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Today in History: Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter, starting the Civil War

Today in History: Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter, starting the Civil War

Today is Monday, April 12, the 102nd day of 2021. There are 263 days left in the year.

Highlight in History:

On April 12, 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia, at age 63; he was succeeded by Vice President Harry S. Truman.

On this date:

In 1861, the Civil War began as Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

In 1877, the catcher’s mask was first used in a baseball game by James Tyng of Harvard in a game against the Lynn Live Oaks.

In 1955, the Salk vaccine against polio was declared safe and effective.

In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to fly in space, orbiting the earth once before making a safe landing.

In 1963, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, charged with contempt of court and parading without a permit. (During his time behind bars, King wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”)

In 1981, the space shuttle Columbia blasted off from Cape Canaveral on its first test flight. Former world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, 66, died in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In 1988, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a patent to Harvard University for a genetically engineered mouse, the first time a patent was granted for an animal life form.

In 1989, former boxing champion Sugar Ray Robinson died in Culver City, Calif., at age 67; radical activist Abbie Hoffman was found dead at his home in New Hope, Pa., at age 52.

In 1990, in its first meeting, East Germany’s first democratically elected parliament acknowledged responsibility for the Nazi Holocaust, and asked the forgiveness of Jews and others who had suffered.

In 2009, American cargo ship captain Richard Phillips was rescued from Somali pirates by U.S. Navy snipers who shot and killed three of the hostage-takers. Angel Cabrera became the first Argentine to win the Masters.

In 2015, Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into presidential politics, announcing in a video her much-awaited second campaign for the White House. 

Ten years ago: Japan ranked its nuclear crisis at the highest possible severity on an international scale — the same level as the 1986 Chernobyl disaster — even as it insisted radiation leaks were declining at its tsunami-crippled nuclear plant. 

Five years ago: Navy Secretary Ray Mabus (MAY’-buhs) told 1,500 Marines and sailors at Camp Pendleton that the Pentagon’s decision to let women compete for all military combat positions was as irreversible as earlier edicts to integrate Blacks and allow gays and lesbians to openly serve. 

One year ago: Christians around the world celebrated Easter Sunday isolated in their homes by the coronavirus. St. Peter’s Square was barricaded to keep out crowds. Pope Francis celebrated Easter Mass inside the largely vacant basilica, calling for global solidarity in the face of the pandemic and urging political leaders to give hope and opportunity to people who had lost jobs.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Jane Withers is 95. Playwright Alan Ayckbourn (AYK’-bohrn) is 82. Jazz musician Herbie Hancock is 81. Rock singer John Kay (Steppenwolf) is 77. Actor Ed O’Neill is 75. Actor Dan Lauria is 74. Talk show host David Letterman is 74. Author Scott Turow is 72.

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