Today in 1743, the first standing ovation was recorded. The occasion was the first performance of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” from “Messiah.” King George was so inspired by the performance that he jumped to his feet. The audience, taking their cue from the King, also stood - and the first standing ovation was inadvertently invented.
Today in 1775, Patrick Henry made his famous call for America's independence from Britain, telling the Virginia Provincial Convention, "Give me liberty, or give me death!"
Today in 1965, America’s first two-man space flight began as Gemini 3 was launched from Cape Kennedy. Astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom and John Young were on board.
Today in 1983, Barney Clark, the recipient of the world’s first artificial heart, died at the Utah Medical Center. He survived for 112 days with the man-made device.
Today in 1983, President Ronald Reagan proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which was a program to develop technology that would make the country almost impervious to attack by nuclear missiles.
Today in 1990,a jury in Anchorage, Alaska found former tanker captain Joseph Hazelwood innocent of three major charges in connection with the "Exxon Valdez" oil spill, but convicted him of a minor charge of negligent discharge of oil.
Today in 1998, the film, "Titanic," sailed off with 11 Oscars, tying the record for most Academy Awards won by a single film. James Cameron, the film's co-producer, screenwriter, co-editor and director picked up three awards for the picture - Best Director, Best Picture and Best Editing. Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt, the stars of "As Good as It Gets," walked off with the top acting awards. It was Nicholson's third Oscar.
Today in 2001, the Russian Mir space station is disposed of, breaking up in the atmosphere before falling into the southern Pacific Ocean near Fiji.
Today in 2010, President Obama signed his healthcare bill into law, which has been viewed as the most expansive social legislation in decades.