Today in History

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Today is Wednesday, March 21, the 80th day of 2018. There are 285 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On March 21, 1918, during World War I, Germany launched its Spring Offensive on the Western Front, hoping to break through the Allied lines before American reinforcements could arrive. (Although successful at first, the Spring Offensive ultimately failed.)

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On this date:

In 1556, Thomas Cranmer, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, was burned at the stake for heresy.

In 1788, fire broke out in New Orleans on Good Friday, destroying 856 out of more than 1,100 structures; one death was reported.

In 1804, the French civil code, or the “Code Napoleon” as it was later called, was adopted.

In 1925, Tennessee Gov. Austin Peay (pee) signed the Butler Act, which prohibited the teaching of the Theory of Evolution in public schools. (Tennessee repealed the law in 1967.)

In 1935, Persia officially changed its name to Iran.

In 1946, the recently created United Nations Security Council set up temporary headquarters at Hunter College in the Bronx, New York.

In 1952, the Moondog Coronation Ball, considered the first rock and roll concert, took place at Cleveland Arena.

In 1963, the Alcatraz federal prison island in San Francisco Bay was emptied of its last inmates and closed at the order of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

In 1972, the Supreme Court, in Dunn v. Blumstein, ruled that states may not require at least a year’s residency for voting eligibility.

In 1981, Michael Donald, a black teenager in Mobile, Alabama, was abducted, tortured and killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan. (A lawsuit brought by Donald’s mother, Beulah Mae Donald, later resulted in a landmark judgment that bankrupted one Klan organization.)

In 1990, Namibia became an independent nation as the former colony marked the end of 75 years of South African rule.

In 2006, the social media website Twitter was established with the sending of the first “tweet” by co-founder Jack Dorsey, who wrote: “just setting up my twttr.”

Ten years ago: Officials admitted that at least four State Department workers had pried into the supposedly secure passport files of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain, prompting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to personally apologize to the presidential contenders.

Five years ago: On his second day in the Middle East, President Barack Obama insisted “peace is possible” as he prodded both Israelis and Palestinians to return to long-stalled negotiations with few, if any, pre-conditions, softening his earlier demands that Israel stop building settlements in disputed territory.

One year ago: U.S. and British officials announced they were barring laptops and tablets from the cabins of some international flights because of longstanding concerns about terrorists targeting jetliners. Martin McGuinness, the Irish Republican Army commander who led his underground, paramilitary movement toward reconciliation with Britain, and was Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister for a decade in a power-sharing government, died in Londonderry at age 66. Chuck Barris, whose game show empire included “The Dating Game,” ”The Newlywed Game” and “The Gong Show,” died at his home in Palisades, New York, at age 87.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Kathleen Widdoes is 79. Songwriter Chip Taylor (“Wild Thing”) is 78. Folk-pop singer-musician Keith Potger (The Seekers) is 77. Actress Marie-Christine Barrault is 74. Singer-musician Rose Stone (Sly and the Family Stone) is 73. Actor Timothy Dalton is 72. Singer Ray Dorset (Mungo Jerry) is 72. Singer Eddie Money is 69. Rock singer-musician Roger Hodgson (Supertramp) is 68. Rock musician Conrad Lozano (Los Lobos) is 67. Rhythm-and-blues singer Russell Thompkins Jr. is 67. Comedy writer-performer Brad Hall is 60. Actress Sabrina LeBeauf is 60. Actor Gary Oldman is 60. Actress Kassie Depaiva is 57. Actor Matthew Broderick is 56. Comedian-actress Rosie O’Donnell is 56. Rock musician Jonas “Joker” Berggren (Ace of Base) is 51. Rock MC Maxim (Prodigy) is 51. Rock musician Andrew Copeland (Sister Hazel) is 50. Hip-hop DJ Premier (Gang Starr) is 49. Actress Laura Allen is 44. Rapper-TV personality Kevin Federline is 40. Actress Sonequa Martin-Green (TV: “The Walking Dead”) is 33. Actor Scott Eastwood is 32. Actor Forrest Wheeler is 14.