This Week In History: April 15 - April 19

PHOTO: Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth president of the United States of America.
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Think you know what happened this week in history? Think again. This week saw a number of heated encounters between the U.S. and Cuba during the Cold War over a number of years in the 1960s. It also saw the beginning of the American Revolutionary War and the death of a great president. Test your history knowledge and find out what happened this week in history.

PHOTO: Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth president of the United States of America.
Photo12/UIG/Getty Images
April 15

1865: President Abraham Lincoln died. Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theatre in D.C. on April 14 and died from a severe head wound the following day. Lincoln's death came just after Confederate army leader Robert E. Lee had surrendered to Union army Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the North won the American Civil War. Lincoln's funeral was held later that week.

1959: Fidel Castro visited the United States. Castro made his first visit to the U.S. after being invited by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, following his successful revolution in Cuba. The visit lasted 11 days but Castro never met with then President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who went as far as going off to a golf course to avoid a meeting. However, Vice President Richard Nixon did meet with the revolutionary and attempted to convince him to move away from radical policies and anti-American rhetoric. But it didn't work. Several months later, Eisenhower would order the CIA to begin arming and training Cuban exiles to retaliate and attack Cuba. The subsequent incident, known as the Bay of Pigs invasion, was later launched by the Kennedy administration. Relations between the U.S. and Cuba would remain tense throughout the Cold War.

April 16

1862: Slavery was abolished in Washington, D.C. The D.C. Compensated Emancipation Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln and officially abolished slavery in Washington, D.C., while the American Civil War was still going on. Approximately 3,000 slaves were freed as a result of the bill and Union slaveholders were paid for freeing their slaves. April 16 is now officially celebrated as Emancipation Day in D.C., with parades and other events taking place around the city each year.

1947: The term Cold War was officially coined. Millionaire Bernard Baruch coined the term in April 1947. Baruch harped on the "Cold War" tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in a speech he gave during the unveiling of his portrait in the South Carolina House of Representatives. Baruch addressed labor-related issues in the country and stated, "Let us not be deceived -- we are today in the midst of a cold war. Our enemies are to be found abroad and at home. Let us never forget this: Our unrest is the heart of their success. The peace of the world is the hope and the goal of our political system; it is the despair and defeat of those who stand against us. We can depend only on ourselves." Baruch had been a longtime international relations adviser to presidents including Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

PHOTO: Fidel Castro during his speech for the 4th Anniversary of Revolution, Jan. 7, 1963, in Havana, Cuba.
Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images
April 17

1961: The Bay of Pigs invasion began. The invasion, which was an effort by the American government and CIA to install American-trained Cuban exiles in Cuba to defeat the Castro communist regime, began. The effort ultimately failed, as the expected uprising by Cuban citizens did not occur and Castro's militia launched strong counterattacks against the exiles. The incident backfired even more when Castro's power increased and he requested more aid from the Soviet Union, increasing tensions between the U.S. and the USSR.

1972: The first major anti-Vietnam War protest of the year is held. Though various protests were seen across the country throughout that year, the first demonstration against the Vietnam War was held at the University of Maryland. The protest was held against the Reserve Officers Training Corps and hundreds of students were arrested. National Guardsmen were even called in to contain the protest.

PHOTO: A Lebanese policeman, a French soldier, a U.S. Marine and a French soldier stand guard, April 18 1983, in front of the destroyed section of the U.S. embassy in Beirut.
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April 18

1961: Kennedy denied military intervention in Cuba. In a letter to then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev regarding military intervention in Cuba during the Cold War, President John F. Kennedy lied about launching an invasion into the communist country. Though Kennedy did maintain that the American government supported the shift to a democratic system in Cuba, he did not mention that the day before he wrote his letter, approximately 1,200 Cuban exiles were sent to Cuba to try to overthrow Fidel Castro's revolutionary communist regime. This attack was part of the Bay of Pigs invasion. However Khrushchev had already learned of the plans and passed word on to Castro, who would ultimately launch a counterattack against the exiles. The spying and attacks during the Cold War would not stop with the Bay of Pigs, however, as the American government continued be part of efforts to overthrow Castro.

1983: Suicide bomber destroyed U.S. Embassy in Lebanon. A suicide bomber carried out an attack in Beirut with a car-bomb that left 63 people dead, including 17 Americans. The incident was carried out to protest the U.S. military presence in Lebanon. Following another attack on a U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon later that year, President Ronald Reagan announced the end of peacekeeping missions in Lebanon and the last few brigades were withdrawn from the country.

PHOTO: Protective covering drapes over the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, April 19, 1995, where a terrorist bomb killed 168 people.
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April 19

1775: The American Revolution began. With the infamous "shot heard round the world," the American revolution kicked off in Lexington, Mass., in what would eventually gain the American colonies independence from the British.

1995: A truck bomb exploded in Oklahoma City in a domestic terrorist attack. A truck bomb exploded outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Okla., leaving 168 dead, including the 19 children who had been in the building's day-care center. The plot to bomb the building, which housed a number of federal agencies including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, stemmed out of the perpetrators' anti-government beliefs and their particular dislike of the Clinton administration and its platform for gun control, among other issues. Terry McVeigh, who delivered the bomb, was put to death in June 2001. His accomplice, Terry Nichols, was found guilty on counts of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to life in prison.

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