Today in 1642, Massachusetts passed the first compulsory/mandatory school attendance law in the United States.
Today in 1775, the first abolitionist society in U.S. was organized in Philadelphia with Ben Franklin as president.
Today in 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln at the Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. He died the following day. According to legend, Lincoln was holding his wife’s hand at the time of the shooting and she had just asked him if the public display of affection was appropriate. Lincoln responded, "They won’t think anything about it." Those were his last words. (An interesting fact: John Wilkes Booth was the actor of his time. The modern day equivalent would be if the president was shot by Leonardo DiCaprio.)
ALSO today in 1865? Secretary of State William H. Seward and his family were attacked in his home by Lewis Powell…who was involved in the group of conspirators who had sought to assassinate President Lincoln. While he seriously wounded, Seward – who was already in bed recovering from a carriage accident – survived the horrific stabbing. In the end, Seward narrowly survived the attempt on his life and spent several weeks recovering from wounds to his neck and face.
Today in 1910, President Taft began the tradition of throwing out a pitch on baseball’s opening day.
Today in 1912, the world’s largest passenger ship, the Titanic, struck an iceberg during its maiden voyage in the North Atlantic and began sinking. Because it had been publicized as an unsinkable ship, many passengers refused to get into the lifeboats. Rescue ships picked up 706 survivors, while 1517 went down with the ship. The ship was located again in 1986.
Today in 1933, the first modern sighting of the Loch Ness Monster was recorded by Aldie and John Mackay, who said they saw "something resembling a whale."
Today in 1935, the “Black Sunday” sandstorm ravaged the American Midwest, creating the "Dust Bowl."
Today in 1956, the Ampex Corporation demonstrated its first commercial videotape recorder. The price? A cool $50k.
Today in 1983, President Reagan signed a $165-billion Social Security rescue package.
Today in 1986 the U.S. bombed military targets in Tripoli, Libya in response to the country’s terrorist activities. Damage was severe and 15 Libyans were killed, including Libyan leader Colonel Quaddafi’s 15-month-old adopted daughter.
Today in 1994, an American F-15 accidentally shot down two American helicopters over Iraq – killing 26.
Today in 1997, Ellen DeGeneres revealed she was a lesbian in an interview with “Time” magazine. On the cover, she famously proclaimed, "Yup, I'm Gay.”
Today in 2003, American troops in Baghdad captured Abu Abbas, leader of the Palestinian group that killed an American on the hijacked cruise liner the Achille Lauro [[ah-KEE-lee LOR-oh]] in 1985.
Today in 2003, the Human Genome Project was completed with 99% of the human genome sequenced to an accuracy of 99.99%.
Today in 2012, the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with Adam “MCA” Yauch too ill to attend. He passed weeks later following a valiant fight with cancer of the salivary gland and lymph node.
Today in 2015, Archeologists announced they had found at Lomekwi in Kenya 3.3-million-year old stone tools, the oldest ever discovered and which pre-date the earliest known humans.
Today in 2018, Beyoncé became the first black woman to headline the Coachella Music Festival…and her performance on this day became the most-watched performance EVER on YouTube.
Today in 2018, US, UK and French forces carried out airstrikes on sites associated with Syria's chemical weapons program, in response to Douma gas attack.