Today In History Spotlights Feb. 3, 1870, 15th Amendment to the US Constitution is Ratified

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Today’s History Spotlight

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The 15th Amendment to the US Constitution is ratified. The last of three Reconstruction amendments, the 15th prohibits both the federal and state governments from denying suffrage rights based on race or skin color. From 1890-1910, many southern states adopted new laws within their state constitutions which prohibited African-Americans from voting.

Other new laws introduced poll taxes and literacy tests. One literacy test in Alabama asked the question, “How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?” By 1966, all forms of voter discrimination were declared unconstitutional through various civil rights acts and Supreme Court rulings.

What Happened On This Day – February 3

  • 1998 20 people die in the Cavalese cable car disaster. The wings of a low-flying U.S. military aircraft cut the aerial tramway’s cables, causing the cabin to plunge 80 meters.
  • 1989 Paraguay’s dictator, Alfredo Stroessner, is overthrown. Stroessner had come to power in 1954 with a military coup.
  • 1972 The deadliest snowstorm in history kills 4000. The Iran Blizzard lasted a week and left whole villages without survivors.
  • 1969 Yasser Arafat becomes leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Even after his death in 2011, Arafat remained a highly controversial figure, many Arabs praising him as a freedom fighter while many Israelis denouncing him as a terrorist.
  • 1966 Luna 9 touches down on the Moon. The unmanned Soviet spacecraft was the first to achieve a soft landing there.

Births On This Day – February 3

  • 1935 Johnny “Guitar” Watson – American singer, guitarist
  • 1927 Kenneth Anger – American actor, director, author
  • 1874 Gertrude Stein – American poet, art collector
  • 1830 Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury – English politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
  • 1809 Felix Mendelssohn – German pianist, composer, conductor

Deaths On This Day – February 3

  • 1985 Frank Oppenheimer – American physicist
  • 1961 Anna May Wong – American actress
  • 1924 Woodrow Wilson – American politician, 28th President of the United States, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1820 Gia Long – Vietnamese Emperor
  • 1468 Johannes Gutenberg – German publisher, invented the Printing press

The sections “What Happened On This Day,” “Births On This Day,” and “Deaths On This Day” originally appeared at and is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Garrett Smith
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