After months of rising tensions, the Civil War began on this date in 1861 when Major Robert Anderson refused to evacuate Fort Sumter in South Carolina and Confederate troops opened fire on the harbor fort. The barrage continued until Anderson surrendered. No lives were lost in what was the first major engagement of the Civil War.
Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the earth on this date in 1961 when he was launched aboard Vostok I by the Soviet Union. The cosmonaut spent 108 minutes in space and returned safely.
20 years later, on this date in 1981, long after America had pulled far ahead in the space race, the first U.S. space shuttle flight was launched. The flight of the Columbia was the first manned U.S. space mission since Apollo-Soyuz in July 1976.
Three months into his fourth term and only a few months before the end of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage on this date in 1945 at Warm Springs, Ga. FDR, the 32nd president of the United States, was the only president to serve more than two terms -- he was elected to four consecutive terms. About three hours after his death, Vice President Harry Truman was sworn in as chief executive.
It was on this date in 1999 that a federal judge in Little Rock, Ark., found President Clinton in contempt of court for lying during his sworn deposition in January 1998, when he had testified that he had not had sexual relations with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton -- who was fined $1,202, the cost of the judge's trip to Washington to preside over the deposition -- was the first sitting president ever to be held in contempt of court.
And Bill Haley and the Comets recorded "Rock Around The Clock" on this date in 1954. It's considered by many experts to be the first song of the rock 'n' roll era.
We now return you to the present, already in progress.