What Happened on April 6?

  • The first modern Olympic games were held. (1896) The games took place in Athens, and 13 nations competed in events including archery, wrestling, and fencing. A few of the contestants were actually tourists who had come to see the games and were allowed to compete.

  • America formally entered World War I. (1917) The House of Representatives upheld the Senate's endorsement to go to war, and America officially entered the war, though American troops would not go to Europe until the end of June.

  • The Rwandan Genocide began. (1994) The genocide began with the assassination of Rwandan President JuvĂ©nal Habyarimana. It lasted a little more than 100 days, but claimed over 800,000 lives.

  • The Beach Boys were banned from performing on the Washington Mall. (1983) The band was originally slated to play at a Fourth of July celebration on the Washington Mall, but the Interior Secretary James Watt banned them. He said that rock and roll bands like the Beach Boys attracted the "wrong element."

  • Congress opened all American ports for trading. (1776) The ports were opened to all international trade that did not come from British-controlled areas. It was a major step towards functioning as a country, and a necessary one after losing the trade relationship with Britain during the revolution.

  • Robert Peary's expedition allegedly reached the North Pole. (1909) Though whether the expedition reached the actual dead center of the North Pole or were actually several miles short has been debated, Peary's expedition certainly got much farther than any of the previous ones. The first person to undisputedly reach the exact North Pole was Joseph Fletcher in 1952.

  • Celluloid was patented. (1869) It became an immediate hit as a cheap material for jewelry, horn products, and even dolls. Early celluloid was actually called ivorine or French ivory to make it more appealing.

  • The first Tony Awards were presented. (1947) The equivalent of the Oscars for theater, the Tony awards are actually named after Antoinette Perry, the co-founder of the American Theatre Wing, which founded the awards.

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was founded. (1830) Joseph Smith founded the Mormon church in New York on this day after reportedly receiving a revelation from an angel. The church was controversial since its inception, and later moved West to avoid persecution.

  • Raphael was born. (1483) Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, better known as Raphael, was a major Renaissance painter. Though he died at the early age of 37, his body of work was impressive, and included The School of Athens and numerous portraits.

Discussion Comments


I really like these kind of "today in history" articles where you can get lots of tidbits about different things that happened. Particularly when they are things I've never thought much about before like the invention of celluloid (which is much older than I would have expected!).

One thing I will say is that if people want to learn a bit more about the Rwandan Genocide, they could do worse than starting with the film "Hotel Rwanda". It's an absolutely harrowing movie, as it should be and based on a true story which is completely heart breaking.

But I think it's an extremely important lesson for everyone to take in. Because we tend to think of WW2 as being the last attempt at genocide, but there have been several modern attempts and they need to be heard about as well.


I cannot believe that there was a time when the Beach Boys of all bands was considered to be controversial. They just seem like such a safe kind of band to me, although I guess some of their songs imply a bit of sex. I would have expected that to be shocking in the 50s maybe, but considering what kinds of bands they had in the 60s and 70s, I really don't see why they were banned in the 80s.

I imagine much more "dangerous" bands have performed in the Mall since then.


It's worth reading more about the history of the Olympic games if you are at all interested, because the stories that come from it are fascinating.

Like the fact that many of the original marathons were run in bare feet and the contestants were sometimes offered alcohol by the audience.

I think one of my favorite stories had the winner of the marathon that year basically go off to his job afterwards without any of the ceremony you'd expect today!

When you also consider that they used to have games like tug of war, it must have been hilarious to watch.

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