Today in History

Today is Thursday, March 2, the 61st day of 2017. There are 304 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlights in History:

On March 2, 1867, Howard University, a historically black school of higher learning in Washington, D.C., was founded as it received a congressional charter. Congress passed, over President Andrew Johnson’s veto, the first of four Reconstruction Acts, providing for “the more efficient Government of the Rebel States” by dividing the South into five military-run districts.

On this date:

  • In 1793, the first president of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston, was born near Lexington, Virginia.
  • In 1836, the Republic of Texas formally declared its independence from Mexico.
  • In 1877, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was declared the winner of the 1876 presidential election over Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, even though Tilden had won the popular vote.
  • In 1917, Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship as President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones-Shafroth Act. Actor, producer, director and bandleader Desi Arnaz was born in Santiago de Cuba.
  • In 1939, Roman Catholic Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli was elected pope on his 63rd birthday; he took the name Pius XII. The Massachusetts legislature voted to ratify the Bill of Rights, 147 years after the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution had gone into effect. (Georgia and Connecticut soon followed.)
  • In 1942, the original Stage Door Canteen, a wartime club for U.S. servicemen, officially opened its doors in New York’s theater district.
  • In 1955, nine months before Rosa Parks’ famous act of defiance, Claudette Colvin, a black high school student in Montgomery, Alabama, was arrested after refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white passenger.
  • In 1965, the movie version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The Sound of Music,” starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, had its world premiere in New York.
  • In 1977, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted a strict code of ethics.
  • In 1989, representatives from the 12 European Community nations agreed to ban all production of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), the synthetic compounds blamed for destroying the Earth’s ozone layer, by the end of the 20th century.
  • In 1992, actress Sandy Dennis died in Westport, Connecticut, at age 54.
  • In 2005, the number of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq war reached at least 1,500, according to an Associated Press count. The woman who’d accused NBA star Kobe Bryant of rape settled her lawsuit against him, ending the case.

Ten years ago: A charter bus carrying a college baseball team from Bluffton University in Ohio plunged off an Atlanta highway ramp and slammed into the pavement below, killing seven people, including the driver. Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey resigned following a scandal over substandard conditions for wounded Iraq soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Anna Nicole Smith was buried in the Bahamas following a lavish memorial service.

Five years ago: Some 40 people were killed by tornadoes that struck Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. President Barack Obama made a supportive phone call to law student Sandra Fluke, who testified before Congress about the need for birth control coverage, only to be called a “slut” on the air by talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who ended up apologizing to Fluke. The NFL said it had found that between 22 and 27 New Orleans Saints players had participated in a bounty program targeting opponents over the previous three seasons. Major League Baseball expanded its playoff format to 10 teams, adding a second wild-card in each league.

One year ago: The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved the toughest sanctions against North Korea in two decades, reflecting growing anger at Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test and rocket launch in defiance of a ban on all nuclear-related activity. After nearly a year aboard the international space station, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russia’s Mikhail Kornienko returned to earth aboard a Soyuz capsule. A convicted rapist pleaded guilty in Charlottesville, Virginia, to killing two college students in a deal that called for him to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor John Cullum is 87. Author Tom Wolfe is 87. Former Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev is 86. Actress Barbara Luna is 78. Author John Irving is 75. Actress Cassie Yates is 66. Actress Laraine Newman is 65. Former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., is 64. Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is 62. Singer Jay Osmond is 62. Pop musician John Cowsill (The Cowsills) is 61. Tennis player Kevin Curren is 59. Country singer Larry Stewart (Restless Heart) is 58. Rock singer Jon Bon Jovi is 55. Blues singer-musician Alvin Youngblood Hart is 54. Actor Daniel Craig is 49. Actor Richard Ruccolo is 45. Rock musician Casey (Jimmie’s Chicken Shack) is 41. Rock singer Chris Martin (Coldplay) is 40. Actress Heather McComb is 40. Actress Bryce Dallas Howard is 36. NFL quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 35. Musician Mike “McDuck” Olson (Lake Street Dive) is 34. Actor Robert Iler is 32. Actress Nathalie Emmanuel is 28. Singer-rapper-actress Becky G is 20.

Thought for Today: “Just as we are often moved to merriment for no other reason than that the occasion calls for seriousness, so we are correspondingly serious when invited too freely to be amused.” — Agnes Repplier, American essayist (1858-1950).

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