On This Day in History for April 17

Events in History

Events 1 - 100 of 113

  • 858 Benedict III ends his reign as Catholic Pope

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1387 Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" characters begin their pilgrimage to Canterbury (according to scholars)

Author and Poet Geoffrey Chaucer
Author and Poet
Geoffrey Chaucer
  • 1397 Geoffrey Chaucer tells the "Canterbury Tales" for the first time at the court of English King Richard II

AgreementContract of Interest

1492 Christopher Columbus signs a contract with the Spanish monarchs to find the "Indies" with the stated goal of converting people to Catholicism. This promises him 10% of all riches found, and the governorship of any lands encountered

Explorer of the New World Christopher Columbus
Explorer of the New World
Christopher Columbus
  • 1524 Giovanni Verrazano, a Florentine navigator, discovers New York Bay
  • 1534 Sir Thomas More confined in Tower of London
  • 1555 Siena surrenders to Spanish troops
  • 1596 Archduke Albrecht of Austria occupies Calais
  • 1704 1st successful US newspaper; published in Boston by John Campbell
  • 1711 Charles VI becomes Holy Roman Emperor after the death of his brother Joseph I
  • 1747 French troops occupy Zeeuws-Flanders, Netherlands
  • 1758 Francis Williams, 1st US black college graduate, publishes poems
  • 1797 Sir Ralph Abercromby attacks San Juan, Puerto Rico, one of the largest invasions of Spanish territories in America

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1808 Bayonne Decree by Napoleon I of France orders seizure of US ships

French Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte
French Emperor
Napoléon Bonaparte
  • 1817 1st US school for deaf (Hartford, Connecticut)
  • 1824 Russia abandons all North American claims south of 54° 40'N
  • 1839 Guatemala forms republic
  • 1853 Johan Rudolf Thorbecke's government in the Netherlands resigns
  • 1853 US Marine Hospital at Presidio, San Francisco forms
  • 1861 Indianola TX - "Star of West" taken by Confederacy
  • 1861 Virginia secedes from the Union (US Civil War)
  • 1863 Grierson's raid begins as Colonel Grierson and 1700 horse troopers set off from La Grange, Tennessee
  • 1864 Battle of Plymouth, North Carolina
  • 1864 Bread revolt in Savannah, Georgia
  • 1864 Grant suspends prisoner-of-war exchanges
  • 1865 Mary Surratt is arrested as a conspirator in Lincoln's assassination
  • 1875 Modern Snooker invented by Sir Neville Chamberlain, a bored British officer in Jabalpur, India
  • 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki is signed ending the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95)
  • 1900 7 high chiefs of American Samoa sign Instrument of Cession
  • 1905 US Supreme court judges maximum work day unconstitutional
  • 1905 The Supreme Court of the United States decides Lochner v. New York which held that the "right to free contract" was implicit in the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
  • 1907 Ellis Island, New York records 11,745 immigrants
  • 1912 1st unofficial gold record (Al Jolson's "Ragging The Baby To Sleep")
  • 1924 Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures & Louis B Mayer Co merged to form Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM)
  • 1925 Paul Painlevé succeeds Edouard Herriot as French premier
  • 1927 Japan's Wakarsoeki government falls, Baron Tanaka becomes premier
  • 1930 Abkhazian ASSR forms in Georgian SSR
  • 1930 DuPont scientist Elmer K. Bolton invents neoprene using Julius Nieuwland's divinyl acetylene

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1932 Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia ends slavery

Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie
Ethiopian Emperor
Haile Selassie
  • 1935 Provincial-National elections (Musserts NSB achieves 7.9%, 44 chairs)

AgreementTreaty of Interest

1939 Stalin signs British-France-Russian anti-Nazi pact

Soviet General Secretary Joseph Stalin
Soviet General Secretary
Joseph Stalin
  • 1941 British troop land in Iraq
  • 1941 US Office of Price Administration forms (handled rationing)
  • 1941 World War II: The Kingdom of Yugoslavia surrenders to Germany.
  • 1942 12 Lancasters bomb MAN factory in Augsburg
  • 1942 Operations begin to destroy Sobibor Concentration Camp
  • 1942 POW French General Henri Giraud escapes from his castle prison in Festung Königstein
  • 1943 Marshal Admiral Yamamoto flies from Truk to Rabaul
  • 1943 SS General Jürgen Stroop arrives in Warsaw
  • 1945 8th Air Force bombs Dresden
  • 1945 German occupiers flood Wieringermeer, Netherlands

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1945 Benito Mussolini flees from Salò to Milan

Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini
Italian Dictator
Benito Mussolini
  • 1945 US troops land in central Mindanao, Philippines during Battle of Mindanao
  • 1946 Syria declares independence from French administration

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1948 Elpidio Quirino assumes the Presidency of the Philippines, taking his oath of office two days after the death of President Manuel Roxas

6th President of the Philippines Elpidio Quirino
6th President of the Philippines
Elpidio Quirino
  • 1956 Bulgaria premier Tchervenkov resigns
  • 1956 Premium Savings Bonds introduced in Great Britain
  • 1956 USSR's Cominform (Parliament) dissolves
  • 1956 Willie Mosconi sinks 150 consecutive balls in a billiard tournament
  • 1958 Brussells (Belgium) World Fair opens
  • 1960 American Samoa sets up a constitutional government

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1961 1,400 Cuban exiles land in Bay of Pigs in a doomed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro

Cuban Revolutionary and President Fidel Castro
Cuban Revolutionary and President
Fidel Castro
  • 1964 Ford Mustang formally introduced ($2,368 base)
  • 1964 Jerrie Mock becomes 1st woman to fly solo around the world
  • 1967 Shortwave Radio NY Worldwide goes back on the air after a week off
  • 1967 Surveyor 3 launched; soft lands on Moon, April 20
  • 1969 Alexander Dubček forced to resign as first secretary of Czechoslovakia's Communist Party

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1969 Sirhan Sirhan is convicted of assassinating US Senator Robert F. Kennedy

US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy
US Attorney General
Robert F. Kennedy
  • 1969 The Band (formerly The Hawks), perform their 1st concert
  • 1969 People's Democracy activist Bernadette Devlin becomes the youngest woman Member of Parliament ever elected to Westminster at 21 years old
  • 1970 Apollo 13 limps back safely, Beech-built oxygen tank no help
  • 1971 Egypt, Libya & Syria form federation (FAR)
  • 1972 Revised Dutch constitution proclaimed
  • 1973 German counter-terrorist unit GSG 9 founded.
  • 1974 Bundy victim Susan Rancourt disappears from CWU, Ellensburg, Washington
  • 1974 Muslim fundamentalists assault military academy in Heliopolis, Egypt
  • 1975 Khmer Rouge captures Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Kampuchea National Day)
  • 1977 Christian-democrats win Belgium parliamentary election
  • 1978 63,500,000 shares traded on NY stock exchange (record)
  • 1978 Pulitzer prize awarded to Carl Sagan for "Dragons of Eden"
  • 1979 Brian Clark's "Whose Life is it Anyway?" premieres in London
  • 1979 Four Royal Ulster Constabulary officers are killed by a Provisional Irish Republican Army van bomb in Bessbrook, County Armagh; the bomb is believed to be the largest PIRA bomb used up to that point
  • 1982 US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1982 Proclamation of the Constitution Act by Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau

Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
Pierre Trudeau
  • 1983 1st National Coin Week begins
  • 1983 In Warsaw, police route 1,000 Solidarity supporters
  • 1983 India entered space age launching SLV-3 rocket
  • 1984 During Libyan Embassy demonstration in London, British police officer Yvonne Fletcher shot dead
  • 1986 IBM produces 1st megabit-chip
  • 1986 Netherlands & Scilly Islands sign peace treaty (war of 1651)
  • 1986 Pulitzer prize awarded to Larry McMurtry for "Lonesome Dove"
  • 1987 Richard Wilbur appointed as US poet laureate
  • 1987 USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
  • 1989 18th Boston Women's Marath won by Ingrid Kristiansen of Nor in 2:24:33
  • 1989 Maximum NY State unemployment benefits raised to $245 per week
  • 1989 Polish labor union granted legal status
  • 1989 Soviet-US agreement allows Soviets to fight US pros
  • 1990 Gas explosion on passenger train in Kumrahar India, 80 die
  • 1991 Dow Jones closes above 3,000 for 1st time (3,004.46)
  • 1991 Railroad workers go on strike in US

Birthdays in History

Birthdays 1 - 100 of 108

  • 1278 Michael IX Palaeologus, co-ruling Eastern Roman Emperor (d. 1320)
  • 1539 Tobias Stimmer, Swiss painter/cartoonist (Comedia)
  • 1573 Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria (d. 1651)
  • 1586 John Ford, English dramatist ('Tis Pity She's a Whore)
  • 1598 Giovanni Riccioli, Italian astronomer (d. 1671)

Person of interestPerson of Interest

1620 Marguerite Bourgeoys, French founder of the Congregation of Notre Dame (first Canadian saint), born in Troyes, France (d. 1700)

First Canadian Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys
First Canadian Saint
Marguerite Bourgeoys
  • 1622 Henry Vaughan, English poet (Silex Scintillans)
  • 1644 Abraham Jansz Storck, painter, baptized
  • 1666 Francois Valentijn, Dutch vicar/writer
  • 1676 Frederik I, van Hessen Kassel, King of Sweden (1720-51) (d. 1751)
  • 1699 Robert Blair, Scottish poet (Grave)
  • 1710 Henry Erskine, 10th Earl of Buchan, British Freemason (d. 1767)
  • 1734 Taksin, King of Thailand (d. 1782)
  • 1741 Samuel Chase, judge (signed Declaration of Independence)
  • 1750 François de Neufchâteau, French statesman and intellectual figure (d. 1828)
  • 1788 Joseph Gilbert Totten, American Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in New Haven, Connecticut (d. 1864)
  • 1794 Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius, German botanist (d. 1868)
  • 1798 Étienne Bobillier, French mathematician (d. 1840)
  • 1809 Philip St George Cocke, Brigadier General (Confederate Army), (d. 1861)
  • 1813 Henry Washington Benham, American Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in Cheshire, Connecticut (d. 1884)
  • 1816 Thomas Hazlehurst, English Methodist chapel builder (d. 1876)
  • 1827 French C Baeckelmans, Flemish architect (St Amanduskerk, Antwerp)

Person of interestPerson of Interest

1837 J. P. Morgan, Sr. [John Pierpont], American financier and philanthropist (General Electric, Steel Corporation, AT&T), born in Hartford, Connecticut (d. 1913)

Industrialist and Banker J. P. Morgan
Industrialist and Banker
J. P. Morgan
  • 1842 Maurice Rouvier, French statesman (d. 1911)
  • 1845 Isabel Barrows, American editor/penologist (Conference on Negro Question)
  • 1849 William R. Day, American diplomat and Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (d. 1923)
  • 1863 Augustus Edward Hough Love, English mathematician (d. 1940)
  • 1865 Ursula Julia Ledochowska, Polish-Austrian Catholic saint (d. 1939)
  • 1866 Ernest Starling, British physiologist (d. 1927)
  • 1868 Charles R Gallas, Dutch lexicographer (French dictionary)
  • 1869 Johannes M Meulenhoff, Dutch publisher
  • 1870 Ray Stannard Baker, American journalist (Puliter Prize 1940)
  • 1876 Ian Hay, Scotland, novelist/playwright (PIp, Carrying On)
  • 1877 Matsudaira Tsuneo, Japanese diplomat (d. 1949)
  • 1881 Anton Wildgans, writer
  • 1884 Leo Frank, American convict, hanged in 1915 by a lynch mob
  • 1885 Karen Blixen-Finecke, [pen name Isak Dinesen], Danish writer (Out of Africa)
  • 1892 Jean PJC Haesaert, Flemish lawyer/sociologist
  • 1897 Antonius F "Anton" Coolen, Dutch author (Village by the River)
  • 1897 Thornton N Wilder, American novelist/playwright (Our Town)
  • 1899 Vincent Wigglesworth, entomologist
  • 1901 George Keyt, Sri Lankan painter, born in Ceylon (d. 1993)
  • 1902 Jaime Torres Bodet, Mexican politician (d. 1974)
  • 1906 M Rooi, editor-in-chief (New Rotterdam Daily)
  • 1906 Sidney R. Garfield, American physician (d. 1984)
  • 1909 Alain Emile Louis Marie Poher, politician
  • 1909 Humphrey Sims Moore, pacifist/journalist
  • 1911 Jean-Pierre Herve Bazin, writer
  • 1911 Mikhail Botvinnik, of USSR, world chess champion (1948-63)
  • 1912 Isador Caplan, lawyer/Aldeburgh Festival Pioneer
  • 1914 George Davis, American art director (20th Century Fox), born in Kokomo, Indiana (d. 1984)
  • 1915 Joe Foss, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, American fighter ace (Medal of Honor-1943) and politician (d. 2003)
  • 1916 David Stafford-Clark, psychiatrist
  • 1916 Donald Gibson, British vice-admiral
  • 1916 Ryoei Saito, businessman
  • 1916 Sirimavo Bandaranaike, world's 1st woman PM (Sri Lanka, 1960..77)
  • 1917 Bill Clements, American politician
  • 1919 Gilles Lamontagne, French Canadian politician
  • 1920 Bengt N Anderberg, Swedish poet/writer (Kain)
  • 1920 Joan "Maudie" Warburton, painter
  • 1921 Donald Barron, CEO (Midland Bank)
  • 1923 Lindsay Anderson, Bangalore India, director (Thursday's Children)
  • 1923 Lloyd Biggle Jr, American sci-fi author (Silence is Deadly)
  • 1923 Norman Potter, cabinetmaker designer/writer
  • 1924 Patrick Sergeant, founder (Euromoney Publications)
  • 1924 Althea T L Simmons, human rights activist/chief lobbyist (NAACP)
  • 1925 Anne Harris, CEO (National Federation of Women's Institutes)
  • 1925 John Yates, bishop (Lambeth England)
  • 1926 Arthur Hockaday, director-Gen (Commonwealth War Graves Commission)
  • 1926 G M Hughes, professor/zoologist
  • 1926 Michael Vernon, CEO (RNLI)
  • 1928 Cynthia Ozick, American author (Pagan Rabbi & Other Stories)
  • 1929 Eileen Stamers-Smith, headmistress (Malvern Girls' College)
  • 1929 Lady (James) Mellon, CEO (Volunteer Development Scotland)
  • 1931 Joan Clague, director of nursing services (Marie Curie Foundation)
  • 1931 John Chalstrey, alderman/Lord Mayor (London)
  • 1931 Joyce Molyneux, British chef and author
  • 1931 Ruth Etchells, principal (St John's College-Durham)
  • 1932 Han J A Hansen [Jansen], Dutch journalist (King Comes!)
  • 1932 Ramsay Melhuish, diplomat
  • 1933 Penelope Lively, British writer
  • 1937 Brian Sedgemore, British MP
  • 1937 Daffy Duck, animated character
  • 1937 Eduard N Stepanov, Russian cosmonaut
  • 1937 Terry Dicks, British MP
  • 1937 Ferdinand Piëch, Austrian-German automotive engineer and executive
  • 1938 David Dilks, vice-chancellor (Hull U)
  • 1938 K M P O'Brien, archbishop (St Andrews & Edinburgh)
  • 1938 Ben Barnes, American politician
  • 1938 Kerry Wendell Thornley, co-founder of Discordianism
  • 1941 Max Stafford-Clark, artistic director (Royal Court Theatre)
  • 1942 Mario Brenta, writer/director (Maicol, Barnabo of the Mountains)
  • 1945 Vincent van der Burg, Dutch scientist, lawyer, and politician (CDA)
  • 1946 J R Baines, professor (Egyptologist)
  • 1952 Željko Ražnatović, Serbian warlord (d. 2000)
  • 1955 Pete Shelley, vocal/guitar (Buzzcocks-Going Steady, Love Bites)
  • 1955 Peter Michalke, journalist
  • 1956 Faye Young, WBL forward (NY Stars, NJ Stars)
  • 1956 Kaye Young, WBL forward (NY Stars, NJ Stars)
  • 1956 Pillow, [Therese Joan Bell], California, bodybuilder (Gold Classic 1983)

Weddings in History

  • 1994 Jennie Garth weds Dan Clark

Deaths in History

  • 326 Alexander of Alexandria, Patriarch of Alexandria
  • 485 Proclus, Greek mathematician, dies in Athens [or Apr 14]
  • 617 Donnán of Eigg, Celtic Christian martyr, patron saint of Eigg
  • 818 Bernhard I, King of Italy, dies
  • 858 Benedict III, Italian Pope (855-58), dies
  • 1080 King Harald III of Denmark (b. 1041)
  • 1272 Zita/Cita, Italian maid/saint, dies at about 59
  • 1297 Willem van Afflighem, Flemish poet/abbot St Truiden, dies at about 86
  • 1427 Jan IV, duke of Brabant/Limburg/wife of Jacoba van Bayern, dies
  • 1539 George the Bearded, Duke of Saxony (1500-39), dies at 67
  • 1574 Joachim Camerarius, [Liebhard Kammerer], German philologist, dies
  • 1630 Christian I, ruler of Anhalt-Bernburg (battle of White Mt), dies
  • 1679 John van Kessel, Flemish painter, dies at 53
  • 1680 Kateri Tekakwitha [Lily of the Mohawks], first Native American saint (b. 1656)
  • 1696 Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, French writer (b. 1626)
  • 1711 Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor (1705-11), dies of smallpox at 32
  • 1713 David Hollatz, Pomeranian dogmatician (b. 1648)
  • 1726 Henriette Amalia, ruler of Nassau-Dietz, dies at 49
  • 1742 Arvid Horn, Swedish statesman (b. 1664)
  • 1761 Thomas Bayes, English mathematician

Person of interestPerson of Interest

1790 Benjamin Franklin, US Founding Father, inventor, ambassador and writer (Poor Richards Almanac), dies at 84

United States Founding Father Benjamin Franklin
United States Founding Father
Benjamin Franklin
  • 1799 Richard Jupp, English architect (b. 1728)
  • 1835 William Henry Ireland, forger (Shakespearean manuscripts), dies
  • 1837 Edouard viscount de Walckiers, South Netherland banker and politician, dies at 78
  • 1838 J Schopenhauer, writer, dies at 71
  • 1843 Samuel Morey, American inventor (b. 1762)
  • 1863 Daniel Smith Donelson, Confederate general/cousin of Andrew Jackson, dies at 61
  • 1873 Fyodor Petrovich Tolstoy, Russian artist (b. 1783)
  • 1882 George Jennings, English sanitary engineer, dies at 71

Person of interestPerson of Interest

1892 Alexander Mackenzie, 2nd Prime Minister of Canada, dies of a stroke at 70

2nd Prime Minister of Canada Alexander Mackenzie
2nd Prime Minister of Canada
Alexander Mackenzie
  • 1902 Francis of Assisi of Bourbon, King Consort of Spain (b. 1822)
  • 1930 Alexander Golovin, Russian painter (b. 1863)
  • 1936 Charles J M Ruys de Beerenbrouck, Dutch PM (1918-23, 29-33), dies
  • 1937 Yi Sang, Korean Poet (b. 1910)
  • 1942 Jean Perrin, French physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1870)
  • 1945 Hannie Schaft, "Girl with red hair," executed
  • 1945 Ion Pillat, Romania poet/senator (Umbra timpului), dies
  • 1945 Walter Model, German fieldmarshal, commits suicide at 54
  • 1948 Johan P earl of Limburg Stirum, diplomat, dies at 75
  • 1954 Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu, Romanian communist activist (b. 1900)
  • 1962 Louise Fazenda, dies of cerebral hemorrhage at 66
  • 1968 Margaret Seddon, dies at 95
  • 1970 Sergei U S Aleksi, patriarch of Russian-Orthodox church, dies at 92
  • 1974 Frank McGee, American news anchor (NBC Evening News), dies of cancer at 52
  • 1975 Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Indian philosopher and leader, Second President of India (1962-67), dies at 86
  • 1976 Jean-Jacques Gailliard, Belgian painter, dies at 85
  • 1976 Henrik Dam, Danish biochemist, Nobel laureate (b. 1895)
  • 1977 William Cardinal Conway, Northern Irish clergyman (b. 1913)
  • 1983 Mark W Clark, US general (WWII), dies at 87
  • 1983 Peter Potter, DJ (Peter Potter Show, Juke Box Jury), dies at 78
  • 1985 Ilona Bodden, writer, dies
  • 1986 Bessie Head, writer, dies
  • 1987 Cecil Harmsworth King, owner of Mirror Group Newspapers (b. 1901)
  • 1987 Willie Donnell Smith, American fashion designer (WilliWear), dies of pneumonia at 39
  • 1988 Louise Nevelson, sculptor, dies of brain tumor at 88
  • 1989 Charles Lampkin, dies
  • 1990 Ralph David Abernathy, US civil rights leader, dies
  • 1991 Jack Yellen, US poet (Sons o' Fun), dies at 97
  • 1993 Turgut Özal, president of Turkey (1989-93), dies at 65
  • 1995 Nancy Mayhew Youngman, English painter and educationalist, dies at 88
  • 1996 Eva Jones, poet/novelist, dies at 82
  • 1996 Jose Luis Lopez Aranguren, philosopher, dies at 86
  • 1997 Chaim Herzog, President of Israel (1983-93), dies at 78
  • 1997 Allan Francovich, American documentarian
  • 1998 Linda McCartney, American-born photographer and wife of Paul McCartney (b. 1941)
  • 2003 Robert Atkins, American dietician (b. 1930)
  • 2003 John Paul Getty II, American-born British philanthropist and oil magnate (b. 1932)
  • 2003 Yiannis Latsis, Greek shipping tycoon (b. 1910)
  • 2004 Edmond Pidoux, Swiss writer (L'histoire de Jonas), dies at 95
  • 2008 Aimé Césaire, French Martinican poet and politician (b. 1913)
  • 2008 Danny Federici, organ player for E-Street Band (b. 1950)
  • 2009 Honoré Desmond Sharrer, American artist (Tribute to the American Working People) dies aged 88