Today in History

Today is Wednesday, March 11, the 70th day of 2015. There are 295 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On March 11, 1865, during the Civil War, Union forces under General William T. Sherman occupied Fayetteville, North Carolina.

On this date:

In 1861, the Constitution of the Confederate States of America was adopted by the Confederate Congress in Montgomery, Alabama.

In 1888, the Blizzard of ’88, also known as the “Great White Hurricane,” began inundating the northeastern United States, resulting in some 400 deaths.

In 1915, during World War I, Britain enacted a sweeping, long-distance blockade aimed at disrupting trade to and from German ports.

In 1935, the Bank of Canada began operations, issuing its first series of bank notes.

In 1942, as Japanese forces continued to advance in the Pacific during World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur left the Philippines for Australia. (MacArthur, who subsequently vowed, “I shall return,” kept that promise more than 2½ years later.)

In 1955, Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin, died in London at age 73.

In 1965, “I Lost It at the Movies,” a collection of film criticism by Pauline Kael, was first published by Little, Brown and Co.

In 1977, more than 130 hostages held in Washington D.C. by Hanafi Muslims were freed after ambassadors from three Islamic nations joined the negotiations.

In 1993, Janet Reno was unanimously confirmed by the Senate to be attorney general.

In 2004, ten bombs exploded in quick succession across the commuter rail network in Madrid, Spain, killing 191 people in an attack linked to al-Qaida-inspired militants.

In 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami struck Japan’s northeastern coast, killing nearly 20,000 people and severely damaging the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station.

In 2012, sixteen Afghan villagers – mostly women and children – were shot dead as they slept by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Ten years ago: A judge, court reporter and sheriff’s deputy were shot to death at an Atlanta courthouse; Brian Nichols, who killed them as well as a federal agent, surrendered a day later at the apartment of Ashley Smith, a woman he’d taken hostage. (Nichols was later convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.)

Five years ago: A federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld the use of the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” on U.S. currency. In an address at Tel Aviv University, Vice President Joe Biden said “good faith negotiations” could recognize Israeli security needs and the Palestinian goal for a viable state. Sebastian Pinera was sworn in as Chile’s new president on a day when the country was peppered with a dozen significant aftershocks from a February earthquake. Pro Football Hall of Famer and former television actor Merlin Olsen died in suburban Los Angeles at age 69.

One year ago: In an extraordinary public accusation, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., declared the CIA had interfered with and then tried to intimidate a congressional investigation into the agency’s possible use of torture in terror probes during the Bush administration. Swedish Radio reporter Nils Horner was shot dead in Kabul, Afghanistan, in an attack claimed by a Taliban splinter group. Dallas Seavey ran a blistering pace and took the lead just hours before the finish to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Today’s Birthdays: Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is 84. ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson is 81. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is 79. Musician Flaco Jimenez is 76. Actress Tricia O’Neil is 70. Actor Mark Metcalf is 69. Rock singer-musician Mark Stein (Vanilla Fudge) is 68. Singer Bobby McFerrin is 65. Movie director Jerry Zucker is 65. Actress Susan Richardson is 63. Recording executive Jimmy Iovine is 62. Singer Nina Hagen is 60. Country singer Jimmy Fortune (The Statler Brothers) is 60. Singer Cheryl Lynn is 58. Actor Elias Koteas is 54. Actor-director Peter Berg is 53. Actor Jeffrey Nordling is 53. Actress Alex Kingston is 52. Country musician David Talbot is 52. Actor Wallace Langham is 50. Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., is 50. Actor John Barrowman is 48. Singer Lisa Loeb is 47. Neo-soul musician Al Gamble is 46. Singer Pete Droge is 46. Actor Terrence Howard is 46. Rock musician Rami Jaffee is 46. Actor Johnny Knoxville is 44. Rock singer-musicians Benji and Joel Madden (Good Charlotte; The Madden Brothers) are 36. Actor David Anders is 34. Singer LeToya is 34. Actress Thora Birch is 33. TV personality Melissa Rycroft is 32. Actor Rob Brown is 31. Actor Anton Yelchin is 26.

Thought for Today: “Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life.” – Kate Chopin, American writer (1851-1904).

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