This Day in History

Posted: Monday, March 09, 2009

In the nation

• In 1862, during the Civil War, the ironclads USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (formerly USS Merrimac) clashed for five hours to a draw at Hampton Roads, Va.

• In 1907, Indiana's General Assembly passed America's first involuntary sterilization law, one aimed at "confirmed criminals, idiots, imbeciles, and rapists" in state custody. (This law was struck down in 1921 by the Indiana Supreme Court, but a new law was passed in 1927 that was repealed in 1974.)

• In 1916, Mexican raiders led by Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, N.M., killing 18 Americans.

• In 1954, CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow critically reviewed Wisconsin Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy's anti-Communism campaign on "See It Now."

• In 1959, Mattel's Barbie doll, created by Ruth Handler, made its public debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York.

• In 1964, the Supreme Court, in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, ruled that public officials who charged they'd been libeled by news reports could not recover damages unless they proved actual malice on the part of the news organization.

• In 1977, about a dozen armed Hanafi Muslims invaded three buildings in Washington D.C., killing one person and taking more than 130 hostages. (The siege ended two days later.)

In the world

• In 1796, the future emperor of the French, Napoleon Bonaparte, married Josephine de Beauharnais. (The couple divorced in 1809.)

• In 1932, Eamon de Valera was appointed head of government of the Irish Free State.

• In 1945, during World War II, U.S. B-29 bombers launched incendiary bomb attacks against Japan, resulting in an estimated 100,000 deaths.

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