Year
1919
Month Day
April 13

British and Gurkha troops massacre hundreds of unarmed demonstrators in Amritsar Massacre

In Amritsar, India’s holy city of the Sikh religion, British and Gurkha troops massacre at least 379 unarmed demonstrators meeting at the Jallianwala Bagh, a city park. Most of those killed were Indian nationalists meeting to protest the British government’s forced conscription of Indian soldiers and the heavy war tax imposed against the Indian people.

A few days earlier, in reaction to a recent escalation in protests, Amritsar was placed under martial law and handed over to British Brigadier General Reginald Dyer, who banned all meetings and gatherings in the city. On April 13, the day of the Sikh Baisakhi festival, tens of thousands of people came to Amritsar from surrounding villages to attend the city’s traditional fairs. Thousands of these people, many unaware of Dyer’s recent ban on public assemblies, convened at Jallianwala Bagh, where a nationalist demonstration was being held. Dyer’s troops surrounded the park and without warning opened fire on the crowd, killing several hundred and wounding more than a thousand. Dyer, who in a subsequent investigation admitted to ordering the attack for its “moral effect” on the people of the region, had his troops continue the murderous barrage until all their artillery was exhausted. British authorities later removed him from his post.

The massacre stirred nationalist feelings across India and had a profound effect on one of the movement’s leaders, Mohandas Gandhi. During World War I, Gandhi had actively supported the British in the hope of winning partial autonomy for India, but after the Amritsar Massacre he became convinced that India should accept nothing less than full independence. To achieve this end, Gandhi began organizing his first campaign of mass civil disobedience against Britain’s oppressive rule.

Tags
terms:
India

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Metropolitan Museum of Art opens in New York City

On April 13, 1870 the Metropolitan Museum of Art is officially incorporated in New York City. The brainchild of American expatriates in Paris and a number of wealthy New Yorkers, the Met would not put on an exhibition until 1872, but it quickly blossomed into one of the world’s ...read more

First nonstop flight from Europe to North America

German pilot Hermann Köhl, Irish aviator James Fitzmaurice and Baron Ehrenfried Günther Freiherr von Hünefeld, the expedition’s financier, complete the first Europe to North America transatlantic flight, taking off from Ireland and landing safely on a small Canadian island. The ...read more

Japan and USSR sign nonaggression pact

During World War II, representatives from the Soviet Union and Japan sign a five-year neutrality agreement. Although traditional enemies, the nonaggression pact allowed both nations to free up large numbers of troops occupying disputed territory in Manchuria and Outer Mongolia to ...read more

Apollo 13 oxygen tank explodes

On April 13, 1970, disaster strikes 200,000 miles from Earth when oxygen tank No. 2 blows up on Apollo 13, the third manned lunar landing mission. Astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise had left Earth two days before for the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon ...read more

Tiger Woods became the first African American to win a major, and the youngest to wear the green jacket when he aced his first Masters Golf Tournament on April 13th. This video clip with Russ Mitchell recaps the historical events of April 13. From This Day In History, this clip also includes the beginning of Hank Aaron's major league baseball career, and the first African American, Sidney Poitier, to win an Oscar for Best Actor. Pope John Paul II also made his historic visit to a Jewish Synagogue on April 13, becoming the first Pope to visit a Jewish house of worship.

Tiger Woods wins the Masters Tournament for the first time

On April 13, 1997, 21-year-old Tiger Woods wins the prestigious Masters Tournament by a record 12 strokes in Augusta, Georgia. It was Woods’ first victory in one of golf’s four major championships—the U.S. Open, the British Open, the PGA Championship, and the Masters—and the ...read more

Hitler bluffs from bunker as Russians advance and atrocities continue

On April 13, 1945, Adolf Hitler proclaims from his underground bunker that deliverance was at hand from encroaching Russian troops—Berlin would remain German. A “mighty artillery is waiting to greet the enemy,” proclaims Der Fuhrer.  As Hitler attempted to inflate his troops’ ...read more

Thomas Jefferson is born

Future President Thomas Jefferson, drafter of the Declaration of Independence and the nation’s preeminent political theorist, is born on this day in 1743. Historian and biographer Joseph Ellis has called Jefferson, who had a monumental role in shaping American politics, the ...read more

Handel’s “Messiah" premieres in Dublin

Nowadays, the performance of George Frideric Handel's Messiah oratorio at Christmas time is a tradition almost as deeply entrenched as decorating trees and hanging stockings. In churches and concert halls around the world, the most famous piece of sacred music in the English ...read more

Sidney Poitier wins Best Actor Oscar for "Lilies of the Field”

On April 13, 1964, Sydney Poitier becomes the first African American to win the Academy Award for Best Actor, for his role as a construction worker who helps build a chapel in Lilies of the Field (1963). Poitier was born in 1924, while his parents were visiting the United States ...read more

Hail storm kills 1,000 English troops in France

On so-called “Black Monday” in 1360, a hail storm kills an estimated 1,000 English soldiers in Chartres, France. The storm and the devastation it caused also played a part in the Hundred Years’ War between England and France. The Hundred Years’ War began in 1337; by 1359, King ...read more

Serial killer, Christopher Wilder, dies by suicide

Christopher Wilder dies after a month-long crime spree involving at 11 young women who have disappeared or been killed. Police in New Hampshire attempted to apprehend Wilder, who was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List, but Wilder apparently shot himself to death in a scuffle with ...read more

Soviets admit to Katyn Massacre of WWII

The Soviet government officially accepts blame for the Katyn Massacre of World War II, when nearly 5,000 Polish military officers were murdered and buried in mass graves in the Katyn Forest. The admission was part of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s promise to be more ...read more

Union forces surrender at Fort Sumter

After a 33-hour bombardment by Confederate cannons, Union forces surrender Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor. The first engagement of the war ended in Rebel victory. The surrender concluded a standoff that began with South Carolina’s secession from the Union on ...read more

Former MLB All-star Mark “The Bird” Fidrych dies in truck accident

On April 13, 2009, former Major League Baseball all-star pitcher Mark “The Bird” Fidrych is found dead at the age of 54 following an accident at his Massachusetts farm involving a Mack truck he was working on. Fidrych, the 1976 American League Rookie of the Year, suffocated when ...read more