This Day in History – April 23
Today is the 113th day of 2021. There are 252 days left in the year.
1985: The Coca-Cola Co announces it is changing the secret formula for Coke. Negative public reaction forces the company to resume selling the original version.
1533: Catholic Church inquiry declares marriage of Catherine of Aragon to England’s King Henry VIII void.
1621: Protestant Union in Germany is dissolved.
1635: A boundary dispute between Maryland and Virginia erupts into a naval skirmish off the coast of Virginia.
1728: A huge fire destroys a large part of Copenhagen.
1848: French voters, with universal male suffrage for the first time, go to the polls to elect a national assembly.
1873: Ashanti War breaks out in Africa; Dutch war against Sultan of Achin in north-west Sumatra, Indonesia, begins.
1895: Russia, France and Germany protest against cession of Chinese territory to Japan.
1904: United States acquires property of French Panama Canal Company.
1935: Poland’s Constitution is adopted after nine years of discussions.
1938: Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia demand full autonomy.
1964: Copenhagen’s trademark Little Mermaid statue gets her head sawn off by unknown men. The head is never found and a new one is moulded and welded on her.
1968: The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church merge to form the United Methodist Church.
1969: Sirhan Sirhan is sentenced to death for assassinating New York Senator Robert F Kennedy. The sentence is later reduced to life imprisonment.
1972: Two US Apollo 16 astronauts blast off from the moon and rejoin command ship for journey back to Earth.
1975: South Vietnam’s Cabinet resigns as panic grips Saigon and US President Gerald Ford declares that the Vietnam War is over.
1986: White-led South African Government commits itself to scrapping dozens of laws restricting movements of blacks.
1988: A pickup truck rigged with explosives rips through a crowded vegetable market in Tripoli, Libya, killing 54 people and wounding 125.
1989: Israeli soldiers shoot and wound 22 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as widespread stone-throwing erupts.
1990: Premier Li Peng arrives in Moscow for first visit by Chinese head of Government to Soviet Union in 26 years.
1991: Tens of thousands of striking Soviet workers fill the streets in Minsk on the eve of the Communist Party plenum.
1992: South African President F W de Klerk proposes holding a multiracial election; McDonald’s opens its first fast food restaurant in the Chinese capital of Beijing.
1993: Lalith Athulathmudali, Sri Lanka’s top Opposition leader, is assassinated by a lone gunman. A commission later claims involvement by President Ranasinghe Premadasa, who was assassinated by a Tamil separatist rebel suicide bomber eight days later.
1994: Two African National Congress activists are killed in South Africa as they try to put up election posters.
1998: James Earl Ray, who confessed to assassinating the Rev Martin Luther King Jr in 1968, but later insisted he was framed, dies at a Nashville hospital at age 70.
2000: Colombia’s second-largest rebel group releases a national soccer star Andres Estrada, two days after kidnapping him and violating a holiday truce.
2002: Pope John Paul II opens a meeting at the Vatican with 12 of the 13 US cardinals and the heads of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops about the mishandling of sexual abuse cases in the US church.
2004: US President George W Bush takes steps to restore normal trade and investment ties with Libya as a reward to Moammar Gadhafi for eliminating Libya’s biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programmes.
2007: Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who hastened the collapse of the Soviet Union by scrambling atop a tank to rally opposition against a hard-line coup and later pushed Russia to embrace democracy and a market economy, dies at 76.
2008: The Olympic flame arrives in Australia for the next leg of the torch relay and is immediately whisked away to a secret location to avoid anti-China protesters.
2009: Suicide bomb blasts tear through crowds waiting for food aid in central Baghdad and inside a roadside restaurant filled with Iranian pilgrims, killing at least 78 people in Iraq’s deadliest day in more than a year.
2010: The US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization agree to start transferring control of Afghanistan back to its leaders by year’s end but acknowledge that achieving stability will take decades.
2011: A nervous leadership in Iran imposes a media blackout on President Bashar Assad’s struggle against a swelling Syrian uprising and Tehran faces the unsettling prospect of losing its most stalwart ally in the region.
William Shakespeare, English poet-playwright (1564-1616); William Turner, English painter (1775-1851); Max Planck, German physicist (1858-1947); Sergei Prokofiev, Soviet composer (1891-1953); Haldor Laxness, Icelandic writer and Nobel laureate (1902-1998); Sandra Dee, US actress (1942-2005); Shirley Temple Black, US diplomat and movie star (1928-2014); Michael Moore, director (1954- ); Dev Patel, British actor (1990- )