This Day In History, April 8th

What happened on this day in history: Gautama Buddha is born in present-day Nepal, Ryan White dies of complications from AIDS, and more.

563 B.C.E.: Gautama Buddha Is Born

April 8 In History

Bettmann/Getty ImagesA giant Buddha statue in Japan.

Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha, is born in Lumbini (present-day Nepal). The founder of Buddhism, Guatama was born to royal parents but later renounced his family’s wealth and became a wanderer in search of enlightenment. He attained supreme enlightenment at the age of 35, then began to preach the “four noble truths” of Buddhism.

1730: The First Synagogue Is Dedicated In New York

Named Shearith Israel, the synagogue was founded in Lower Manhattan and was the city’s only synagogue until 1818. Shearith Israel exists to this day, though it has since moved to Manhattan’s Upper West Side neighborhood.

1820: French Navy Officer Witnesses The Discovery Of The Venus de Milo in Melos

French Navy Officer Olivier Voutier watches as a farmer on the island of Melos pulls the Venus de Milo from an ancient wall. Voutier, alongside the French ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, later negotiated to buy the statue.

1989: Felix Gallardo Is Arrested

Felix Gallardo is arrested in Mexico. A drug lord known as the “Jefe de jefes” or “Boss of bosses,” Gallardo lay the foundations of modern drug smuggling by establishing ties with drug lords in Colombia and orchestrating the shipment of cocaine to the United States. He was released from prison in 2022 after serving 33 years of a 40-year sentence due to his ill health.

1990: Ryan White Dies Of AIDS

Ryan White

Kim Komenich/Getty ImagesRyan White contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion and was shunned at his school.

Ryan White dies of AIDS-related pneumonia in Indianapolis, Indiana, at the age of 18. A hemophiliac, he contracted AIDS when he was 13 after a blood transfusion, during a time when the disease was largely believed to only affect gay men. White’s subsequent ostracization at school brought national attention and helped raise awareness about AIDS.

1994: Kurt Cobain Is Found Dead

Several days after escaping from rehab and cutting off contact with his loved ones, rock icon Kurt Cobain is found dead by suicide at age 27 in the greenhouse above the garage at his Seattle home. Photos from the scene of Cobain’s death show assorted drug paraphernalia, the shotgun he used to shoot himself, and the suicide note he left behind.

2009: Somali Pirates Attack Maersk Alabama

Four armed Somali pirates hijack the MV Maersk Alabama off the coast of Somalia. After a scuffle with the crew, the captain, Richard Phillips, was kidnapped, leading to a dramatic rescue led by Navy SEALs. Three of the four pirates were killed and the survivor was sentenced to over 33 years in prison.