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This Day in U.S. History: April 25

Events

1846 – Thornton Affair: Open conflict begins over the disputed border of Texas, triggering the Mexican–American War.

1847 – The last survivors of the Donner Party are out of the wilderness.

1862 – American Civil War: Forces under Union Admiral David Farragut demand the surrender of the Confederate city of New Orleans, Louisiana.

1864 – American Civil War: The Battle of Marks' Mills.

1898 – Spanish–American War: The United States declares war on Spain.

1901 – New York becomes the first U.S. state to require automobile license plates.

1938 – U.S. Supreme Court delivers its opinion in Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins and overturns a century of federal common law.

1944 – The United Negro College Fund is incorporated.

1945 – Elbe Day: United States and Soviet troops meet in Torgau along the River Elbe, cutting the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany in two, a milestone in the approaching end of World War II in Europe.

1945 – Liberation Day (Italy): The Nazi occupation army surrenders and leaves Northern Italy after a general partisan insurrection by the Italian resistance movement; the puppet fascist regime dissolves and Benito Mussolini is captured after trying to escape. This day was set as a public holiday to celebrate the Liberation of Italy.

1945 – Fifty nations gather in San Francisco to begin the United Nations Conference on International Organization.

1953 – Francis Crick and James Watson publish "Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid" describing the double helix structure of DNA.

1954 – The first practical solar cell is publicly demonstrated by Bell Telephone Laboratories.

1959 – The Saint Lawrence Seaway, linking the North American Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean, officially opens to shipping.

1960 – The United States Navy submarine USS Triton completes the first submerged circumnavigation of the globe.

1983 – American schoolgirl Samantha Smith is invited to visit the Soviet Union by its leader Yuri Andropov after he read her letter in which she expressed fears about nuclear war.

1983 – Pioneer 10 travels beyond Pluto's orbit.

2015 – Riots break out in Baltimore, Maryland following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody.

Births

1868 – John Moisant, American pilot and engineer (d. 1910)

1878 – William Merz, American gymnast and triathlete (d. 1946)

1906 – William J. Brennan, Jr., American colonel and jurist (d. 1997)

1908 – Edward R. Murrow, American journalist (d. 1965)

1909 – William Pereira, American architect, designed the Transamerica Pyramid (d. 1985)

1932 – Meadowlark Lemon, American basketball player, actor, and minister (d. 2015)

1939 – Ted Kooser, American poet

1969 – Joe Buck, American sportscaster

Deaths

1906 – John Knowles Paine, American composer and educator (b. 1839)

1990 – Dexter Gordon, American saxophonist, composer, and actor (b. 1923)

1995 – Art Fleming, American game show host and actor (b. 1925)

1995 – Ginger Rogers, American actress, singer, and dancer (b. 1911)

2000 – David Merrick, American director and producer (b. 1911)

2002 – Lisa Lopes, American rapper and dancer (b. 1971)

2012 – Moscelyne Larkin, American ballerina and educator (b. 1925)