This Day In History, April 12th

What happened on this day in history: Galileo Galilei is accused of heresy in 1633, Franklin D. Roosevelt dies in 1945, and more.

1633: Galileo Galilei Is Accused Of Heresy

The Italian astronomer was accused of heresy because of his belief that the Earth rotates around the sun, which the Catholic Church considered heretical. He was found guilty and sentenced to house arrest, where he would remain until his death in 1642.

1861: The American Civil War Begins At Fort Sumter

Today In History April 12

VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty ImagesThe bombardment of Fort Sumter in April 1861.

The first shots of the American Civil War are fired when Confederate troops bombard Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The conflict, which ended in 1865, resulted in a Union victory but at a heavy cost. Some 600,000 soldiers on both sides lost their lives while much of the south was destroyed.

1927: The Shanghai Massacre Begins

The Shanghai Massacre begins in Shanghai, China. The massacre, which lasted until April 15, resulted in the deaths of thousands of communists by supporters of nationalist General Chiang Kai-shek. The incident sparked the Chinese Civil War, which would claim over six million lives until it ended in 1949.

1945: Franklin D. Roosevelt Dies

Fdr Final Photo

FDR Presidential Library & MuseumThe last photograph taken of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died the next day.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies in Warm Springs, Georgia, from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 63. The 32nd president of the United States, Roosevelt won an unprecedented four terms in office from 1933 until 1945. He steered the country through momentous occasions like the Great Depression, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and World War II.

1961: Yuri Gagarin Becomes The First Man In Space

Yuri Gagarin

ITU Pictures/ FlickrCosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space. A Soviet cosmonaut, Gagarin orbited the Earth in the spacecraft Vostok 1. His accomplishment came as a blow to the United States, which lagged behind in the Space Race, and made Gagarin an international celebrity.