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Today In History – April 16 – Charlie Chaplin Born





1789: Washington leaves Mt. Vernon for his inauguration: On this day in 1789, newly elected President George Washington leaves his Mount Vernon, Virginia, home and heads for New York, where he is sworn in as the first American president.

Before leaving, Washington addressed a group of citizens in nearby Alexandria, Virginia, to whom he expressed his inner conflict at assuming the role of president. He admitted that he would have preferred to stay in retirement and wondered aloud, “at my age what possible advantages [could I gain] from public life?” However, disturbed by growing antagonism between the fledgling nation s political factions, Washington felt duty-bound to help resolve what he feared was an impending crisis. He recounted the day in his diary: “I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity; and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express.” More here

1889: Charlie Chaplin born: On April 16, 1889, future Hollywood legend Charlie Chaplin is born Charles Spencer Chaplin in London, England.

Chaplin, one of the most financially successful stars of early Hollywood, was introduced to the stage when he was five. The son of London music hall entertainers, young Chaplin was watching a show starring his mother when her voice cracked. He was quickly shuffled onto the stage to finish the act. More here

1943: Hallucinogenic effects of LSD discovered: In Basel, Switzerland, Albert Hoffman, a Swiss chemist working at the Sandoz pharmaceutical research laboratory, accidentally consumes LSD-25, a synthetic drug he had created in 1938 as part of his research into the medicinal value of lysergic acid compounds. After taking the drug, formally known as lysergic acid diethylamide, Dr. Hoffman was disturbed by unusual sensations and hallucinations. In his notes, he related the experience:

“Last Friday, April 16, 1943, I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant, intoxicated-like condition characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away.” More here

1947: Bernard Baruch coins the term “Cold War”: Multimillionaire and financier Bernard Baruch, in a speech given during the unveiling of his portrait in the South Carolina House of Representatives, coins the term “Cold War” to describe relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. The phrase stuck, and for over 40 years it was a mainstay in the language of American diplomacy. More here

1947: Texas City explodes: At 9:12 a.m. in Texas City’s port on Galveston Bay, a fire aboard the French freighter Grandcamp ignites ammonium nitrate and other explosive materials in the ship’s hold, causing a massive blast that destroys much of the city and takes nearly 600 lives.

The port of Texas City, a small industrial city with a population of about 18,000, was teaming with chemical plants and oil refineries that provided steady, good-paying jobs for much of the town. In the industrial sector, minor accidents and chemical fires were rather commonplace, and many stood around the port casually watching the reddish orange blaze that broke out on the Grandcamp early on a Wednesday morning. Twenty-seven members of the Texas City Volunteer Fire Department were called out to douse the flames, but the ship was so hot that the water from their fire hoses was instantly vaporized. More here

1972: Apollo 16 departs for moon: From Cape Canaveral, Florida, Apollo 16, the fifth of six U.S. lunar landing missions, is successfully launched on its 238,000-mile journey to the moon. On April 20, astronauts John W. Young and Charles M. Duke descended to the lunar surface from Apollo 16, which remained in orbit around the moon with a third astronaut, Thomas K. Mattingly, in command. Young and Duke remained on the moon for nearly three days, and spent more than 20 hours exploring the surface of Earth’s only satellite. The two astronauts used the Lunar Rover vehicle to collect more than 200 pounds of rock before returning to Apollo 16 on April 23. Four days later, the three astronauts returned to Earth, safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. More here

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