Year
1969

De Gaulle resigns as leader of France

Following the defeat of his proposals for constitutional reform in a national referendum, Charles de Gaulle resigns as president of France.

A veteran of World War I, de Gaulle unsuccessfully petitioned his country to modernize its armed forces between the wars. After Henri Petain and other French leaders signed an armistice with Nazi Germany in June 1940, he fled to London, where he organized the Free French forces and rallied French colonies to the Allied cause. His forces fought successfully in North Africa, and in June 1944 he was named head of the French government in exile. On August 26, following the Allied invasion of France, de Gaulle entered Paris in triumph. Three months later, he was unanimously elected provisional president of France.

He resigned in January 1946, however, claiming he lacked sufficient governing power. De Gaulle formed a new political party that had only moderate electoral success, and in 1953 he retired. However, five years later, a military and civilian revolt in Algeria created a political crisis in France, and he was called out of retirement to lead the nation. A new constitution was passed, and in late December he was elected president of the Fifth Republic.

During the next decade, President de Gaulle granted independence to Algeria and attempted to restore France to its former international stature by withdrawing from the U.S.-dominated NATO alliance and promoting the development of French atomic weapons. However, student demonstrations and workers’ strikes in 1968 eroded his popular support, and in 1969 his proposals for further constitutional reform were defeated in a national vote. On April 28, 1969, Charles de Gaulle, 79 years old, retired for good. He died the following year.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Jaycee Dugard’s kidnappers plead guilty

On this day in 2011, Phillip Garrido, 60, and his wife Nancy, 55, plead guilty to the 1991 kidnapping of 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard. The Garridos held Dugard captive at their Northern California property for 18 years, during which time Phillip Garrido fathered two children with ...read more

Red Army Faction trial ends

In Stuttgart, West Germany, the lengthy trial of the leaders of the terrorist Baader-Meinhof Gang, also known as the Red Army Faction, ends with Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, and Jan-Carl Raspe being found guilty of four counts of murder and more than 30 counts of attempted ...read more

Port Arthur Massacre in Australia

On this day in 1996, 28-year-old Martin Bryant begins a killing spree that ends in the deaths of 35 men, women and children in the quiet town of Port Arthur in Tasmania, Australia. Bryant, who is believed to have an extremely low IQ and may be mentally handicapped, began the day ...read more

Mutiny on the HMS Bounty

Three weeks into a journey from Tahiti to the West Indies, the HMS Bounty is seized in a mutiny led by Fletcher Christian, the master’s mate. Captain William Bligh and 18 of his loyal supporters were set adrift in a small, open boat, and the Bounty set course for Tubuai south of ...read more

Benito Mussolini executed

On this day in 1945, “Il Duce,” Benito Mussolini, and his mistress, Clara Petacci, are shot by Italian partisans who had captured the couple as they attempted to flee to Switzerland. The 61-year-old deposed former dictator of Italy was established by his German allies as the ...read more

Nixon approves Cambodian incursion

President Richard Nixon gives his formal authorization to commit U.S. combat troops, in cooperation with South Vietnamese units, against communist troop sanctuaries in Cambodia. Secretary of State William Rogers and Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, who had continually argued ...read more

Muhammad Ali refuses Army induction

On April 28, 1967, boxing champion Muhammad Ali refuses to be inducted into the U.S. Army and is immediately stripped of his heavyweight title. Ali, a Muslim, cited religious reasons for his decision to forgo military service. Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., in Louisville, ...read more

President Monroe is born

Future U.S. Senator and President James Monroe is born on this day in 1758. Monroe, a contemporary of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, was the last of the original revolutionaries to become president. He served in the Continental Army and was wounded in the ...read more

Chickasaw and Choctaw abandon communal lands

The Chickasaw and Choctaw, two of the Five Civilized Tribes, become the first to agree to abolish tribal government and communal ownership of land. The other tribes soon followed, finally throwing open all of Indian Territory to white settlement. Representatives of the Chickasaw ...read more

Comcast abandons bid to buy Disney

On this day in 2004, Comcast, America’s largest cable operator, abandons its $54 billion hostile takeover bid for the Walt Disney Company in the face of faltering stock prices and Disney’s continued refusal to entertain the proposal. If accepted, Comcast’s February bid would have ...read more

Gas pipe explodes in South Korea

A gas explosion beneath a busy city street in Taegu, South Korea, kills more than 100 people on this day in 1995. Sixty children, some on their way to school, were among the victims of the blast. Taegu was a city of 2.2 million people, located about 150 miles south of Seoul. At ...read more

U.S. troops land in the Dominican Republic

In an effort to forestall what he claims will be a “communist dictatorship” in the Dominican Republic, President Lyndon B. Johnson sends more than 22,000 U.S. troops to restore order on the island nation. Johnson’s action provoked loud protests in Latin America and skepticism ...read more

Ferruccio Lamborghini born

On April 28, 1916, Ferruccio Lamborghini, the founder of the company that bears his name and is known for stylish, high-performance cars, is born in Italy. After World War II, Lamborghini founded a business making tractors from reconfigured surplus military machines, near ...read more