[Russia's sale of Alaska to the United States was accompanied by this cheque for $7.2 million, the equivalent of $104 million in today's money; it is said the sale went ahead because Russia feared losing the territory without compensation, either to the Americans or the British, who were then pretty firmly entrenched in Canada.]
1282 - On Easter Monday the people of Sicily had finally had enough, and undertook a popular rebellion against their hated Angevin king Charles I during what became known as the War of the Sicilian Vespers; Giuseppe Verdi's opera Les vêpres siciliennes would later be based on this conflict.
1296 - England's King Edward I sacked the border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed (now in Northumberland but then in Scotland) during his strenuous effort to subdue that country; in all some 8,000 residents fell beneath English swords - even those who had sheltered in churches - laying the groundwork for the First War of Scottish Independence.
1822 - The US Government created the Florida Territory.
1842 - Anesthesia was used for the first time in an operation when Dr. Crawford Long used diethyl ether while removing a tumour from the neck of James M. Venable in Jefferson, Georgia.
1855 - So-called Border Ruffians from Missouri invaded Kansas and forced the election of a pro-slavery legislature during the Bleeding Kansas era which led directly to the American Civil War.
1856 - The Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Crimean War.
1858 - Hymen Lipman patented a pencil with an attached eraser.
1863 - Danish prince Wilhelm Georg was chosen to serve as King George I of Greece.
1867 - Alaska was purchased from Russia for $7.2 million - about 2 cents an acre or $4.19/km² - by US Secretary of State William H. Seward; the news media instantly dubbed it Seward's Folly, but history would make them eat their words. There's thought to be some $450 billion in oil still to be found beneath its surface, in addition to a rich natural wilderness above it, although how much of the latter will be spared in the unremitting zeal to get at the former is anybody's guess.
1870 - Texas was readmitted to the Union during the period of US history known as Reconstruction.
1885 - The Battle for Kushka triggered the Pandjeh Incident which nearly gave rise to war between the British and Russian empires.
1909 - The Queensboro Bridge opened linking Manhattan and Queens.
1912 - Sultan Abdelhafid signed the Treaty of Fez, making Morocco a French protectorate.
1939 - The Heinkel He 100 fighter jet set the world airspeed record of 463 mph.
1949 - A riot broke out in Reykjavík's Austurvöllur Square when Iceland joined NATO.
1954 - Toronto's Yonge Street subway line opened, making it the first of its kind in Canada.
1979 - British politician Airey Neave was killed by a car bomb as he drove out of the Palace of Westminster car park; a group calling itself the Irish National Liberation Army later claimed responsibility. As Shadow Secretary for Northern Ireland (and poised to become the minister in that post in the upcoming general election) Neave was an unremitting hardliner who many felt would have brought The Troubles to an abrupt end with savage tyranny - or, more likely, made the situation much, much worse.
1997 - Channel Five began broadcasting in the UK.
2006 - Marcos Pontes became the first Brazilian astronaut.
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