Today in History: April 16

Abraham Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. is one of the most famous tourist sites. (Thinkstock)
In 1862, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia. Abraham Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. is one of the most famous tourist sites. (Thinkstock) (Thinkstock)
On April 16, 1947, the cargo ship Grandcamp, carrying a load of ammonium nitrate, blew up in the harbor in Texas City, Texas; a nearby ship, the High Flyer, which was carrying ammonium nitrate and sulfur, caught fire as a result and exploded the following day; the blasts and fires killed nearly 600 people. In a speech at the South Carolina statehouse in Columbia, financier Bernard M. Baruch said: “Let us not be deceived – we are today in the midst of a cold war.” Thick columns of black smoke are rising from the fiercely burning Monsanto Chemical Company, after the explosion of a cargo ship docked nearby at the harbor of Texas City, Texas, on April 16, 1947. The French vessel SS Grandcamp, loaded with ammonium nitrate fertilizer, exploded in a blast that caused a tidal wave and seismographs to register. The disaster left 576 people dead, the number of injured ranged in the thousands. (AP Photo) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Anonymous)
FILE - In this Wednesday, June 21, 2006 file photo, a handwritten copy of  "Letter from Birmingham Jail" is displayed a the preview of "The Martin Luther King Collection" to be auctioned at Sotheby's, in New York, After private fundraising efforts stalled for months in the down economy, Atlanta's  proposed civil and human rights museum is expected this month to pay the balance of the loan on the 10,000-document Martin Luther King Jr. Collection. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)
In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in which he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/RICHARD DREW)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 10:  Apollo 16, carrying Apollo astronauts John Young - Commander, Thomas Mattingly - Command and Service Module pilot and Charles Duke - Lunar Module pilot, lifted off from the Kennedy Space Centre, Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 16th April 1972. It was the fifth successful Apollo lunar landing mission and astronauts Young and Duke became the ninth and tenth men to walk on the Moon. Mattingly remained in lunar orbit while they were on the surface.  (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
In 1972, Apollo 16 blasted off on a voyage to the moon with astronauts John W. Young, Charles M. Duke Jr. and Ken Mattingly on board. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images) (SSPL via Getty Images/Science & Society Picture Librar)
LIBYAN LEADER, DICTATOR, SPEAKING, GESTURING TURBAN,
In 1986, dispelling rumors he was dead, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi appeared on television to condemn the U.S. raid on his country and to say that Libyans were “ready to die” defending their nation. (Getty Images) (AP)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 25: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Sarah Ferguson, The Duchess of York talks with ex-husband HRH Prince Andrew, The Duke of York as they wait for daughter HRH Princess Beatrice of York to complete the Virgin London Marathon as part of the 'Caterpillar Run' Team, consisting of 32 runners tethered together on April 25, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Indigo/Getty Images)
In 1996, Britain’s Prince Andrew and his wife, Sarah, the Duchess of York, announced they were in the process of divorcing. (Photo by Indigo/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Max Mumby/Indigo)
BLACKSBURG, VA - APRIL 16:  Corps of Cadets guards keep watch next to a ceremonial candle during a candlelight vigil on Virginia Tech's Day of Remembrance honoring the 32 people killed by Cho Seung-Hui April 16, 2008 in Blacksburg, Virginia.  Today is the one-year anniversary of the worst school shooting in US history.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
In 2007, college student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech before taking his own life. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Mario Tama)
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Abraham Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. is one of the most famous tourist sites. (Thinkstock)
FILE - In this Wednesday, June 21, 2006 file photo, a handwritten copy of  "Letter from Birmingham Jail" is displayed a the preview of "The Martin Luther King Collection" to be auctioned at Sotheby's, in New York, After private fundraising efforts stalled for months in the down economy, Atlanta's  proposed civil and human rights museum is expected this month to pay the balance of the loan on the 10,000-document Martin Luther King Jr. Collection. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 10:  Apollo 16, carrying Apollo astronauts John Young - Commander, Thomas Mattingly - Command and Service Module pilot and Charles Duke - Lunar Module pilot, lifted off from the Kennedy Space Centre, Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 16th April 1972. It was the fifth successful Apollo lunar landing mission and astronauts Young and Duke became the ninth and tenth men to walk on the Moon. Mattingly remained in lunar orbit while they were on the surface.  (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
LIBYAN LEADER, DICTATOR, SPEAKING, GESTURING TURBAN,
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 25: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Sarah Ferguson, The Duchess of York talks with ex-husband HRH Prince Andrew, The Duke of York as they wait for daughter HRH Princess Beatrice of York to complete the Virgin London Marathon as part of the 'Caterpillar Run' Team, consisting of 32 runners tethered together on April 25, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Indigo/Getty Images)
BLACKSBURG, VA - APRIL 16:  Corps of Cadets guards keep watch next to a ceremonial candle during a candlelight vigil on Virginia Tech's Day of Remembrance honoring the 32 people killed by Cho Seung-Hui April 16, 2008 in Blacksburg, Virginia.  Today is the one-year anniversary of the worst school shooting in US history.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Today is Tuesday, April 16, the 106th day of 2019. There are 259 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On April 16, 2007, in one of America’s worst school attacks, a college senior killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech before taking his own life.

On this date:

In 1789, President-elect George Washington left Mount Vernon, Virginia, for his inauguration in New York.

In 1862, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia. The Confederacy conscripted all white men between the ages of 18 to 35.

In 1889, comedian and movie director Charles Chaplin was born in London.

In 1945, during World War II, a Soviet submarine in the Baltic Sea torpedoed and sank the MV Goya, which Germany was using to transport civilian refugees and wounded soldiers; it’s estimated that up to 7,000 people died.

In 1947, the cargo ship Grandcamp, carrying ammonium nitrate, blew up in the harbor in Texas City, Texas; a nearby ship, the High Flyer, which was carrying ammonium nitrate and sulfur, caught fire and exploded the following day; the blasts and fires killed nearly 600 people. At the South Carolina statehouse, financier Bernard M. Baruch declared: “Let us not be deceived — we are today in the midst of a cold war.”

In 1962, New Orleans Archbishop Joseph Rummel excommunicated three local Roman Catholics for fighting racial integration of parochial schools.

In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in which the civil rights activist responded to a group of local clergymen who had criticized him for leading street protests; King defended his tactics, writing, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

In 1972, Apollo 16 blasted off on a voyage to the moon with astronauts John W. Young, Charles M. Duke Jr. and Ken Mattingly on board.

In 1986, dispelling rumors he was dead, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi (MOO’-ah-mar gah-DAH’-fee) appeared on television to condemn the U.S. raid on his country and to say that Libyans were “ready to die” defending their nation.

In 1996, Britain’s Prince Andrew and his wife, Sarah, the Duchess of York, announced they were in the process of divorcing.

In 2003, the Bush administration lowered the terror alert level from orange to yellow, saying the end of heavy fighting in Iraq had diminished the threat of terrorism in the United States.

In 2008, the Supreme Court upheld, 7-2, the most widely used method of lethal injection, allowing states to resume executions after a seven-month halt. Pope Benedict XVI was welcomed by President George W. Bush as only the second pontiff to visit the White House (after John Paul II) and the first in 29 years.

Ten years ago: President Barack Obama issued a statement saying CIA officials who’d used harsh interrogation tactics during the Bush administration would not be prosecuted; the president traveled to Mexico, where he pledged to help the country in its battle against drugs and violence. The crew of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama, who’d thwarted pirates off the Somali coast, returned to the U.S.; ship’s captain Richard Phillips, held hostage for five days, arrived in Kenya aboard the USS Bainbridge. U.N. nuclear experts who’d been ordered to leave by North Korea departed the country. The Cleveland Indians ruined the Yankees’ first game at their new stadium by beating New York 10-2.

Five years ago: More than 300 people, mostly students, died when a South Korean ferry, the Sewol, sank while en route from Incheon to the resort island of Jeju; 172 people survived.

One year ago: The New York Times and The New Yorker won the Pulitzer Prize for public service for breaking the Harvey Weinstein scandal with reporting that galvanized the #MeToo movement. Rap star Kendrick Lamar was awarded the Pulitzer for music, becoming the first non-classical or non-jazz artist to win the prize. American pastor Andrew Brunson went on trial in Turkey in a case that strained ties between that country and the United States; he denied accusations that he aided terror groups or spied against Turkey. (Brunson was convicted but sentenced to time served and was freed from house arrest in October to return to the United States.) Actor Harry Anderson, best known for playing an off-the-wall judge working the night shift of a Manhattan court room on the comedy series “Night Court,” was found dead in his North Carolina home; he was 65.

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© 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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