The History Channel
* On April 2, 1513, near present-day St. Augustine, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon comes ashore on the Florida coast and claims the territory for the Spanish crown. Ponce de Leon is credited with the first recorded landing and the first detailed exploration of the Florida coast.
* On April 3, 1776, because it lacked sufficient funds to build a strong navy, the Continental Congress gives privateers permission to attack British ships. Any goods captured by the privateer were divided between the ship’s owner and the government.
* On April 7, 1873, John McGraw, one of the winningest managers in baseball history, is born in Truxton, N.Y. McGraw’s career total of 2,763 wins ranks second only to Connie Mack. Between 1902 and 1932, the New York Giants won 10 pennants, came in second place 11 times and won three World Series championships.
* On April 4, 1949, the United States and 11 other nations establish the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a mutual defense pact aimed at containing possible Soviet aggression against Western Europe. The signatories agreed, “An armed attack against one or more of them … shall be considered an attack against them all.”
* On April 5, 1951, death sentences are imposed against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, after they were found guilty of conspiring to transmit atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. The only seriously incriminating evidence came from a confessed spy who was given a reduced sentence to testify against them.
* On April 6, 1968, Stanley’s Kubrick’s science-fiction classic “2001: A Space Odyssey” makes its debut in movie theaters. The film clocked in at around three hours and contained less than 40 minutes of dialogue, with long stretches of absolute silence or of the sound of human breathing.
* On April 1, 1970, President Richard Nixon signs legislation officially banning cigarette ads on television and radio. In 1969, Congress had passed the Cigarette Smoking Act, requiring warning labels that stated: “Cigarette Smoking May be Hazardous to Your Health.”