In 1861 the Civil War begins on this date with Confederate forces firing on Ft Sumter near Charleston South Carolina. In England, in 1937 Sir Frank Whittle ground tests the first jet engine designed to power an aircraft. And in 1955 the Jonas Salk polio vaccine is declared safe and effective.

The old Soviet Union had three events on this date, one positive and two not. In 1961 cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. In 1963 Soviet submarine K-33 collided with a French merchant vessel in the Danish straits. And in 1970 a Soviet K-8 submarine with four nuclear torpedoes sunk in the Bay of Biscay four days after a fire onboard.

The “Great Compromiser” orator Henry Clay marched onto the world stage in 1777. Writers Beverly Cleary (1916), Tom Clancy (1947), and Scott Turow (1949) all shared this birthdate. American Indian Movement activist Dennis Bank (1937), late-night talk show host David Letterman(1947), and bandleader Herbie Hancock(1940) also share this birthdate.

The world said goodbye to American Red Cross founder and Civil War nurse Clara Barton in 1912. President Franklin D Roosevelt ended his presidential term in 1945. Boxers Joe Louis (1981) and Sugar Ray Robinson (1989) stepped out of the ring. And controversial activists Abbie Hoffman(1989) and William Sloane Coffin (2006) laid down their bullhorns and protest placards.

The UN proclaimed this day as International Day of Human Space Flight on the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight.