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What Happened on April 15?

  • Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. (1947) Robinson played his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers on this day, making him the first African-American to play Major League Baseball.

  • The Titanic sank. (1912) The Titanic hit an iceberg the night before, but took hours to finally sink. It is considered one of the greatest tragedies in the 20th century, with over 1,500 people dying.

  • Insulin became widely available. (1923) Insulin had only been proven to work the year before; before that, diabetes was essentially a death sentence, especially for children.

  • Abraham Lincoln died. (1865) Lincoln had been shot the night before while attending the theater, but he lingered until the next morning when he died without regaining consciousness.

  • McDonald's opened. (1955) Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald's restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois, on this day. Within five years, there were over 100 McDonald's in the US, and less than 20 years later the company passed the $1 billion US Dollars (USD) profit mark.

  • A Dictionary of the English Language was published. (1755) The dictionary was written virtually single-handedly by Samuel Johnson, and was the most respected and widely used dictionary in the world until the Oxford English Dictionary was published almost 200 years later.

  • Fidel Castro visited the US. (1959) Castro had come to power in Cuba four months earlier, which greatly concerned American politicians. The visit did not go well; President Eisenhower refused to meet with Castro, and Castro was often confrontational, even walking out of meetings.

  • The island of Malta was awarded the George Cross. (1942) The George Cross is the highest civil award given in the United Kingdom, and is rarely awarded. The island of Malta and all its residents were awarded the George Cross because of their behavior during a long-term siege in World War II, and the cross is now sewn into the Maltan flag.

  • The first Rand McNally road atlas was published. (1924) The company originally started as a print shop making tickets for the Chicago railroad system, but rose to the top of the map making world when it invented a new printing process in the 1870s. The company's Rand McNally Auto Chum was the first version of the now commonly found Rand McNally Road Atlas.

  • General Electric was incorporated. (1892) Thomas Edison had founded the company a little over ten years previously, but the company came into its modern form on this day when GE merged with the Thomas-Houston Company. Only 100 shares were sold, each for $100 USD.

Discussion Comments

By bear78 — On May 05, 2013

April 15 is my birthday. I didn't know that so many important things happened on this day.

It's funny that I share my birthday with McDonald's! I didn't know that McDonald's was started in the 50s. Was it very different back then?

I wonder what the food was like? And did the restaurant look the same as it does now?

By candyquilt — On May 04, 2013

@burcidi-- It took two hours and forty minutes to sink. It would have sunk on April 14th had it sunk immediately because it hit the iceberg close to midnight. So technically, it sunk in the early hours of April 15th.

The ship that rescued the survivors came about one and a half hour after the ship sank. But most people had died by then. They either drowned or died from the freezing water.

Every time I watch that scene in the movie where people are falling into the ocean as the ship sinks, I get goosebumps.

By burcidi — On May 04, 2013

How many hours did it take exactly for the Titanic to sink?

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