A closer look at key historic events that took place on April 18:
In 1980, Zimbabwe becomes independent
On April 18 the United Kingdom granted independence to Southern Rhodesia, which became the Zimbabwe within the Commonwealth of Nations. Robert Mugabe was sworn in as the country’s first Prime Minister.

Zimbabwe Prime Minister, Robert Mugabe, admiring a Maori carving the New Zealand government gifted to the newly formed nation in 1980. The image comes from a collection of photographs transferred to Archives New Zealand by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In 1951, the European Coal and Steel Community is founded
Based on the Schuman plan, six countries – France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – signed the Treat of Paris on April 18 which set up the ECSC. The Treaty agreed that the six countries would run their coal and steel industries under a common management, and thus no single country could make the weapons of war to turn against others.

In 1906, a massive earthquake destroys San Francisco
A 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck the city causing a massive fire. The inferno, which lasted for four days before being put out by rain, destroyed 28,000 buildings, with the total property value loss estimated at $350 million. As a result, 80% of the city was destroyed and about 3,000 people died.

The burning of San Francisco. Combined Military Service Digital Photographic Files

In 1775, Paul Revere rides in the night
Paul Revere was a renowned silversmith who was a strong supporter of the patriot cause and is considered a folk hero of the American Revolution. On the night of April 18, he rode his horse to warn residents in Boston that the British troops were on their way. Because of his warning, the Minutemen were ready the next morning for the historic battles of Lexington and Concord that launched the American Revolution.

Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, painted by Edward Mason Eggleston. Published by Beatrice Decker, 1933. Wikimedia Commons

In 1506, the new St. Peter’s Basilica starts construction
Pope Nicholas V initially planned to have a new Basilica built in the 15th century to replace the ageing Old St. Peter’s Basilica, which was built in the 4th century by Roman emperor Constantine the Great. Construction of the present basilica began on 18 April 1506, when Pope Julius II laid the first stone and was completed on 18 November 1626.

St. Peter’s Basilica view from Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City, Rome, Italy. Photo by Mstyslav Chernov

– Don’t miss out on To Vima’s daily “On this Day in History” posts.