Seeds of Fire: A People’s Chronology

Recalling events that happened on this day in history.
Memories of struggle, resistance and persistence.

Compiled by Ulli Diemer

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April 15, 1452
In the town of Vinci, in Tuscany, “at the third hour of the night,” an unmarried peasant woman named Caterina gives birth to a son whom she names Leonardo. Blessed with astonishing talent, Leonardo goes on to become a painter, sculptor, illustrator, inventor, musician, architect, mathematician, engineer, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer – the most famous figure of the Italian Renaissance.

Despite his accomplishments, Leonardo suffers from doubts about the quality of his work. Late in life, he says, “I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.”

Others are awed by him. After Leonardo’s death, Giorgio Vasari writes: “In the normal course of events many men and women are born with remarkable talents; but occasionally, in a way that transcends nature, a single person is marvellously endowed by Heaven with beauty, grace and talent in such abundance that he leaves other men far behind, all his actions seem inspired and indeed everything he does clearly comes from God rather than from human skill. Everyone acknowledged that this was true of Leonardo da Vinci, an artist of outstanding physical beauty, who displayed infinite grace in everything that he did and who cultivated his genius so brilliantly that all problems he studied he solved with ease.”
Related Topics: Leonardo da Vinci
April 15, 1865
U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated by a white racist embittered by the defeat of the slaverholders’ Confederacy in the Civil War, and particularly enraged by Lincoln’s speech, four days before, promoting voting rights for blacks.
Hundreds of thousands of people line the tracks as a funeral train takes Lincoln’s body to be buried in Illinois.
Related Topics: AssassinationsLincoln, Abraham
April 15, 1889
Birth of A. Philip Randolph (1889-1979), African-American labour leader, socialist, and civil rights activist.
Quote: “Freedom is never granted; it is won. Justice is never given; it is exacted.
April 15, 1912
The Titanic sinks on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic after striking an iceberg. The captain of the Titanic had received a number of warnings from other ships about icebergs in the vicinity, but chose to ignore them and steam ahead at full speed. 1,502 people die.
Related Topics: DisastersIcebergs
April 15, 1947
Jackie Robinson becomes the first black player in major league baseball. He endures abuse and death threats, but goes on to win the rookie of the year award for 1947, and the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949. He is selected for six consecutive All-Star Games from 1949 to 1954, and plays in six World Series.
Related Topics: Baseball
April 15, 1986
American planes bomb the Libyan capital Tripoli. The attack is condemned by many countries, as well as by the United Nations General Assembly, which passes a resolution that “condemns the military attack perpetrated against the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on 15 April 1986, which constitutes a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law.” The U.S. follows its normal practice, and ignores the UN resolution.
Related Topics: BombingLibyaU.S. Imperialism

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For more information about people and events in Seeds of Fire, explore these pages: