Today in History

Today is Friday, April 26, the 116th day of 2019. There are 249 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On April 26, 1865, John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, was surrounded by federal troops near Port Royal, Virginia, and killed.

On this date:

In 1564, William Shakespeare was baptized at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.

In 1607, English colonists went ashore at present-day Cape Henry, Virginia, on an expedition to establish the first permanent English settlement in the Western Hemisphere.

In 1777, during the American Revolutionary War, 16-year-old Sybil Ludington, the daughter of a militia commander in Dutchess County, New York, rode her horse into the night to alert her father’s men of the approach of British regular troops.

In 1933, Nazi Germany’s infamous secret police, the Gestapo, was created.

In 1945, Marshal Henri Philippe Petain (ahn-REE’ fee-LEEP’ pay-TAN’), the head of France’s Vichy government during World War II, was arrested.

In 1968, the United States exploded beneath the Nevada desert a 1.3 megaton nuclear device called “Boxcar.”

In 1977, the legendary nightclub Studio 54 had its opening night in New York.

In 1986, an explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine caused radioactive fallout to begin spewing into the atmosphere. (Dozens of people were killed in the immediate aftermath of the disaster while the long-term death toll from radiation poisoning is believed to number in the thousands.)

In 1989, actress-comedian Lucille Ball died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at age 77.

In 1994, voting began in South Africa’s first all-race elections, resulting in victory for the African National Congress and the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as president. China Airlines Flight 140, a Taiwanese Airbus A-300, crashed while landing in Nagoya, Japan, killing 264 people; there were seven survivors.

In 2006, Whitney Cerak and Laura Van Ryn, two students at Indiana’s Taylor University, were involved in a van-truck collision that killed five people; in a tragic mix-up that took five weeks to resolve, a seriously injured and comatose Cerak was mistakenly identified as Van Ryn, who had actually died in the crash and was buried by Cerak’s family.

In 2008, police in Amstetten, Austria, arrested Josef Fritzl, freeing his daughter Elisabeth and her six surviving children whom he had fathered while holding her captive in a basement cell for 24 years. (Fritzl was later sentenced to life in a psychiatric ward.)

Ten years ago: The United States declared a public health emergency as more possible cases of swine flu surfaced from Canada to New Zealand; officials in Mexico City closed everything from concerts to sports matches to churches in an effort to stem the spread of the virus. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made an unannounced visit to Lebanon, where she met with President Michel Suleiman.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama opened the first visit by a U.S. president in nearly half a century to Malaysia, the third stop on his weeklong goodwill trip through Asia. A British helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan, killing five NATO troops.

One year ago: Bill Cosby was convicted of drugging and molesting Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004; it was the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era and completed the spectacular downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers on his way to TV superstardom. (Cosby was later sentenced to three to 10 years in prison.) Mike Pompeo was sworn in as secretary of state, minutes after being confirmed by the Senate; he then flew immediately to Brussels for meetings at NATO headquarters. President Donald Trump’s White House doctor, Ronny Jackson, withdrew his nomination to be Veterans Affairs secretary in the face of accusations of misconduct. Teachers in Arizona and Colorado converged on state capitols as they launched widespread walkouts in a bid for better pay and education funding. Four quarterbacks were chosen in the first 10 selections in the NFL draft, with the Cleveland Browns grabbing Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield out of Oklahoma.

Today’s Birthdays: Architect I.M. Pei is 102. Actress-comedian Carol Burnett is 86. Rhythm-and-blues singer Maurice Williams is 81. Songwriter-musician Duane Eddy is 81. Singer Bobby Rydell is 77. Rock musician Gary Wright is 76. Actress Nancy Lenehan is 66. Actor Giancarlo Esposito is 61. Rock musician Roger Taylor (Duran Duran) is 59. Actress Joan Chen is 58. Rock musician Chris Mars is 58. Actor-singer Michael Damian is 57. Actor Jet Li (lee) is 56. Rock musician Jimmy Stafford (Train) is 55. Actor-comedian Kevin James is 54. Record company executive Jeff Huskins is 53. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey (TREHTH’-eh-way) is 53. Actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste is 52. Country musician Joe Caverlee (Yankee Grey) is 51. Rapper T-Boz (TLC) is 49. First lady Melania Trump is 49. Actress Shondrella Avery is 48. Actress Simbi Kali is 48. Country musician Jay DeMarcus (Rascal Flatts) is 48. Country musician Michael Jeffers (Pinmonkey) is 47. Rock musician Jose Pasillas (Incubus) is 43. Actor Jason Earles is 42. Actor Leonard Earl Howze is 42. Actor Amin Joseph is 42. Actor Tom Welling is 42. Actor Pablo Schreiber is 41. Actor Nyambi Nyambi is 40. Actress Jordana Brewster is 39. Actress Stana Katic is 39. Actress Marnette Patterson is 39. Actor Channing Tatum is 39. Americana/roots singer-songwriter Lilly Hiatt is 35. Actress Emily Wickersham is 35. Actor Aaron Weeks is 33. Electro pop musician James Sunderland (Frenship) is 32. New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is 27.

Thought for Today: “Perfect order is the forerunner of perfect horror.” — Carlos Fuentes, Mexican author (1928-2012).