Today in History

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Today is Tuesday, Jan. 12, the 12th day of 2010. There are 353 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Jan. 12, 1910, at a White House dinner hosted by President William Howard Taft, Baroness Rosen, the wife of the Russian ambassador, caused a stir by requesting and smoking a cigarette — it was, apparently, the first time a woman had smoked openly during a public function in the executive mansion. (Some of the other women present who had brought their own cigarettes began lighting up in turn.)

On this date:

In 1519, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I died.

In 1773, the first public museum in America was organized, in Charleston, S.C.

In 1915, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected, 204-174, a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.

In 1932, Hattie W. Caraway became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate, after serving out the remainder of the term of her late husband, Thaddeus.

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt re-established the National War Labor Board.

In 1948, the Supreme Court ruled that state law schools could not discriminate against applicants on the basis of race.

In 1959, Berry Gordy Jr. founded Motown Records (originally Tamla Records) in Detroit.

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson said in his State of the Union address that the U.S. should stay in South Vietnam until Communist aggression there was ended.

In 1976, mystery writer Agatha Christie died in Wallingford, England, at 85.

In 1986, the shuttle Columbia blasted off with a crew that included the first Hispanic-American in space, Dr. Franklin R. Chang-Diaz.

Ten years ago: The U.S. Supreme Court gave police broad authority to stop and question people who run at the sight of an officer. Forced to act by a European court ruling, Britain lifted its ban on gays in the military. Charlotte Hornets guard Bobby Phills was killed in an automobile crash.

Five years ago: A NASA spacecraft, Deep Impact, blasted off on a mission to smash a hole in a comet and give scientists a glimpse of the frozen primordial ingredients of the solar system. (The probe smashed into Comet Tempel 1 in July 2005.) Democrat Christine Gregoire, winner of the extremely close Washington governor’s race, was inaugurated. Britain’s Prince Harry apologized after a newspaper published a photograph of the young royal wearing a Nazi uniform to a costume party.

One year ago: Senate Democrats announced they would accept former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris as President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate successor. Acting at Obama’s behest, President George W. Bush agreed to ask Congress for the final $350 billion in the financial bailout fund. In the final news conference of his presidency, Bush vigorously defended his record but also offered an extraordinary listing of his mistakes — including his optimistic Iraq speech in 2003. Rickey Henderson was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot, and Jim Rice made it in on his 15th and final try. French movie actor-writer-director Claude Berri died in Paris at age 74.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Luise Rainer is 100. Country singer Ray Price is 84. Singer Glenn Yarborough is 80. The Amazing Kreskin is 75. Country singer William Lee Golden (The Oak Ridge Boys) is 71. Former heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier is 66. Rock musician Cynthia Robinson (Sly and the Family Stone) is 66. Singer-musician George Duke is 64. Actor Anthony Andrews is 62. Movie director Wayne Wang is 61. Radio commentator Rush Limbaugh is 59. Actress Kirstie Alley is 59. Writer Walter Mosley is 58. Country singer Ricky Van Shelton is 58. Radio personality Howard Stern is 56. Rock musician Tom Ardolino (NRBQ) is 53. Writer-producer-director John Lasseter is 53. Broadcast journalist Christiane Amanpour is 52. Rock musician Charlie Gillingham (Counting Crows) is 50. Actor Oliver Platt is 50. Basketball Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins is 50. Actor Olivier Martinez is 44. Rapper TBird (B-Rock and the Bizz) is 43. Model Vendela is 43. Actress Farrah Forke is 42. Actress Rachael Harris is 42. Rock singer Zack de la Rocha is 40. Rapper Raekwon (Wu Tang Clan) is 40. Singer Dan Haseltine (Jars of Clay) is 37. Rock musician Matt Wong (Reel Big Fish) is 37. Singer Melanie Chisholm (Spice Girls) is 36. Contemporary Christian singer Jeremy Camp is 32. R&B singer Amerie is 30. Actor Will Rothhaar is 23. Actor Andrew Lawrence is 22.

Thought for Today: “Love is the strongest force the world possesses, and yet it is the humblest imaginable.” — Mohandas K. Gandhi, Indian spiritual leader (1869-1948).