April 17 is the 107th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (108th in leap years). There are 258 days remaining.
- 1492 - Spain and Christopher Columbus sign a contract for him to sail to Asia to get spices.
- 1521 - Martin Luther speaks to the assembly at the Diet of Worms, refusing to recant his teachings.
- 1524 - Giovanni da Verrazano reaches New York harbor.
- 1861 - American Civil War: Virginia secedes from the Union.
- 1864 - American Civil War: Battle of Plymouth, North Carolina begins - Confederate forces attack Plymouth, North Carolina.
- 1865 - Mary Surratt is arrested as a conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
- 1882 - Copies of Pat Garrett's biography of Billy the Kid, An Authentic Life of Billy the Kid, arrive at the Library of Congress.
- 1895 - The Treaty of Maguan (also as "Treaty of Shimonoseki") was signed between China and Japan. This marks the end of the first Sino-Japanese War, and the defeated Qing Empire is forced to renounce its claims on Korea and to concede the southern portion of the Fengtien province, Taiwan and the Pescadores Islands to Japan.
- 1924 - Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios is formed from a merger of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures, and the Louis B. Mayer Company.
- 1937 - Daffy Duck debuts in Warner Bros' short Porky's Duck Hunt.
- 1941 - World War II: Kingdom of Yugoslavia surrenders to Germany.
- 1942 - POW French General Henri Giraud escapes from his castle prison in Festung Königstein.
- 1945 - In Strassfurt, Germany, U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Boris T. Pash seizes half a ton of uranium, in an attempt to foil Soviet Union plans to build an atomic bomb.
- 1961 - Bay of Pigs Invasion begins: A group of CIA-financed and -trained Cuban refugees lands at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba with the aim of ousting Fidel Castro.
- 1964 - Ford Motor Company unveils the Ford Mustang at the New York World's Fair.
- 1964 - Jerrie Mock becomes the first woman to circumnavigate the world by air.
- 1969 - Sirhan Sirhan is convicted of assassinating Robert F. Kennedy.
- 1969 - Czechoslovak Communist Party chairman Alexander Dubček is deposed.
- 1970 - Apollo program: The ill-fated Apollo 13 spacecraft returns to Earth safely.
- 1975 - Cambodian Civil War ends: The Khmer Rouge captures the capital Phnom Penh and Cambodian government forces surrender.
- 1982 - Patriation of the Canadian constitution in Ottawa by Proclamation of Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada.
- 1984 - WPC Yvonne Fletcher is killed by automatic gunfire fire from Libyan People's Bureau in central London. She had been policing a small demonstration outside the embassy. Ten other people are wounded. The events lead to an 11 day siege of the building.
- 2002 - Four Canadian infantrymen are killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire from two U.S. F-16s.
- 1598 - Giovanni Riccioli, astronomer (d. 1671)
- 1837 - J.P. Morgan, financier, art collector, philanthropist (d. 1913)
- 1852 - Cap Anson, Baseball Hall of Famer (d. 1922)
- 1882 - Artur Schnabel, pianist (d. 1951)
- 1885 - Isak Dinesen, author (d. 1962)
- 1893 - Irene Castle, dancer (d. 1969)
- 1894 - Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet politician and Premier 1958-1964 (d. 1971)
- 1897 - Thornton Wilder, dramatist and narrator (d. 1975)
- 1903 - Morgan Taylor, American athlete (d. 1975)
- 1915 - Joe Foss, soldier, politician (d. 2003)
- 1917 - Bill Clements, governor of Texas
- 1918 - William Holden, actor (d. 1981)
- 1923 - Lindsay Anderson, director (d. 1994)
- 1923 - Harry Reasoner, journalist (d. 1991)
- 1926 - Gerry McNeil, Stanley Cup-winning NHL goalie (d. 2004)
- 1929 - James Last, band leader
- 1934 - Don Kirshner, television producer, composer
- 1940 - Anja Silja, soprano
- 1948 - Jan Hammer, composer
- 1951 - Olivia Hussey, actress
- 1954 - Blackbyrd McKnight, musician (P Funk)
- 1954 - Riccardo Patrese, racing driver
- 1957 - Nick Hornby, author
- 1961 - Boomer Esiason, American football player
- 1964 - Maynard James Keenan, Frontman of the band Tool
- 1967 - Marquis Grissom, baseball player
- 1967 - Liz Phair, musician
- 1969 - Henry Ian Cusick, actor
- 1972 - Jennifer Garner, actress (Alias, 13 Going on 30)
- 1978 - Jordan Hill, singer
- 1983 - Miguel Cabrera, Major League Baseball All-Star
- 487 - Proclus, Neoplatonic philosopher (b. 412)
- 1790 - Benjamin Franklin, politician, inventor, diplomat, printer (b. 1706)
- 1799 - Richard Jupp, English architect (b. 1728)
- 1843 - Samuel Morey, American inventor (b. 1762)
- 1891 - Alexander Mackenzie, second Prime Minister of Canada (b. 1822)
- 1942 - Jean Perrin physicist (b. 1870)
- 1960 - Eddie Cochran, musician (b. 1938)
- 1967 - Red Allen, jazz musician (b. 1908)
- 1975 - Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, philosopher (b. 1888)
- 1990 - Reverend Ralph Abernathy, civil rights activist (b. 1936)
- 1998 - Linda McCartney, activist, musician (b. 1941)
Holidays and observances
April 16 - April 18 - March 17 - May 17 -- listing of all days
es:17 de abril
eo:17-a de aprilo
pt:17 de Abril