Today in History

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Today is Wednesday, March 13, the 72nd day of 2019. There are 293 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On March 13, 1954, the Battle of Dien Bien Phu began during the First Indochina War as Viet Minh forces attacked French troops, who were defeated nearly two months later.

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On this date:

In 1764, Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, who served as British Prime Minister from 1830 to 1834 (and for whom Earl Grey tea is named), was born in Falloden, Northumberland.

In 1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis signed a measure allowing black slaves to enlist in the Confederate States Army with the promise they would be set free.

In 1901, the 23rd President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison, died in Indianapolis at age 67.

In 1925, the Tennessee General Assembly approved a bill prohibiting the teaching of the theory of evolution. (Gov. Austin Peay signed the measure on March 21.)

In 1928, at least 400 people died when the San Francisquito Canyon in Southern California was inundated with water after the nearly two-year-old St. Francis Dam collapsed just before midnight the evening of March 12.

In 1933, banks in the U.S. began to reopen after a “holiday” declared by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1934, a gang that included John Dillinger and “Baby Face” Nelson robbed the First National Bank in Mason City, Iowa, making off with $52,344.

In 1964, bar manager Catherine “Kitty” Genovese, 28, was stabbed to death near her Queens, New York, home; the case gained notoriety over the supposed reluctance of Genovese’s neighbors to respond to her cries for help.

In 1975, the first Chili’s restaurant was opened in Dallas by entrepreneur Larry Lavine.

In 1980, Ford Motor Co. Chairman Henry Ford II announced he was stepping down, the same day a jury in Winamac, Indiana, found the company not guilty of reckless homicide in the fiery deaths of three young women in a Ford Pinto.

In 1996, a gunman burst into an elementary school in Dunblane, Scotland, and opened fire, killing 16 children and one teacher before killing himself.

In 2013, Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope, choosing the name Francis; he was the first pontiff from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium.

Ten years ago: President Barack Obama met with former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, chairman of his Economic Recovery Advisory Board; the president then went before reporters to say his administration was working to create a “post-bubble” model for solid economic growth once the recession ended. Death claimed soprano Anne Wiggins Brown, the original Bess in George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess,” at age 96; actress Betsy Blair at age 85; and Detroit Pistons’ Hall of Fame owner Bill Davidson at age 86. The Philadelphia 76ers played a final game at the Spectrum, their old home, beating Chicago 104-101.

Five years ago: Seeking to pacify frustrated immigration advocates, President Barack Obama directed the government to find more humane ways to handle deportation for immigrants in the U.S. illegally. Former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew, who’d guided the state through a period of school busing to achieve integration in the 1970s, died in Tallahassee at age 85.

One year ago: President Donald Trump abruptly dumped Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – via Twitter – and moved CIA Director Mike Pompeo from the role of America’s spy chief to its top diplomat. On his first trip to California as president, Trump accused the state of putting “the entire nation at risk” by refusing to take tough action against illegal immigration. Joy Behar of “The View” apologized for suggesting that mental illness was behind claims by people that Jesus Christ talks to them; her comment had come during a discussion about Vice President Mike Pence. A third powerful nor’easter in two weeks slammed the Northeast, bringing blizzard conditions and two feet of snow to some communities. Prosecutors announced plans to seek the death penalty against the former student charged with killing 17 people at a Florida high school.

Today’s Birthdays: Jazz musician Roy Haynes is 94. Country singer Jan Howard is 89. Songwriter Mike Stoller is 86. Singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka is 80. R&B/gospel singer Candi Staton is 79. Opera singer Julia Migenes is 70. Actor William H. Macy is 69. Comedian Robin Duke is 65. Actress Dana Delany is 63. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., is 62. Rock musician Adam Clayton (U2) is 59. Jazz musician Terence Blanchard is 57. Actor Christopher Collet is 51. Rock musician Matt McDonough (Mudvayne) is 50. Actress Annabeth Gish is 48. Actress Tracy Wells is 48. Rapper-actor Common is 47. Rapper Khujo (Goodie Mob, The Lumberjacks) is 47. Singer Glenn Lewis is 44. Actor Danny Masterson is 43. Bluegrass musician Clayton Campbell (The Gibson Brothers) is 38. Actor Noel Fisher is 35. Singers Natalie and Nicole Albino (Nina Sky) are 35. Actor Emile Hirsch is 34. Olympic gold medal skier Mikaela Shiffrin is 24.