Monday, April 02, 2007

Today in History....April 2

On this day in …

* 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon landed in Florida

* 1792, Congress passed the Coinage Act, which authorized establishment of the U.S. Mint

* 1865, Confederate President Davis and most of his Cabinet fled the Confederate capital of Richmond, Va., because of advancing Union forces

* 1902, the first American theater devoted solely to movies opens in Los Angeles. Housed in a circus tent, the venue was dubbed "The Electric Theater." Its earliest pictures included "New York in a Blizzard." Admission cost about 10 cents for a one-hour show

* 1917, Jeannette Pickering Rankin, the first woman ever elected to Congress, takes her seat in the U.S. Capitol as a representative from Montana. ALSO: President Woodrow Wilson asks Congress to send U.S. troops into battle against Germany in World War I. In his address to Congress that day, two of his most memorable lines were "It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war"
and "The world must be made safe for democracy." Four days later, Congress obliged and declared war on Germany

* 1932, aviator Charles A. Lindbergh and John F. Condon went to a cemetery in New York City's Bronx borough, where Condon turned over $50,000 to an unidentified man in exchange for Lindbergh's kidnapped son. (The child, however, was not returned, and was found dead the following month.)

* 1941, radio sitcom "Life of Riley" debuts. The show starred William Bendix as a bullheaded family man. The show ran for 10 years on radio and about six years on television.

* 1972, Charlie Chaplin returns to the United States for the first time since 1952. Chaplin had been labeled a communist in the early 1950s. While on tour in Europe, he learned that the attorney general had issued instructions to deny Chaplin's re-entry. He vowed never to return to America but relented when he came back to accept a special Academy Award

* 1980, President Jimmy Carter attempted to soothe the nation's ailing finances by signing the Crude Oil Windfall Profits Tax Act.
The tax came one short year after Carter eliminated controls on oil prices; the demise of these regulations sent oil profits soaring.
With the economy mired in a prolonged funk, Carter urged Congress to create legislation that would take advantage of the oil industry's good fortune. And, the Windfall Act did just that: by 1990, the legislation had helped haul in roughly $227 billion dollars

* 1982, several thousand troops from Argentina seized the disputed Falkland Islands, located in the south Atlantic, from Britain.
(Britain seized the islands back the following June.)

* 1987, the United States Government allowed individual states to increase the speed limit on rural roads from 55mph to 65mph. The move opened the forum for legislation that would, over the next decade, dramatically increase the speed limits observed on our country's roads

* 1989, in an effort to mend strained relations between the Soviet Union and Cuba, Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev arrives in Havana to meet with Fidel Castro. Castro's suspicions regarding Gorbachev's economic and political reform measures in the Soviet Union, together with the fact that Russia's ailing economy could no longer support massive economic assistance to Cuba, kept the meetings from achieving any solid agreements

* 1997, the White House released documents showing how eager it had been to exploit the money-drawing powers of President Clinton and Vice President Gore during the 1996 campaign while coordinating with the Democratic Party's fundraising machine

* 2002, "Palestinian" gunmen forced their way into the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where they began a 39-day standoff. The Christian holy place was trashed. (Please see for more


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