Today in History


Today is Saturday, March 4, the 63rd day of 2023. There are 302 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight in history:

On March 4, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt took office as America’s 32nd president.

On this date:

In 1789, the Constitution of the United States went into effect as the first Federal Congress met in New York. (The lawmakers then adjourned for lack of a quorum.)

In 1863, the Idaho Territory was created.

In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated for a second term of office; with the end of the Civil War in sight, Lincoln declared: “With malice toward none, with charity for all.”

In 1917, Republican Jeannette Rankin of Montana took her seat as the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, the same day President Woodrow Wilson took his oath of office for a second term (it being a Sunday, a private ceremony was held inside the U.S. Capitol; a second, public swearing-in took place the next day).

In 1966, John Lennon of The Beatles was quoted in the London Evening Standard as saying, “We’re more popular than Jesus now,” a comment that caused an angry backlash in the United States.

In 1981, a jury in Salt Lake City convicted Joseph Paul Franklin, an avowed racist and serial killer, of violating the civil rights of two Black men, Ted Fields and David Martin, who’d been shot to death. (Franklin received two life sentences for this crime; he was executed in 2013 for the 1977 murder of a Jewish man, Gerald Gordon.)

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation on the Iran-Contra affair, acknowledging that his overtures to Iran had “deteriorated” into an arms-for-hostages deal.

In 1994, in New York, four extremists were convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that killed six people and injured more than a thousand. Actor-comedian John Candy died in Durango, Mexico, at age 43.

In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sexual harassment at work can be illegal even when the offender and victim are of the same gender.

In 2015, the Justice Department cleared Darren Wilson, a white former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer, in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a Black 18-year-old, but also issued a scathing report calling for sweeping changes in city law enforcement practices.

In 2018, former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious on a bench in the southwestern English city of Salisbury; both survived what British authorities said was a murder attempt using a nerve agent.

In 2020, federal health officials investigated a suburban Seattle nursing home at the center of a coronavirus outbreak.

Ten years ago: Cardinals from around the world gathered inside the Vatican for their first round of meetings before the conclave to elect the next pope, following the retirement of Benedict XVI. Kenya’s presidential election drew millions of eager voters, but the balloting was marred by deadly violence. (Uhuru Kenyatta beat seven other presidential candidates with 50.07 percent of the vote.) Five-time Grand Slam singles champion Martina Hingis headed the 2013 class for the International Tennis Hall of Fame; also named were Cliff Drysdale, Charlie Pasarell, and Ion Tiriac.

Five years ago: “The Shape of Water” won four Oscars including best picture; the top prize was announced by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway a year after they were caught up in the erroneous announcement that “La La Land” and not “Moonlight” had won for best picture. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia would “never” extradite any of the 13 Russians who’d been indicted by the United States for election-meddling.

One year ago: Russian troops seized the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe after a middle-of-the-night attack that set it on fire and briefly raised worldwide fears of a catastrophe in the most chilling turn in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine to that point. A jury cleared an Amtrak engineer of all charges stemming from a derailment that left eight people dead and hundreds injured in Philadelphia in 2015.

Today’s birthdays: Actor Paula Prentiss is 85. Movie director Adrian Lyne is 82. Singer Shakin’ Stevens is 75. Author James Ellroy is 75. Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry is 73. Singer Chris Rea is 72. Actor/rock singer-musician Ronn Moss is 71. Actor Kay Lenz is 70. Musician Emilio Estefan is 70. Movie director Scott Hicks is 70. Actor Catherine O’Hara is 69. Actor Mykelti (MY’-kul-tee) Williamson is 66. Actor Patricia Heaton is 65. Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., is 65. Actor Steven Weber is 62. Rock musician Jason Newsted is 60. Actor Stacy Edwards is 58. Rapper Grand Puba is 57. Rock singer Evan Dando (Lemonheads) is 56. Actor Patsy Kensit is 55. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., is 55. Gay rights activist Chaz Bono is 54. Actor Andrea Bendewald is 53. Actor Nick Stabile (stah-BEEL’) is 53. Country singer Jason Sellers is 52. Jazz musician Jason Marsalis is 46. Actor Jessica Heap is 40. Actor Scott Michael Foster is 38. TV personality Whitney Port is 38. Actor Audrey Esparza is 37. Actor Margo Harshman is 37. Actor Josh Bowman is 35. Actor Andrea Bowen is 33. Actor Jenna Boyd is 30.

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