Today in History
Today is Sunday, Jan. 31, the 31st day of 2021. There are 334 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Jan. 31, 1865, the U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate in passing the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution abolishing slavery, sending it to states for ratification. (The amendment was adopted in December 1865.)
On this date:
In 1863, during the Civil War, the First South Carolina Volunteers, an all-Black Union regiment composed of many escaped slaves, was mustered into federal service at Beaufort, South Carolina.
In 1919, baseball Hall-of-Famer Jackie Robinson was born in Cairo (KAY’-roh), Ga.
In 1929, revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his family were expelled from the Soviet Union.
In 1945, Pvt. Eddie Slovik, 24, became the first U.S. soldier since the Civil War to be executed for desertion as he was shot by an American firing squad in France.
In 1950, President Harry S. Truman announced he had ordered development of the hydrogen bomb.
In 1956, the creator of “Winnie-the-Pooh,” British author A.A. Milne, died at age 74.
In 1958, the United States entered the Space Age with its first successful launch of a satellite, Explorer 1, from Cape Canaveral.
In 1961, NASA launched Ham the Chimp aboard a Mercury-Redstone rocket from Cape Canaveral; Ham was recovered safely from the Atlantic Ocean following his 16 1/2-minute suborbital flight.
In 1971, astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell and Stuart Roosa blasted off aboard Apollo 14 on a mission to the moon.
In 2000, an Alaska Airlines MD-83 jet crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Port Hueneme (wy-NEE’-mee), California, killing all 88 people aboard.
In 2001, a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands convicted one Libyan, acquitted a second, in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. (Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi (AHB’-dehl BAH’-seht AH’-lee ahl-meh-GRAH’-hee) was given a life sentence, but was released after eight years on compassionate grounds by Scotland’s government. He died in 2012.)
In 2005, jury selection began in Santa Maria, California, for Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial. (Jackson was later acquitted.) SBC Communications Inc. announced it was acquiring AT&T Corp. for $16 billion.
Ten years ago: A federal judge in Florida declared the Obama administration’s health care overhaul unconstitutional, siding with 26 states that argued people cannot be required to buy health insurance. (In 2012 the Supreme Court would uphold most of the health care law, including the requirement that nearly every American have health insurance.) Egypt’s military promised not to fire on peaceful protests and recognized “the legitimacy of the people’s demands.”
Five years ago: A triple bombing killed at least 45 people in a predominantly Shiite Muslim suburb south of the Syrian capital. Israel’s Cabinet voted to allow non-Orthodox Jewish prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, marking a historic show of support for liberal streams of Judaism. Novak Djokovic maintained his perfect streak in six Australian Open finals with a 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (3) victory over Andy Murray.
One year ago: The United States declared a public health emergency over the new coronavirus, and President Donald Trump signed an order to temporarily bar entry to foreign nationals, other than immediate family of U.S. citizens, who had traveled in China within the past 14 days. Three U.S. airlines suspended all flights between the U.S. and China. The U.S. government ordered two weeks of quarantine at a California military base for the nearly 200 Americans who’d been evacuated on a charter flight from the Chinese city of Wuhan. The Senate narrowly rejected Democratic demands to summon witnesses for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. Britain formally left the European Union after 47 years of membership. Author Mary Higgins Clark, known as the “Queen of Suspense,” died in Florida at the age of 92. The Food and Drug Administration approved the first treatment for children with peanut allergies.
Today’s Birthdays: Composer Philip Glass is 84. Former Interior Secretary James Watt is 83. Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, the former queen regent, is 83. Actor Stuart Margolin is 81. Actor Jessica Walter is 80. Former U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., is 80. Blues singer-musician Charlie Musselwhite is 77. Actor Glynn Turman is 74. Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan is 74. Actor Jonathan Banks is 74. Singer-musician Harry Wayne Casey (KC and the Sunshine Band) is 70. Rock singer Johnny Rotten is 65. Actor Kelly Lynch is 62. Actor Anthony LaPaglia is 62. Singer-musician Lloyd Cole is 60. Actor Paulette Braxton is 56. Rock musician Al Jaworski (Jesus Jones) is 55. Actor Minnie Driver is 51. Actor Portia de Rossi is 48. Actor-comedian Bobby Moynihan is 44. Actor Kerry Washington is 44. Bluegrass singer-musician Becky Buller is 42. Singer Justin Timberlake is 40. Actor Tyler Ritter is 36. Country singer Tyler Hubbard (Florida Georgia Line) is 34. Folk-rock singer-musician Marcus Mumford (Mumford and Sons) is 34. Actor Joel Courtney is 25.
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