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March 19, 2013

Today in History

Today is Tuesday, March 19, the 78th day of 2013. There are 287 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight in history:

On March 19, 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the start of war against Iraq. (Because of the time difference, it was early March 20 in Iraq.)

On this date:

In 1687, French explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle — the first European to navigate the length of the Mississippi River — was murdered by mutineers in present-day Texas.

In 1863, the Confederate cruiser Georgianna, on its maiden voyage, was scuttled off Charleston, S.C., to prevent it from falling into Union hands.

In 1918, Congress approved Daylight-Saving Time.

In 1920, the Senate rejected, for a second time, the Treaty of Versailles by a vote of 49 in favor, 35 against, falling short of the two-thirds majority needed for approval.

In 1931, Nevada Gov. Fred B. Balzar signed a measure legalizing casino gambling.

In 1943, gangster Frank Nitti, leader of Al Capone’s Chicago Outfit, shot himself to death in a railroad yard.

In 1945, 724 people were killed when a Japanese dive bomber attacked the carrier USS Franklin off Japan; the ship, however, was saved. Adolf Hitler issued his so-called “Nero Decree,” ordering the destruction of German facilities that could fall into Allied hands.

In 1953, the Academy Awards ceremony was televised for the first time; “The Greatest Show on Earth” was named best picture of 1952.

In 1962, Bob Dylan’s first album, titled “Bob Dylan,” was released by Columbia Records.

In 1965, the wreck of the Confederate cruiser Georgianna was discovered by E. Lee Spence, 102 years to the day after it had been scuttled.

In 1979, the U.S. House of Representatives began televising its day-to-day business.

In 1993, Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White announced plans to retire. (White’s departure paved the way for Ruth Bader Ginsburg to become the court’s second female justice.)

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