#TodayInHistory – April 26
April 26 – Some important events on this day
1467 👉🏼 The miraculous image in Our Lady of Good Counsel appear in Genazzano, Italy 🇮🇹
1478 👉🏼 Pazzi conspirators attack Lorenzo de’Medici and kill Giuliano de’Medici in Florence
1514 👉🏼 Nicolaus Copernicus makes his 1st observations of Saturn 🪐
1564 👉🏼 William Shakespeare is baptized in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England
1654 👉🏼 Jews are expelled from Brazil 🇧🇷
1677 👉🏼 Emperor Leopold I forms University of Innsbruck 🇦🇹
1755 👉🏼 1st Russian university opens in Moscow
1803 👉🏼 Meteorites fall in L’Aigle, France 🇫🇷
1859 👉🏼 Dan Sickles is acquitted of murder on grounds of temporary insanity – 1st time this defense used successfully in the US
1920 👉🏼 Harlow Shapley and Heber D. Curtis hold “great debate” on the nature of nebulae, galaxies and size of the universe at US National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.
1941 👉🏼 Potatoes rationed in Holland 🥔
1942 👉🏼 Coal mine explosion kills 1,549 at Honkeiko, Manchuria
1945 👉🏼 Marshal Philippe Pétain, leader of France’s Vichy collaborationist regime during World War II, arrested for treason
1954 👉🏼 Mass trials of Jonas Salk’s anti-polio vaccine begin; the first shot is delivered in Fairfax County, Virginia; more than 443,000 children receive shots over three months.
In the United States, a major outbreak of polio occurred in 1952. During that year, the disease infected around 57,000 people, killed over 3,000 and left some 20,000 with mild or debilitating paralysis. It was the last great outbreak of this disease, once one of the most feared diseases in the world.
Polio would often strike without warning. In most cases, around 75%, there were no symptoms at all, but in 0.1-0.5% of infections the patient would suffer from mild or debilitating paralysis. This would often lead to deformities in the limbs for the rest of the patient’s life. In some cases, the muscles of the neck and diaphragm would be paralyzed, meaning the patient would struggle to breath on their own. In the early days, this required the use of an ‘iron lung’, a large negative-pressure chamber that breathed for the patient as they lay inside.
Most would be in the lung for a few weeks or a month while they were treated. A few unlucky cases would require the lung for the rest of their lives; as of 2013, there were estimated to be six to eight iron lung users, some of whom can only leave for hours at a time before they struggle to breath.
A number of famous people had polio, including singer Neil Young, Nazi Joseph Goebbels and possibly US President Franklin D. Roosevelt (he used a wheelchair for the rest of his life, but it is believed the disease could have been Guillain–Barré syndrome).
On April 12, 1955, scientist Jonas Salk announced the first successful polio vaccine, which was rapidly adopted around the world. When the news was announced, Salk was greeted as a hero, and some members of Congress even called for the day to be a national holiday.
Today polio is extremely rare. In 2019 there were 175 cases of wild polio and 364 cases of vaccine-derived polio; only Afghanistan and Pakistan reported cases of the wild disease.
1956 👉🏼 First modern container ship, the Ideal X, leaves Port Newark, New Jersey for Houston, Texas
1966 👉🏼 An earthquake of magnitude 7.5 destroys Tashkent, Uzbekistan 🇺🇿
1982 👉🏼 Argentina surrenders to Great Britain on South Georgia Island, near the Falkland Islands.
For many Argentinians, and indeed some Britons, the thought that the UK would be able to recapture the Falklands Islands from Argentina during the 1982 war was far-fetched. After all, the small South Atlantic outpost lay thousands of miles from the British homeland.
But victory was not to be for the Argentine junta. After 74 days of bitter war the British Army recaptured Port Stanley, and on 14 June 1982, the Argentinians surrendered. There were almost 12,000 POWs in the Falklands.
Margaret Thatcher’s government (she was first female British Prime Minister, known as ‘The Iron Lady’) was bolstered by the victory and was handily re-elected in 1983. The Argentine military junta, on the other hand, collapsed as the shock of the loss set in.
1986 👉🏼 World’s worst nuclear disaster: 4th reactor at Chernobyl nuclear power station in USSR explodes, 31 die, radioactive contamination reaches much of Western Europe as far north as Sweden.
In the direct path of the immediate fallout was the town of Pripyat. In the hours after the disaster, dozens of people began to fall ill, but the town was not immediately evacuated by Soviet authorities. This happened a day later. Residents were told only to bring essentials and that they would return in three days. Details of the disaster were sketchy at the time; the Soviet Union did not admit an incident until two days later, and even then the announcement was downplayed in state media.
Since 1986 a ‘Zone of Exclusion’ has been set up around the Chernobyl plant. The surrounding area will not be safe for at least another 20,000 years.
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1952 👉🏼 Patty Berg scores 64, best competitive round of golf by a woman 🏌️♀️
1991 👉🏼 Soccer star Diego Maradona, suspended for using cocaine, arrested in Argentina for possession & distribution of illegal narcotics ⚽️
2005 👉🏼 Under international pressure, Syria withdraws the last of its 14,000 troop military garrison in Lebanon, ending its 29-year military domination of that country.