Today in History

Today is Tuesday, Feb. 3, the 34th day of 2015. There are 331 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 3, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens held a shipboard peace conference off the Virginia coast; the talks deadlocked over the issue of Southern autonomy.

On this date:

In 1783, Spain formally recognized American independence.

In 1913, the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, providing for a federal income tax, was ratified.

In 1924, the 28th president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, died in Washington, D.C., at age 67.

In 1930, the chief justice of the United States, William Howard Taft, resigned for health reasons. (He died just over a month later.)

In 1943, during World War II, the U.S. transport ship Dorchester, which was carrying troops to Greenland, sank after being hit by a German torpedo; of the more than 900 men aboard, only some 230 survived.

In 1959, rock-and-roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson died in a small plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa. An American Airlines Lockheed Electra crashed into New York’s East River, killing 65 of the 73 people on board.

In 1966, the Soviet probe Luna 9 became the first manmade object to make a soft landing on the moon.

In 1969, “Candid Camera” creator Allen Funt and his family were aboard an Eastern Airlines flight that was hijacked to Cuba. (Fellow passengers who recognized Funt thought the whole thing was a stunt for his TV show; in an article written for The Associated Press, Funt said the whole episode “looked like a bad movie.”)

In 1972, the XI Olympic Winter Games opened in Sapporo, Japan.

In 1989, Alfredo Stroessner, president of Paraguay for more than three decades, was overthrown in a military coup.

In 1994, the space shuttle Discovery lifted off, carrying Sergei Krikalev, the first Russian cosmonaut to fly aboard a U.S. spacecraft.

In 1998, Texas executed Karla Faye Tucker, 38, for the pickax killings of two people in 1983; she was the first woman executed in the United States since 1984. A U.S. Marine plane sliced through the cable of a ski gondola in Italy, sending the car plunging hundreds of feet, killing all 20 people inside.

Ten years ago: Alberto Gonzales won Senate confirmation as attorney general. An interim report detailed conflicts of interest and flawed management in the U.N. oil-for-food program. An Afghan passenger jet carrying 104 people crashed east of Kabul, killing all on board.

Five years ago: A suicide bomber killed seven people in northwestern Pakistan, including three U.S. soldiers. Motivational speaker James Arthur Ray was arrested on manslaughter charges after three people died following a northern Arizona sweat lodge ceremony he’d led in Oct. 2009. (Ray was convicted of three counts of negligent homicide and spent nearly two years in prison.) Actress Frances Reid, 95, died in Los Angeles.

One year ago: U.S. stocks tumbled, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average down more than 320 points after reports of sluggish U.S growth added to investor worries about the global economy. Former Vice President Walter Mondale’s wife, Joan, died in St. Paul, Minnesota, at age 83.

Today’s Birthdays: Comedian Shelley Berman is 90. Former Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., is 82. Football Hall-of-Famer Fran Tarkenton is 75. Actress Bridget Hanley is 74. Actress Blythe Danner is 72. Singer Dennis Edwards is 72. Football Hall-of-Famer Bob Griese is 70. Singer-guitarist Dave Davies (The Kinks) is 68. Singer Melanie is 68. Actress Morgan Fairchild is 65. Actress Pamela Franklin is 65. Actor Nathan Lane is 59. Rock musician Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth) is 59. Actor Thomas Calabro is 56. Actor-director Keith Gordon is 54. Actress Michele Greene is 53. Country singer Matraca Berg is 51. Actress Maura Tierney is 50. Actor Warwick Davis is 45. Actress Elisa Donovan is 44. Reggaeton singer Daddy Yankee is 39. Musician Grant Barry is 38. Singer-songwriter Jessica Harp is 33. Actor Matthew Moy is 31. Actress Rebel Wilson is 29. Rapper Sean Kingston is 25.

Thought for Today: “Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, and riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character.” – Horace Greeley, American newspaper editor (born this date in 1811, died in 1872).

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