Today in 1865, the U.S. vessel Sultana exploded while carrying 2,300 Union POWs. An estimated 1,800 of her 2,427 passengers died when three of the boat's four boilers exploded and she burned to the waterline and sank near Memphis.
Today in 1880, Francis Clarke and M.G. Foster patented the electrical hearing aid.
Today in 1897, Grant's Tomb was dedicated.
Today in 1942,with World War II underway, all men in the United States between the ages of 45 and 64 – about 13-million – were ordered to register with the draft boards for non-military duty.
Today in 1947, "Babe Ruth Day" was declared at Yankee Stadium. The baseball legend broke iconic records throughout his 22 seasons of playing. On this day in 1947, he attended Yankee Stadium with a crowd of almost 60,000 people to cheer him on, in honor of Babe Ruth Day. By then, Ruth had been diagnosed with a terminal case of throat cancer. It was reported that just before he gave a speech, he started to cough with all of the excitement from the crowd. But he remained the champion he was, and began his speech. He died a little over a year after the Yankees honored the special day.
Today in 1961, disposable Pampers were introduced. According to Forbes, Pampers disposable diaper was the first P&G brand to generate ten-billion dollars in annual revenue for the company in 2012. The product is used by 25 million babies in 100-countries.
Today in 1965, legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow died in Pawling, New York, at the age of 57. The cause of death? Anyone who’s a fan would recall that he was almost never seen without his trademark Camel cigarette. By some accounts, he was a three-pack per day smoker. That’s why it surprised no one that developed lung cancer – and while he lived for two years after an operation to remove his left lung, the damage to his health was done.
Today in 1982, the trial of John W. Hinckley Jr. began in Washington. Hinckley was later acquitted by reason of insanity for the shooting of U.S. President Reagan, White House press secretary James S. Brady and two security men. Hinckley admitted that he shot President Reagan and the others but pleaded guilty by reason of insanity. The Government believed the evidence by the appeals court would prove that Mr. Hinckley was rational and in control of himself the day of the shootings.
Today in 1983, Nolan Ryan, of the Houston Astros, broke a 55-year-old major league baseball record when he struck out the 3,509th batter of his career.
Today in 1999, a week after the Columbine High School massacre, President Clinton called for new gun control measures, saying, "People's lives are at stake here." He proposed a required instant background check for the purchase of explosives, holding parents criminally liable when their guns were used by juveniles during a crime. He also increased the minimum age for purchasing a handgun from 18 to 21 years old.
Today in 1999,the Rev. Jerry Falwell publicly suggested that "Tinky Winky," the purple, purse-toting character on TV's popular "Teletubbies" children's show is gay. A spokesman for Itsy Bitsy Entertainment, which licenses the Teletubbies in the U.S., said the purse is actually Tinky Winky's magic bag. "The fact that he carries a magic bag doesn't make him gay," Steve Rice said. "It's a children's show. To think we would be putting sexual innuendo in a children's show is kind of outlandish."
Today in 2001, millionaire Dennis Tito became the world's first space tourist. He spent nearly eight days in orbit as a crewmember of ISS EP-1, a visiting mission to the International Space Station. Tito was accepted by the Russian Federal Space Agency as a candidate for a commercial spaceflight. Tito met criticism from NASA before the launch, primarily from Daniel Goldin, at that time the Administrator of NASA, who considered it inappropriate for a tourist to take a ride into space.
Today in 2011, President Obama released his long-form birth certificate from the United States state of Hawaii in an effort to stop “birther” conspiracy theorists. Obama hoped by releasing his birth certificate, it would put to rest any questions of his presidential eligibility and hoped to refocus the political debate on more important issues. Sorta worked…sorta didn’t.
Today in 2013, North Korea announced that Kenneth Bae, an American missionary detained for nearly six months, was being tried in the Supreme Court on charges of plotting to overthrow the government (Bae was later sentenced to 15 years of hard labor; he was released in November 2014 along with another American, Matthew Miller).
Today in 2017, David Dao, the airline passenger who was violently dragged off a flight after refusing to give up his seat, settled with United for an undisclosed sum (cellphone video of the April 9th confrontation aboard a jetliner at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport had sparked widespread public outrage over the way Dao was treated).
Today in 2020, the Defense Department declassified and released videos of unidentified "aerial phenomena" (aka aliens) from 2004 and 2015.