John’s Believe It Or Not… April 14th

John Fioravanti standing at the front of his classroom.

It’s Good Friday for Christian Believers. Did you know…

* 1912 RMS Titanic hits iceberg. (Just before midnight in the North Atlantic, the RMS Titanic fails to divert its course from an iceberg, ruptures its hull, and begins to sink. Just recently, researchers discovered that there had been a fire in the fuel hold before the ship departed. They claim the iceberg did not cause the hull rupture – the hull was weakened from the previous fire within the ship. Because of a shortage of lifeboats and the lack of satisfactory emergency procedures, more than 1,500 people went down with the sinking ship or froze to death in the icy North Atlantic waters. Most of the approximately 700 survivors were women and children. A number of notable American and British citizens died in the tragedy, including the noted British journalist William Thomas Stead and heirs to the Straus, Astor, and Guggenheim fortunes. The announcement of details of the disaster led to outrage on both sides of the Atlantic. The sinking of the Titanic did have some positive effects, however, as more stringent safety regulations were adopted on public ships, and regular patrols were initiated to trace the locations of deadly Atlantic icebergs.

Image of Titanic breaking in half.

* 1865 Lincoln is shot. (On this day in 1865, John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer, fatally shoots President Abraham Lincoln at a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. The attack came only five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his massive army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, effectively ending the American Civil War. The president, mortally wounded, was carried to a lodging house opposite Ford’s Theater. About 7:22 a.m. the next morning, Lincoln, age 56, died–the first U.S. president to be assassinated. Booth, pursued by the army and other secret forces, was finally cornered in a barn near Bowling Green, Virginia, and died from a possibly self-inflicted bullet wound as the barn was burned to the ground. Of the eight other people eventually charged with the conspiracy, four were hanged and four were jailed. Lincoln, the 16th U.S. president, was buried on May 4, 1865, in Springfield, Illinois.)

Artist's rendition of Booth shooting Lincoln from behind.

* 1944 Explosion on cargo ship rocks Bombay, India. (The cargo ship Fort Stikine explodes in a berth in the docks of Bombay, India, killing 1,300 people and injuring another 3,000 on this day in 1944. As it occurred during World War II, some initially claimed that the massive explosion was caused by Japanese sabotage; in fact, it was a tragic accident. The Fort Stikine was a Canadian-built steamship weighing 8,000 tons. It left Birkenhead, England, on February 24 and stopped in Karachi, Pakistan, before docking at Bombay. The ship was carrying hundreds of cotton bales, gold bullion and, most notably, 300 tons of trinitrotoluene, better known as TNT or dynamite. Inexplicably, the cotton was stored one level below the dynamite, despite the well-known fact that cotton bales were prone to combustion. Twelve other ships at the docks were destroyed and many more were seriously damaged. Fires broke out all over the port, causing further explosions. Military troops were brought in to fight the raging fires and some buildings were demolished to stop it from spreading. The main business center of Bombay was not safe for three days after the explosion.)

Image of the ship exploding in the harbor.

* 1818 Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language is printed. (Noah Webster, a Yale-educated lawyer with an avid interest in language and education, publishes his American Dictionary of the English Language. Webster’s dictionary was one of the first lexicons to include distinctly American words. The dictionary, which took him more than two decades to complete, introduced more than 10,000 “Americanisms.” The introduction of a standard American dictionary helped standardize English spelling, a process that had started as early as 1473 when printer William Caxton published the first book printed in English. The rapid proliferation of printing and the development of dictionaries resulted in increasingly standardized spellings by the mid-17th century. Coincidentally, Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language was published almost exactly 63 years earlier, on April 15, 1755.)

Image of the dictionary open to the first page.

* 1775 First American abolition society founded in Philadelphia. (The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, the first American society dedicated to the cause of abolition, is founded in Philadelphia on this day in 1775. The society changes its name to the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage in 1784. Leading Quaker educator and abolitionist Anthony Benezet called the society together two years after he persuaded the Quakers to create the Negro School at Philadelphia. Benezet was born in France to a Huguenot (French Protestant) family that had fled to London in order to avoid persecution at the hands of French Catholics. The family eventually migrated to Philadelphia when Benezet was 17. There, he joined the Society of Friends (Quakers) and began a career as an educator. In 1750, Benezet began teaching slave children in his home after regular school hours, and in 1754, established the first girls’ school in America. With the help of fellow Quaker John Woolman, Benezet persuaded the Philadelphia Quaker Yearly Meeting to take an official stance against slavery in 1758. Benezet’s argument for abolition found a trans-Atlantic audience with the publication of his tract Some Historical Account of Guinea, written in 1772. Benezet counted Benjamin Franklin and John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, among his sympathetic correspondents. He died in 1784; his funeral was attended by 400 black Philadelphians. His society was renamed in that year, and in 1787, Benjamin Franklin lent his prestige to the organization, serving as its president.)

Seal of the Philadephia Abolition Society.

Look who was born on this date!

Head shot of Faisal* Faisal of Saudia Arabia in 1906. (King of Saudi Arabia from 1964 to 1975 until he was shot and killed at point-blank range by his half-brother’s son, Faisal bin Musaid. Created the oil crisis of 1973–1974, by withdrawing Saudi Arabia’s oil from world markets in protest at Western support for Israel during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.)



Head shot of Pete Rose* Pete Rose in 1941. (American MLB Player and Manager:  Nicknamed “Charlie Hustle”, he is the all-time Major League leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at-bats (14,053), singles (3,215), and outs (10,328). He won three World Series rings, three batting titles, and one Most Valuable Player Award. Three years after he retired as an active player, he agreed to permanent ineligibility from baseball amidst accusations that he gambled on baseball games while playing for and managing the Reds, including claims that he bet on his own team.)

Head shot of Carlyle* Robert Carlyle in 1961. (Scottish Actor:  Known for a variety of roles in films such as Trainspotting, The Full Monty, and The World Is Not Enough.)


Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

19 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… April 14th”

  1. Thank you for sending me this link, John. I did not know about the fire before the ship departed. That is completely shocking. The Titanic’s story completely fascinates me for some reason. I saw a water damaged doll that had been retrieved from the wreckage and, for some reason, that doll haunts me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most people don’t know about that fire – the information just recently came to light by a researcher. Experts claim that the fire weakened the hull so that the iceberg was able to rip through it. Otherwise, they claim the ship would have survived. I can understand how that doll has had an impact, Robbie.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey John,

    It is absolutely fascinating to read of these iconic moments that move, mould and transform our world, and of the icons, and the infamous, who entertain us and toy with the world at their leisure respectively.

    I was curious to ask, the photograph used for your entry: 1944 Explosion on cargo ship rocks Bombay, India. Is it original or suited to fit?

    I noted your header photograph – an open and welcoming pose, thank you – is set against a History of World Civilization…the last word being singular. I applaud the sense of global inclusiveness, the promotion of ideals centring on unity and singularity and of one united vision for planet Earth and Her children. One hopes future generations will embrace such virtues and have them flourish.

    Thank you for the posting. Most enjoyed over a cuppa.

    Namaste 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Dewin! So happy to see you here. I downloaded that picture and uploaded it to my site without altering it in any way. Thank you for the compliment about the header picture. It’s interesting that students found that chart fascinating.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey John,

        My pleasure, thank you. I think your students were fortuitous to have you as their teaching John.

        Enjoy Friday afternoon/evening and take care of one and all. My evening is well underway, 3 hours 33 minutes away from midnight to be exact. All the 3’s, that’s either spooky or spectacular, or both, depending on one’s perspective of course.

        Namaste 🙂


        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Teri! About a week ago, I saw a TV news interview of one of the researchers who was tipped off by an old picture of the ship before it left port – a stain was visible on the outside of the hull. Further research uncovered the fire event. Their report went on to say that the iceberg would not have been able to punch a hole in Titanic’s hull if it hadn’t been weakened by the fire. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 3 people

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