Ellis Island had its busiest day. (1907) More immigrants came through the processing center on Ellis Island on this day than on any other in the center's history: almost 12,000 people in total.
Apollo 13 returned to earth. (1970) The spacecraft had severely malfunctioned, and it seemed like it would never make it back to Earth. After five days of working around the clock with emergency procedures, the craft touched down safely in the Pacific ocean.
The Bay of Pigs invasion began. (1961) The disastrous invasion, which consisted of CIA-trained Cuban refugees, was intended to overthrow Fidel Castro's government, but failed miserably. It is still considered one of the lowest points of the Kennedy administration.
The Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years' War ended. (1986) The war took place between Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly for over three centuries without one shot being fired, making it one of the longest wars in history as well as one of the wars with the fewest casualties. Peace was officially declared in the 1980s as more of a formality than anything else, since real conflict hadn't ever taken place.
Martin Luther defended himself at the Diet of Worms. (1521) Luther was brought up on charges of heresy for his 95 theses, which formed the basis of Protestantism. He refused to recant his teachings, and narrowly escaped being arrested by hiding with Frederick III of Saxony.
The Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed. (1895) The treaty ended the first Sino-Japanese War, but is better known for being the first time China recognized the autonomy of Korea. The treaty also required China to cede Taiwan to Japan, and give Japan "most favored nation" status, a status that was previously only held by powerful Western countries.
MGM formed. (1924) Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was the leading movie company throughout the early years of film. It has produced many classic films and TV series, including Ben Hur, The Wizard of Oz, and Gone With the Wind.
Jerrie Mock became the first woman to fly solo around the world. (1964) Mock's journey took about a month; aside from being the first woman to fly around the world by herself, she also set several speed records and was also the first woman to fly both the Atlantic and the Pacific.
Chaucer's the Canterbury Tales was told for the first time. (1397) Chaucer told the story aloud at the court of Richard II, which was known for its patronage to literature. The Canterbury Tales became a literary classic, and are considered some of the best literature of the Middle Ages.
Christopher Columbus received a commission to explore the West. (1492) Columbus received his commission from the Spanish monarchy to look for a westward passage to Asia. Though he didn't find the fabled westward passage, he did become one of the first Europeans to set foot in the Americas.