Today in History


Today is Monday, March 20, the 79th day of 2023. There are 286 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On March 20, 1996, a jury in Los Angeles convicted Erik and Lyle Menendez of first-degree murder in the shotgun slayings of their wealthy parents. (They were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.)

On this date:

In 1413, England’s King Henry IV died; he was succeeded by Henry V.

In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte returned to Paris after escaping his exile on Elba, beginning his “Hundred Days” rule.

In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s influential novel about slavery, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” was first published in book form after being serialized.

In 1854, the Republican Party of the United States was founded by slavery opponents at a schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin.

In 1922, the decommissioned USS Jupiter, converted into the first U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, was recommissioned as the USS Langley.

In 1952, the U.S. Senate ratified, 66-10, a Security Treaty with Japan.

In 1969, John Lennon married Yoko Ono in Gibraltar.

In 1976, kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst was convicted of armed robbery for her part in a San Francisco bank holdup carried out by the Symbionese Liberation Army. (Hearst was sentenced to seven years in prison; she was released after serving 22 months, and was pardoned in 2001 by President Bill Clinton.)

In 1995, in Tokyo, 12 people were killed, more than 5,500 others sickened when packages containing the deadly chemical sarin were leaked on five separate subway trains by Aum Shinrikyo (ohm shin-ree-kyoh) cult members.

In 2014, President Barack Obama ordered economic sanctions against nearly two dozen members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and a major bank that provided them support, raising the stakes in an East-West showdown over Ukraine.

In 2020, the governor of Illinois ordered residents to remain in their homes except for essential needs, joining similar efforts in California and New York to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Stocks tumbled again on Wall Street, ending their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis; the Dow fell more than 900 points to end the week with a 17% loss.

Ten years ago: Making his first visit to Israel since taking office, President Barack Obama affirmed Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself from any threat and vowed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Five former elected officials of Bell, California, were convicted of misappropriating public funds by paying themselves huge salaries while raising taxes on residents; one defendant was acquitted. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed bills that put sweeping new restrictions on sales of firearms and ammunition.

Five years ago: Investigators pursuing a suspected serial bombing in Austin, Texas, shifted attention to a FedEx shipping center near San Antonio, where a package had exploded. In a phone call to Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump offered congratulations on Putin’s re-election victory; a senior official said Trump had been warned in briefing materials that he should not congratulate Putin.

One year ago: Ukrainian authorities said Russia’s military bombed an art school sheltering about 400 people in the port city of Mariupol, where refugees described how “battles took place over every street,” weeks into a devastating siege. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Israel to take a stronger stand against Russia, delivering an emotional appeal that compared Russia’s invasion of his country to the actions of Nazi Germany. Yemen’s Houthi rebels unleashed an intense barrage of drone and missile strikes on Saudi Arabia’s critical energy facilities, sparking a fire at one site and temporarily cutting oil production at another. The salvo marked a serious escalation of rebel attacks on the kingdom as the war in Yemen raged into its eighth year.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Hal Linden is 92. Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney is 84. Basketball Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley is 78. Country singer-musician Ranger Doug (Riders in the Sky) is 77. Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Orr is 75. Blues singer-musician Marcia Ball is 74. Rock musician Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake and Palmer) is 73. Rock musician Jimmie Vaughan is 72. Actor Amy Aquino is 66. Movie director Spike Lee is 66. Actor Theresa Russell is 66. Actor Vanessa Bell Calloway is 66. Actor Holly Hunter is 65. Rock musician Slim Jim Phantom (The Stray Cats) is 62. Actor-model-designer Kathy Ireland is 60. Actor David Thewlis is 60. Rock musician Adrian Oxaal (James) is 58. Actor Jessica Lundy is 57. Actor Liza Snyder is 55. Actor Michael Rapaport is 53. Actor Alexander Chaplin is 52. Actor Cedric Yarbrough is 50. Actor Paula Garcés is 49. Actor Bianca Lawson is 44. Comedian-actor Mikey Day is 43. Actor Nick Blood (TV: “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) is 41. Rock musician Nick Wheeler (The All-American Rejects) is 41. Actor Michael Cassidy is 40. Actor-singer Christy Carlson Romano is 39. Actor Ruby Rose is 37. Actor Barrett Doss is 34.

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