This Day In History, April 30th

What happened on this day in history: Adolf Hitler dies by suicide in Berlin, Anton Lavey establishes the Church of Satan, and other noteworthy events on April 30th.

1803: The Louisiana Purchase Is Completed

The Louisiana Purchase Treaty is signed between the United States and France. Robert Livingston and James Monroe agreed to pay France $15 million (more than $300 million today) for 828,000 square miles of land that lay west of the Mississippi River. The area was greater than Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Portugal combined, and greatly expanded the United States’s territory.

1897: The Discovery Of Electrons Is Announced

Today In History

Oxford Science Archive/Print Collector/Getty ImagesSir Joseph John “J.J.” Thomson in his lab in 1900.

British physicist J.J. Thomson announces the discovery of “corpuscles,” known today as electrons. A Cambridge professor, Thomson made the discovery by determining that cathode rays were made of particles that were much lighter than atoms. This proved that something smaller than atoms existed, though Thomson’s conception of what electrons looked like — he described them as “plum pudding” — was later disproved.

1945: Adolf Hitler Dies By Suicide

Adolf Hitler

ullsetein bild/Getty ImagesTaken on April 29, 1945, just one day before his suicide, this is widely believed to be the last photo of Adolf Hitler (right), seen here surveying the ruins of the Reich chancellery in Berlin with his adjutant, Julius Schaub.

Adolf Hitler dies by suicide at the age of 56 in Berlin, Germany. The German dictator had risen to power alongside his Nazi party in the 1930s, and later orchestrated the extermination of Europe’s Jews during the Holocaust. By the end of World War II, Hitler had taken refuge in his Berlin bunker, and decided to end his own life rather than fall into the hands of the Allies.

1975: The ‘Fall Of Saigon’ Takes Place

Fall Of Saigon

© Jacques Pavlovsky/Sygma/CORBIS/Sygma via Getty ImagesNorth Vietnamese troops entering Saigon.

The South Vietnam capital of Saigon falls to North Vietnamese forces, effectively ending the Vietnam War. Afterward, “Saigon” became “Ho Chi Minh City.”

1996: Anton Lavey Founds The Church Of Satan

Anton Lavey founds the Church of Satan on Walpurgisnacht, the “Night Of The Witches.” Despite its name, Lavey’s church didn’t encourage evil but rather worshiped “His Infernal Majesty” as a humanist who embodied values like self-assertion and justified rebellion. Lavey’s church operates to this day and attracted celebrity members like Jayne Mansfield.