Today in History – April 2

1513 – Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon sighted Florida. The next day he went ashore.

1792 – The U.S. Congress passed the Coinage Act to regulate the coins of the United States. The act authorized $10 Eagles, $5 Half Eagles, $2.50 Quarter Eagle gold coins, silver dollars, dollars, quarters, dimes and half-dimes to be minted.

1801 – During the Napoleonic Wars, the Danish fleet was destroyed by the British at the Battle of Copenhagen.

1860 – The first Italian Parliament met in Turin.

1865 – Confederate President Davis and most of his Cabinet fled the Confederate capital of Richmond, VA.

1872 – G.B. Brayton received a patent for the gas-powered streetcar.

1877 – The first Egg Roll was held on the grounds of the White House in Washington, DC.

1889 – Charles Hall patented aluminum.

1902 – The first motion picture theatre opened in Los Angeles with the name Electric Theatre.

1905 – The Simplon rail tunnel officially opened. The tunnel went under the Alps and linked Switzerland and Italy.

1910 – Karl Harris perfected the process for the artificial synthesis of rubber.

1914 – The U.S. Federal Reserve Board announced plans to divide the country into 12 districts.

1917 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson presented a declaration of war against Germany to the U.S. Congress.

1932 – A $50,000 ransom was paid for the infant son of Charles and Anna Lindbergh. He child was not returned and was found dead the next month.

1935 – Sir Watson-Watt was granted a patent for RADAR.

1944 – The Soviet Union announced that its troops had crossed the Prut River and entered Romania.

1947 – “The Big Story” debuted on NBC radio. It was on the air for eight years.

1947 – The U.N. Security Council voted to appoint the U.S. as trustee for former Japanese-held Pacific Islands.

1951 – U.S. General Dwight Eisenhower assumed command of all allied forces in the Western Mediterranean area and Europe.

1956 – “The Edge of Night” and “As the World Turns” debuted on CBS-TV.

1958 – The National Advisory Council on Aeronautics was renamed NASA.

1960 – France signed an agreement with Madagascar that proclaimed the country an independent state within the French community.

1963 – Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King began the first non-violent campaign in Birmingham, AL.

1966 – South Vietnamese troops joined in demonstrations at Hue and Da Nang for an end to military rule.

1967 – In Peking, hundreds of thousands demonstrated against Mao foe Liu Shao-chi.

1972 – Burt Reynolds appeared nude in “Cosmopolitan” magazine.

1978 – The first episode of “Dallas” aired on CBS.

1981 – In Lebanon, thirty-seven people were reported killed during fighting in the cities of Beirut and Zahle. It was the worst violence since the 1976 cease fire.

1982 – Argentina invaded the British-owned Falkland Islands. The following June Britain took the islands back.

1983 – The New Jersey Transit strike that began on March 1 came to an end.

1984 – John Thompson became the first black coach to lead his team to the NCAA college basketball championship.

1984 – In Jerusalem, three Arab gunmen wounded 48 people when they opened fire into a crowd of shoppers.

1985 – The NCAA Rules Committee adopted the 45-second shot clock for men’s basketball to begin in the 1986 season.

1986 – On a TWA airliner flying from Rome to Athens a bomb exploded under a seat killing four Americans.

1987 – The speed limit on U.S. interstate highways was increased to 65 miles per hour in limited areas.

1988 – U.S. Special Prosecutor James McKay declined to indict Attorney General Edwin Meese for criminal wrongdoing.

1989 – An editorial in the “New York Times” declared that the Cold War was over.

1989 – General Prosper Avril, Haiti’s military leader, survived a coup attempt. The attempt was apparently provoked by Avril’s U.S.-backed efforts to fight drug trafficking.

1990 – Iraqi President Saddam Hussein threatened to incinerate half of Israel with chemical weapons if Israel joined a conspiracy against Iraq.

1992 – Mob boss John Gotti was convicted in New York of murder and racketeering. He was later sentenced to life in prison.

1995 – The costliest strike in professional sports history ended when baseball owners agreed to let players play without a contract.

1996 – Russia and Belarus signed a treaty that created a political and economic alliance in an effort to reunite the two former Soviet republics.

1996 – Lech Walesa resumed his old job as an electrician at the Gdansk shipyard. He was the former Solidarity union leader who became Poland’s first post-war democratic president.

2002 – Israeli troops surrounded the Church of the Nativity. More than 200 Palestinians had taken refuge at the church when Israel invaded Bethlehem.

2013 – The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Arms Trade Treaty to regulate the international trade of conventional weapons.

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