Robert E. Lee surrendered. (1865) Lee surrendered about 30,000 troops to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattoxcourthouse in Virginia. Though the several smaller battles were fought after the surrender, the Civil War essentially ended on this day.
Germany invaded Norway and Denmark. (1940) Both countries fell almost immediately, greatly expanding Hitler's empire, which at the time only consisted of Germany and Poland.
The oldest audible recording of a human voice was made. (1860) The recording was made on a machine called a photoautograph, which was the earliest device capable of directly transcribing sound. The recording was made by French inventor Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, and consists of about ten seconds of a person singing Au Claire de Lune.
NASA introduced the first astronauts to the public. (1959) There were seven men, including John Glenn and Gus Grissom, who were chosen from a group of test pilots to work in Project Mercury, which was America's first manned space program. The "Mercury Seven" were overnight celebrities, despite the fact that the Mercury program itself wasn't particularly successful.
The Chicago Eight pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to incite a riot. (1969) The eight included famous activists Abbie Hoffman, David Dellinger, Jerry Rubin, and Bobby Seale, among others. They were charged with trying to incite a riot at the Democratic national convention in 1968. The trial turned into a major media circus and served more as a platform for the defendants to spread their views than anything else.
Mark Twain received his steamboat pilot license. (1859) Though Twain is much better known as a writer, he also worked as a steamboat operator, journalist, and publisher, among other things. It was during his time as a steamboat pilot that he picked up his pseudonym Mark Twain, which originates from riverboat slang.
The first Freedom Ride took place. (1947) The Journey of Reconciliation was the precursor to the many freedom rides of the 1960s, and was undertaken to draw attention to a recent ban on racial segregation in inter-state travel.
The first indoor baseball game was played. (1965) The Astrodome opened on this day, and the first indoor baseball game was held. It was preceded by a performance by Judy Garland and the Supremes, which helped draw a capacity crowd.
Iraqis beheaded a statue of Saddam Hussein. (2003) Jubilant crowds took to the streets days after the Hussein regime was overthrown and toppled and beheaded a statue of Hussein.
Scientist Gregory Pincus was born. (1903) Though most people don't know of Pincus, many use the results of his experiments: the birth control pill.