John’s Believe It Or Not… April 27th

John Fioravanti standing at the front of his classroom.

It’s Thursday Already! Did you know…

* 1967 – Prime Minister Lester Pearson officially opens l’Exposition Universelle de Montréal – Expo ’67. (Expo 67, the “Universal and International Exhibition,” was the highlight of Canada’s Centennial celebrations in 1967. Senator Mark Drouin of Québec first developed the idea of a world exhibition in Montréal to serve as a focal point for Canada’s celebrations of its 100th birthday. Senator Drouin and Senator Sarto Fournier, former mayor of Montréal, first presented the idea to the Bureau International des Expositions in Paris, but that body initially decided that the 1967 world exhibition should be held in Moscow. In late 1962, however, the USSR canceled its plans and Montréal’s mayor, Jean Drapeau, made a fresh presentation to the BIE and the exhibition was awarded to Canada. That Expo 67 was sanctioned by the BIE virtually assured participation by a majority of the countries of the world. What is more, the BIE designated it as an exhibition of the “first category,” the first to be held in North America. The most important aspect of this “first category” classification is that the exposition must cover the full range of activities of contemporary man.)

Expo mini-rail glides along in front of the United States of America pavilion.
Expo mini-rail glides along in front of the United States of America pavilion.

* 1813 – War of 1812 – Invasion force of 1,700 US troops under Gens Zebulon Pike and Henry Dearborn assaults the town of York {Toronto}. (Gen Roger Sheaffe and 600 defenders withdraw to Kingston; after Gen Pike is killed in an ammunition explosion, the Americans torch Upper Canada’s parliament buildings and depart May 8 after burning and looting the town. Britain will retaliate a year later by raiding Washington and setting fire to the White House. Toronto, Ontario)

Battle at York

* 4977 BC Universe is created, according to Kepler. (On this day in 4977 B.C., the universe is created, according to German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler, considered a founder of modern science. Kepler is best known for his theories explaining the motion of planets. Kepler’s research was slow to gain widespread traction during his lifetime, but it later served as a key influence on the English mathematician Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) and his law of gravitational force. Additionally, Kepler did important work in the fields of optics, including demonstrating how the human eye works, and math. He died on November 15, 1630, in Regensberg, Germany. As for Kepler’s calculation about the universe’s birthday, scientists in the 20th century developed the Big Bang theory, which showed that his calculations were off by about 13.7 billion years.)

"Universe is created, according to Kepler" | Shrddha Choudhary | Pulse | LinkedIn
“Universe is created, according to Kepler” | Shraddha Choudhary | Pulse | LinkedIn

* 1865 Civil War vets are caught in a steamboat explosion. (On this day in 1865, an explosion on a Mississippi River steamboat kills an estimated 1,547 people, mostly Union soldiers returning home after the Civil War. Although this disaster near Memphis took a huge toll, it was barely noticed against the backdrop of the end of the Civil War, a conflict in which tens of thousands had died. The Sultana made it only a few miles north of Memphis. “At 2 a.m., one of the boilers exploded, resulting in two other boilers exploding,” Potter says. “And the entire center of the boat erupted like a volcano. “Soldiers from Kentucky and Tennessee were among the first to die, he says, “because they’d been packed in next to the boilers. “It was like a tremendous bomb going off in the middle of where these men were,” Potter says. “And the shrapnel, the steam and the boiling water killed hundreds.” Fire, drowning, and exposure would kill many hundreds more. But the story of the Sultana is about more than lost lives. It is also about a rescue effort that brought together people who had been at war just weeks earlier. Many Sultana survivors ended up on the Arkansas side of the river, which was under Confederate control during the war. And many of them were saved by local residents, like John Fogelman — an ancestor of the city of Marion’s current mayor, Frank Fogelman.)

The Shipwreck That Led Confederate Veterans To Risk All For Union Lives
The Shipwreck That Led Confederate Veterans To Risk All For Union Lives/

* 1994 South Africa holds first multiracial elections. (More than 22 million South Africans turn out to cast ballots in the country’s first multiracial parliamentary elections. An overwhelming majority chose anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela to head a new coalition government that included his African National Congress Party, former President F.W. de Klerk’s National Party, and Zulu leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s Inkatha Freedom Party. In May, Mandela was inaugurated as president, becoming South Africa’s first black head of state. In 1989, F.W. de Klerk became South Africa’s president and set about dismantling apartheid. De Klerk lifted the ban on the ANC, suspended executions, and in February 1990 ordered the release of Nelson Mandela. Mandela subsequently led the ANC in its negotiations with the minority government for an end to apartheid and the establishment of a multiracial government. In 1993, Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. One year later, the ANC won an electoral majority in the country’s first free elections, and Mandela was elected South Africa’s president, a position he held until 1999.)

nelson mandela casts his ballot in the presidential election at ohlange high
Nelson Mandela casts his ballot in the presidential election at Ohlange High

Look who was born on this date!

Head shot of Morse* Samuel Morse in 1791. (American Inventor:  He contributed to the invention of a single-wire telegraph system based on European telegraphs and a co-developer of the Morse code.)




Portrait of Grant* Ulysses S. Grant in 1822. (US President & Union General: Grant was educated at West Point Military Academy and fought in the Mexican-American War. He rejoined the army for the Civil War and was appointed Brigadier General, Major General then finally General-in-Chief of all Union forces by President Lincoln in 1864. His various military victories included Vicksburg, Chattanooga and finally, at Appomattox, he accepted the surrender of the Confederate forces led by General Lee. On the back of his wartime successes, he was elected the 18th US President in 1868 and re-elected for a second term in 1872. His presidency was marred by corruption scandals, an economic crisis, and Republican infighting but he is also remembered for helping protect the rights of African Americans and eliminate slavery. He completed his highly regarded memoirs just before his death.)

Head shot of Kasem* Casey Kasem in 1932. (American Disc Jockey and Actor:  Created the music radio program “American Top 40” and provided the voice of Shaggy on the cartoon “Scooby-Doo”.)


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.

5 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… April 27th”

  1. Fascinating John. I am not surprised that Kepler was off on his calculation by such an unimaginably big figure. I don’t think people at that time could even imagine that much time. I was saying to a colleague at work just yesterday, how many zero’s in a billion and a trillion. When the numbers are so big it is hard to keep a grip on them in your head. Happy Thursday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Robbie – huge numbers like that become almost meaningless since we can’t really relate them to our own experience. It is interesting that people in his era were prepared to accept a notion that the universe originated only when human records appeared. Thanks for stopping by with your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

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