Throughout history there have been many notable events which happened in April. We do not have space to list them all, but here are our picks for the top 15:
April 4, 1949 - Twelve nations signed the treaty creating NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The nations united as a form of opposition and protection against communist countries. Today it consists of 28 countries bordering the North Atlantic Ocean.
April 4, 1968 - Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. King was a clergyman, prominent civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. His tireless pursuit for for racial equality through nonviolent protests and civil disobedience created a legacy which still lives on today.
April 6, 1917 - The United States formally declared war against Germany and entered into the conflict of World War One. Before this point the United States had proclaimed neutrality in the war. But following attacks on the Lusitania and acts of sabotage on American munitions, Woodrow Wilson submitted to the rising public pressures and entered the war to protect American interests.
April 9, 1865 - After over 500,000 American deaths, the Civil War effectively ended as General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House. The surrender allowed Confederates to keep their horses and return home.
April 9, 1866 - Despite a veto by President Andrew Johnson, the Civil Rights Bill of 1866 was passed by Congress granting blacks the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship.
April 12, 1861 - The American Civil War began as Confederate troops under the command of General Pierre Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. The bombardment continued throughout the day, and after their supplies were cut off, surrendered the next day.
April 12, 1961 - Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space aboard the Soviet spacecraft Vostok I. He completed a single orbit in a flight lasting 108 minutes.
April 14, 1865 - President Abraham Lincoln was shot and mortally wounded while watching a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater in Washington. He was taken to a nearby house and died the following morning at 7:22 a.m. Though there had been assassination attempts of previous presidents, Lincoln was the first to be killed in office.
April 15, 1912 - The Titanic, with 2,224 persons on board, sank after striking an iceberg. Over 1,500 persons drowned and 700 were rescued by the liner Carpathia which arrived about two hours after the sinking.
April 18, 1906 - The San Francisco Earthquake struck early in the morning and was followed by a massive fire from overturned wood stoves and broken gas pipes. The fire raged uncontrollably for three days resulting in the destruction of over 500 city blocks and 4,000 deaths.
April 19, 1775 - the “shot heard around the world” kicked off the American Revolution. As hundreds of British troops marched towards Concord to seize weapons and ammunition stockpiled by colonists, they met resistance in the town of Lexington. Both sides allege the other shot first, but after a volley of British fire and a charge with bayonets, eight Americans were dead and ten wounded.
April 24, 1800 - The Library of Congress was established in Washington, D.C. It is the world's largest library containing 145 million items. Among them are more than 33 million books, 3 million recordings, 12.5 million photographs, 5.3 million maps, 6 million pieces of sheet music and 63 million manuscripts.
April 26, 1986 - Chernobyl nuclear disaster. During a safety test of the reactor, a series of errors caused a large steam explosion in the No. 4 nuclear reactor. Following the explosion, the reactor burned for 9 days before being extinguished. Both the explosion and fire released significant amounts of radiation into the air.
April 27, 1865 - On the Mississippi River, the worst steamship disaster in U.S. history occurred as an explosion aboard the Sultana killed nearly 2,000 passengers, mostly Union solders who had been prisoners of war and were returning home.
April 30, 1789 - George Washington became the first President of the United States. The Oath was administered by Robert Livingston on the balcony of Federal Hall. He then entered the Senate Chamber and delivered the first inaugural address to Congress.