April 4, 2020
Day 95 of 366
April 4th is the ninety-fifth day of the year. It is Independence Day in Senegal, commemorating their freedom from French rule.
In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Chicken Cordon Bleu Day, National Hug a Newsperson Day, Jeep 4×4 Day, National School Librarian Day, National Vitamin C Day, National Walk Around Things Day, National Love Our Children Day, and National Handmade Day. The last two are typically observed on the first Saturday in April.
Today is also National Education and Sharing Day, which is typically observed on the 11th of Nissan in the Israel Calendar and therefore shifts annually on the Gregorian calendar.
Historical items of note:
- In 1147, Moscow was mentioned for the first time in the historical record when it was named as a meeting place for two princes.
- In 1581, Sir Francis Drake was knighted for completing a circumnavigation of the world.
- In 1818, The United States Congress, affirming the Second Continental Congress, adopted the flag of the United States with 13 red and white stripes and one star for each state. At that time, there were twenty states.
- In 1850, Los Angeles was incorporated as a city.
- In 1887, Argonia, Kansas elected Susanna M. Salter as the first female mayor in the United States.
- In 1922, composer and conductor Elmer Bernstein was born.
- In 1923, actor, director, producer and screenwriter Gene Reynolds was born.
- In 1928, poet and memoirist Maya Angelou was born.
- Also in 1928, singer-songwriter Monty Norman was born. He is best known for composing the James Bond theme.
- In 1944, actor, director, and producer Craig T. Nelson was born.
- In 1956, screenwriter and producer David E. Kelley was born.
- In 1960, actor and producer Hugo Weaving was born.
- In 1964, The Beatles occupied the top five positions on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.
- In 1965, actor, producer, and screenwriter Robert Downey Jr. was born.
- In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
- Also in 1968, NASA launched Apollo 6, the final uncrewed Apollo test mission.
- In 1969, Dr. Denton Cooley implanted the first temporary artificial heart.
- In 1973, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were officially dedicated.
- In 1975, Microsoft was founded as a partnership between Bill Gates and Paul Allen in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
- In 1979, actor Heath Ledger was born.
- In 1983, the Space Shuttle Challenger made its maiden voyage into space on Mission STS-6.
- In 2012, Tardar Sauce was born. The feline was better known as Grumpy Cat, a popular internet meme.
In 1841, William Henry Harrison died of pneumonia, becoming the first President of the United States to die in office.
Harrison was the last president born as a British subject in the Thirteen Colonies before the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775. He served in the military, participating in the 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers, an American military victory that effectively ended the Northwest Indian War. Later, he led a military force against Tecumseh’s Confederacy at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, was promoted to major general in the War of 1812, and in led American infantry and cavalry at the Battle of the Thames in Upper Canada in 1813.
Harrison began his political career in 1798 when he was appointed Secretary of the Northwest Territory. In 1799, he was elected as the territory’s delegate in the House of Representatives. Two years later, President John Adams named him governor of the newly established Indiana Territory, in which he served until 1812. After the War of 1812, he moved to Ohio and was elected to represent the state’s 1st district in the House in 1816. In 1824, the state legislature elected him to the United States Senate, but his term was cut short by his appointment as Minister Plenipotentiary to Gran Colombia in May 1828.
He returned to private life in North Bend, Ohio until he was nominated as the Whig Party candidate for president in the 1836 election, during which he was defeated by Democratic vice president Martin Van Buren. He tried again four years later with John Tyler as his running mate, touting the campaign slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”. They defeated Van Buren, making Harrison the first Whig to win the presidency.
Harrison was the oldest person elected to the office, a record he held until President Ronald Reagan was inaugurated in 1981. Harrison served as the Ninth President of the United States for 31 days until he died of typhoid, pneumonia or paratyphoid fever, setting the record for the briefest administration in American history.
His death ignited a brief constitutional crisis regarding succession to the presidency because the Constitution was unclear as to whether the vice president should assume the office or merely execute the duties of the vacant office. John Tyler claimed a constitutional mandate to become the new president and took the oath of office, setting the precedent for an orderly transfer of power when the previous president fails to complete the elected term.
The first vice president to succeed to the presidency without election, John Tyler served longer than any president in U.S. history not elected to the office. He served the remainder of Harrison’s four-year term before being succeeded by James K. Polk in 1845.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.