What Happened on April 2?

  • President Woodrow Wilson asked for a declaration of war against Germany. (1917) Congress granted the request four days later, and the US entered World War I.

  • The first full-time movie theater opened. (1902) Tally's Electric Theater in Los Angeles was the first theater built specifically to show movies. The founder, Thomas Tally, was also the first to show a color movie in 1912, and the first to sign Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford in movie contracts.

  • Pope John Paul II died. (2005) One of the most popular modern popes, John Paul II led the Catholic church for 26 years. His funeral was attended by over 2 million people, and was said to be the largest funeral in history.

  • The US Mint was established. (1792) The Coinage Act was passed on this day, establishing the first US Mint and authorizing the minting of coins including "eagles" and "dismes." People were also allowed to bring in their own silver and gold bullion and have it minted for free.

  • Mob boss John Gotti was convicted. (1992) The head of the Gambino crime family, Gotti was known as the "Teflon Don" for his ability to avoid conviction, but was finally convicted on 13 counts that included murder and racketeering. Gotti was found guilty on all counts, and served out the rest of his life in jail.

  • The Richmond Bread Riot occurred. (1863) Hundreds of angry women stormed Richmond, demanding that the government release emergency food supplies. Jefferson Davis desperately threw his pocket change at them, and then finally threatened to call the militia in before the mob dispersed.

  • LexisNexis┬« launched. (1973) The database search service at first only included Ohio and New York court judgments, and was constructed as an extension of an experiment by the Ohio State Bar. By 2010, the service stored 10 terabytes of data on its servers.

  • Florida was discovered. (1513) Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon landed on the coast of Florida on this day looking for the fabled "Fountain of Youth." Leon and his explorers were attacked by Native Americans almost immediately, and retreated to Cuba, though the territory remained officially the property of Spain until the 1800s.

  • As the World Turns premiered. (1956) Along with The Edge of the Night, As the World Turns was the first daytime drama to debut in the 30 minute format. The show ran for 54 seasons, and was only surpassed by Guiding Light for the longest-running soap opera.

  • The first "panda" crossing opened in the UK. (1962) Panda crossings were some of the first electronic crossings, and were a huge step up for UK pedestrian control, since the former "zebra" crossings allowed passengers to cross at their discretion. The crossings received mixed reviews when they opened: one elderly lady was quoted by the BBC as saying "It's a hairbrained scheme and most dangerous."

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