Today’s moment of history:
On April 12, 1861, the Civil War broke out when Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina.
In 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a brain hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia, at the age of 63; he was succeeded by Vice President Harry S. Truman.
In 1955, Salk’s polio vaccine was found to be safe and effective.
In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to fly into space, flying around the Earth once before landing safely.
In 1963, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and imprisoned in Birmingham, Alabama, on charges of contempt of court and parade without permission. (While behind bars, King wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Prison.”)
In 1981, former world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, 66, died in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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In 1985, Senator Jake Garn, Utah, became the first current member of Congress to fly into space after the Discovery shuttle took off.
In 1988, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted a patent to Harvard University for a genetically engineered mouse, and for the first time a patent was granted for an animal life form.
In 1990, at its first session, the first democratically elected parliament of East Germany acknowledged responsibility for the Nazi Holocaust and apologized to Jews and others affected.
In 1992, after five years of creation, Euro Disneyland (now called Disney Paris) opened in Marne-la-Vallee, France, amid controversy as French intellectuals lamented the invasion of American pop culture.
In 2012, a jury was selected in Greensboro, North Carolina, to consider a corruption case against former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, charged with six counts of election fraud. (In the end, the court acquitted Edwards of accepting illegal contributions to the campaign, while at a standstill on the remaining five points; later, the federal prosecutor’s office dropped the remaining charges.)
In 2015, Hillary Rodham Clinton returned to presidential politics, announcing in a video about her long-awaited second campaign in the White House.
In 2017, the U.S. and China struck an unusual deal when President Donald Trump said he would not call China a currency manipulator, and expressed confidence that Chinese President Xi Jinping would help him deal with the growing threat of North Korea.
In 2018, Philadelphia police arrested two black men at Starbucks; the men were asked to leave after one of them was not allowed to go to the toilet. (Starbucks apologized and closed thousands of shops part of the day a few weeks later to conduct anti-bias training.)
In 2020, Christians around the world celebrated Easter, isolated in their homes by the coronavirus. St. Peter’s Square was barricaded to prevent crowds. Pope Francis celebrated Easter Mass in an almost empty basilica, calling for global solidarity in the face of a pandemic and calling on political leaders to give hope and opportunity to people who have lost their jobs.
In 2021, police clashed for the second night with protesters in a Minneapolis suburb, where an officer shot a black man, 20-year-old Dont Wright, while stopping. Iran has accused Israel of sabotaging its Natanz underground nuclear facility, which damaged its centrifuges. After months of blocking the coronavirus, shops, gyms, hairdressers and other “insignificant” businesses have reopened across Britain. President Joe Biden has said he will nominate Christine Wormouth, a former senior Pentagon official, as the first woman to lead the army. (Warmouth will be confirmed next month.) India has reported another record daily jump in coronavirus infection, overtaking Brazil as the second most affected country after the United States.