April 8, 6 BC - Gautama Buddha was born Prince Siddhartha in India, in the sixth century B.C.E., and his parents were told by mystics that he would grow up to be either a great political leader or a supremely enlightened teacher.
April 8, 876 A.D. – The Battle of Dayr al-'Aqul saved Baghdad from the Saffarids.
April 8, 1513 - Explorer Juan Ponce de Leon claimed Florida for Spain.
April 8, 1732 – Astronomer, mathematician and surveyor David Rittenhouse was born near Germantown, Pa. During the Revolutionary War, Rittenhouse worked as a weapons engineer, improving designs for cannons and rifles. George Washington named him first director of the United States Mint in 1792. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson held Rittenhouse in high regard, and Philadelphia’s Southwest Square was renamed “Rittenhouse Square” in his honor in 1825.
April 8, 1778 - John Adams arrived in Paris to replace Silas Deane as a member of the American commission representing United States interests.
April 8, 1789 - The U.S. House of Representatives held its first meeting.
April 8, 1818 – General Andrew Jackson ordered his men to hang Francis the Prophet and Micco Homollimico, Creek Indians who had been captured a few days earlier.
April 8, 1825 – During his tour of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette was accompanied by Alabama Governor Pickens by steamboat down Mobile Bay to Mobile Point, where he joined an official welcoming party from Louisiana. He boarded the original steamer Natchez (built in 1823) which took him to New Orleans to continue his tour of America.
April 8, 1861 – During the Civil War, federal reinforcements for Fort Pickens, Fla. sailed from New York Harbor, N.Y.
April 8, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought near Arcata, Calif.; out from Corinth, Miss.; at Albuquerque in the New Mexico Territory; and at Medicine Creek, Warrensburg, and Warsaw, Mo. A Federal operation also began that passed through Gadfly, Newtonia, Granby, and Indian Creek Valley, Mo.
April 8, 1862 – During the Civil War, martial law was declared in eastern Tennessee, and the Confederate garrison from Island Number 10 was surrendered at Tiptonville, Tenn. Federals also pursued retreating Confederates from the Shiloh, Tenn. battlefield.
April 8, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought in Saint Francis County, Ark.; near New Carthage, La. at the James Plantation; and near Winchester, Va.
April 8, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought on James Island in Charleston Harbor, S.C.; at Winchester, Va.; at Bayou De. Paul, La.
April 8, 1864 - The U.S. Senate passed the 13th Amendment (S.J. Res. 16) by a vote of 38 to 6.
April 8, 1864 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought near Paint Rock Bridge, Ala.
April 8, 1864 – During the Civil War’s Union Red River Campaign, at the Battle of Mansfield (also called the Battle of Sabine Crossroad), Union forces were thwarted by the Confederate army at Mansfield, Louisiana. During the battle, Confederate General Richard Taylor attacked and routed troops under Union General Nathaniel Banks. The Union troops held off attacks the next day. Banks suffered 113 men killed, 581 wounded, and 1,541 missing, while Taylor had about 1,500 total casualties.
April 8, 1865 – Union Gen. E.R.S. Canby secured Spanish Fort and immediately began to shift his men northward for three miles to join Union Major General Frederick Steele at Fort Blakeley.
April 8, 1865 - U.S. President Lincoln headed back to Washington, D.C. He had been in Richmond since April 4. While there, Lincoln had visited the Confederate White House and the chambers of the Confederate Congress.
April 8, 1865 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Martinsville, N.C.; and at Appomattox Station, Va. Federal reconnaissance was also conducted from Fairfax Courthouse into Loudoun County, Va. A three-day Federal reconnaissance began from Fairfax Courthouse into Loudoun County, Va.
April 8, 1865 - Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was endeavoring to get to its next goal, Lynchburg, Va. This required them to pass the area of Appomattox. Close behind them were the Army of the Potomac, under Meade, with commanding Gen. Grant in accompaniment. In front of them was a large force of Union cavalry under Phil Sheridan, who were already in possession of the railroad to Lynchburg and was capturing every supply train. Lee responded to Grant’s letter today, declining to surrender but offering a truce.
April 8, 1896 – Song writer Edgar Yip Harburg, who is best known for writing the lyrics and much of the script for 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz,” was born in New York City.
April 8, 1902 – English mountaineer and explorer Andrew Irvine was born in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England.
April 8, 1904 – British mystic and occultist Aleister Crowley transcribed the first chapter of “The Book of the Law,” which he said was authored by a being called Aiwass.
April 8, 1910 – Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman George Musso was born in Collinsville, Ill. He went on to play for Millikin University and the Chicago Bears. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982.
April 8, 1911 - An explosion at Jefferson County, Alabama’s Banner Mine killed 129 miners. Most of the miners were prisoners leased to Pratt Consolidated Coal Company under the state’s notorious convict lease system. While many southern states leased convicts, Alabama’s program lasted the longest, from 1846 to1928. In 1883 at least 10 percent of state revenue was derived from the convict lease program.
April 8, 1911 - Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes discovered superconductivity.
April 8, 1912 – The Town of Castleberry in Conecuh County, Ala. was officially incorporated as a municipality.
April 8, 1912 – Austrian-German SS officer Alois Brunner was born in Nádkút, Vas, Austria-Hungary (now Rohrbrunn, Burgenland, Austria).
April 8, 1912 – The plant of the Evergreen Manufacturing Co., owned by W.K. Horton, was totally destroyed by fire in a blaze that began a little before 8 p.m. in Evergreen, Ala.
April 8, 1913 – The 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution, requiring direct election of Senators, became law.
April 8, 1914 - State Superintendent of Education W.F. Feagin spoke at an educational rally in Castleberry, Ala.
April 8, 1914 – Editor and publisher Robert Giroux was born in New Jersey.
April 8, 1918 – William Jennings Bryan, famed orator, congressman and three-time Democratic Presidential nominee, spoke at the Old Monroe County Courthouse in Monroeville, Ala. in favor of national prohibition.
April 8, 1920 – Dr. James Thomas Searcy passed away in Tuscaloosa, Ala. at the age of 80 and was buried in Tuscaloosa’s Evergreen Cemetery. He served as the first superintendent of the Mount Vernon Hospital, which was renamed Searcy Hospital in his honor in 1919.
April 8, 1927 – Major League Baseball left fielder Charlie ‘Smokey’ Maxwell was born in Lawton, Mich. He went on to play for the Boston Red Sox, the Baltimore Orioles, the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox.
April 8, 1927 - Horace Devaughn, a black man convicted of double murder in Jefferson County, Ala., was executed at Kilby Prison, marking Alabama's first use of the electric chair. Two weeks later, Virgil Murphy, a veteran of World War I who was convicted in Houston County, Ala. of murdering his wife, became the first white man electrocuted in the chair. Before the state's use of the electric chair, executions generally were carried out in the counties by hanging.
April 8, 1935 – The Works Progress Administration was formed when the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935 became law.
April 8, 1937 – Pulitzer Prize-winning political writer Seymour Hersh was born in Chicago.
April 8, 1943 – Major League Baseball pitcher John Hiller was born in Toronto, Ontario. He went on to play his entire career for the Detroit Tigers.
April 8, 1945 – During World War II, after an air raid accidentally destroyed a train carrying about 4,000 Nazi concentration camp internees in Prussian Hanover, the survivors were massacred by Nazis.
April 8, 1946 – National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter was born in Hertford, N.C. He would go on to play for the Kansas City/Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987.
April 8, 1947 - Estimated at 7 billion square miles, the largest sunspot group was observed on the sun's southern hemisphere.
April 8, 1954 – National Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter was born in Culver City, Calif. He would go on to play for the Montreal Expos, the New York Mets, the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003.
April 8, 1955 – Novelist Barbara Kingsolver was born in Annapolis, Maryland.
April 8, 1963 – Gregory Peck received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird” at the 35th Academy Awards in Santa Monica, Calif.
April 8, 1965 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Sue Griffin was the new Key Club Sweetheart for Division 7. She succeeded Sally Oswald who had reigned as Sweetheart since the spring of 1964.
April 8, 1965 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Sammy Simpson of Evergreen, Ala. had won first place in the spelling bee at Evergreen High School. Shirley Cobb finished second and Johnny Crook finished third. Simpson was to represent EHS in the state spelling bee in Birmingham that May, sponsored by The Birmingham Post-Herald.
April 8, 1968 – U.S. Marine Luther Upton of Uriah, Ala. left Vietnam, having survived the Seige of Khe Sahn.
April 8, 1972 - North Vietnamese 2nd Division troops drove out of Laos and Cambodia to open a third front of their offensive in the Central Highlands, attacking at Kontum and Pleiku in attempt to cut South Vietnam in two. If successful, this would give North Vietnam control of the northern half of South Vietnam. The three-front attack was part of the North Vietnamese Nguyen Hue Offensive (later known as the “Easter Offensive”), which had been launched on March 30.
April 8, 1974 – At Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Mobile, Ala. native Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hit his 715th career home run off Cincinnati’s Jack Billingham to break Babe Ruth's longstanding record. Aaron finished his career with 755 home runs.
April 8, 1975 – Frank Robinson managed the Cleveland Indians in his first game as Major League Baseball's first African American manager.
April 8, 1975 - After a weeklong mission to South Vietnam, General Frederick Weyand, U.S. Army Chief of Staff and former Vietnam commander, reported to Congress that South Vietnam could not survive without additional military aid. Questioned again later by reporters who asked if South Vietnam could survive with additional aid, Weyand replied there was “a chance.” Weyand had been sent to Saigon by President Gerald Ford to assess the South Vietnamese forces and their chances for survival against the attacking North Vietnamese.
April 8, 1981 – Charles Kast of Conecuh County, Ala. killed an 18-pound turkey with a 10-inch beard and 5/8-inch spurs.
April 8, 1986 – Will Clark made his Major League Baseball debut, taking the field for the first time with the San Francisco Giants. Clark debuted with a home run off future Hall of Fame member Nolan Ryan.
April 8, 1987 – Los Angeles Dodgers executive Al Campanis resigned amid controversy over racially charged remarks he had made while on “Nightline.” While on ABC's "Nightline" Campanis said that blacks "may not have some of the necessities" to hold managerial jobs in Major League Baseball.
April 8, 1989 – Major League Baseball pitcher Jim Abbott, who was born without a right hand, made his Major League debut, taking the field for the first time with the California Angels.
April 8, 1990 - The first episode of "Twin Peaks" aired on ABC-TV.
April 8, 1991 – The Oakland Athletic's stadium became the first outdoor arena to ban smoking.
April 8, 1994 - Kurt Cobain of Nirvana was found dead at the age of 27. He had committed suicide three days before.
April 8, 1994 - The RIAA announced that Pink Floyd's 1973 album "Dark Side of the Moon" had become the fourth biggest-selling album in U.S. history. It had passed the 13 million mark in sales.
April 8, 1996 - Alabama author Rick Bragg was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for his stories about contemporary America.
April 8, 1998 - The widow of Martin Luther King Jr. presented new evidence in an appeal for new federal investigation of the assassination of her husband.
April 8, 2004 – The Clerk of the House certified the actions of the Alabama Legislature and House Resolution No. 100 was assigned Act. No. 2004-97, which declared Conecuh Ridge Alabama Fine Whiskey as Alabama’s Official State Spirit.
April 8, 2008 - The Mets lost their last home opener at Shea Stadium to Philadelphia Phillies.
April 8, 2013 – The Islamic State of Iraq entered the Syrian Civil War and began by declaring a merger with the Al-Nusra Front under the name Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham