Today in History

Today in History

Today is Wednesday, Feb. 3, the 34th day of 2021. There are 331 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 3, 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.

On this date:

In 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.

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

In 1916, Canada’s original Parliament Buildings, in Ottawa, burned down.

In 1917, the United States broke off diplomatic relations with Germany, the same day an American cargo ship, the SS Housatonic, was sunk by a U-boat off Britain after the crew was allowed to board lifeboats.

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 SS Dorchester, which was carrying troops to Greenland, sank after being hit by a German torpedo in the Labrador Sea; of the more than 900 men aboard, only some 230 survived. (Four Army chaplains on board gave away their life jackets to save others and went down with the ship.)

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

In 1988, the U.S. House of Representatives handed President Ronald Reagan a major defeat, rejecting his request for $36.2 million in new aid to the Nicaraguan Contras by a vote of 219-211.

In 1994, the space shuttle Discovery lifted off, carrying Sergei Krikalev (SUR’-gay KREE’-kuh-lev), 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, causing the car to plunge hundreds of feet, killing all 20 people inside.

In 2006, an Egyptian passenger ferry sank in the Red Sea during bad weather, killing more than 1,000 passengers.

In 2019, in the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever, featuring just one touchdown, the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3.

Ten years ago: Tens of thousands of protesters staged unprecedented demonstrations against Yemen’s autocratic president, Ali Abdullah Saleh (AH’-lee ahb-DUH’-luh sah-LEH’), a key U.S. ally in battling Islamic militants, as unrest inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia spread further in the Arab world.

Five years ago: Rand Paul dropped his Republican campaign for president, opting to run for re-election to the Senate. Seeking to correct what he called a “hugely distorted impression” of Muslim-Americans, President Barack Obama visited a mosque in Catonsville, Maryland. Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White, 74, died in Los Angeles.

One year ago: In closing arguments at President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, Democratic prosecutors urged senators to stop a “runaway presidency” and recognize Trump’s actions in Ukraine as part of a pattern of behavior that would allow him to “cheat” in the 2020 election; Trump’s defenders accused Democrats of trying to undo the 2016 election and said voters should decide Trump’s fate. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said a “handful” of flights would head to China to bring Americans home from the province at the center of the coronavirus outbreak. Iowa’s Democratic caucuses were plagued by technical glitches that led to inconsistencies in the numbers and a delay in reporting the results. (The state Democratic Party would later award 14 delegates to Pete Buttigieg and 12 to Bernie Sanders.) Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh told his listeners that he had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.

Today’s Birthdays: Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton is 81. Actor Bridget Hanley is 80. Actor Blythe Danner is 78. Football Hall of Famer Bob Griese is 76. Singer-guitarist Dave Davies (The Kinks) is 74. Singer Melanie is 74. Actor Morgan Fairchild is 71. Actor Pamela Franklin is 71. Actor Nathan Lane is 65. Rock musician Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth) is 65. Actor Thomas Calabro is 62. Rock musician/author Lol Tolhurst (The Cure) is 62. Actor-director Keith Gordon is 60. Actor Michele Greene is 59. Country singer Matraca (muh-TRAY’-suh) Berg is 57. Actor Maura Tierney is 56. Actor Warwick Davis is 51. Actor Elisa Donovan is 50. Reggaeton singer Daddy Yankee is 45. Actor Isla (EYE’-luh) Fisher is 45. Human rights activist Amal Clooney is 43. Singer-songwriter Jessica Harp is 39. Actor Matthew Moy is 37. Rapper Sean Kingston is 31. Actor Brandon Micheal Hall is 28.

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