Apr 14, 1865. President Abraham Lincoln was shot while watching a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre, Washington, DC. He died the following day. The assassin was John Wilkes Booth, a young actor.
Photo: Alfred Butts, born 13 April 1899, was a jobless architect in the Depression when he invented the board game Scrabble. The game was just a fad for Butts’s friends until a Macy’s executive saw the game being played at a resort in 1952, and the world’s largest store began carrying it. Manufacturing of the game was turned over to Selchow & Righter when 35 workers were producing 6,000 sets a week. Butts received three cents per set for years. He said, “One-third went to taxes. I gave one-third away, and the other third enabled me to have an enjoyable life.” Butts was born at Poughkeepsie, NY. He died 4 April 1993, at Rhinebeck, NY.
On April 12, 1955, Dr. Jonas E. Salk announced that a polio vaccine developed was “safe, potent and effective.” Incidence of the dreaded infantile paralysis, or poliomyelitis, declined by 95 percent following introduction of preventive vaccines. The first mass innoculations of children with the Salk vaccine had begun in Pittsburgh, PA, 23 February 1954.
On 11 April 1968, exactly one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (protecting civil rights workers, expanding the rights of Native Americans and providing antidiscrimination measures in housing) was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who said: “[ T] he proudest moments of my presidency have been times such as this when I have signed into law the promises of a century.”
Apr 10, 1866. American diplomat Henry Bergh, angry at the widespread abuse of animals (cockfighting, whipping of cart horses, starving of working dogs and more) sought its end through the creation of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the New York State legislature. On this day, the charter was passed, and on Apr 19, 1866, the first animal cruelty laws were passed. Bergh based the formation of the ASPCA on Britain’s Royal Soceity for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that had been founded in 1840. “It is a moral question in all its aspects,” Bergh persuasively argued.