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    April 17 in History

    858Benedict III ends his reign as Catholic Pope.
    1492Christopher Columbus signs a contract with Spain to find a western route to the Indies.
    1521Martin Luther is excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.
    1524Present-day New York Harbor is discovered by Giovanni Verrazano.
    1535Antonio Mendoza is appointed first viceroy of New Spain.
    1758Frances Williams, the first African-American to graduate for a college in the western hemisphere, publishes a collection of Latin poems.
    1808Bayonne Decree by Napoleon I of France orders seizure of U.S. ships.
    1824Russia abandons all North American claims south of 54′ 40′.
    1861Virginia become eighth state to secede from the Union.
    1864General Grant bans the trading of prisoners.
    1865Mary Surratt is arrested as a conspirator in the Lincoln assassination.
    1875The game "snooker" is invented by Sir Neville Chamberlain.
    1895China and Japan sign peace treaty of Shimonoseki.
    1929Baseball player Babe Ruth and Claire Hodgeson, a former member of the Ziegfield Follies, get married.
    1946The last French troops leave Syria.
    1947Jackie Robinson bunts for his first major league hit.
    1961Some 1,400 Cuban exiles attack the Bay of Pigs in an attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro.
    1964Jerrie Mock becomes first woman to fly solo around the world.
    1969Sirhan Sirhan is convicted of assassinating Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
    1970Apollo 13–originaly scheduled to land on the moon–lands back safely on Earth after an accident.
    1975Khmer Rouge forces capture the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh.
    1983In Warsaw, police rout 1,000 Solidarity supporters.

    Born on April 17

    1622Henry Vaughan, poet
    1676Frederick I, king of Sweden
    1741Samuel Chase, signer of the Declaration of Independence
    1820Alexander Cartwright, sportsman, developed baseball.
    1866Ernest Henry Starling, British physiologist.
    1885Isak Dinesen (Karen Dinesen), Danish writer (Out of Africa).
    1894Nikita S. Khrushchev, Soviet premier (1958-64).
    1897Thornton Wilder, novelist and playwright (Our Town).
    1923Harry Reasoner, American broadcast journalist.
    1928Cynthia Ozick, writer (The Cannibal Galaxy, The Messiah of Stockholm).