris tiger park, apparently having nothing actually constructive to do, announces the birth of the world's first tigon, the offspring of a tiger and a lioness.

1985 Death: Former Senator Sam Ervin, at the age of 88; the North Carolina Democrat directed the Senate Watergate investigation that led to President Nixon's resignation.

1985 The Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Georgia, makes the announcement that it is changing its 99-year-old secret formula. New Coke is called 'the most significant soft drink development' in the company's history. Fans of the original Coke refuse to buy the new Coke and it turns out to be one of the biggest corporate flops ever.

1985 Studs Terkel earns his first Pulitzer for The Good War: An Oral History of WW2.

1990 Chinese Premier Li Peng arrives in Moscow on an official visit to the Soviet Union, the most senior Chinese leader to visit Moscow since 1964.

1990 The West German government bows to East German demands and agrees to a 1-1 exchange rate between East and West marks, clearing the path to a planned currency union.

1992 Fighting erupts in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo just hours after the warring parties sign a truce amid sniper fire.

1992 McDonald's opens its first fast-food restaurant in the Chinese capital of Beijing, China.

1992 Former Washington DC Mayor Marion Barry is released from prison after serving a six-month term for cocaine possession.

1993 Death: Cesar Chavez, United Farm Workers founder, at the age of 66 of apparent natural causes.

1995 Death: Hideo Murai, the No. 2 official in the Aum Shinri Kyo sect accused of involvement in various gas attacks in Tokyo, assassinated outside the sect's headquarters.

1996 A Bronx civil-court jury orders Bernhard Goetz to pay $43 million to paralyzed Darrell Cabey, one of four young men he shot on a subway car in 1984.

1997 The presidents of Russia and China sign a declaration opposing the domination of one superpower in the post-Cold War world.

1998 Death: James Earl Ray, who confessed to assassinating Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 and then insisted he was framed, at a Nashville hospital at the age of 70.

1999 On the first day of a 50th anniversary NATO summit in Washington, Western leaders pledge to intensify military strikes against Yugoslavia and vow no compromise on demands that Slobodan Milosevic withdraw his troops from Kosovo.



2002 Pope John Paul II meets at the Vatican with US cardinals to discuss the sexual abuse scandal that had rocked the Roman Catholic clergy. He expresses an apology to victims of abuse, saying what had happened to them is a crime and 'an appalling act in the eyes of God.'








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