1803 – Louisiana Purchase: The United States purchases the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million, more than doubling the size of the young nation. With this acquisition President Thomas Jefferson secured the Port of New Orleans, free access to the Mississippi River and opened expansion of US territory westward to the Rocky Mountains.
Originally the purchase was for the port of new Orleans, portions of the east bank of the Mississippi, and free navigation of the river for U.S. commerce but at the last minute, on April 11, the French Minister Talleyrand was ordered by Napoleon to offer the entire territory to US Minster, Robert Livingston. This was mostly due to France’s difficulties in the Caribbean. Napoleons’ inability to secure Santo Domingo made the granaries of Louisiana useless without the the sugar. Considering his other difficulties with Spain and the temperament of the Americans, Napoleon threw in the entire territory for less than 5 cents an acre.
1812 – The Territory of Orleans becomes the 18th U.S. state under the name Louisiana.
313 – Roman emperor Licinius unifies the entire Eastern Roman Empire under his rule.
1006 – Supernova SN 1006, the brightest supernova in recorded history, appears in the constellation Lupus.
1492 – Spain gives Christopher Columbus his commission of exploration.
1513 – Edmund de la Pole, Yorkist pretender to the English throne, is executed on the orders of Henry VIII.
1789 – On the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York City, George Washington takes the oath of office to become the first elected President of the United States.
1794 – The Battle of Boulou is fought, in which French forces defeated the Spanish under General Union.
1838 Nicaragua declares independence from the Central American Federation.
1863 – Mexican forces attacked the French Foreign Legion in Hacienda Camarón, Mexico.
1900 – Hawaii becomes a territory of the United States, with Sanford B. Dole as governor.
1900 – Casey Jones dies in a train wreck in Vaughn, Mississippi, while trying to make up time on the Cannonball Express.
1903 – Emily Stowe died, Canadian physician and suffragist (b. 1831)
1904 – The Louisiana Purchase Exposition World’s Fair opens in St. Louis, Missouri.
1907 – Honolulu, Hawaii becomes an independent city.
1917 – Battle of the Boot, marks the end of the British army s Samarra Offensive, launched the previous month by Anglo-Indian forces under the regional commander in chief, Sir Frederick Stanley Maude, against the important Turkish railroad at Samarra, some 130 kilometers north of Baghdad, in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq).
1927 – The Federal Industrial Institute for Women, opens in Alderson, West Virginia, as the first women’s federal prison in the United States.
1927 – Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford become the first celebrities to leave their footprints in concrete at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
1937 – The Philippines holds a plebiscite for Filipino women on whether they should be extended the right to suffrage; over 90% would vote in the affirmative.
1938 – The animated cartoon short Porky’s Hare Hunt debuts in movie theaters, introducing Happy Rabbit (a prototype of Bugs Bunny).
1938 – The first televised FA Cup Final takes place between Huddersfield Town and Preston North End.
1939 – NBC inaugurates its regularly scheduled television service in New York City, broadcasting President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s N.Y. World’s Fair opening day ceremonial address.
1943 – World War II: Operation Mincemeat: The submarine HMS Seraph surfaces in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Spain to deposit a dead man planted with false invasion plans and dressed as a British military intelligence officer.
1945 – World War II: Fuehrerbunker: Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun commit suicide after being married for one day. Soviet soldiers raise the Victory Banner over the Reichstag building.
1947 – In Nevada, the Boulder Dam is renamed Hoover Dam a second time.
1948 – In Bogotá, Colombia, the Organization of American States is established.
1956 – Former Vice President and Senator Alben Barkley dies during a speech in Virginia. He collapses after proclaiming “I would rather be a servant in the house of the lord than sit in the seats of the mighty.”
1970 – Inger Stevens dies, Swedish actress (b. 1934)
1972 – Gia Scala dies, English-American actress (b. 1934)
1973 – Watergate Scandal: U.S. President Richard Nixon announces that top White House aids H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and others have resigned.
1974 – Agnes Moorehead dies, American actress (b. 1900)
1975 – Fall of Saigon: Communist forces gain control of Saigon. The Vietnam War formally ends with the unconditional surrender of South Vietnamese president Duong Van Minh.
1980 – Accession of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
1983 – George Balanchine dies, Russian-born dancer and choreographer (b. 1904)
1983 – Muddy Waters dies, American musician (b. 1915)
1988 – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II officially opens World Expo ’88 in Brisbane, Australia.
1993 – CERN announces World Wide Web protocols will be free.
1993 – Virgin Radio broadcasts for the first time in the United Kingdom.
1994 – Roland Ratzenberger dies, Austrian race car driver (b. 1960)
1995 – U.S. President Bill Clinton became the first President to visit Northern Ireland.
1996 – David Opatoshu dies, American actor (b. 1918)
1999 – Cambodia joins the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bringing the number of members to 10.
2004 – U.S. media release graphic photos of American soldiers abusing and sexually humiliating Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.
2007 – Kevin Mitchell dies, American football player (b. 1971)
2007 – Tom Poston dies, American actor (b. 1921)
2008 – Two skeletal remains found near Ekaterinburg, Russia are confirmed by Russian scientists to be the remains of Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia and one of his sisters.
84 – Cloris Leachman, American actress
77 – Willie Nelson, American musician
72 – Gary Collins, American actor
70 – Burt Young, American actor
69 – Stavros Dimas, Greek politician
69 – Johnny Farina, American musician and composer (Santo & Johnny)
67 – Bobby Vee, American singer
66 – Jill Clayburgh, American actress
65 – Annie Dillard, American writer
62 – Perry King, American actor
61 – Phil Garner, baseball manager
56 – Jane Campion, New Zealand film director
51 – Paul Gross, Canadian actor, director, and writer
51 – Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
49 – Isiah Thomas, American basketball player
47 – Michael Waltrip, American race car driver
44 – Glenn Humplik, Canadian TV Show Co-Host (Tom Green Show)
35 – Johnny Galecki, American actor
34 – Amanda Palmer, American musician (The Dresden Dolls)
28 – Kirsten Dunst, American actress
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