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April 12: ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

April 12, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle History
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ON THIS DAY IN 1865, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported, “Brooklyn has been in a state of gunpowder for about a week. Cannon have been continually reminding us of victory and coming peace. Last evening a salute of one hundred guns was fired from Washington Park and one hundred guns were also fired from the Heights in honor of the victories in Virginia, and the capitulation of Gen. Lee.”

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ON THIS DAY IN 1914, the Eagle reported, “Easter Sunday this year has a double significance. Aside from the religious aspect of the day, it virtually marks the forty-ninth anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln … The exact anniversary of what was one of the most tragic events in the history of the country will occur next Tuesday. And now, after forty-nine years, comes forward a brave spirit to announce that the ‘Sic semper tyrannis’ of [John Wilkes] Booth is nothing but an historical fiction. ‘John Wilkes booth never shouted ‘Sic semper tyrannis’ or anything else after he shot Abraham Lincoln on the night of Friday, April 14, 1865. These picturesque words were the invention of an imaginative newspaper man.’ The smashing of traditions isn’t the regular business of William J. Ferguson. Mr. Ferguson, who is an actor, and who lives at 181 Midwood street, Brooklyn at the present time, was call boy in Ford’s Theater on the night of the murder, and was standing in the wings opposite the President’s box, rehearsing a scene with Laura Keene just as the shot was fired. Acting is a serious business, and Mr. Ferguson, as an actor and a member of a profession which is steeped in tradition, has great respect for the past, but he says he simply can’t stand hearing the ‘Sic semper tyrannis’ story every time the anniversary of the shooting comes around.”

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ON THIS DAY IN 1947, the Eagle reported, “Jackie Robinson’s big league unveiling at Ebbets Field yesterday was all but lost in a deluge of hits and errors. The Dodgers evened their spring exhibition series with the Yankees 14 to 6 by staging their biggest inning of the year … good for 11 runs. The Bronx Bombers were very shaky afield, kicking in with five misplays. The Black Meteor didn’t get a hit among the 16 the Dodgers hammered to all sectors of the park. He did bat in three runs and got hold of a couple of balls — one of them a harmless foul deep into the left-field wing of the grandstand — and laid down a pretty sacrifice. Wearing No. 42, he was at first base for the entire game, and the Dodgers evidently haven’t given up on him as a first-base prospect. He didn’t make any mistakes around the bag, either mechanical or mental, but only had one ground ball to handle. It was after the game that the crowd outside the park put on an amazing demonstration. Jackie was mobbed by youthful autograph hunters. Hundreds of kids surrounded him and he literally had to fight his way through the press of admirers. Joe Louis never received such a reception.”

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ON THIS DAY IN 1963, the Eagle reported, “The ‘Wet War’ being waged by the United States in four great oceans is one we cannot afford to lose, Rear Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., told a meeting of the Rudder Club Wednesday evening. Six hundred members of the maritime industry gathered at the St. George Hotel for the club’s ‘Sea Power Night,’ honoring distinguished members of the U.S. Navy, to hear Admiral McCain speak on military defenses of the Navy Department. ‘The United States today is faced with a new four-ocean challenge,’ McCain said. ‘The advent of nuclear powered submarines has out-moded the traditional two-ocean (North Atlantic and Pacific) concept.’ In the Arctic Ocean, we now have a vast battleground at the top of the earth, he said. He designated the ‘Afro-Asian’ Ocean, including the South Atlantic and the Indian Oceans and stretching from New Guinea across the southern coast of Asia to Africa, as the fourth important ocean. ‘The Soviet Union,’ warned McCain, ‘has not allowed the glamor of space to obscure the importance of the oceans.’ He said the first major ‘Wet War’ showdown between the Soviets and this nation took place on the high seas during the Cuban crisis.”

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Saoirse Ronan
Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP
Shannen Doherty
John Salangsang/Invision/AP

NOTABLE PEOPLE BORN ON THIS DAY include composer and actor Herbie Hancock, who was born in 1940; “Modern Family” star Ed O’Neill, who was born in 1946; N.Y. Jets co-owner Woody Johnson, who was born in 1947; “The Wonder Years” star Dan Lauria, who was born in Brooklyn in 1947; talk show host David Letterman, who was born in 1947; “Presumed Innocent” author Scott Turow, who was born in 1949; “Manhunter” star Tom Noonan, who was born in 1951; “Internal Affairs” star Andy Garcia, who was born in 1956; “Jericho” star Alicia Coppola, who was born in 1968; former N.Y. Rangers left wing Adam Graves, who was born in 1968; “Beverly Hills 90210” star Shannen Doherty, who was born in 1971; “Romeo + Juliet” star Claire Danes, who was born in 1979; model and actress Brooklyn Decker, who was born in 1987; and “Brooklyn” star Saoirse Ronan, who was born in 1994.

David Letterman
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

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TO YOUR HEALTH: On this day in 1955, the polio vaccine developed by American physician Jonas Salk was deemed to be “safe, potent and effective.” Incidence of the dreaded infantile paralysis declined by 95 percent following introduction of preventive vaccines. The first mass inoculations of children with the Salk vaccine began in Pittsburgh on Feb. 23, 1954.

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WE HAVE LIFTOFF: Space Shuttle Columbia began its maiden voyage on this day in 1981. Astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen, on the first manned U.S. space mission since Apollo-Soyuz in 1976, spent 54 hours in space (36 orbits of Earth) before landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California on April 14.

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Special thanks to “Chase’s Calendar of Events” and Brooklyn Public Library.

 

Quotable:

“People say New Yorkers can’t get along. Not true. I saw two New Yorkers — complete strangers — sharing a cab. One guy took the tires and the radio; the other guy took the engine.”

— talk show host David Letterman, who was born on this day in 1947


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