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Today In History – April 17 – Benjamin Franklin Dies





1790: Benjamin Franklin dies: On April 17, 1790, American statesman, printer, scientist, and writer Benjamin Franklin dies in Philadelphia at age 84. Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. Benjamin Franklin is currently featured on the $100 bill

Born in Boston in 1706, Franklin became at 12 years old an apprentice to his half brother James, a printer and publisher. He learned the printing trade and in 1723 went to Philadelphia to work after a dispute with his brother. After a sojourn in London, he started a printing and publishing press with a friend in 1728. In 1729, the company won a contract to publish Pennsylvania’s paper currency and also began publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette, which was regarded as one of the better colonial newspapers. From 1732 to 1757, he wrote and published Poor Richard’s Almanack, an instructive and humorous periodical in which Franklin coined such practical American proverbs as “God helps those who help themselves” and “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

In his last great public service, he was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and worked hard for the document’s ratification. After his death in 1790, Philadelphia gave him the largest funeral the city had ever seen. More here and here

1815: Volcanic eruption kills 80,000: Heavy eruptions of the Tambora volcano in Indonesia are letting up by this day in 1815. The volcano, which began rumbling on April 5, killed almost 100,000 people directly and indirectly. The eruption was the largest ever recorded and its effects were noted throughout the world. More here

1961: JFK waits for word on the Bay of Pigs invasion: President John F. Kennedy waits for word on the success of a covert plan to overthrow Cuba’s government on this day in 1961. Kennedy had authorized Operation Zapata, the attempt to overthrow Cuba’s communist leader, Fidel Castro, on April 15. The failed coup became what many have called the worst foreign-policy decision of Kennedy’s administration. More here

1970: Apollo 13 returns to Earth: With the world anxiously watching, Apollo 13, a U.S. lunar spacecraft that suffered a severe malfunction on its journey to the moon, safely returns to Earth.

On April 11, the third manned lunar landing mission was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise. The mission was headed for a landing on the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon. However, two days into the mission, disaster struck 200,000 miles from Earth when oxygen tank No. 2 blew up in the spacecraft. Swigert reported to mission control on Earth, “Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” and it was discovered that the normal supply of oxygen, electricity, light, and water had been disrupted. The landing mission was aborted, and the astronauts and controllers on Earth scrambled to come up with emergency procedures. The crippled spacecraft continued to the moon, circled it, and began a long, cold journey back to Earth. More here

2006: Sami Hammad, a Palestinian suicide bomber, detonates an explosive device in Tel Aviv, killing 11 people and injuring 70: On Monday, April 17, 2006, around 1:30 pm, a Palestinian suicide bomber approached a crowded fast food restaurant near the old central bus station of Tel Aviv in the southern part of the Neve Shaanan neighborhood. The suicide bomber blew himself up when the security guard stationed at the entrance to the restaurant asked him to open his bag for inspection. The blast killed 11 people and injured more than 70.

After the attack the Islamic Jihad published a video tape in which the militant organization stated that the attack was carried out by the 21-year-old Palestinian Sami Salim Hammad from the village of Araqah, who infiltrated into Israel from the West Bank. More here

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