Today in History

Today is Saturday, April 4, the 94th day of 2015. There are 271 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On April 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln, accompanied by his son Tad, visited the vanquished Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, where he was greeted by a crowd that included former slaves.

On this date:

In 1818, Congress decided the flag of the United States would consist of 13 red and white stripes and 20 stars, with a new star to be added for every new state of the Union.

In 1841, President William Henry Harrison succumbed to pneumonia one month after his inaugural, becoming the first U.S. chief executive to die in office.

In 1850, the city of Los Angeles was incorporated.

In 1859, “Dixie” was performed publicly for the first time by Bryant’s Minstrels at Mechanics’ Hall in New York.

In 1865, the Crossness Pumping Station, a key component of London’s new and improved sewage system, was officially opened by Edward, Prince of Wales.

In 1933, the Navy airship USS Akron crashed in severe weather off the New Jersey coast with the loss of 73 lives.

In 1945, during World War II, U.S. forces liberated the Nazi concentration camp Ohrdruf in Germany. Hungary was liberated as Soviet forces cleared out remaining German troops.

In 1958, Johnny Stompanato, an enforcer for crime boss Mickey Cohen and the boyfriend of actress Lana Turner, was stabbed to death by Turner’s teenage daughter, Cheryl Crane, who said Stompanato had attacked her mother.

In 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., 39, was shot and killed while standing on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

In 1975, more than 130 people, most of them children, were killed when a U.S. Air Force transport plane evacuating Vietnamese orphans crash-landed shortly after takeoff from Saigon. Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In 1985, Gary Dotson, who’d served six years of a prison sentence for rape, was freed on bail from the Joliet Correctional Center in Illinois after his accuser, Cathleen Crowell Webb, testified that the attack had never occurred. (Charges against Dotson were dropped in 1989; he was pardoned by Illinois Gov. George Ryan in 2002.)

In 1995, Francisco Martin Duran, who had raked the White House with semiautomatic rifle fire in Oct. 1994, was convicted in Washington of trying to assassinate President Bill Clinton (Duran was later sentenced to 40 years in prison).

Ten years ago: Tens of thousands of pilgrims paid their final respects to Pope John Paul II after his body was carried on a crimson platform to St. Peter’s Basilica. Kyrgyzstan President Askar Akayev, who’d fled the country from an uprising, signed a resignation agreement. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled creditors could not seize the Individual Retirement Accounts of bankrupt people. The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal captured two Pulitzer Prizes apiece; Marilynne Robinson received the fiction award for her novel “Gilead,” while John Patrick Shanley received the drama Pulitzer for “Doubt.” Coaches Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun were elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Five years ago: At least 42 people were killed as suicide attackers detonated car bombs near embassies in Baghdad. A magnitude-7.2 earthquake struck Mexicali, Mexico. A U.S.-Russian space team sent Easter greetings down to Earth after their Soyuz spacecraft docked flawlessly at the International Space Station.

One year ago: An Afghan police officer opened fire on two Associated Press journalists inside a security forces base in eastern Afghanistan, killing prize-winning photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding veteran correspondent Kathy Gannon.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Elizabeth Wilson is 94. Former Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., is 83. Recording executive Clive Davis is 83. Bandleader Hugh Masekela is 76. Author Kitty Kelley is 73. Actor Craig T. Nelson is 71. Actor Walter Charles is 70. Actress Christine Lahti is 65. Country singer Steve Gatlin (The Gatlin Brothers) is 64. Actress Mary-Margaret Humes is 61. Writer-producer David E. Kelley is 59. Actor Phil Morris is 56. Actress Lorraine Toussaint is 55. Actor Hugo Weaving is 55. Rock musician Craig Adams (The Cult) is 53. Talk show host/comic Graham Norton is 52. Actor David Cross is 51. Actor Robert Downey Jr. is 50. Actress Nancy McKeon is 49. Actor Barry Pepper is 45. Country singer Clay Davidson is 44. Rock singer Josh Todd (Buckcherry) is 44. Singer Jill Scott is 43. Rock musician Magnus Sveningsson (The Cardigans) is 43. Magician David Blaine is 42. Singer Kelly Price is 42. Rhythm-and-blues singer Andre Dalyrimple (Soul For Real) is 41. Actor James Roday is 39. Actress Natasha Lyonne is 36. Actor Eric Andre is 32. Actress Amanda Righetti is 32. Actress Jamie Lynn Spears is 24. Actress Daniela Bobadilla is 22. Pop singer Austin Mahone is 19.

Thought for Today: “You can kill a man but you can’t kill an idea.” – Medgar Evers, American civil rights activist (1926-1963).

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