April 12, 2014
The History Channel
* On April 27, 1667, blind poet John Milton sells the copyright to his masterpiece “Paradise Lost” for a mere 10 pounds. Once printed, the poem was immediately hailed as a masterpiece of the English language. In 1671, he wrote “Paradise Regained,” followed by “Samson Agonistes.” He died in 1674.
* On April 25, 1859, at Port Said, Egypt, ground is broken for the Suez Canal, an artificial waterway intended to stretch 101 miles across the isthmus of Suez and connect the Mediterranean and the Red seas. When it opened, the Suez Canal was only 25 feet deep, 72 feet wide at the bottom, and 200 feet to 300 feet wide at the surface. Fewer than 500 ships navigated it in its first year of operation.
* On April 24, 1863, the Union army issues General Order No. 100, which provided a code of conduct for Federal soldiers and officers when dealing with Confederate prisoners and civilians. It became the standard for international military law.
* On April 22, 1915, German forces shock Allied soldiers along the Western front by firing more than 150 tons of lethal chlorine gas against two French colonial divisions. The Germans, perhaps as shocked as the Allies by the devastating effects of the poison gas, failed to take full advantage, and the Allies held most of their positions.
* On April 23, 1961, Judy Garland plays Carnegie Hall in what has been called “the greatest night in showbiz history.” The concert took place on the one night a week that Broadway performers have off — Sunday night — and the audience was therefore a friendly one.
* On April 26, 1977, Studio 54, the most famous nightclub in the world, opens its doors. The venue became famous for openly and shamelessly excluding all but the most chic, famous or beautiful patrons. Studio 54’s golden era lasted less than three years.
* On April 21, 1980, Rosie Ruiz, age 26, finishes first in the women’s division of the Boston Marathon. Eight days later Ruiz was stripped of her victory after race officials learned she jumped into the race about a mile before the finish line.