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Today in History for April

Apr 01

Who created the $ dollar sign?

April 1, 1778 — Louisiana businessman Oliver Pollock created the dollar sign as the symbol we know today. Pollock immigrated to America in 1760 from Ireland at age 25. He began a career as a merchant in the West Indies and was headquarters in...

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Apr 01

Who popularized the tradition of April Fools’ Day?

April 1, 1700 — Today, English pranksters began popularizing the annual tradition of April Fools’ Day by playing practical jokes on each other. Also called All Fools’ Day, this holiday has been celebrated for centuries by different cultures. Some historians speculate the concept dates...

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Apr 03

Which mail service started today?

April 3, 1860 — The Pony Express! This mail delivery service started a route between St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California on April 3, 1860. The men left on horseback simultaneously from St. Joseph and Sacramento with saddlebags full of...

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Apr 05

Which president exercised the first veto?

April 5, 1792 — George Washington issued the first presidential veto of a Congressional bill today that introduced a new plan to increased the amount of seats for northern states in the House of Representatives. Washington had a politically divided Cabinet, which...

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Apr 09

Where is the first tax-supported library located?

April 9, 1833 — The Peterborough Library opened today in New Hampshire, making it the nation's first first tax-supported library.  However, it will take another 19 years for the Boston Public Library (pictured below) to open. What took so long? The process began...

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Apr 10

How much did it cost to purchase the first patent?

April 10, 1790 — The US Patent system formed today when President George Washington signed the bill that gave inventors rights to their creations. The absolute power to grant a patent went to the first board members — Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of...

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Apr 11

What four pivotal events happened on this day in history?

April 11 marks three important events in Colonial America, and around the world.  In 1771 — The last execution for witchcraft took place in Germany. On this day in 1783 — Hostilities formally ceased in the American Revolutionary War. On April 11, 1814 — French Emperor Napoleon Bonapart abdicated unconditionally....

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Apr 12

What is the Townshend Act?

April 12, 1770 — Today, the British parliament repealed the Townshend Act on all goods but tea in order to underscore the supremacy of parliament. Pressure from British merchants was partially responsible for the change. The issue: On March 5, 1770...

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Apr 13

Happy Birthday Thomas Jefferson!

Thomas Jefferson was born today, on April 13, 1743, in Shadwell, Virginia. The author of the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, Jefferson was the third president of the United States, and the founder of the University of...

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Apr 15

A Day of Mourning

April 15, 1865 — At 7:22 a.m. today, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, died from a bullet wound inflicted the night before by John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer. The president’s death came only six...

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Apr 16

What is the Rush-Bagot Pact?

April 16, 1818 — The US Senate today ratified the Rush-Bagot Pact — an agreement between the United States and Great Britain to eliminate their fleets from the Great Lakes. The Convention of 1818 set the boundary between the Missouri...

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Apr 19

What famous siege ended today?

April 19, 1775 — A battle began today that didn't end until March 17, 1776 when the British finally fled Boston by sea. The 11-month battle started when British troops retreated to Massachusetts after the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Here's what happened: American militiamen...

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Apr 20

What happened during the 11-month siege of Boston that began today?

April 20, 1775 — Today begins the 11-month siege of Boston, which started when British troops retreated to Massachusetts after the Battles of Lexington and Concord. American militiamen blocked off Boston neck and Charlestown neck, the thin strips of land connecting the Boston and Charlestown...

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Apr 22

When did the circus come to America?

April 22, 1793 — This afternoon in Philadelphia, President George Washington attended the opening of the first circus in the United States. Circus owner Bill Ricketts had recently acquired horses in Pennsylvania and traveled to New York City to erect a stage on Broadway,...

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Apr 24

What was the first successful newspaper in the US?

April 24, 1704 — Formed today was the Boston News-Letter, the first successful newspaper in the North American colonies. A small single sheet of 8x12 inches, articles were printed on both sides; it was published weekly until 1776. Its editor and publisher was John Campbell, a...

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Apr 25

What was the Thornton Affair?

April 25, 1846 — The Thornton Affair began today when Mexican troops attacked a squadron of US dragoons commanded by Captain Seth Thornton near Fort Texas (modern-day Brownsville). The engagement left 16 US troops killed. Capt. Thornton, who was knocked unconscious when he fell off his...

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Apr 28

What is the history of the Mutiny on the Bounty?

April 28, 1789 — A famous mutiny occurred today aboard the Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty. Led by Fletcher Christian against Lieutenant William Bligh, sailors were motivated by alleged harsh treatment by Bligh — who they set afloat in a small boat with about 20 crew loyal to him. To avoid detection and...

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