What Happened on April 13?

  • Sydney Poitier became the first African-American to win the Best Actor Oscar. (1964) Poitier won the award for Lilies of the Field. At the time he was only the second African-American actor to ever win an Oscar, the first being Hattie McDaniel, the winner for Best Supporting Actress for Gone With the Wind.

  • The two dollar bill was reintroduced in America. (1976) The rare bill had been discontinued in 1966, but was reintroduced as part of America's bicentennial celebrations. Though some businesses do not accept two dollar bills, they are legal tender, and can also be purchased in large, uncut sheets.

  • The first elephant arrived in America. (1796) The elephant, named Old Bet, was brought back from India to America by a sea captain who hoped to sell her. Old Bet was eventually bought by Hackaliah Bailey, one of the founders of Barnum and Bailey, and stayed with the circus until she was shot and killed by a boy who had heard that her hide was bulletproof, and wanted to see if it was true.

  • The MKULTRA project began. (1953) MKULTRA was a covert CIA program that used human subjects for researching the best ways to manipulate mental states. Many of the experiments in the program centered around LSD and its effects on the brain.

  • The Messiah had its debut. (1742) The now-famous oratorio debuted on this day in Dublin, Ireland. Though it's now a classic Christmas performance, it was originally intended to be played during Lent to remind people of their faith.

  • Massive hail killed British troops in France. (1360) A massive hailstorm killed over 1,000 British troops fighting in the Hundred Year's War in France. The hailstorm was seen as a divine sign, and the King of England negotiated with peace for France.

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded. (1870) The museum opened two years later, and has since hosted works from Van Gogh, Vermeer, and Monet, as well as a substantial collection of Ancient Egyptian art.

  • J.C. Penney opened his first store. (1902) The store was called the Golden Rule, and was the first in the Penney empire of department stores.

  • The Jefferson Memorial was dedicated. (1943) The monument was dedicated exactly 200 years to the day after Jefferson's birth, and remains a popular tourist destination in Washington D.C.

  • Tiger Woods won his first Masters tournament. (1997) He became an instant golf star, and went on to win eight PGA tournaments as well as all four of the major golf tournaments.

Discussion Comments


I'm actually amazed that the Met is that old. Although I am thinking about museums as being something for everyone and I wonder if they actually let in everyone who wanted to see the art, or only people who could afford admission.

I would love to visit it myself. I have been in New York a few times, but haven't actually had a chance to spend time in the Met.


@umbra21 - Yes, sometimes we forget how difficult it is to tell exactly what happened even a couple of hundred years ago, when everything we do is so closely monitored and photographed and written about. Of course most of what we record couldn't possibly be of any interest to anyone in the future. I don't think they are going to be researching who got voted off Dancing with the Stars on April 13th somehow.


Apparently that's not the whole story about Old Bet the elephant. What supposedly happened was there was a guy in one of the towns she visited who thought that it was sinful for people to be spending their money on going to see an animal, even an amazing animal out of legend like an elephant would have seemed to Americans at the time.

So he told the boy that her hide was bulletproof and set him up to shoot her, hoping that she would be killed. And, while elephants don't really have bulletproof skin per sec, because the boy hit her in the eye she died anyway.

The thing is, though, it was so long ago there are several different versions of the story and they aren't even sure if Old Bet was one particular elephant. So take it all with a grain of salt.

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