John’s Believe It Or Not… April 26th

John Fioravanti standing at the front of his classroom.

It’s Hump Day Wednesday! Did you know…

* April 26, 1783 – The first “spring fleet” sails from New York with 7,000 loyalists, men, women, children, and servants. (When the terms of peace became known, tens of thousands of the Loyalists shook the dust of their ungrateful country from their feet, never to return. Of these the more influential part, both during and after the war, sailed for England. The royal officials, the wealthy merchants, landowners, and professional men; the high military officers–these went to England to press their claims for compensation and preferment. The humbler element, for the most part, migrated to the remaining British colonies in North America. About two hundred families went to the West Indies, a few to Newfoundland, many to what were afterward called Upper and Lower Canada, and a vast army to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. On April 26, 1783, the first or ‘spring’ fleet set sail. It had on board no less than seven thousand persons, men, women, children, and servants. Half of these went to the mouth of the river St John, and about half to Port Roseway, at the southwest end of the Nova Scotian peninsula. The voyage was fair, and the ships arrived at their destinations without mishap. But at St John at least, the colonists found that almost no preparations had been made to receive them. They were disembarked on a wild and primeval shore, where they had to clear away the brushwood before they could pitch their tents or build their shanties. The prospect must have been disheartening. ‘Nothing but wilderness before our eyes, the women and children did not refrain from tears,’ wrote one of the exiles; and the grandmother of Sir Leonard Tilley used to tell her descendants, ‘I climbed to the top of Chipman’s Hill and watched the sails disappearing in the distance, and such a feeling of loneliness came over me that, although I had not shed a tear through all the war, I sat down on the damp moss with my baby in my lap and cried.’)

Evacuation of Loyalists from New York
Evacuation of Loyalists from New York (Millard & Kleinsteuber Family Histories)

* 1607 1st English colony in American lands at Cape Henry, Virginia. (Cape Henry was named on April 26, 1607 in honor of Henry Frederick Stuart, the elder of two sons of King James I of England to survive to the age of 18 and heir-apparent to the throne of Great Britain, by an expedition of the London Company branch of the proprietary Virginia Company headed by Captain Christopher Newport. After an unusually long voyage of 144 days from England, it was their first landfall, an event which has come to be called “The First Landing”. Soon after this landing the English colonists erected a wooden cross and gave thanks for a successful crossing to a new land.[1] In the First Charter of Virginia, King James I devoted parcels of land for the purpose of spreading the Christian religion. The Charter reads in part: “We greatly commending, and graciously accepting of, their Desires for the Furtherance of so noble a Work, which may, by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of his Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian Religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness and miserable Ignorance…”)

Arrival of First Landing Party
Arrival of First Landing Party (This Day In Bay History –

* 1954 Polio vaccine trials begin. (On this day in 1954, the Salk polio vaccine field trials, involving 1.8 million children, begin at the Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Virginia. Children in the United States, Canada, and Finland participated in the trials, which used for the first time the now-standard double-blind method, whereby neither the patient nor attending doctor knew if the inoculation was the vaccine or a placebo. On April 12, 1955, researchers announced the vaccine was safe and effective and it quickly became a standard part of childhood immunizations in America. In the ensuing decades, polio vaccines would all but wipe out the highly contagious disease in the Western Hemisphere. President Franklin Roosevelt was diagnosed with polio in 1921 at the age of 39 and was left paralyzed from the waist down and forced to use leg braces and a wheelchair for the rest of his life. In 1938, Roosevelt helped found the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, later renamed the March of Dimes. The organization was responsible for funding much of the research concerning the disease, including the Salk vaccine trials. Today, polio has been eliminated throughout much of the world due to the vaccine; however, there is still no cure for the disease and it persists in a small number of countries in Africa and Asia.)

The Salk polio vaccine: "Greatest public health experiment in history" - CBS News
The Salk polio vaccine: “Greatest public health experiment in history” – CBS News

* 1954 Geneva Conference begins. (In an effort to resolve several problems in Asia, including the war between the French and Vietnamese nationalists in Indochina, representatives from the world’s powers meet in Geneva. The conference marked a turning point in the United States’ involvement in Vietnam. Representatives from the United States, the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, France, and Great Britain came together in April 1954 to try to resolve several problems related to Asia. One of the most troubling concerns was the long and bloody battle between Vietnamese nationalist forces, under the leadership of the communist Ho Chi Minh, and the French, who were intent on continuing colonial control over Vietnam. Since 1946 the two sides had been hammering away at each other. By 1954, however, the French were tired of the long and inclusive war that was draining both the national treasury and public patience. The United States had been supporting the French out of concern that a victory for Ho’s forces would be the first step in communist expansion throughout Southeast Asia. When America refused France’s requests for more direct intervention in the war, the French announced that they were including the Vietnam question on the agenda for the Geneva Conference.)

MAP: Geneva Demarkation Line 1954 (Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training)

* 1986 Nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. (On April 26, 1986, the world’s worst nuclear power plant accident occurs at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the Soviet Union. Thirty-two people died and dozens more suffered radiation burns in the opening days of the crisis, but only after Swedish authorities reported the fallout did Soviet authorities reluctantly admit that an accident had occurred. On April 27, Soviet authorities began an evacuation of the 30,000 inhabitants of Pripyat. A cover-up was attempted, but on April 28 Swedish radiation monitoring stations, more than 800 miles to the northwest of Chernobyl, reported radiation levels 40 percent higher than normal. Later that day, the Soviet news agency acknowledged that a major nuclear accident had occurred at Chernobyl. In the opening days of the crisis, 32 people died at Chernobyl and dozens more suffered radiation burns. The radiation that escaped into the atmosphere, which was several times that produced by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was spread by the wind over Northern and Eastern Europe, contaminating millions of acres of forest and farmland. An estimated 5,000 Soviet citizens eventually died from cancer and other radiation-induced illnesses caused by their exposure to the Chernobyl radiation, and millions more had their health adversely affected. In 2000, the last working reactors at Chernobyl were shut down and the plant was officially closed.)

Aerial photo of Chernobyl nuclear plant taken in April 1986
Aerial photo of Chernobyl nuclear plant taken in April 1986 (

Look who was born on this date!

Bust of Marcus Aurelius* Marcus Aurelius in 121. (Roman Emperor from 161 to 180, he was the last of the Five Good Emperors, and is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers. During his reign, the Empire defeated a revitalized Parthian Empire in the East. He is considered one of the best Roman Emperors in history.)


Portrait of Shakespeare* William Shakespeare in 1564. (English Playwright:  Widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. His extant works consist of about 38 plays and 154 sonnets. His plays have been translated into every major living language and have been performed more often than any other playwright. Some of his famous plays include Macbeth, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, and King Lear.)

Head shot of Jet-Li* Jet Li [Li Lianjie] in 1963. (Chinese Actor and Martial Artist:  Won great acclaim in China as an actor making his debut with the film “Shaolin Temple” (1982). He went on to star in many critically acclaimed martial arts epic films. His first role in a Hollywood film was as a villain in “Lethal Weapon 4” (1998), and his first leading role in a Hollywood film was as Han Sing in “Romeo Must Die” (2000).)

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.

9 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… April 26th”

    1. Thanks for your comments, John. Historians claim that the Revolution created two new countries – the USA and Canada. You’d think after the $Billions raised for cancer research there would be several cures and a dozen vaccines. But what do I know?

      Liked by 1 person

        1. In answer to your question, Kim, Wikipedia says: “Starting around 1965, Wednesday began being referred to as “hump day.” Smack dab in the middle of the traditional work week, arriving at Wednesday symbolizes that we’ve made it over the hump and the weekend is in sight.” Of course, there are also those who use it as ‘tongue in cheek’ sexual innuendo.

          Liked by 1 person

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