This Day in History - March 23
States can require parental notification when teenage girls seek abortions, with some exceptions, the US Supreme Court rules on this day, 1981.(Photo: AP)

Today is the 82nd day of 2023. There are 283 days left in the year.


2010: In a major triumph for his presidency, a jubilant Barack Obama signs a massive, nearly US$1-trillion health-care overhaul that will, for the first time, cement insurance coverage as the right of every US citizen.


1593: English Separatist Puritans John Greenwood and Henry Barrowe are tried and sentenced to death on the charge of devising and circulating seditious books.

1743: George Frideric Handel's oratorio Messiah premieres at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London.

1775: Patrick Henry proclaims, "Give me liberty or give me death" during a speech in favour of Virginian troops joining the US revolutionary war.

1801: Russia's Czar Paul I is assassinated by Russian aristocrats and succeeded by Alexander I.

1839: The first recorded use of the phrase "OK" is recorded in Boston's Morning Post.

1840: John William Draper takes the first successful photo in US of the moon (using daguerreotype), in New York City.

1856: An 18-year-old English chemist named William Perkin accidentally produces the first synthetic aniline dye “mauveine” (purple) during his Easter holiday.

1857: Elisha Otis installs his first elevator at 488 Broadway in a New York City department store.

1858: The streetcar is patented by E A Gardner of Philadelphia.

1861: London’s first tramcars, designed by Mr Train of NY, begin operating.

1868: The University of California is founded in Oakland, California.

1879: The War of the Pacific is fought between Chile and the joint forces of Bolivia and Peru; Chile successfully takes over Arica and Tarapacá, leaving Bolivia a landlocked country.

1882: The Edmunds Act (Edmunds Anti-Polygamy Act) is adopted by the US to suppress polygamy; 1300 men are later imprisoned under the Act.

1896: The Raines Law is passed by the New York State Legislature, restricting Sunday sale of alcohol to hotels.

1903: The Wright brothers first file a patent for a flying machine, which is granted three years later.

1918: Lithuania proclaims its independence. Germany begins using the long-range Kaiser Wilhelm Geschütz (Emperor William Gun in English), aka Paris Gun, to shell Paris from Crépy-en- Laonnais, 75 miles away; over several days 303 rounds kill 256 and wound over 600.

1919: Benito Mussolini founds the fascist movement in Italy.

1933: The German Reichstag grants Adolf Hitler dictatorial powers through the Enabling Act.

1935: The Soviet Union sells its interest in the Chinese Eastern Railway to Japan.

1945: US Navy ships bomb the Japanese island of Okinawa in preparation for the Allied invasion; it would become the largest battle of the Pacific War in World War II.

1956: Pakistan becomes an independent republic within the British Commonwealth.

1973: Before sentencing a group of Watergate break-in defendants, Chief US District Judge John J Sirica reads aloud a letter received from James W McCord Jr which says there was “political pressure” to “plead guilty and remain silent”.

1978: The US Senate raises the mandatory retirement age to 70.

1981: The US Supreme Court rules that states can require, with some exceptions, parental notification when teenage girls seek abortions.

1983: Dr Barney Clark, recipient of a Jarvik permanent artificial heart, dies at the University of Utah Medical Center after 112 days with the device.

1988: Contra guerrillas sign a ceasefire agreement with the Sandinista Government in Nicaragua.

1990: The Soviet Government orders Western diplomats to leave and restricts the entry of foreigners into Lithuania.

1992: Tens of thousands of jubilant Albanians celebrate a crushing election victory by the Democratic party, marking the end of Communist power.

1998: President Boris Yeltsin fires his prime minister and the entire Cabinet, in Russia’s biggest Government shake-up since the break-up of the Soviet Union. James Cameron’s epic 1997 drama Titanic wins 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director (James Cameron) and Best Song (My Heart Will Go On), tying the record set by Ben- Hur in 1959.

2001: The Mir space station, designed for only 5 years of service, returns to Earth, ending its 15-year odyssey with a fiery plunge into the South Pacific Ocean.

2004: Former Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix says UN inspectors would have been able to determine that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction had the United States and Britain allowed more time for them to work before going to war.

2005: Marxist rebels in southern Colombia ambush a military convoy with explosives and gunfire, killing 10 Colombian Marines.

2007: Iranian naval vessels seize 15 British sailors and marines who had boarded a merchant ship in Iraqi waters off the Persian Gulf; Britain immediately protests the detentions, which come at a time of high tension between the West and Iran.

2008: A roadside bomb kills four US soldiers in Baghdad, pushing the overall American death toll in the five-year war to at least 4,000. US Vice-President Dick Cheney visits the West Bank where Palestinian leaders ask him to pressure Israel to halt settlement construction as they voice other complaints. Al Copeland, founder of the famous Popeyes fried chicken chain, dies near Munich, Germany, at age 64.

2011: Elizabeth Taylor, American actress, dies at the age of 79. Egypt’s public prosecutor makes an unprecedented sweep against the top security brass, charging the former interior minister and other officials with aiding the killing and the attempted killing of hundreds of protesters during the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

2012: Tens of thousands of Syrians brave tear gas and gunfire to protest across the country, vowing to storm the capital Damascus to oust President Bashar Assad.

2017: Abandoning negotiations, US President Donald Trump demands a make-or-break vote on health-care legislation in the House, threatening to leave “Obamacare” in place and move on to other issues if the next day’s vote fails; Trump and GOP leaders end up pulling their Bill when it becomes clear it would fail badly.

2019: Syrian Democratic Forces announce that the last Islamic State territory has been retaken, raising flags in Baghuz, Syria and ending the five-year Islamic State “caliphate”.

2021: The Suez Canal, one of the world’s most heavily used shipping lanes, is blocked after the mega-freighter Ever Given runs aground; it took six days to move the vessel.


Emmy Noether, German mathematician whose innovations in higher algebra made her the most creative abstract algebraist of modern times (1882-1935); Joan Crawford, US actress (1908- 1977); Akira Kurosawa, Japanese film director (1910-1998); Wernher von Braun, German-born rocket expert (1912-1977); Ric Ocasek, British rock singer-producer (1949- 2019); Chaka Khan, US singer (1953- )

Recipient of a permanent artificial heart Dr Barney Clark dies this day in 1983 at the University of Utah Medical Center, 12 days after the procedure.

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