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Today in History: U.S. took formal possession of the Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1917

Today in History: U.S. took formal possession of the Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1917

Today is Wednesday, March 31, the 90th day of 2021. There are 275 days left in the year.

Highlight in History:

On March 31, 1931, Notre Dame college football coach Knute Rockne (noot RAHK’-nee), 43, was killed in the crash of a TWA plane in Bazaar, Kan.

On this date:

In 1814, Paris was occupied by a coalition of Russian, Prussian and Austrian forces; the surrender of the French capital forced the abdication of Emperor Napoleon.

In 1917, the United States took formal possession of the Virgin Islands from Denmark.

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Emergency Conservation Work Act, which created the Civilian Conservation Corps.

In 1943, “Oklahoma!,” the first musical play by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, opened on Broadway.

In 1968, at the conclusion of a nationally broadcast address on Vietnam, President Lyndon B. Johnson stunned listeners by declaring, “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”

In 1976, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that Karen Ann Quinlan, a young woman in a persistent vegetative state, could be disconnected from her respirator. (Quinlan, who remained unconscious, died in 1985.)

In 1991, the Warsaw Pact military alliance came to an end.

In 1995, Mexican-American singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez, 23, was shot to death in Corpus Christi, Texas, by the founder of her fan club, Yolanda Saldivar, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

In 2004, four American civilian contractors were killed in Fallujah, Iraq; frenzied crowds dragged the burned, mutilated bodies and strung two of them from a bridge.

In 2009, Benjamin Netanyahu took office as Israel’s new prime minister after the Knesset approved his government.

In 2019, former Vice President Joe Biden defended his interactions with women; saying he didn’t believe he had ever acted inappropriately.

Ten years ago: Moammar Gadhafi struck a defiant stance after two high-profile defections from his regime, saying the Western leaders who had decimated his military with airstrikes should resign immediately — not him. (Gadhafi’s message was in the form of a scroll across the bottom of state TV as he remained out of sight.)

Five years ago: An overpass collapsed onto a crowded Kolkata, India, neighborhood, killing 26 people. A man who was convicted of fatally beating another man to death after a night of drinking and drug use in 1994 was put to death in Georgia. 

One year ago: The White House released new projections that the number of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. could range from 100,000 to 240,000 even if current social distancing guidelines were maintained. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial had distracted the federal government from the coronavirus as it reached the United States in January. 

Today’s Birthdays: Actor William Daniels is 94. Actor Richard Chamberlain is 87. Actor Shirley Jones is 87. Musician Herb Alpert is 86. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is 81. Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., is 81. Actor Christopher Walken is 78. Comedian Gabe Kaplan is 77. Actor Ewan (YOO’-en) McGregor is 50.

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