1775: First Abolition Society Founded: On this day, April 14, 1775, Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, and other concerned citizens of Philadelphia founded the Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage. Benjamin Franklin was later elected as the organization’s president, and he lobbied the Continental Congress to ban slavery in the new nation. Unfortunately, the organization, and all the abolition societies that came after it, would have to wait almost one hundred years and a Civil War before their goal was realized.
1846: Please Pass the People Meat: The infamous Donner party left Springfield, Illinois for California on this day in 1846. The next leg of their journey was Independence, Missouri, where they would go the rest of the trail. Their trek was planned so as to avoid spring rains and arrive in California before snowfall. But upon reaching the Sierra Nevada mountains, their party was trapped. Facing starvation, survivors resorted to eating their dead oxen, the hide of their snowshoes, and most disturbingly their dead traveling companions.
1865: Lincoln Shot: After a brutal four year Civil War, the nation’s wounds were still wide open. The United States was one nation again, and slavery was abolished. Southern states and their sympathizers were resentful of this. The war had been declared over only a week previous at Appomattox Courthouse. President Abraham Lincoln was watching the play “Our American Cousin”, in Ford Theatre in Washington D.C. on the night of April 14, 1865. The assassin was John Wilkes Booth, a prominent Maryland actor. He shouted the phrase “Sec semper tyrannis,” or “thus always to tyrants,” which according to some is what Brutus said as he assassinated Julius Caesar.
1912: Iceberg Hits Titanic: The supposedly unsinkable vessel had set out for the United States from Great Britain on April 10, 1912. The ship held hundreds of people of extreme wealth, as well as immigrants in search of a better life. Late in the evening, the ship hit an iceberg and sunk the next morning. There were only enough lifeboats on board to rescue half of the passengers. If you want a look at the human element and drama that must have been present on the fateful night, watch the movie.
2014: #Bringbackourgirls: Boko Haram, which means “western education is forbidden,” kidnaps over 200 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok, Nigeria. Boko Haram, a radical jihadist group, sees itself as the African province of the Islamic State. The event prompted international outrage, including the twitter hashtag, #bringbackourgirls.