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On April 17
1492 Christopher Columbus signed a contract with Spain to find a passage to Asia and the Indies.
1521 Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.
1524 New York Harbor was discovered by Giovanni Verrazano.
1704 John Campbell published what would eventually become the first successful American newspaper. It was known as the Boston "News-Letter".
1810 Pineapple cheese was patented by Lewis M. Norton.
1861 Virginia became the eighth state to secede from the Union.
1961 About 1,400 Cuban exiles attacked the Bay of Pigs in an attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro. They were unsuccessful.
1964 Jerrie Mock became the first woman to fly an airplane solo around the world.
1964 The Ford Motor Company unveiled its new Mustang model.
1969 In Los Angeles, Sirhan Sirhan was convicted of assassinating U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
1970 Apollo 13 returned to Earth safely after an on-board accident with an oxygen tank.
1975 Khmer Rouge forces capture the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. It was the end of the five-year war.
1984 In London, gunmen from the Libyan Embassy fired into an anti-Libya protest. One policewoman was killed and 10 others were wounded.
1993 A federal jury in Los Angeles convicted two former police officers of violating the civil rights of beaten motorist Rodney King. Two other officers were acquitted.
1996 Erik and Lyle Menendez were sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing their parents.
1999 In India, the government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee collapsed after losing a vote of confidence.
2002 At the National Maritime Museum in London, the exhibit "Skin Deep - A History of Tattooing" opened.


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