News, Events, Birthdays, History - April 2 - April 8

Birthdays

Washington Irving - April 3, 1783
Irving has been called the father of the American short story. He is best known for 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,' in which the schoolmaster Ichabold Crane meets with a headless horseman, and 'Rip Van Winkle,' about a man who falls asleep for 20 years. In 1824, in “Tales of a Traveler,” Wa shington Irving confessed, “I am always at a loss to know how much to believe of my own stories.”

Anthony Perkins -April 4, 1932 Psycho picture
Best known for his role as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho", Perkins had previously received a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination. It was the Psycho role, however, that gained him international fame. He would return to the role of Normal in three sequels - Psycho II, II and IV.

Booker T. Washington - April 5, 1856
Washington was an American educator, orator, author and the dominant leader of the African-American community nationwide from the 1890s to his death. He was born to slavery and freed by the Civil War in 1865. When Washington's autobiography, Up From Slavery, was published in 1901, it became a bestseller and had a major impact on the African American community, and its friends and allies. A dinner invitation in 1901 by Theodore Roosevelt made Washington the first African-American to visit the White House as a guest of the president.

Colin Powell - April 5, 1937
As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush, Powell became a national figure during the successful Desert Shield and Desert Storm operations which expelled the Iraqi army from Kuwait. He would return to government service in 2001 as Secretary of State under President George W. Bush. Shortly after President Bush's re-election in 2004, Powell stepped down as Secretary of State, and in the 2008 Presidential election, Powell publicly endorsed the Democratic nominee and current President - Barack Obama.


Events

April 2, 1513 - Ponce de Leon Discovers Florida
On this date in 1513, Ponce de Leon discovered Florida, landing at a site that would become the city of St. Augustine. The legends say that de Leon was searching for a 'fountain of youth', but more probably, like most of the other early Spanish explorers and conquerors, he was looking primarily for gold, slaves and other "riches". It is not likely that he actually put much stock in the fable of the fountain of youth, if he had heard about it at all.

April 3, 1860 - The Pony Express Begins Pony Express
The purpose of the Pony Express was to provide the fastest mail delivery between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California. For $5 an ounce, your letters would be delivered within 10 days. The job of a rider was exhausting and dangerous, as evidenced by this employment ad placed in a California paper: "Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows. Not over 18. Must be expert riders. Willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred."

April 4, 1968 - Martin Luther King Assassination.
King was an American clergyman, activist and prominent leader in the African-American civil rights movement. His main legacy was to secure progress on civil rights in the United States and he is frequently referenced as a human rights icon today. He was assassinated on this date in Memphis, Tennessee by escaped convict James Earl Ray. Ray was sentenced to 99 years in prison for the crime. He died in prison in 1998.

100th Anniversary - 4/6/1909 - North Pole discovered.
The conquest of the North Pole was for many years credited to PearyAmerican Navy engineer Robert Peary, who claimed to have reached the Pole on April 6, 1909, accompanied by American Matthew Henson and four Inuit men. However, Peary's claim remains controversial. The party that accompanied Peary on the final stage of the journey included no one who was trained in navigation and could independently confirm his own navigational work, which some claim to have been particularly sloppy as he approached the Pole.

4/6/1917 - U.S. Enters World War 1
The U.S. joined its allies--Britain, France, and Russia--to fight in World War I. Under the command of Major General John J. Pershing, more than 2 million U.S. soldiers fought on battlefields in France. The war brought about change in America. For example, women, many of whom had been active supporters of the war to preserve democracy finally got the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

April 8, 1913 - Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ratified.
This amendment provided for United States Senators to be elected by the people of each State. Prior to this date, Senators had been selected by each State's legislature. This Amendment also enabled a state's governor to appoint a Senator in the event of a Senate vacancy. So...it is the 17th Amendment that laid the groundwork for the troubles experienced this year by ex-Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich was accused of attempting to sell Barack Obama's vacated United States Senate seat to the highest bidder. Ultimately, he appointed fellow Democrat and former state attorney general Roland Burris on New Year's Eve 2008.
 
4/6/1938 - The invention of Teflon.
PTFE or polytetrafluoroethylene was Teflon pan imagediscovered on April 6, 1938 by Dr. Roy Plunkett at the DuPont research laboratories.   The surface is so slippery, virtually nothing sticks to it or is absorbed by it.   Teflon would soon become a household word used to describe non-stick cooking pans and utensils. 
 
In 1983 the word would enter America's political lexicon as well after Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder referred to then-President Ronald Reagan as the "Teflon president".