This Day In History, April 6th

What happened on this day in history: The Ottomans launch the Siege of Constantinople, America enters World War I, and more significant events from April 6th.

1453: The Siege Of Constantinople Begins

For 53 days, the capital of the Byzantine Empire was surrounded by Ottoman forces, commanded by 21-year-old Sultan Mehmed II. On May 29, the city fell, marking the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance.

1830: Joseph Smith Founds The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints

Joseph Smith

De Agostini/Getty ImagesA depiction of Joseph Smith reading the Book of Mormon to a group of his first followers.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is founded by Joseph Smith alongside five others in Fayette, New York. Led by Smith until his murder in 1844, followers of the church eventually moved west and settled in Salt Lake City, Utah. Today, there are more than 16 million Mormons around the world.

1896: The First Modern Olympic Games Begin

The first modern Olympic Games are held in Athens, Greece. Held for the first time since their cancellation 1,500 years ago by Roman Emperor Theodosius I, the games drew 60,000 spectators and athletes from 13 nations. In 2022, the Winter Olympic games drew athletes from 91 countries and were watched by more than 2 billion people worldwide.

1917: The United States Enters World War I

The United States officially enters World War I. Though the U.S. had long tried to stay neutral in the conflict, numerous events — including the May 1917 sinking of the Lusitania, allegedly by German U-Boats, in which 123 Americans died — drew the country into the war. After the Lusitania incident, President Woodrow Wilson called on Congress to declare war on Germany, which it promptly did.

1931: Ram Dass Is Born

Ram Dass

Robert Altman/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty ImagesRam Dass famously took LSD hundreds of times and penned several inspirational books.

Richard Alpert, later known as Ram Dass, is born in Boston, Massachusetts. A guru who advocated the use of LSD, Dass was a professor at Harvard who researched the effects of psychedelic drugs alongside his colleague, Timothy Leary. Though he took some 400 LSD trips, Dass later noted that he attained more spiritual enlightenment from his sober meditations.

1955: Keith Hunter Jesperson Is Born

Keith Hunter Jesperson is born in Chilliwack, British Columbia. A long-haul trucker and serial killer known as the Happy Face Killer because of how he signed letters to the police and messages left in bathrooms, Jesperson killed at least eight women between 1990 and 1995. He claims, however, that he killed 166.

1994: The Rwandan Genocide Begins

Juvenal Habyarimana Plane Crash

Scott Peterson/LiaisonA soldier stands near the site of the plane crash that killed Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana and 11 others.

Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana’s plane is shot down near Kigali, Rwanda, killing Habyarimana and 11 other people onboard. Habyarimana’s death exacerbated tensions between the Hutu ethnic majority and the Tutsi ethnic minority, leading to the Rwandan genocide in which 800,000 people, mostly Tutsi, were killed. To date, it’s unknown who shot down the plane.