The 12th of April is known as International Day of Human Space Flight (according to the United Nations) to commemorate the anniversary of the first space flight by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in 1961. The 12th of April is also the start of New Year celebration of Songkran or Pii Mai in the country of Laos. The 12th of April is the 102nd day of the year (Gregorian calendar) or 103rd in a leap year.
The Soviets win the space race. The Russian Vestok 1 spacecraft was launched taking cosmonaut Major Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin into space and the history books. He became the first human in space and the first to orbit the Earth travelling at more than 17,000 miles per hour or 27,000 kilometres per hour. He landed safely after a 108 minute flight and making one full orbit of Earth. Much to his disappointment Major Gagarin was not allowed on any future space missions as he was deemed to valuable to the Soviets. He died just seven years later in a plane crash, outside Moscow.
The American Civil War officially began with the confederate attack of the Union controlled fort Sumter in Charleston Bay. After 33 hours of cannon fire on the fort by the confederates, the Union forces surrendered and the confederates won the first battle. After Lincoln won the 1860 elections to become the next President of the US, South Carolina succeeded and took with it control of the federal military hardware in the state. In the next few months several more states also succeeded and on the 4th of February 1861 Representatives from Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina met in Alabama and formed the Confederacy. The growing rift of the North and South (or Union and Confederacy, respectively) was mainly created on opposing views of the slave trade. The North (collectively) and Abraham Lincoln wanted an end to the slave trade (this view of slavery had been growing throughout the world, with the end of the slave trade in Britain in 1807 and the end of slavery throughout the British empire in 1833). Many of the Southern states believed it was their right to own slaves and make the decision as individual states. The war raged for four years with great victories on both sides, but by 1864 it became apparent that the South or Confederacy was being crushed by lack of resources. The North or Union had 22 million people, substantially more weapons and an industrialised economy, while the Confederacy had 9 million people (with almost half of them African American), fewer weapons and much less money on an economy mainly funded by the sale of cotton. The Confederacy believed however that as it would have to defend rather than attack, its soldiers would fight with greater vigour defending their homes. The war effectively ended on the 9th of April 1865 after a starving and significantly weakened confederate army surrendered to Union forces. By the end of the war 360,000 union soldiers and 260,000 Confederate soldiers had died, but the United States were once again united.