Today in 1692, the Salem Witch Trials began. A case of mass hysteria, the trials resulted in the execution of twenty people, mostly women, for practicing witchcraft. Despite being generally known for Salem the preliminary hearings were conducted in several towns in the Province of Massachusetts Bay: Salem Village (now Danvers), Salem Town, Ipswich and Andover.
Today in 1861,the territory of Colorado was organized.
Today in 1879,the "Exodus of 1879"took place as Blacks fled political and economic exploitation in the South.
Today in 1940,the first televised basketball game took place. Fordham University played the University of Pittsburgh at Madison Square Garden.
Today in 1953,James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick discovered that DNA had a double-helix structure.
Today in 1972 (actually, it was a leap year – so it was the 29th),police netted 915-pounds of heroin worth 100-million dollars at a drug bust at the port of Marseilles, France. The incident inspired the film, "The French Connection."
Today in 1983,the long-running TV series, "M*A*S*H,"ended after 11 seasons on CBS-TV with a special 2 1/2-hour finale that was watched by an estimated 121.6-million people. The highly publicized finale documented each character's departure from Korea and in all, 60% of all TV sets in the U.S., or an estimated 50-million people, turned in on that night.
Today in 1990, the space shuttle Atlantis blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a secret mission to place a spy satellite in orbit.
Today in 1991,in a live television broadcast, President Bush declared that "Kuwait is liberated, Iraq's army is defeated,"and announced that the allies would suspend combat operations at midnight. General Norman Schwarzkopf, the US commander in the Gulf, briefed reporters in detail on the successful allied offensive.
Today in 1993,the siege in Waco, Texas began after agents tried to serve warrantsto Branch Davidian leader David Koresh and his followers. The raid resulted in an intense gun battle, which last two hours and killed four agents and six Branch Davidians. The standoff continued for 51 days…until a blaze erupted on the grounds – which began as the FBI mounted their final assault on the compound. That fire killed 76 people including two pregnant women and more than 20 children. In all, 82 people were killed – including four ATF agents and Koresh himself.
Today in 1994, the Brady Law, which imposes a mandatory waiting period to buy a handgun,went into effect.
Today in 1997,former FBI agent Earl Pitts pleaded guilty to spying. He was only the second FBI agent ever to be convicted of espionage.
Today in 2010, the XXI Winter Olympic Games closed in Vancouver, Canada.
Today in 2013,Benedict XVI officially resigned his position as Pope, the first to do so voluntarily since Celestine V in 1294.