History of April 19: Three Reasons Why It’s Significant


Many of my Facebook friends have asked me to write an article on the History of April 19th. Why?

Statistically, this date is slightly more likely to fall on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Sunday (58 in 400 years each) than on Friday or Saturday (57) and somewhat less likely to occur on a Monday or Wednesday (56).

But what important things have happened historically on this date in history?

There are many, but here are just three:


Reformation – April 19, 1529

April 19On April 19, at the Second Diet of Speyer, the first use of the term Protestant occurred. What was the context? Back at the First Diet of Speyer, Germany, in 1526, followers of Martin Luther in Germany and Ulrich Zwingli in Switzerland understood that the Roman Catholic Church would permit the toleration of Lutheran and Swiss Reformed versions of worship. This would essentially suspend the impact of the Edict of Worms, which, back in 1521, declared Luther an Imperial outlaw and banned the reading or possession of his writings. (He had already been religiously excommunicated by the Pope the previous year in 1520.)

Following the First Diet of Speyer, German Princes understood now that cujus regio, ejus religio — literally “Whose realm, his religion” or roughly “the religion of the Prince is the religion of his territory.” If a Prince followed Luther, so too could his people.

However, if the First Diet suspended the Edict of Worms, the Second Diet reinstated it or, more particularly, excluded toleration for Lutherans, Zwinglians, or Anabaptists. A group of German Princes, realizing this could mean the end of tolerance for Lutherans and Reformed, subsequently filed a formal legal “protest” and were hence called Protestants.


Revolution – April 19, 1775

Paul RevereApril 19, two centuries later, saw the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, also known as the War of Independence. The event that triggered this was The Battles of Lexington and Concord. Across four small towns in Middlesex County, Massachusetts (modern-day Arlington and Cambridge), the first armed conflicts of the War occurred. These followed the rapid warning system and the ride of Paul Revere on April 18, and the engagement of the Sons of Liberty, resulting in the death of perhaps 103 Americans.

In his Concord Hymn, Ralph Waldo Emerson recounts this episode of history with the words “the shot heard ’round the world.” Perhaps less well-known was that his own grandfather, the Reverend William Emerson, an ordinary country preacher, played a role in the story.

The month before, on March 13, he had preached a sermon to the Concord militia about the “approaching storm of war and bloodshed,” calling them to “real service” based on moral and spiritual resolve, trusting God’s power to uphold them. He said:

“For my part, the more I reflect upon the movements of the British nation… the more satisfied I am that our military preparation here for our own defense is… justified in the eyes of the impartial world. Nay, for should we neglect to defend ourselves by military preparation, we could never answer it to God and to our own consciences…”


Reflection – Today, April 19

April 19 BirthdayTwo centuries later, for me, April 19 is the date I celebrate my twin sister’s birthday. She claims that she’s an only child, but I recall that she was born at a young age to get an early start in life. She was born in a hospital so that she could be close to our mother.

Why is April 19 important to you?


Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian

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About billpetro

Bill Petro writes articles on history, technology, pop culture, and travel. He has been a technology sales enablement executive with extensive experience in Cloud Computing, Automation, Data Center, Information Storage, Big Data/Analytics, Mobile, and Social technologies.


  1. John Simmons on April 19, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    April 19th is still full of revolutionary spirit and dislike of oppression – probably because it is about the time that the IRS cashes your check.

  2. Dina on April 19, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Well! Happy birthday to you and your sister!

    So THAT is how they came to be called Protestants?!

    This year April 19 is a special day in Israel. The first part of the day was Memorial Day for the fallen defenders and the victims of terrorism; and at 8 p.m. we switched to the joy of the beginning of Independence Day.

  3. Tom Griffin on April 19, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Happy birthday to your sister and collateral celebrants…… thanking the Lord for Reformation and you today.

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