Today in History Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Today is Wednesday, April 26, the 116th day of 2017. There are 249 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On April 26, 1777, according to a widely accepted account from the American Revolutionary War, 16-year-old Sybil Ludington, the eldest child of Col. Henry Ludington, a militia commander in Dutchess County, New York, rode her horse into the night to alert her father’s men of the approach of British regular troops who were sacking Danbury, Connecticut. (Ludington, sometimes referred to as “the female Paul Revere,” was said to have covered 40 miles, more than twice the distance of the Boston silversmith’s ride.)

On this date:

In 1607, English colonists went ashore at present-day Cape Henry, Virginia, on an expedition to establish the first permanent English settlement in the Western Hemisphere.

In 1865, John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, was surrounded by federal troops near Port Royal, Virginia, and killed.

In 1913, Mary Phagan, a 13-year-old worker at a Georgia pencil factory, was strangled; Leo Frank, the factory superintendent, was convicted of her murder and sentenced to death. (Frank’s death sentence was commuted, but he was lynched by an anti-Semitic mob in 1915.)

In 1923, Britain’s Prince Albert, Duke of York (the future King George VI), married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon at Westminster Abbey.

In 1937, German and Italian warplanes raided the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War; estimates of the number of people killed vary from the hundreds to the thousands.

In 1945, Marshal Henri Philippe Petain (an-REE’ fee-LEEP’ pay-TAN’), the head of France’s Vichy government during World War II, was arrested.

In 1952, the destroyer-minesweeper USS Hobson sank in the central Atlantic after colliding with the aircraft carrier USS Wasp with the loss of 176 crew members.

In 1964, the African nations of Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form Tanzania.

In 1972, the first Lockheed L-1011 TriStar went into commercial service with Eastern Airlines.

In 1986, an explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union) caused radioactive fallout to begin spewing into the atmosphere. (Dozens of people were killed in the immediate aftermath of the disaster while the long-term death toll from radiation poisoning is believed to number in the thousands.)

In 1994, voting began in South Africa’s first all-race elections, resulting in victory for the African National Congress and the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as president. China Airlines Flight 140, a Taiwanese Airbus A-300, crashed while landing in Nagoya, Japan, killing 264 people (there were seven survivors).

In 2000, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean signed the nation’s first bill allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions.

Ten years ago: The Senate joined the House, 51-46, in clearing legislation calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq to begin by Oct. 1, 2007, with a goal of a complete pullout six months later (President George W. Bush later vetoed the measure). Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls gathered in Orangeburg, South Carolina, for their first debate of the 2008 campaign, during which they heaped criticism on President Bush’s Iraq policy. Former White House aide and movie industry lobbyist Jack Valenti died in Washington, D.C. at age 85.

Five years ago: Former Liberian President Charles Taylor became the first head of state since World War II to be convicted by an international war crimes court as he was found guilty of arming Sierra Leone rebels in exchange for “blood diamonds” mined by slave laborers and smuggled across the border. (Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in prison.) Pakistan’s Supreme Court convicted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani (gee-LAH’-nee) of contempt but spared him a prison term for refusing to reopen a corruption case against his boss, President Asif Ali Zardari (AH’-seef ah-LEE’ zahr-DAH’-ree).

One year ago: Republican Donald Trump roared to victory in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island while Democrat Hillary Clinton prevailed in four of those states, ceding Rhode Island to Bernie Sanders. Kelly Ripa returned to her daytime talk show after time off to “gather (her) thoughts” in response to learning her co-host Michael Strahan was leaving.

Today’s Birthdays: Architect I.M. Pei is 100. Movie composer Francis Lai is 85. Actress-comedian Carol Burnett is 84. Rhythm-and-blues singer Maurice Williams is 79. Songwriter-musician Duane Eddy is 79. Singer Bobby Rydell is 75. Rock musician Gary Wright is 74. Actress Nancy Lenehan is 64. Actor Giancarlo Esposito is 59. Rock musician Roger Taylor (Duran Duran) is 57. Actress Joan Chen is 56. Rock musician Chris Mars is 56. Actor-singer Michael Damian is 55. Actor Jet Li (lee) is 54. Rock musician Jimmy Stafford (Train) is 53. Actor-comedian Kevin James is 52. Record company executive Jeff Huskins is 51. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey (TREHTH’-eh-way) is 51. Actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste is 50. Country musician Joe Caverlee (Yankee Grey) is 49. Rapper T-Boz (TLC) is 47. First lady Melania Trump is 47. Actress Shondrella Avery is 46. Country musician Jay DeMarcus (Rascal Flatts) is 46. Country musician Michael Jeffers (Pinmonkey) is 45. Rock musician Jose Pasillas (Incubus) is 41. Actor Jason Earles is 40. Actor Leonard Earl Howze is 40. Actor Tom Welling is 40. Actor Pablo Schreiber is 39. Actor Nyambi Nyambi is 38. Actress Jordana Brewster is 37. Actress Stana Katic is 37. Actress Marnette Patterson is 37. Actor Channing Tatum is 37. Actress Emily Wickersham is 33. Actor Aaron Weeks is 31.

Thought for Today: “Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate.” — Dr. Thomas F. Jones, Jr., American college official (1916-1981).

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