On this date:
In 1609, Galileo Galilei demonstrated his new telescope to a group of officials atop the Campanile (kahm-pah-NEE’-lay) in Venice.
In 1831, Nat Turner led a violent slave rebellion in Virginia resulting in the deaths of at least 55 white people. (He was later executed.)
In 1858, the first of seven debates between Illinois senatorial contenders Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas took place.
In 1878, the American Bar Association was founded in Saratoga, N.Y.
In 1911, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris. (The painting was recovered two years later in Italy.)
In 1940, exiled Communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky died in a Mexican hospital from wounds inflicted by an assassin the day before.
In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an executive order making Hawaii the 50th state.
In 1961, country singer Patsy Cline recorded the Willie Nelson song “Crazy” in Nashville for Decca Records. (The recording was released in October 1961.)
In 1972, the Republican National Convention opened in Miami Beach.
In 1987, Sgt. Clayton Lonetree, the first Marine court-martialed for spying, was convicted in Quantico, Va., of passing secrets to the KGB. (Lonetree ended up serving eight years in a military prison.)
In 1991, the hard-line coup against Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev collapsed in the face of a popular uprising led by Russian federation President Boris N. Yeltsin.
In 1992, an 11-day siege began at the cabin of white separatist Randy Weaver in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, as government agents tried to arrest Weaver for failing to appear in court on charges of selling two illegal sawed-off shotguns; in the resulting shootout, Weaver’s teenage son, Samuel, and Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan were killed.
Ten years ago:
President George W. Bush told reporters at his Texas ranch that ousting Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was “in the interests of the world” but indicated the United States was in no hurry. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien (zhahn kreh-TYEN’) announced he would not seek a fourth straight term, and would step down in 2004. A jury in San Diego convicted David Westerfield of kidnapping 7-year-old Danielle van Dam from her home and killing her. (Westerfield was later sentenced to death.)
Five years ago:
Hurricane Dean struck Mexico’s coast as a Category 5 storm. The postwar Iraqi tribunal trying former Saddam Hussein aides opened its third proceeding, putting former Defense Minister Ali Hassan al-Majid (ah-LEE’ hah-SAHN’ ahl mah-ZHEED’), known as “Chemical Ali,” and 14 other men on trial. Space shuttle Endeavour, with teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan aboard, safely returned to Cape Canaveral, Fla.
One year ago:
Euphoric Libyan rebels raced into Tripoli and took control of the center with little resistance as Moammar Gadhafi’s defenses collapsed and his four-decade regime appeared to be crumbling. In a statement from Martha’s Vineyard, where he was vacationing with his family, President Barack Obama called on Gadhafi to acknowledge reality and step down.
Today’s Birthdays: Former football player Pete Retzlaff is 81. Actor-director Melvin Van Peebles is 80. Playwright Mart Crowley (“The Boys in the Band”) is 77. Singer Kenny Rogers is 74. Actor Clarence Williams III is 73. Rock-and-roll musician James Burton is 73. Singer Harold Reid (The Statler Brothers) is 73. Singer Jackie DeShannon is 71. Football Hall of Famer Willie Lanier is 67. Actress Patty McCormack is 67. Pop singer-musician Carl Giammarese (jee-ah mah-REE’-see) is 65. Actress Loretta Devine is 63. NBC newsman Harry Smith is 61. Singer Glenn Hughes is 60. Country musician Nick Kane is 58. Actress Kim Cattrall is 56. College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon is 53. Actress Cleo King is 50. MLB All-Star pitcher John Wetteland is 46. Rock singer Serj Tankian (TAN’-kee-ahn) (System of a Down) is 45. Actress Carrie-Anne Moss is 42. MLB player Craig Counsell is 42. Rock musician Liam Howlett (Prodigy) is 41. Actress Alicia Witt is 37. Singer Kelis (kuh-LEES’) is 33. TV personality Brody Jenner is 29. Singer Melissa Schuman is 28. Olympic gold medal sprinter Usain (yoo-SAYN’) Bolt is 26. Actor Cody Kasch is 25. Actress Hayden Panettiere (pan’-uh-tee-EHR’) is 23. Actor RJ Mitte (TV: “Breaking Bad”) is 20.
Thought for Today: “Paradoxical as it may seem, to believe in youth is to look backward; to look forward we must believe in age.” — Dorothy L. Sayers, English author (1893-1957).