238 – Gordian II loses the Battle of Carthage against the Numidian forces loyal to Maximinus Thrax and is killed. Gordian I, his father, commits suicide.
1204 – The Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade breach the walls of Constantinople and enter the city, which they completely occupy the following day.
1861 – American Civil War: Battle of Fort Sumter. The war begins with Confederate forces firing on Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.
1927 – Shanghai massacre of 1927: Chiang Kai-shek orders the Communist Party of China members executed in Shanghai, ending the First United Front.
1928 – The Bremen, a German Junkers W 33 type aircraft, takes off for the first successful transatlantic aeroplane flight from east to west.
1934 – The strongest surface wind gust in the world at the time of 231 mph, is measured on the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire. It has since been surpassed.
1937 – Sir Frank Whittle ground-tests the first jet engine designed to power an aircraft, at Rugby, England.
1945 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies in office; Vice President Harry S. Truman becomes President upon Roosevelt’s death.
1955 – The polio vaccine, developed by Dr. Jonas Salk, is declared safe and effective.
1961 – Cold War: Space Race: The Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarinbecomes the first human to travel into outer space and perform the first manned orbital flight, Vostok 1.
1981 – The first launch of a Space Shuttle (Columbia) takes place: The STS-1 mission.
1999 – President Bill Clinton is cited for contempt of court for giving “intentionally false statements” in a civil lawsuit; he is later fined and disbarred.
1484 – Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, Italian architect, designed the Apostolic Palace and St. Peter’s Basilica (d. 1546)
1612 – Simone Cantarini, Italian painter and engraver (d. 1648)
1777 – Henry Clay, American lawyer and politician, 9th United States Secretary of State (d. 1852)
1883 – Imogen Cunningham, photographer and educator (d. 1976)
1912 – Hound Dog Taylor, singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1975)
1916 – Beverly Cleary, American author
1932 – Tiny Tim, American singer and ukulele player (d. 1996)
1947 – Tom Clancy, American historian and author (d. 2013)
1957 – Tama Janowitz, American novelist and short story writer
1675 – Richard Bennett, English politician, colonial Governor of Virginia (b. 1609)
1878 – William M. Tweed, American lawyer and politician (b. 1823)
1945 – Franklin D. Roosevelt, American lawyer and politician, 32nd President of the United States (b. 1882)
1989 – Abbie Hoffman, American activist, co-founded Youth International Party (b. 1936)
1992 – Ilario Bandini, Italian race car driver and businessman (b. 1911)