Today in 1827, the first Mardi-Gras celebration was held in New Orleans.
Today in 1859, the murder that led to the first successful use of the “insanity defense” took place as Congressman Daniel Sickles shot his wife’s lover, Phillip Barton Key, to death. Key had been having an affair with Sickles’ wife – something Sickles knew for weeks. When Key came to the property, Sickles when inside to his home, grabbed a couple of guns, and attacked Key completely unprovoked yelling “You must die! You must die!” in front of at least 12 witnesses. Later, during his trial, he claimed his passions drove him to madness. Far from living in shame, the former Union Army general enjoyed quite a life after walking free. In the following years, he became Ambassador to Spain and the County Sheriff for New York, was re-elected to Congress in 1893, and later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Today in 1869, John Menard became the first African American to make a speech before Congress. Having won the majority of votes, the election was challenged by his opponent, Caleb Hunt. He demanded to be seated, and was refused. But then, neither was Hunt. Read his speech HERE.
Today in 1875, the bi-racial Senate passed the House-approved Civil Rights Act of 1875. The law protected all Americans, regardless of race, in their access to public accommodations and facilities such as restaurants, theaters, trains and other public transportation, and granted the right to serve on juries. However, the law wasn’t enforced…and the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 1883.
Today in 1922, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the 19th amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote.
Today in 1951, the United States ratified the 22nd Amendment, limiting U.S. Presidents to two terms in office. Constitutional scholars still argue about whether a former two-term president could serve as vice president.
Today in 1960, the US Olympic hockey team defeated the Soviets, three goals to two, at the Winter Games in Squaw Valley, California. The US team went on to win the gold medal.
Today in 1964, Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees signed a contract worth $100,000. In 1949, Mantle had signed his first Yankee contract for $1,100.
Today in 1968, CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite delivered a scathing editorial on America's chances of winning the Vietnam War. His position? It was a stalemate and the only way out was to get out. President Lyndon B. Johnson reportedly told an aide, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”
Today in 1973, members of the American Indian Movement, protesting treaty violations, took over the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota.
Today in 1982, Wayne B. Williams was found guilty of murdering two of the 28 young children whose bodies were found in the Atlanta area between 1979 and 1981, in serial killing series that had been dubbed the Atlanta Child Murders. Doubts have been raised about the conviction and to this day, Williams maintains his innocence.
Today in 1987, the Tower Commission published its report on the Iran-Contra affair.
Today in 1992, Elizabeth Taylor celebrated her 60th birthday by closing all of Disneyland for an elaborate private party with her celebrity friends. While no one knows exactly what that costs, it’s been reported that renting just one land costs upwards of $250-thousand. Other reports say you can enjoy the entire Magic Kingdom “After Hours” starting at $180-grand.
Today in 1994, the Winter Olympic Games ended in Lillehammer, Norway.
Today in 1997, a jury in Fayetteville, North Carolina convicted former Army paratrooper James N. Burmeister of murdering a black couple so he could get a skinhead tattoo. He was later sentenced to life in prison.
Today in 2002, 20 people working at Boston’s Logan International Airport were busted for falsifying documents to get their jobs and/or security badges. The sting was the result of new security regulations put in place following 9/11.
Today in 2012, the Osama Bin Laden Compound in Pakistan was demolished. The terrorist leader was killed by American forces in May of 2011. No reasons were given for the demolition, but it’s likely that the authorities didn’t want it to be turned into a shrine for the al-Qaeda leader.
Today in 2014, Arizona’s Republican Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a so-called "religious freedom" bill that would have allowed businesses to turn away gay customers if they claimed it conflicted with their religious beliefs. Opponents of the bill argued that it would have legalized discrimination against members of the LGBT community.
Today in 2018, Jared Kushner, son-in-law of President Trump, had his top-secret security clearance at the White House downgraded. It was upgraded the following May at the express direction of the White House.
Today in 2019, Michael Cohen, former lawyer to Donald Trump testified before the House Oversight Committee saying Trump is "racist", a "con man" and "a cheat."
Today in 2019, the second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un began in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Today in 2019, the first gun control legislation for 25 years was passed by the House of Representatives, with new federal background checks.