* On April 6, 1776, the Continental Congress takes the first step toward American independence by announcing its decision to open all American ports to international trade with any part of the world that is not under British rule. It was the first act of independence by the Continental Congress.
* On April 9, 1859, a 23-year-old Missouri youth named Samuel Langhorne Clemens receives his steamboat pilot’s license. Clemens would later write under the pseudonym Mark Twain, a boatman’s call noting that the river was only 2 fathoms deep, the minimum depth for safe navigation.
* On April 10, 1879, Schandor Herz — the future John Hertz, the man behind what will one day be the world’s largest car-rental company — is born in present-day Slovakia. In 1923, Hertz bought a fleet of used Ford Model Ts and named the business Hertz Drive-Ur-Self Corporation.
* On April 5, 1955, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, the British leader who guided Great Britain and the Allies through the crisis of World War II, retires as prime minister of Great Britain. In the first year of his administration, Britain had stood alone against Nazi Germany.
* On April 7, 1961, President John F. Kennedy sends a letter to Congress recommending that the U.S. participate in an international campaign to preserve ancient temples and historic monuments in Egypt’s Nile Valley threatened by construction of the Aswan High Dam.
* On April 4, 1973, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center officially open in New York City. The buildings replaced the Empire State Building as the world’s tallest building, though they would only hold that title for a year.
* On April 8, 1989, California Angels rookie pitcher Jim Abbott, who was born without a right hand, makes his Major League Baseball debut in a 7-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
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