On this day in 1805, Naval Agent to the Barbary States, William Eaton, the former consul to Tunis, led an small expeditionary force of Marines, commanded by First Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon, and Berber mercenaries from Alexandria, across 500 miles to the port of Derna in Tripoli. Supported by US Naval gunfire, the port was captured by the end of the day, overthrowing Yusuf Karamanli, the ruling pasha of Tripoli, who had seized power from his brother, Hamet Karamanli, a pasha who was sympathetic to the United States.
Lt. O’Bannon raised the US flag over the port, the first time the US flag had flown over a foreign battlefield. He had performed so valiantly that newly restored Pasha Hamet Karamanli presented him with an elaborately designed sword that now serves as the pattern for the swords carried by Marine officers. The words “To the shores of Tripoli” in the Marine Corps official song commemorate the battle.
1509 Pope Julius II excommunicated the Italian state of Venice.
1521 Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan was killed in the Philippines.
1773 The British Parliament passes the Tea Act, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and thus granting it a monopoly on the American tea trade.
1791 Samuel Morse. 4/27/1791 – 4/2/1872, American painter and developer of the telegraph
1822 Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president of the United States, was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio.
1865 The steamer Sultana exploded on the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tenn., killing more than 1,400 Union prisoners of war.
1896 Baseball Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby was born in Winters, Texas.
1899 Walter Lantz, 4/27/1899 – 3/22/1994, American film animator; creator of “Woody Woodpecker”
1965 Broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow died at age 57.
1972 Apollo 16 returned to Earth after a manned voyage to the moon.
1978 Afghanistan President Sardar Mohammed Daoud is overthrown and murdered in a coup led by procommunist rebels. The brutal action marked the beginning of political upheaval in Afghanistan that resulted in intervention by Soviet troops less than two years later.
1987 The Justice Department barred Austrian President Kurt Waldheim from entering the United States, saying he had aided in the deportation and execution of thousands of Jews and others as a German Army officer during World War II.
1992 The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was proclaimed in Belgrade by the Republic of Serbia and its lone ally, Montenegro.
1992 Russia and 12 other former Soviet republics won entry into the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
2005 Russian President Vladimir Putin became the first Kremlin leader to visit Israel.
87 Jack Klugman, Actor (“The Odd Couple,” “Quincy”)
77 Anouk Aimee, Actress
77 Casey Kasem, Radio announcer, voice actor
70 Judy Carne, Actress
65 Cuba Gooding, R&B singer
61 Kate Pierson, Rock singer (B-52s)
58 Ace Frehley, Rock musician (Kiss)
55 Herm Edwards, Kansas City Chiefs head coach
50 Sheena Easton, Singer, actress
34 Chris Carpenter, Baseball player