Today is Thursday, March 20, the 79th day of 2014. There are 286 days left in the year. Spring arrives at 12:57 p.m. EDT.
On March 20, 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s influential novel about slavery, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” was first published in book form after being serialized.
On this date:
In 1727, physicist, mathematician and astronomer Sir Isaac Newton died in London.
In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte returned to Paris after escaping his exile on Elba, beginning his “Hundred Days” rule.
In 1922, the decommissioned USS Jupiter, converted into the first U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, was recommissioned as the USS Langley.
In 1933, the state of Florida electrocuted Giuseppe Zangara for shooting to death Chicago Mayor Anton J. Cermak at a Miami event attended by President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, the presumed target, the previous February.
In 1952, the U.S. Senate ratified, 66-10, the Treaty of Peace with Japan.
In 1964, Irish poet, author and playwright Brendan Behan, 41, died in Dublin.
In 1969, John Lennon married Yoko Ono in Gibraltar.
In 1974, Britain’s Princess Anne was the target of a kidnapping attempt near Buckingham Palace; the would-be abductor, Ian Ball, was captured. Former NBC News anchorman Chet Huntley, 62, died at his Montana home.
In 1985, Libby Riddles of Teller, Alaska, became the first woman to win the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race.
In 1994, El Salvador held its first presidential election following the country’s 12-year-old civil war. (Armando Calderon Sol of the ARENA party led the vote, but needed to win a run-off to achieve the presidency.)
In 1995, in Tokyo, 12 people were killed, more than 5,500 others sickened when packages containing the poisonous gas sarin were leaked on five separate subway trains by Aum Shinrikyo cult members.
In 1999, Bertrand Piccard of Switzerland and Brian Jones of Britain became the first aviators to fly a hot-air balloon around the world nonstop as they floated over Mauritania past longitude 9 degrees west. (They landed safely in Egypt the next day.)
Ten years ago: Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide rallied against the U.S.-led war in Iraq on the first anniversary of the start of the conflict. The U.S. military charged six soldiers with abusing inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison. The Rev. Karen Dammann, a lesbian Methodist pastor, was acquitted of violating church doctrine in a trial held in Bothell. Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian narrowly won re-election a day after being shot in an assassination attempt. Former Dutch Queen Juliana died at age 94.
Five years ago: President Barack Obama reached out to the Iranian people in a video with Farsi subtitles, saying the U.S. was prepared to end years of strained relations if Tehran toned down its bellicose rhetoric; Iranian officials dismissed the overture, saying they wanted concrete change from Washington before they were ready to enter a dialogue. Pope Benedict XVI, visiting Angola, condemned sexual violence against women in Africa and chided those countries on the continent that approved abortion.
One year ago: Making his first visit to Israel since taking office, President Barack Obama affirmed Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself from any threat and vowed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Five former elected officials of Bell, Calif., were convicted of misappropriating public funds by paying themselves huge salaries while raising taxes on residents; one defendant was acquitted. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed bills that put sweeping new restrictions on sales of firearms and ammunition. Rise Stevens, 99, a mezzo-soprano who sang with the Metropolitan Opera for more than 20 years spanning the 1940s and 1950s, died in New York.