► Today is Sunday, March 4, the 64th day of 2012. There are 302 days left in the year.
► Today’s birthdays: Actress Paula Prentiss is 74. Movie director Adrian Lyne is 71. Singer Bobby Womack is 68. Rock musician Chris Squire (Yes) is 64. Singer Shakin’ Stevens is 64. Author James Ellroy is 64. Texas Governor Rick Perry is 62. Singer Chris Rea is 61. Actor Ronn Moss is 60. Actress Kay Lenz is 59. Musician Emilio Estefan is 59. Movie director Scott Hicks is 59. Actress Catherine O’Hara is 58. Actor Mykelti Williamson is 55. Actress Patricia Heaton is 54. Actor Steven Weber is 51. Rock musician Jason Newsted is 49. Actress Stacy Edwards is 47. Rapper Grand Puba is 46. Rock musician Patrick Hannan (The Sundays) is 46. Rock singer Evan Dando (Lemonheads) is 45. Actress Patsy Kensit is 44. Gay rights activist Chaz Bono is 43. Actor Nick Stabile is 42. Rock musician Fergal Lawler (The Cranberries) is 41. Country singer Jason Sellers is 41. Jazz musician Jason Marsalis is 35. Actress Jessica Heap is 29. TV personality Whitney Port is 27. Actor Joshua Bowman is 24. Actress Andrea Bowen (“Desperate Housewives’’) is 22. Actress Jenna Boyd is 19.
► In 1681, England’s King Charles II granted a charter to William Penn for an area of land that later became the state of Pennsylvania.
► In 1789, the Constitution of the United States went into effect as the first Federal Congress met in New York. (The lawmakers adjourned for lack of a quorum.)
► In 1791, Vermont became the 14th state.
► In 1858, Senator James Henry Hammond of South Carolina declared “Cotton is king’’ in a speech to the US Senate.
► In 1861, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th president of the United States. The US Government Printing Office began operation. The Confederate States of America adopted as its flag the original version of the Stars and Bars.
► In 1912, groundbreaking took place in New York for Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
► In 1917, Republican Jeannette Rankin of Montana took her seat as the first woman elected to the US House of Representatives.
► In 1930, Coolidge Dam in Arizona was dedicated by its namesake, former President Calvin Coolidge.
► In 1940, Kings Canyon National Park in California was established.
► In 1952, Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis were married in California’s San Fernando Valley.
► In 1960, an explosives-laden French freighter, La Coubre, exploded in Havana’s harbor, killing at least 75 people.
► In 1977, some 1,500 people were killed in an earthquake that shook southern and eastern Europe.
► In 1981, a jury in Salt Lake City convicted Joseph Paul Franklin, an avowed racist and serial killer, of violating the civil rights of two black men who had been shot to death. (Franklin received two life sentences for this crime; he is currently on Missouri’s death row for the 1977 murder of a Jewish man, Gerald Gordon.)
► In 2002, Seven US soldiers were killed and 11 wounded in Afghanistan at the outset of Operation Anaconda against remnant Taliban and Al Qaeda forces. The European Union’s 15 members ratified the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, but did not set pollutant-emission levels to meet the accord’s targets.
► In 2007, NAACP president Bruce S. Gordon announced he was quitting the civil rights organization after just 19 months at the helm, citing growing strain with board members over the group’s management style and future operations. Former US senator Thomas Eagleton, who resigned as George McGovern’s running mate in 1972 after it was revealed he had been hospitalized for depression, died in St. Louis, Mo., at 77.