13 April 1909

The 31 March Incident leads to the overthrow of Sultan Abdul Hamid II.

Sultan Abdul Hamid II was the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, reigning from 1876 until he was deposed in 1909. His reign was marked by both progress and controversy, and he is a figure of significant historical importance due to his efforts to modernize the empire and his authoritarian governance style.

Born on September 21, 1842, Abdul Hamid II came to power during a period of immense political, economic, and social challenges for the Ottoman Empire. His reign began with the empire in decline, losing territories and influence in Europe and facing internal unrest.

One of his early acts as Sultan was to accept a constitution in 1876, which introduced the first parliamentary system in the empire. However, due to ongoing wars and instability, particularly the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), Abdul Hamid suspended the constitution and parliament just two years later in 1878, ruling as an absolute monarch for the rest of his tenure.

Abdul Hamid II is perhaps best known for his policies of pan-Islamism, aiming to unify and mobilize Muslims under the Ottoman caliphate to counter the expanding influence of European powers. He also heavily invested in infrastructure, including the Hejaz Railway connecting Constantinople (now Istanbul) with the holy city of Mecca.

Despite these efforts, his reign is also criticized for harsh repression, censorship, and the use of secret police to maintain control. His rule witnessed the Armenian massacres of the 1890s, which severely damaged his international reputation.

In 1909, a military coup by the Young Turks forced Abdul Hamid II to abdicate, and he spent the last years of his life under house arrest, passing away in 1918. His legacy is complex, viewed differently across various spectra of Turkish and Middle Eastern history.

13 April 1941

A pact of neutrality between the USSR and Japan is signed.

The Pact of Neutrality between the Soviet Union and Japan was a bilateral agreement signed in Moscow on April 13, 1941. The pact aimed to establish a neutral relationship between the two countries and to maintain peace and security in the Far East.

The signing of the pact was significant for both countries. Japan was engaged in a war with China and was looking to expand its territory in the Pacific. By signing the pact, Japan sought to secure its northern flank and prevent any possible attack from the Soviet Union.

For the Soviet Union, the pact was important in order to avoid a two-front war. At the time, the Soviet Union was also fighting in Europe against Nazi Germany, and the pact with Japan allowed the country to focus its military efforts on the Western front.

However, the pact was short-lived. Less than four months after its signing, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, drawing the United States into World War II. In response, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan in August 1945, two days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

The Soviet Union’s entry into the war against Japan ultimately played a role in the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II. The Pact of Neutrality between the Soviet Union and Japan was officially terminated in April 1946, in the aftermath of the war.

13 April 1997

Tiger Woods becomes the youngest golfer to win the Masters Tournament.

On this day in 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 greatest performance by a professional golfer in more than a century.

Eldrick “Tiger” Woods was born in a suburb of Los Angeles, California, on December 30, 1975. The only child of an African-American father and a Thai mother, Woods was encouraged from infancy by his father for a career in golf. At the age of two, he teed off against comedian Bob Hope on television’s Mike Douglas Show. At five years old, he was featured on the television show That’s Incredible. At age eight, Tiger won his first junior world championship, and in 1991, at age 15, he became the youngest player ever to win the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. He also captured the 1992 and 1993 Junior Amateur titles, and in 1994 accepted a scholarship to attend Stanford University. That year, he came from six holes behind to win the first of his three consecutive U.S. Amateur championships. He was 18 years old and the youngest Amateur champion in history.

In 1995, Tiger played the Masters, his first professional major championship. The Augusta National Golf Club, which runs the Masters, had not let an African-American join its ranks until 1991. Woods finished 41st in his first Masters appearance. In 1996, he won the collegiate title. By this time, he was already attracting considerable media attention and attracting throngs of new fans to the sport. After claiming his third U.S. Amateur title, Woods left college and turned professional in August 1996. Playing as a pro in eight Professional Golfers’ Association events in 1996, he won a title and was named the PGA Tour’s outstanding rookie. In December 1996, he was celebrated by the magazine Sports Illustrated as its “Sportsman of the Year.”

13 April 1870

The New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art is opened in New York.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s earliest roots date back to 1866 in Paris, France, when a group of Americans agreed to create a “national institution and gallery of art” to bring art and art education to the American people. The lawyer John Jay, who proposed the idea, swiftly moved forward with the project upon his return to the United States from France. Under Jay’s presidency, the Union League Club in New York rallied civic leaders, businessmen, artists, art collectors, and philanthropists to the cause. On April 13, 1870, The Metropolitan Museum of Art was incorporated, opening to the public in the Dodworth Building at 681 Fifth Avenue. On November 20 of that same year, the Museum acquired its first object, a Roman sarcophagus. In 1871, 174 European paintings, including works by Anthony van Dyck, Nicolas Poussin, and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, entered the collection.

On March 30, 1880, after a brief move to the Douglas Mansion at 128 West 14th Street, the Museum opened to the public at its current site on Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street. The architects Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould designed the initial Ruskinian Gothic structure, the west facade of which is still visible in the Robert Lehman Wing. The building has since expanded greatly, and the various additions—built as early as 1888—now completely surround the original structure.

The Museum’s collection continued to grow throughout the rest of the 19th century. The 1874–76 purchase of the Cesnola Collection of Cypriot art—works dating from the Bronze Age to the end of the Roman period—helped to establish The Met’s reputation as a major repository of classical antiquities. When the American painter John Kensett died in 1872, 38 of his canvases came to the Museum, and in 1889, the Museum acquired two works by Édouard Manet.

The Museum’s Beaux-Arts Fifth Avenue facade and Great Hall, designed by the architect and founding Museum Trustee Richard Morris Hunt, opened to the public in December 1902. The Evening Post reported that at last New York had a neoclassical palace of art, “one of the finest in the world, and the only public building in recent years which approaches in dignity and grandeur the museums of the old world.”

By the 20th century, the Museum had become one of the world’s great art centers. In 1907, the Museum acquired a work by Auguste Renoir, and in 1910, The Met was the first public institution in the world to acquire a work of art by Henri Matisse. The ancient Egyptian hippopotamus statuette that is now the Museum’s unofficial mascot, “William,” entered the collection in 1917. Today, virtually all of the Museum’s 26,000 ancient Egyptian objects, the largest collection of Egyptian art outside of Cairo, are on display. By 1979, the Museum owned five of the fewer than 35 known paintings by Johannes Vermeer, and now The Met’s 2,500 European paintings comprise one of the greatest such collections in the world. The American Wing now houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts.

Other major collections belonging to the Museum include arms and armor, the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, ancient Near Eastern art, Asian art, costume, drawings and prints, European sculpture and decorative arts, Greek and Roman art, Islamic art, medieval art, modern and contemporary art, musical instruments, photographs, and the Robert Lehman Collection.

Today, tens of thousands of objects are on view at any given time in the Museum’s two-million-square-foot building.

A comprehensive architectural plan for the Museum by the architects Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates was approved in 1971 and completed in 1991. Among the additions to the Museum as part of the master plan are the Robert Lehman Wing, which houses an extraordinary collection of Old Masters, as well as Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art; The Sackler Wing, which houses the Temple of Dendur; The American Wing, whose diverse collection includes 25 recently renovated period rooms; The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing displaying the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing of modern and contemporary art; and the Henry R. Kravis Wing devoted to European sculpture and decorative arts from the Renaissance to the beginning of the 20th century.

With the expansion of the building complete, The Met has continued to refine and reorganize its collection. In 1998, the Arts of Korea gallery opened to the public, completing a major suite of galleries devoted to the arts of Asia. The Ancient Near Eastern Art galleries reopened to the public in 1999 following a renovation. In 2007, several major projects at the south end of the building were completed, most notably the 15-year renovation and reinstallation of the entire suite of Greek and Roman Art galleries. Galleries for Oceanic and Native North American Art also opened in 2007, as well as the new Galleries for Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Paintings and Sculpture and the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education.

On November 1, 2011, the Museum’s New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia opened to the public. On the north side of the Museum, The Met’s New American Wing Galleries for Paintings, Sculpture, and Decorative Arts reopened on January 16, 2012, signaling the completion of the third and final phase of The American Wing’s renovation.

Thomas P. Campbell became the ninth director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in January 2009, following the 31-year tenure of Philippe de Montebello. During the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2016, The Met welcomed 6.7 million visitors from around the world to The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters. Through fellowships and professional exchanges, ongoing excavation work, traveling exhibitions, and many other international initiatives, the Museum continues in the 21st century to fulfill its mission and serve the broadest possible audience.

13 April 1941

A Pact of neutrality between the USSR and Japan is signed.

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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 be used for more pressing purposes.

The Soviet-Japanese pact came nearly two years after the Soviet Union signed a similar agreement with Nazi Germany, dividing much of Eastern Europe between the two countries. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Nonaggression Pact allowed Nazi leader Adolf Hitler to move German forces to the West for his major offensives of 1939 to 1941 and bought Soviet leader Joseph Stalin time to prepare the empire for what he saw as its inevitable involvement in World War II.

During the Yalta conference in early 1945, Joseph Stalin, at the urging of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, agreed to declare war against Japan within three months of Germany’s defeat. On August 8, 1945, true to Stalin’s promise, the Soviet Union declared war against Japan, and the next day the Red Army invaded Manchuria. The same day, the United States dropped its second atomic bomb on Japan, devastating Nagasaki as it had Hiroshima three days earlier. Faced with the choice of destruction or surrender, Japan chose the latter.