This day in history

Wednesday, March 20, is the 79th day of 2013. There are 286 days left in the year. Spring arrives at 7:02 a.m.

Today’s birthdays: Singer Dame Vera Lynn is 96. Producer-director-comedian Carl Reiner is 91. Actor Hal Linden is 82. Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney is 74. Country singer Don Edwards is 74. TV producer Paul Junger Witt is 70. Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Orr is 65. Actor William Hurt is 63. Rock musician Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake and Palmer) is 63. Rock musician Jimmie Vaughan is 62. Director Spike Lee is 56. Actress Theresa Russell is 56. Actress Holly Hunter is 55. Rock musician Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats) is 52. Model-designer Kathy Ireland is 50. Actor David Thewlis is 50. Actor Michael Rapaport is 43. Actor Alexander Chaplin is 42.

In 1413, England’s King Henry IV died; he was succeeded by Henry V.


In 1727, physicist, mathematician, and astronomer Sir Isaac Newton died in London.

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In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte returned to Paris after escaping his exile on Elba, beginning his ‘‘Hundred Days’’ rule.

In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel about slavery, ‘‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’’ was first published in book form after being serialized.

In 1912, a coal mine explosion in McCurtain, Okla., claimed the lives of 73 workers.

In 1922, the decommissioned USS Jupiter, converted into the first US Navy aircraft carrier, was recommissioned as the USS Langley.


In 1933, the state of Florida electrocuted Giuseppe Zangara for the shooting death of Chicago Mayor Anton J. Cermak at a Miami event attended by President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, the presumed target, the previous February.

In 1952, the US Senate ratified, 66-10, the Treaty of Peace with Japan.

In 1969, John Lennon married Yoko Ono in Gibraltar.

In 1985, Libby Riddles of Teller, Alaska, became the first woman to win the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race.

In 1995, in Tokyo, 12 people were killed, more than 5,500 others sickened when packages containing the poisonous gas sarin were leaked on subway trains by Aum Shinrikyo cult members.


In 2003, on the first day of the Iraq War, a subdued Saddam Hussein appeared on state-run television after the initial American air strike on Baghdad, accusing the United States of a ‘‘shameful crime’’ and urging his people to ‘‘draw your sword’’ against the invaders. The start of war in Iraq triggered anti-government protests, leading to thousands of arrests in the US.

In 2008, in a setback for Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, a drive for a second Michigan presidential primary collapsed as the state Senate adjourned without taking up a measure calling for a do-over contest. (Michigan had held a primary in January 2008 in violation of party rules, and was stripped of its delegates.)

In 2012, a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in Mexico damaged hundreds of homes and killed at least two people near the border between Guerrero and Oaxaca states.