Things that happened on April 8 through history that might cause one to say, “Hmmm.”:
The Sultan Baybars conquers the Krak des Chevaliers after a siege that lasted 36 days. The Krak is a huge fortification that had been constructed a century before to house 2,000 crusading Knights Hospitaller; they held the place, just north of the modern Syrian-Lebanese border, near the Syrian city of Homs, for about 130 years. They should have held out for far longer than 36 days, but they surrendered the castle after a forged letter allegedly from the Grand Master of their religious order was passed into the castle. The Mamluk Egyptian Sultan Baybars, a.k.a. Abu-i-Futuq, is the most historic military leader you (or at least I) never heard of. He was the first military leader to succeed against the Mongol hordes that had swept all before them for most of a century. He defeated the Mongols of Hulagu Khan at Ain-Jalut in present-day Galilee. The Mongols for the first time failed to avenge a loss, and that marked the high-water mark for the Mongol Empire. Hulagu Khan, who had headed up the biggest Mongol army ever, was not there; he had returned home to settle the succession after his father the Great Khan Mongke, grandson of Genghis Khan, had died. (Kublai was named Khan, and promptly ordered the construction of a stately pleasure dome.) Ironically, the Knights Hospitaller at the Krak des Chevaliers had been instrumental in the victory at Ain-Jalut 11 years previously; fearing the Mongols more than the Mamluks, they had allowed the Mamluks free passage through their territory and allowed them to resupply their armies prior to the battle. Maybe if they had actually taken part, as had been discussed, rather than merely passively allowing the Mamluks to pass, the Krak would still be a Knights Hospitaller outpost. (Probably not.)
1730: Shearith Israel, the first synagogue building in New York, is dedicated on Mill Street in Lower Manhattan. It was also called the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue. The congregation, established in 1654, is the oldest in the United States. The anti-Semitic governor of New Amsterdam, Peter Stuyvesant, had at first rebuffed them when they sought to settle there in 1654; the following year they were grudgingly given official sanction. For 76 years they were not allowed to build a permanent structure for worship, but since 1730 they have occupied five different structures, with the latest, dedicated in 1897, at 70th Street and Central Park West. Prominent members of the congregation over the centuries have included diplomat, publisher and playwright Mordecai Manuel Noah; Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo; the poet Emma Lazarus (of Statue of Liberty "Give me your tired, your poor" fame); singer Arthur Tracy; and Uriah Phillips Levy, first Jewish Commodore of the United States Navy and purchaser, restorer and preserver of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home.
1952: President Truman orders the seizure of domestic steel mills to prevent a nationwide strike during the Korean War. The Supreme Court disallows the order on June 2 as unconstitutional.
1974: Hank Aaron hits career home run number 715 off the Dodgers' Al Downing to surpass Babe Ruth as the all-time home run king. He finishes with 755. No one has ever hit more since then. That's right, no one – got a problem with that? All hail Henry Aaron, still the true home run king.