ON APRIL 17 ...
In 1790 Benjamin Franklin died in Philadelphia; he was 84.
In 1861 the Virginia State Convention voted to secede from the Union.
In 1897 novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder was born in Madison, Wis.
In 1941 Yugoslavia surrendered to Germany in World War II.
In 1961 about 1,500 CIAtrained Cuban exiles launched the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro.
In 1964 Ford Motor Co. introduced the Mustang. Also in 1964 Jerrie Mock of Columbus, Ohio, became the first female pilot to make a solo flight around the world.
In 1969 Sirhan Sirhan was convicted of first-degree murder in the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy (D-N.Y.). Also in 1969 Czechoslovak Communist Party Chairman Alexander Dubcek was deposed.l
In 1970 the astronauts of Apollo 13 splashed down safely in the Pacific, four days after a ruptured oxygen tank crippled their spacecraft.
In 1975 Phnom Penh fell to communist Khmer Rouge insurgents, ending Cambodia’s five-year war.
In 1982 Queen Elizabeth II proclaimed a new constitution for Canada, giving that nation independence from Britain.
In 1983 Polish police in Warsaw routed 1,000 Solidarity supporters participating in an unofficial ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising.
In 1991 the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 3,000 for the first time.
In 1993 a federal jury in Los Angeles convicted two former police officers of violating the civil rights of beaten motorist Rodney King. Two other officers were acquitted.
In 1996 Lyle and Erik Menendez were spared the death penalty by a Los Angeles jury, which recommended they serve life in prison without parole for killing their wealthy parents.
In 1998 Linda McCartney, wife of musician Paul McCartney, died in Tucson, Ariz.; she was 56.
In 2002 a federal judge ruled the Justice Department couldn’t interfere with Oregon’s assisted-suicide law. (The law was ultimately upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.)
In 2006 former Gov. George Ryan was convicted of corruption.
In 2013 an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, killed at least 15 people, injured more than 150 others and damaged or destroyed hundreds of buildings.
In 2015 Cardinal Francis George, the first Chicago native to serve as the local archbishop and a man who became the intellectual leader of the American church, died in Chicago after a yearslong struggle with cancer; he was 78.