On This Day in History April 20

April 20 – Events:

  • 1303 – The University of Rome La Sapienza is instituted by Pope Boniface VIII.
  • 1534 – Jacques Cartier begins his voyage, in which he will discover Canada and Labrador.
  • 1653 – Oliver Cromwell dissolves the Rump Parliament.
  • 1657 – Admiral Robert Blake destroys a Spanish silver fleet under heavy fire at Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
  • 1657 – Freedom of religion is granted to the Jews of New Amsterdam (later New York City).
  • 1689 – The former King James II of England, now deposed, lays siege to Derry.
  • 1775 – American Revolutionary War: the siege of Boston begins, which followed the first battles at Lexington and Concord.
  • 1792 – France declares war on Austria, the beginning of French Revolutionary Wars.
  • 1810 – The Governors of Caracas declares the national sovereignty from Spain.
  • 1828 – René Caillié is first non-Muslim to enter in Timbouctou.
  • 1836 – U.S. Congress passes an act creating the Wisconsin Territory.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army in order to command the forces of the state of Virginia.
  • 1862 – The first pasteurization test completed by Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard.
  • 1871 – Civil Rights Act of 1871.
  • 1884 – Pope Leo XIII publishes the encyclical, Humanum Genus.
  • 1902 – Pierre and Marie Curie refine radium chloride.
  • 1908 – Opening day of competition of the New South Wales Rugby League.
  • 1912 – Opening day for baseball stadiums Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Michigan, and Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • 1914 – Forty-five men, women, and children die in the Ludlow Massacre during a bitter Colorado coal-miner’s strike.
  • 1918 – Manfred von Richthofen, aka The Red Baron, shoots down his 79th and 80th victims marking his final victories before his death the following day.
  • 1926 – Western Electric and Warner Bros. announce Vitaphone, a process to add sound to film.
  • 1945 – World War II: US troops capture Leipzig, Germany, only to later cede the city to the Soviet Union.
  • 1945 – World War II: U.S. B-29 bombers destroy the Musashi Aircraft plants, halting production of the Nakajima Ki-84 fighter planes.
  • 1945 – Mayor of Leipzig, Germany, killed himself along with his wife and daughter.
  • 1945 – Fuehrerbunker: Adolf Hitler makes his last trip to the surface to award Iron Crosses to boy soldiers of the Hitler Youth.
  • 1961 – Failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion of US troops against Cuba.
  • 1962 – First production of Bentlage brand cigars, Habana, Cuba.
  • 1964 – BBC Two launches with the power cut because of the fire at Battersea Power Station.
  • 1967 – A Globe Air Bristol Britannia turboprop crashes at Nicosia, Cyprus, killing 126.
  • 1968 – A South African Airways Boeing 707 crashes during takeoff at Windhoek, South-West Africa, killing 122.
  • 1968 – English politician Enoch Powell makes his controversial Rivers of Blood speech.
  • 1972 – Apollo 16 lands on the Moon.
  • 1978 – Korean Air Flight 902 shot down by Soviets.
  • 1980 – Climax of Berber Spring in Algeria as hundreds of Berber political activists are arrested.
  • 1985 – ATF raid on The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord compound in northern Arkansas.
  • 1986 – Pianist Vladimir Horowitz performed in his native Russia for the first time in 61 years.
  • 1986 – Professional basketball player Michael Jordan sets all-time record for points in an NBA playoff game with 63 against the Boston Celtics.
  • 1998 – TAME Boeing 727-200 chartered by Air France crashes into Cerro El Cable mountain after takeoff from Bogotá, Colombia, killing 53.
  • 1998 – German terrorist group Red Army Faction announces their dissolution after 28 years.
  • 1999 – Columbine High School massacre: Two gunmen shoot dead 13 people and injure 24 others before committing suicide at Columbine High School located in Jefferson County, Colorado.
  • 2004 – In Iraq, 12 mortars are fired on Abu Ghraib Prison by insurgents, killing 22 detainees and wounding 92.
  • 2007 – Johnson Space Center Shooting: A man with a handgun barricades himself in NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas before killing a male hostage and himself.

April 20 – Birthdays:

  • 570 – Muhammed, founder of Islam (d. 632) (date disputed)
  • 702 – Jafar Sadiq, Muslim scholar (d. 765)
  • 1494 – Johannes Agricola, German Protestant reformer (d. 1566)
  • 1586 – Saint Rose of Lima, Peruvian saint (d. 1617)
  • 1633 – Emperor Go-Komyo of Japan (d. 1654)
  • 1646 – Charles Plumier, French botanist (d. 1704)
  • 1650 – William Bedloe, English informer (d. 1680)
  • 1668 – Yuri Troubetzkoy, Governor of Belgorod (d. 1739)
  • 1718 – David Brainerd, American missionary (d. 1747)
  • 1723 – Cornelius Harnett, American delegate to the Continental Congress (d. 1781)
  • 1745 – Philippe Pinel, French physician (d. 1826)
  • 1808 – Napoleon III, Emperor of the French (d. 1873)
  • 1818 – Heinrich Göbel, German-born inventor (d. 1893)
  • 1826 – Dinah Craik, English author (d. 1887)
  • 1850 – Daniel Chester French, American sculptor (d. 1931)
  • 1851 – Young Tom Morris, Scottish golfer (d. 1875)
  • 1870 – Maulvi Abdul Haq, Father of Urdu, Pakistani scholar (d.1961)
  • 1879 – Paul Poiret, French couturier (d. 1944)
  • 1882 – Holland Smith, U.S. General (d. 1967)
  • 1884 – Princess Beatrice of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (d. 1966)
  • 1889 – Albert Jean Amateau, Turkish-born businessman and social activist (d. 1996)
  • 1889 – Adolf Hitler, dictator of Nazi Germany from 1933 until his death (d. 1945)
  • 1890 – Maurice Duplessis, premier of Québec, known as “Le Chef” (d. 1959)
  • 1891 – Caresse Crosby, American poet (d. 1970)
  • 1893 – Harold Lloyd, American actor (d. 1971)
  • 1893 – Edna Parker, American supercentenarian
  • 1893 – Joan Miró, Spanish painter (d. 1983)
  • 1895 – Emile Christian, American musician (d. 1973)
  • 1896 – Wop May, Canadian aviator (d. 1952)
  • 1904 – Bruce Cabot, American actor (d. 1972)
  • 1904 – George Stibitz, American scientist (d. 1995)
  • 1908 – Lionel Hampton, American musician (d. 2002)
  • 1914 – Betty Lou Gerson, American actress (d. 1999)
  • 1915 – Joseph Wolpe, South African-born psychotherapist (d. 1997)
  • 1918 – Edward L. Beach, Jr., American naval officer, author (d. 2002)
  • 1918 – Kai Siegbahn, Swedish physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2007)
  • 1919 – Richard Hillary, Australian Spitfire pilot and author (d. 1943)
  • 1920 – John Paul Stevens, U.S. Supreme Court Justice
  • 1920 – Ronald Speirs, WWII Veteran (d. 2007)
  • 1921 – Janine Sutto, French Canadian actress
  • 1923 – Mother Angelica, American nun and broadcaster
  • 1923 – Tito Puente, American musician (d. 2000)
  • 1924 – Leslie Phillips, English actor
  • 1925 – Ernie Stautner, German-born American football player (d. 2006)
  • 1927 – Phil Hill, American race car driver and one-time F1 world champion
  • 1927 – Karl Alexander Müller, Swiss physicist, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1928 – Johnny Gavin, Irish footballer (d. 2007)
  • 1928 – Gerald S. Hawkins, English astronomer (d. 2003)
  • 1936 – Pat Roberts, American politician
  • 1937 – George Takei, American actor
  • 1939 – Peter S. Beagle, American author
  • 1939 – Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway
  • 1939 – Johnny Tillotson, American singer
  • 1941 – Ryan O’Neal, American actor
  • 1943 – John Eliot Gardiner, English conductor
  • 1943 – Edie Sedgwick, American actress (d. 1971)
  • 1945 – Michael Brandon, American actor
  • 1945 – Steve Spurrier, American football player and coach
  • 1946 – Julien Poulin, French Canadian actor
  • 1946 – Gordon Smiley, American racecar driver (d. 1982)
  • 1946 – Mel Winkler, American voice actor
  • 1947 – Björn Skifs, Swedish singer (Blue Swede)
  • 1947 – Andrew Tobias, American journalist and author
  • 1947 – David Leland, British actor, director and screenwriter
  • 1948 – Craig Frost, American musician (Grand Funk & Bob Seger)
  • 1948 – Adolf Lu Hitler Marak, Indian politician
  • 1948 – Gregory Itzin, American actor
  • 1948 – Rémy Trudel, French Canadian politician
  • 1949 – Massimo D’Alema, Prime Minister of Italy
  • 1949 – Veronica Cartwright, American actress
  • 1949 – Toller Cranston, Canadian figure skater and artist
  • 1949 – Jessica Lange, American actress
  • 1950 – Steve Erickson, American novelist
  • 1950 – Aleksandr Lebed, Russian general and politician (d. 2002)
  • 1950 – Chandra Babu Naidu, Indian politician
  • 1951 – Luther Vandross, American singer (d. 2005)
  • 1952 – Božidar Maljkovic, Serbian basketball coach
  • 1953 – Sebastian Faulks, British novelist
  • 1953 – Michael Q. Schmidt, American actor and model
  • 1954 – Gilles Lupien, French Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1956 – Beatrice Ask, Swedish politician
  • 1957 – Geraint Wyn Davies, Welsh-Canadian actor
  • 1958 – Viacheslav Fetisov, Russian ice hockey player
  • 1961 – Don Mattingly, American baseball player
  • 1961 – Konstantin Lavronenko, Russian actor
  • 1963 – Mauricio Gugelmin, Brazilian racing driver
  • 1963 – Aubrey de Grey, English pro-life activist
  • 1964 – Crispin Glover, American actor
  • 1964 – Andy Serkis, English actor
  • 1964 – Rosalynn Sumners, American figure skater
  • 1965 – Ralph Cirella, stylist and friend of Howard Stern
  • 1965 – Kostas Hatzidakis, Greek politician
  • 1965 – Adrian Fernández, Mexican racing driver
  • 1967 – Raymond van Barneveld, Dutch darts player
  • 1967 – Mike Portnoy, American drummer (Dream Theater)
  • 1967 – Lara Jill Miller, American actress
  • 1968 – J.D. Roth, American game show host and television personality
  • 1969 – Chris Jarvis, children’s TV personality
  • 1970 – Shemar Moore, American actor
  • 1970 – Adriano Moraes, Brazilian rodeo performer
  • 1971 – Carla Geurts, Dutch swimmer
  • 1971 – Allan Houston, basketball player
  • 1971 – Tina Cousins, English singer
  • 1972 – Carmen Electra, American actress
  • 1972 – Le Huynh Ðuc, Vietnamese footballer
  • 1972 – Stephen Marley, Jamaican musician
  • 1973 – Geoff Lloyd, British radio presenter
  • 1976 – Joey Lawrence, American actor
  • 1976 – Shay Given, Irish footballer
  • 1977 – Johnny “The Bull” Stamboli, professional wrestler
  • 1978 – Mirei Kuroda, Japanese gravure idol
  • 1980 – Jasmin Wagner, German singer
  • 1981 – Matus Valent, male fitness model
  • 1983 – Terrence J, American television host
  • 1984 – Tyson Griffin, American Mixed Martial Artist
  • 1986 – Cameron Duncan, New Zealand director (d. 2003)
  • 1987 – John Patrick Amedori, American Actor

April 20 – Deaths:

  • 1176 – Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, English soldier (b. 1130)
  • 1314 – Pope Clement V (b. 1264)
  • 1521 – Zhengde, Emperor of China (b. 1491)
  • 1534 – Elizabeth Barton, English nun (executed)
  • 1558 – Johannes Bugenhagen, German reformer (b. 1485)
  • 1643 – Christoph Demantius, German composer (b. 1567)
  • 1703 – Lancelot Addison, English royal chaplain (b. 1632)
  • 1765 – Abigail Williams, American accuser in the Salem witch trials (b. 1674)
  • 1769 – Pontiac, Chief of the Ottawa
  • 1831 – John Abernethy, English surgeon (b. 1764)
  • 1873 – William Tite, English architect (b. 1798)
  • 1874 – Alexander H. Bailey, American politician (b. 1817)
  • 1887 – Muhammad Sharif Pasha, Egyptian statesman (b. 1826)
  • 1899 – Joseph Wolf, German artist (b. 1820)
  • 1912 – Bram Stoker, Irish author (b. 1847)
  • 1918 – Karl Ferdinand Braun, German physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1850)
  • 1932 – Giuseppe Peano, Italian mathematician (b. 1858)
  • 1945 – Erwin Bumke, German jurist (b. 1874)
  • 1947 – King Christian X of Denmark (b. 1870)
  • 1951 – Ivanoe Bonomi, Prime Minister of Italy (b. 1873)
  • 1964 – Eddie Dyer, baseball player (b. 1899)
  • 1977 – Sepp Herberger, German football coach (b. 1897)
  • 1982 – Archibald MacLeish, American poet and Librarian of Congress (b. 1892)
  • 1984 – Hristo Prodanov, Bulgarian mountaineer (b. 1943)
  • 1986 – Sibte Hassan, Pakistani activist, journalist and writer (b. 1916)
  • 1989 – Doru Davidovici, Romanian writer and fighter pilot (b. 1945)
  • 1991 – Don Siegel, American film director (b. 1912)
  • 1992 – Benny Hill, British comedian (b. 1924)
  • 1993 – Cantinflas, Mexican comedian and actor (b. 1911)
  • 1994 – Jean Carmet, French actor (b. 1920)
  • 1996 – Christopher Robin Milne, son of A.A. Milne (b. 1920)
  • 1999 – Victims of the Columbine High School massacre
  • 1999 – Rick Rude, American professional wrestler (b. 1958)
  • 1999 – Señor Wences, Spanish ventriloquist and comedian (b. 1896)
  • 2001 – Giuseppe Sinopoli, Italian conductor and composer (b. 1946)
  • 2002 – Alan Dale, American singer (b. 1925)
  • 2003 – Ruth Hale, American playwright and actress (b. 1908)
  • 2003 – Daijiro Kato, Japanese motorcycle racer (b. 1976)
  • 2003 – Bernard Katz, German-born biophysicist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1911)
  • 2005 – Fumio Niwa, Japanese novelist (b. 1904)
  • 2005 – Zygfryd Blaut, Polish football player (b. 1943)
  • 2006 – Anna Svidersky (b. 1988)
  • 2007 – Andrew Hill, American jazz composer and pianist (b. 1931)
  • 2007 – Michael Fu Tieshan, Chinese bishop (b. 1931)

April 20 – Holidays:

  • Ridván begins at sunset (Bahá’í Faith).
  • Saint Agnes of Montepulciano
  • Saint Theotimus (d. 407)
  • Blessed Oda (d. 1158)
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