Today in History


By the Associated Press

Today is Wednesday, March 23, the 83rd day of 2016. There are 283 days left in the year. The Jewish holiday Purim begins at sunset.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry delivered an address to the Virginia Provincial Convention in which he is said to have declared, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

On this date:

In 1792, Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 94 in G Major (the “Surprise” symphony) had its first public performance in London.

In 1806, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, having reached the Pacific coast, began their journey back east.

In 1914, the first installment of “The Perils of Pauline,” the legendary silent film serial starring Pearl White, premiered in the greater New York City area.

In 1919, Benito Mussolini founded his Fascist political movement in Milan, Italy.

In 1933, the German Reichstag adopted the Enabling Act, which effectively granted Adolf Hitler dictatorial powers.

In 1942, the first Japanese-Americans evacuated by the U.S. Army during World War II arrived at the internment camp in Manzanar, California.

In 1956, Pakistan became an Islamic republic.

In 1965, America’s first two-person space mission took place as Gemini 3 blasted off with astronauts Virgil I. Grissom and John W. Young aboard for a nearly 5-hour flight.

In 1973, before sentencing a group of Watergate break-in defendants, Chief U.S. District Judge John J. Sirica read aloud a letter he’d received from James W. McCord Jr. which said there had been “political pressure” to “plead guilty and remain silent.”

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan first proposed developing technology to intercept incoming enemy missiles – an idea that came to be known as the Strategic Defense Initiative. Dr. Barney Clark, recipient of a Jarvik permanent artificial heart, died at the University of Utah Medical Center after 112 days with the device.

In 1996, Taiwan held its first direct presidential elections; incumbent Lee Teng-hui (lee dung-hway) was the victor.

In 2001, Russia’s orbiting Mir space station ended its 15-year odyssey with a planned fiery plunge into the South Pacific.

Ten years ago: U.S. and British forces freed three Christian peace activists – one Briton and two Canadians – near Baghdad, ending a four-month hostage ordeal that saw an American in the group killed. Police took DNA samples from 46 members of the Duke University lacrosse team after a woman hired to dance for a party charged she’d been raped. (Three players were indicted on charges of attacking the woman, but the rape counts were later dropped and the players exonerated.) Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland won his second straight World Figure Skating Championships title, in Calgary, Alberta. Conductor and opera company director Sarah Caldwell died in Portland, Maine, at age 82. Desmond T. Doss Sr., a conscientious objector whose achievements as a noncombatant earned him a Medal of Honor in World War II, died in Piedmont, Alabama, at age 87.

Five years ago: Academy Award-winning actress Elizabeth Taylor died in Los Angeles at age 79. NATO ships began patrolling off Libya’s coast as airstrikes, missiles and energized rebels forced Moammar Gadhafi’s tanks to roll back from two key western cities. A blast blamed on Palestinian militants ripped through a bus stop in Jerusalem, killing Mary Jean Gardner, a 59-year-old British tourist and wounding two dozen other people, including five Americans. Army Spc. Jeremy Morlock pleaded guilty at his court-martial at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state to the murders of three unarmed Afghan civilians (he was sentenced to 24 years in prison).

One year ago: Sen. Ted Cruz launched his bid for the Republican presidential nomination at Liberty University, a Christian school in Lynchburg, Virginia, founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore who was feared for his authoritarian tactics and admired worldwide for turning the city-state into one of the world’s richest nations while in power for 31 years, died at age 91.

Today’s Birthdays: Comedian Marty Allen is 94. Sir Roger Bannister (the runner who broke the 4-minute mile in 1954) is 87. Movie director Mark Rydell is 87. International Motorsports Hall of Famer Craig Breedlove is 79. Singer-producer Ric Ocasek is 67. Singer Chaka Khan is 63. Actress Amanda Plummer is 59. Actress Catherine Keener is 57. Actress Hope Davis is 52. Actor Richard Grieco is 51. Country musician Kevin Griffin (Yankee Grey) is 51. Actress Marin Hinkle is 50. Rock singer-musician Damon Albarn (Blur) is 48. Actress-singer Melissa Errico is 46. Rock musician John Humphrey (The Nixons) is 46. Bandleader Reggie Watts (TV: “The Late Late Show With James Corden”) is 44. Actor Randall Park is 42. Actress Michelle Monaghan is 40. Actress Keri Russell is 40. Actress Anastasia Griffith is 38. Gossip columnist-blogger Perez Hilton is 38. Actress Nicholle Tom is 38. Country singer Paul Martin (Marshall Dyllon) is 38. Actor Nicolas Wright is 34.

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