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Today in History

On March 2, 1932, the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, which moved the date of the presidential inauguration from March 4 to January 20, was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.

On this date:

In 1867, Howard University, a historically Black school of higher learning in Washington, D.C., was founded. Congress passed, over President Andrew Johnson’s veto, the first of four Reconstruction Acts.

In 1877, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was declared the winner of the 1876 presidential election over Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, even though Tilden had won the popular vote.

In 1917, Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship as President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones-Shafroth Act.

In 1939, Roman Catholic Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli (puh-CHEL’-ee) was elected pope on his 63rd birthday; he took the name Pius XII. The Massachusetts legislature voted to ratify the Bill of Rights, 147 years after the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution had gone into effect. (Georgia and Connecticut soon followed.)

In 1943, the three-day Battle of the Bismarck Sea began in the southwest Pacific during World War II; U.S. and Australian warplanes were able to inflict heavy damage on an Imperial Japanese convoy.

In 1962, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points for the Philadelphia Warriors in a game against the New York Knicks, an NBA record that still stands. (Philadelphia won, 169-147.)

In 1965, the movie version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The Sound of Music,” starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, had its world premiere in New York.

In 1977, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted a strict code of ethics.

In 1985, the government approved a screening test for AIDS that detected antibodies to the virus, allowing possibly contaminated blood to be excluded from the blood supply.

In 1989, representatives from the 12 European Community nations agreed to ban all production of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), the synthetic compounds blamed for destroying the Earth’s ozone layer, by the end of the 20th century.

In 1990, more than 6,000 drivers went on strike against Greyhound Lines Inc. (The company, later declaring an impasse in negotiations, fired the strikers.)

In 1995, the Internet search engine website Yahoo! was incorporated by founders Jerry Yang and David Filo.

Ten years ago: The Supreme Court ruled, 8-1, that a grieving father’s pain over mocking protests at his Marine son’s funeral had to yield to First Amendment protections for free speech in a decision favoring the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. A man armed with a handgun attacked a bus carrying U.S. Air Force troops at Frankfurt airport, killing two airmen before being taken into custody. (Arid Uka, an Islamic extremist, was later sentenced to life in prison.)

Five years ago: The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved the toughest sanctions against North Korea in two decades, reflecting growing anger at Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test and rocket launch in defiance of a ban on all nuclear-related activity. After nearly a year aboard the international space station, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russia’s Mikhail Kornienko returned to earth aboard a Soyuz capsule.

One year ago: Health officials in Washington state, where a cluster of coronavirus cases had surfaced at a nursing home near Seattle, said four more people had died from the virus. The director-general of the World Health Organization said there was still time to stop the COVID-19 epidemic, saying “containment is feasible.” Vice President Mike Pence said the coronavirus risk to Americans remained low, but that “we’re ready for anything.”

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