On Feb. 3, 1959, rock-and-roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson died in a small plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa. An American Airlines Lockheed Electra crashed into New York’s East River, killing 65 of the 73 people on board.
On this date:
In 1014, Sweyn I, the king of Denmark, Norway and England, died in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, just over a month after being declared ruler of the English.
In 1783, Spain formally recognized American independence.
In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens held a shipboard peace conference off the Virginia coast; the talks deadlocked over the issue of Southern autonomy.
In 1913, the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, providing for a federal income tax, was ratified.
In 1924, the 28th president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, died in Washington, D.C., at age 67.
In 1930, the chief justice of the United States, William Howard Taft, resigned for health reasons. (He died just over a month later.)
In 1943, during World War II, the U.S. transport ship Dorchester, which was carrying troops to Greenland, sank after being hit by a German torpedo; of the more than 900 men aboard, only some 230 survived.
In 1966, the Soviet probe Luna 9 became the first manmade object to make a soft landing on the moon.
In 1972, the XI Olympic Winter Games opened in Sapporo, Japan.
In 1989, Alfredo Stroessner, president of Paraguay for more than three decades, was overthrown in a military coup.
In 1994, the space shuttle Discovery lifted off, carrying Sergei Krikalev, the first Russian cosmonaut to fly aboard a U.S. spacecraft.
In 1998, Texas executed Karla Faye Tucker, 38, for the pickax killings of two people in 1983; she was the first woman executed in the United States since 1984. A U.S. Marine plane sliced through the cable of a ski gondola in Italy, sending the car plunging hundreds of feet, killing all 20 people inside.
Ten years ago: John Kerry won Democratic presidential contests in five out of seven states: Missouri, Arizona, North Dakota, New Mexico and Delaware; John Edwards easily won his native South Carolina while Wesley Clark eked out victory in Oklahoma. Work in the U.S. Senate slowed to a crawl, a day after ricin powder was found in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Five years ago: Eric Holder became the first black U.S. attorney general as he was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden. The White House announced that Tom Daschle had asked to be removed from consideration as health and human services secretary after acknowledging he’d failed to pay all his taxes.
One year ago: Eight people were killed when a tour bus crashed in San Bernardino County, Calif., while returning 38 tourists to Tijuana, Mexico. Monica Quan and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, were found shot to death in Irvine, Calif.; authorities blamed former Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner, who had declared a revenge war on officers and the families of those he blamed for ending his career. (Quan’s father had represented Dorner in a failed appeal of his dismissal.) Dorner killed Riverside police officer Michael Crain during a 6-day manhunt that ended with Dorner’s apparent suicide in San Bernardino County. The Baltimore Ravens survived a partial power outage at the Super Bowl in New Orleans to edge the San Francisco 49ers 34-31.
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