April 28 – On this Day in History

This article explores a series of notable historical events that occurred on April 28th, spanning various centuries and covering significant political, cultural, and technological milestones.

From the assassination of a Crusader king in the 12th century to the advent of space tourism in the early 21st century, each event reflects pivotal moments that have shaped human history in diverse ways.

Whether through warfare, exploration, or groundbreaking developments in science and policy, these events offer a window into the complexities and richness of our shared past, each leaving a distinct imprint on the world’s historical tapestry.

April 28th Events in History

1192 – Conrad of Montferrat, King of Jerusalem, is assassinated in Tyre, two days after his title to the throne is confirmed by election

Conrad of Montferrat, a key figure during the Third Crusade, was assassinated in Tyre, just two days after his election to the throne of Jerusalem was confirmed. Conrad was walking unarmed in the city when he was stabbed by two Hashshashin (Assassins).

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His death likely occurred due to the political intrigue surrounding the control of Jerusalem, a hotly contested prize among European Crusaders and Muslim forces.

Battle of Cerignola

1503 – The Battle of Cerignola is fought in Southern Italy; Spanish forces defeat the French army, marking the first battle in history won by gunpowder small arms

This battle is noted for being the first major military clash where gunpowder small arms played a decisive role. The Spanish forces, led by Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, utilized arquebuses, an early form of a portable gun, to defeat the French forces near Cerignola in southern Italy.

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This victory was significant not only for the use of new weaponry but also for establishing Spanish dominance in Italy during the Italian Wars.

1611 – The University of Santo Tomas in Manila, one of the oldest existing universities in Asia, is established by the Dominican Order

The University of Santo Tomas (UST) was established in Manila by the Dominican Order. It is one of the world’s oldest universities and the oldest in Asia.

UST was initially intended to provide higher education to the Spanish colonists and their descendants but later expanded to include students of diverse backgrounds. Today, it offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses.

1788 – Maryland ratifies the United States Constitution, becoming the seventh state to do so

Maryland became the seventh state to ratify the United States Constitution. The ratification played a crucial role in the political formation of the United States, contributing to the establishment of a federal government under the new constitution.

Maryland’s support was vital in the early stages of forming a united nation, ensuring that the new constitution had sufficient backing to be implemented effectively.

1789 – Mutiny on the Bounty: Fletcher Christian leads a mutiny on the British ship HMS Bounty against Captain William Bligh

This famous mutiny occurred aboard the British Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty. Discontent with the harsh treatment from their captain, William Bligh, Fletcher Christian and other crew members seized control of the ship. The mutiny is famous not just for the event itself but also for its aftermath.

Captain Bligh and those loyal to him were set adrift in a small boat, an incredible feat of survival as they navigated over 3,500 miles to safety. The mutineers eventually settled on Pitcairn Island, where their descendants remain to this day.

The story of the Bounty has been dramatized in several books and films, reflecting its enduring appeal and dramatic nature.

1792 – France invades the Austrian Netherlands (present-day Belgium), beginning the War of the First Coalition

As part of the War of the First Coalition, Revolutionary France expanded its borders by invading the Austrian Netherlands, which is present-day Belgium.

This invasion was part of France’s broader military strategy during the French Revolutionary Wars to spread the revolutionary ideals and to safeguard the nascent republic against monarchist coalitions.

The campaign was characterized by its rapid movement and the initial success of revolutionary forces, setting the stage for further French conquests in Europe.

1796 – The Armistice of Cherasco is signed by Napoleon and Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia, expanding French territory along the Mediterranean coast

Signed by Napoleon Bonaparte on behalf of the French Republic and by Victor Amadeus III for the Kingdom of Sardinia, the Armistice of Cherasco marked a significant moment in the French Revolutionary Wars.

Following a series of victories by Napoleon in Italy, the armistice compelled Sardinia to cede several territories to France, including the fortress town of Cuneo and other parts of Piedmont. This agreement significantly expanded French influence in northern Italy and diminished Sardinian power.

Napoleonic Wars

1869 – Chinese and Irish laborers for the Central Pacific Railroad working on the First Transcontinental Railroad lay ten miles of track in one day, a record for its time

On this day, a team comprising largely of Chinese and Irish laborers achieved an extraordinary feat in the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad by laying ten miles of track in just one day.

This achievement took place near Promontory, Utah, where the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads would soon meet to form the first railway line connecting the eastern and western United States.

This event not only showcased the remarkable engineering capabilities and hard labor of the workers but also was a crucial step in the economic and social development of the United States.

1910 – The first night air flight is made by Claude Grahame-White in England

British aviator Claude Grahame-White made history by conducting the first night flight in an aircraft at a public event in England. He flew a Farman biplane during this landmark event, which was part of a competition to promote aviation.

This flight demonstrated the possibilities of aviation technology and opened up new frontiers for its use, including night-time operations, which had implications for both civilian and military aviation development.

1919 – The Grand Canyon is designated a national park by an act of the U.S. Congress

The Grand Canyon was designated a national park by an act of the U.S. Congress. The park covers more than 1.2 million acres in northwestern Arizona and is renowned for its stunning geological features, including the vast canyon carved by the Colorado River.

The designation as a national park followed decades of advocacy by naturalists and conservationists, including President Theodore Roosevelt, who recognized the canyon’s significant natural value.

The establishment of the park was a major victory for the early American conservation movement and remains a significant landmark and tourist attraction.

1920 – Azerbaijan is added to the Soviet Union

Azerbaijan was incorporated into the Soviet Union following the Soviet takeover of the region. This event marked a significant geopolitical shift in the Caucasus area, as Azerbaijan had briefly enjoyed independence as the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic after the fall of the Russian Empire.

The incorporation into the Soviet Union brought significant changes to Azerbaijan’s political, economic, and cultural life, aligning it with Soviet policies and practices, and it remained a Soviet republic until the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.

1945 – Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci are captured and killed by Italian partisans

Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator of Italy, and his mistress Clara Petacci were captured and executed by Italian partisans as World War II neared its end in Europe. They were trying to flee to Switzerland but were caught near Lake Como.

Their bodies, along with those of other executed fascists, were subsequently hung upside down in a public square in Milan as a stark display of their fall from power and as a signal of Italy’s liberation from fascist rule.

This event symbolized the collapse of fascism in Italy and contributed to the broader downfall of Axis powers in Europe.

1947 – Thor Heyerdahl and five crew mates set out from Peru on the Kon-Tiki to demonstrate that Peruvian natives could have settled Polynesia

The Kon-Tiki expedition, led by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, commenced when he and his crew sailed from Peru on a hand-built raft named Kon-Tiki.

The aim was to demonstrate that ancient people from South America could have reached Polynesia via ocean currents, supporting theories about prehistoric human migrations across sea routes.

The raft was constructed using traditional techniques and materials available in South America during pre-Columbian times.

The successful completion of the journey, landing on the Tuamotu Islands after 101 days, had a profound impact on archaeology and anthropology, challenging established notions of ancient navigation and cultural diffusion.

1952 – The Treaty of San Francisco goes into effect, formally ending Japan’s role as an imperial power

This treaty officially ended the occupation of Japan by the Allied forces and restored full sovereignty to Japan. It was signed by 49 nations in 1951 and went into effect in 1952.

The Treaty of San Francisco also redefined Japan’s international role post-World War II, restricting its right to engage in war and establishing the framework for a significant American military presence in the region.

The treaty played a crucial role in shaping post-war international order in the Pacific and laid the groundwork for Japan’s remarkable economic recovery and growth.

1965 – United States troops land in the Dominican Republic to “forestall the establishment of a Communist dictatorship” and to evacuate U.S. Army troops

United States troops were deployed to the Dominican Republic ostensibly to protect American citizens during a period of political turmoil and civil war.

The intervention was also motivated by broader Cold War dynamics, with the U.S. government concerned about the potential establishment of a communist government in the hemisphere following the Cuban Revolution.

The U.S. involvement, part of a pattern of American interventions in Latin America during the 20th century, was controversial and had lasting impacts on the political development of the Dominican Republic.

1967 – Muhammad Ali refuses to be inducted into the U.S. Army for religious reasons, his decision leading to his arrest and stripping of his boxing titles

On April 28, 1967, heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the U.S. Army, citing religious reasons. Ali, a convert to Islam, declared himself a conscientious objector, stating that his beliefs prevented him from fighting in the Vietnam War.

His refusal led to his arrest, the stripping of his boxing titles, and a legal battle that culminated in a Supreme Court decision in his favor in 1971. Ali’s stand against the draft became a symbolic and highly publicized point of resistance against the Vietnam War and earned him both criticism and admiration.

1969 – Charles de Gaulle resigns as President of France

Charles de Gaulle resigned as President of France following a failed referendum that he had proposed to reform the Senate and regional governments. His resignation marked the end of an era in French politics.

De Gaulle had been a dominant figure in French politics since World War II, having founded the Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President.

His policies and strong leadership style had a profound impact on France, including navigating the decolonization of Africa, developing a nuclear program, and withdrawing France from NATO’s integrated military command.

1986 – The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Enterprise becomes the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to transit the Suez Canal, moving from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean

The USS Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, made a historic transit through the Suez Canal, moving from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.

This was significant because it demonstrated the strategic mobility of U.S. naval forces, particularly those powered by nuclear reactors, which do not require frequent refueling.

The ability to quickly deploy such a powerful vessel across different theaters of operation was a key element of U.S. military strategy during the Cold War and beyond.

1994 – Former CIA official Aldrich Ames pleads guilty to giving U.S. secrets to the Soviet Union and later Russia

Former CIA officer Aldrich Ames pleaded guilty to espionage charges after being accused of spying for the Soviet Union and later Russia. Ames had been a counterintelligence officer specializing in Soviet intelligence services and began his activities as a double agent in 1985.

His betrayal led to the compromise of several CIA agents working in the Soviet Union, some of whom were executed. Ames’s case was one of the most notorious espionage incidents in U.S. history and led to significant changes in how sensitive intelligence was handled.

2001 – Millionaire Dennis Tito becomes the world’s first space tourist by funding his own trip into space aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft

Dennis Tito, an American engineer and multimillionaire, became the first paying tourist to visit space. He traveled to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft after reportedly paying $20 million for the eight-day trip.

Tito’s journey was facilitated by the company Space Adventures and marked the beginning of space tourism, opening the possibility for private individuals to experience space travel. His trip highlighted the potential commercialization of space and sparked debate over the role of private citizens in space exploration.