This Day In History, April 17th

What happened on this day in history: Benjamin Franklin dies in 1790, Cambodia falls to the Khmer Rouge in 1975, and more.

1790: Benjamin Franklin Dies

Today In History April 17

Stock Montage/Stock Montage/Getty ImagesBenjamin Franklin played a crucial role in the American Revolution.

Benjamin Franklin dies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from complications of pleurisy at the age of 84. A statesman, printer, publisher, writer, and Founding Father, Franklin played a crucial role in America’s independence. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and later put his signature on the Treaty of Alliance with France in 1778, the Treaty of Paris in 1783, and the United States Constitution in 1787.

1865: Mary Surratt Is Arrested

Mary Surratt is arrested at her boarding house in Washington D.C. Accused of conspiring — along with John Wilkes Booth and others — of orchestrating the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Surratt was found guilty despite her avowal of innocence. She was executed alongside co-conspirators Lewis Powell, David Herold, and George Atzerodt on July 7, becoming the first woman to be executed by the U.S. government.

1895: The First Sino-Japanese War Ends

The first Sino-Japanese war ends with a Japanese victory. The war broke out in July of 1894 after Japanese and Chinese forces sought control over Korea. Japanese forces had superior organization and technology, so their victory over China was swift. As part of the peace terms, China had to relinquish control Taiwan to Japan and recognize Korea as an independent country. The war marked the end of China’s status as a cultural and political hegemon in Asia and gave Japan world power status.

1961: The Bay Of Pigs Invasion Is Launched

Captured Mercenaries

Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty ImagesCaptured mercenaries following the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

The Bay of Pigs invasion begins when 1,200 Cuban exiles, supported by the U.S. government, invade Cuba. The attack, originally ordered by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and continued by President John F. Kennedy in hopes of toppling Cuban leader Fidel Castro, floundered when the CIA-trained exiles encountered the Cuban military. They were able to swiftly subdue the invading force, much to the embarrassment of the United States.

1975: Cambodia Falls To The Khmer Rouge

Cambodia falls to the Khmer Rouge when soldiers enter Phnom Penh after five years of fighting. Led by Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge swiftly implanted its plan to turn Cambodia into a rural utopia by forcing millions of people from Cambodian cities onto farms. Though the Khmer Rouge was overthrown in 1979, up to two million people are estimated to have died under their rule.