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Today In History – April 14 – President Abraham Lincoln Assassinated





1818: Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language is printed: Noah Webster, a Yale-educated lawyer with an avid interest in language and education, publishes his American Dictionary of the English Language.

Webster’s dictionary was one of the first lexicons to include distinctly American words. The dictionary, which took him more than two decades to complete, introduced more than 10,000 “Americanisms.” The introduction of a standard American dictionary helped standardize English spelling, a process that had started as early as 1473, when printer William Caxton published the first book printed in English. The rapid proliferation of printing and the development of dictionaries resulted in increasingly standardized spellings by the mid-17th century. Coincidentally, Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language was published almost exactly 63 years earlier, on April 15, 1755. More here

1865: President Abraham Lincoln Shot : On this day in 1865, John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer, fatally shoots President Abraham Lincoln at a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. The attack came only five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his massive army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, effectively ending the American Civil War.

The president, mortally wounded, was carried to a lodging house opposite Ford’s Theater. About 7:22 a.m. the next morning, Lincoln, age 56, died–the first U.S. president to be assassinated. Booth, pursued by the army and other secret forces, was finally cornered in a barn near Bowling Green, Virginia, and died from a possibly self-inflicted bullet wound as the barn was burned to the ground. Of the eight other people eventually charged with the conspiracy, four were hanged and four were jailed. Lincoln, the 16th U.S. president, was buried on May 4, 1865, in Springfield, Illinois. More here and here

1865: U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward and his family are attacked in his home by Lewis Powell: On April 14, 1865, Lewis Powell, an associate of John Wilkes Booth, attempted to assassinate Seward, the same night that Abraham Lincoln was shot. Powell gained access to Seward’s home by telling a servant, William Bell, that he was delivering medicine for Seward, who was recovering from a recent carriage accident on April 5, 1865. Powell started up the stairs when then confronted by one of Seward’s sons, Frederick. He told the intruder that his father was asleep and Powell began to start down the stairs, but suddenly swung around and pointed a gun at Frederick’s head. After the gun jammed, Powell panicked, then repeatedly struck Frederick over the head with the pistol, leaving Frederick in critical condition on the floor.

Powell then burst into William Seward’s bedroom with a knife and stabbed him several times in the face and neck. Powell also attacked and injured another son (Augustus), a soldier and nurse (Sgt. George Robinson) who had been assigned to stay with Seward, and a messenger (Emerick Hansell) who arrived just as Powell was escaping.[19] Luckily all five men that were injured that night survived, although Seward Sr. would carry the facial scars from the attack through his remaining life. The events of that night took their toll on his wife, Frances, who died June 1865 from the stress of almost losing her husband. Then his daughter Fanny died of tuberculosis in October 1866.

Powell was captured the next day and was executed on July 7, 1865, along with David Herold, George Atzerodt, and Mary Surratt, three other conspirators in the Lincoln assassination. More here

1912: Titanic hits iceberg: Just before midnight in the North Atlantic, the RMS Titanic fails to divert its course from an iceberg, ruptures its hull, and begins to sink.

Four days earlier, the Titanic, one of the largest and most luxurious ocean liners ever built, departed Southampton, England, on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. While leaving port, the massive ship came within a couple of feet of the steamer New York but passed safely by, causing a general sigh of relief from the passengers massed on the ship’s decks.

The Titanic was designed by the Irish shipbuilder William Pirrie and spanned 883 feet from stern to bow. Its hull was divided into 16 compartments that were presumed to be watertight. Because four of these compartments could be flooded without causing a critical loss of buoyancy, the Titanic was considered unsinkable. On its first journey across the highly competitive Atlantic ferry route, the ship carried some 2,200 passengers and crew.

After stopping at Cherbourg, France, and Queenstown, Ireland, to pick up some final passengers, the massive vessel set out at full speed for New York City. However, just before midnight on April 14, the ship hit an iceberg, and five of the Titanic’s compartments were ruptured along its starboard side. At about 2:20 a.m. on the morning of April 15, the massive vessel sank into the North Atlantic. More here

1927: The first Volvo car premieres in Gothenburg, Sweden: Volvo ÖV 4 is the first car built by Volvo. The designation ÖV4 stands for , “Öppen Vagn 4 cylindrar” in Swedish, which means Open Carriage 4 cylinders. The model ÖV4 was often referred to as “Jakob” but that was just a name for one of the 10 pre-series ÖV4 that was ready on July 25 Jakob’s name-day. All 10 prototypes were assembled in Stockholm at the company AB Galco, Hälsingegatan 41 where Gustav Larson worked at that time. Only one of the 10 pre-series cars manufactured during 1926 was saved for posterity and is housed in Volvo Museum, in Gothenburg, Sweden.

When the first series produced ÖV4 was about to drive out of the factory and engineer Eric Carlberg put it into first gear, the car was reversing. The explanation was that the differential gear in the rear axle had been fitted wrongly. This mistake delayed the introduction by one day and the official introduction day for the ÖV4 was then adjusted to the April 14, 1927, the day AB Volvo officially says the automobile company Volvo was “born”— this is from a marketing point of view. More here

1950: President Truman receives NSC-68: President Harry S. Truman receives National Security Council Paper Number 68 (NSC-68). The report was a group effort, created with input from the Defense Department, the State Department, the CIA, and other interested agencies; NSC-68 formed the basis for America’s Cold War policy for the next two decades.

In the face of U.S. foreign policy concerns, most notably the Soviet explosion of an atomic device in September 1949 and China’s fall to communism the following October, President Truman requested a complete review and re-evaluation of America’s Cold War diplomacy strategy. The result was NSC-68, a report that took four months to compile and was completed in April 1950. More here

1986: U.S. bombs Libya: On April 14, 1986, the United States launches air strikes against Libya in retaliation for the Libyan sponsorship of terrorism against American troops and citizens. The raid, which began shortly before 7 p.m. EST (2 a.m., April 15 in Libya), involved more than 100 U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft, and was over within an hour. Five military targets and “terrorism centers” were hit, including the headquarters of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi. More here

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