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Moments in time




 

 

• On April 17, 1790, American statesman, printer, scientist and writer Benjamin Franklin dies in Philadelphia at age 84. Deeply interested in science and technology, his inventions include the Franklin stove, bifocal eyeglasses and the lightning rod.

• On April 11, 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor of France, abdicates the throne and, in the Treaty of Fontainebleau, is banished to the Mediterranean island of Elba. He died at age 52 on May 5, 1821, possibly from stomach cancer, although some theories contend he was poisoned.

• On April 12, 1908, a fire in Chelsea, Mass., at the Boston Blacking Company leaves 12 dead, 85 missing and presumed dead and more than 17,000 homeless. Due to high winds, a good portion of the city burned. It took nearly 10 years for Chelsea to be completely rebuilt.

• On April 16, 1943, in Basel, Switzerland, Albert Hoffman, a Swiss chemist, accidentally consumes LSD-25, a synthetic drug he had created in 1938 as part of his research into the medicinal value of lysergic acid compounds. Widespread use of the so-called mind-expanding drug did not begin until the 1960s.

• On April 15, 1959, new Cuban leader Fidel Castro visits the United States. The trip got off to an inauspicious start when it became clear that President Dwight D. Eisenhower had no intention of meeting with Castro. Instead, Eisenhower went to the golf course to avoid any chance meeting.

• On April 13, 1964, Sydney Poitier becomes the first African American to win the Academy Award for Best Actor, for his role as a construction worker in “Lilies of the Field” (1963). He debuted on Broadway in 1946 in an all-black production of “Lysistrata,” and by 1950 he was appearing in Hollywood films, beginning with “No Way Out.”

• On April 14, 1975, the American airlift of Vietnamese orphans to the United States ends after 2,600 children are transported to America. Operation Baby Lift lasted 10 days and was carried out during the final, desperate phase of the war, as North Vietnamese forces were closing in on Saigon. (c) 2011 King Features Synd.


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