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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Today in history—January 20

1265: The first modern English Parliament—with commoners as representatives—begins its first session under the aegis of Simon de Montfort at Westminster.  Eight months later, de Montfort will be rewarded for his efforts by being killed by Royalists at the Battle of Evesham.

1346: Deposed King Edward Balliol of Scotland sells his rights to the throne to England’s Edward III in exchange for a pension.

1801: Outgoing President John Adams nominates his Secretary of State, John Marshall, to the seat vacated by Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth on the U.S. Supreme Court. A prominent commercial lawyer, Marshall has no prior judicial experience.

Justice_brewer 1837: U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Josiah Brewer (left) is born in Smyrna (now Izmir), Turkey, the son of missionary parents. After graduating from Albany Law School, he will practice in Kansas. He is probably best known for his opinion upholding limitations on women’s working hours in Muller v. Oregon (1908)

1885: La Marcus Thompson of Coney Island, New York, receives a patent for the roller-coaster. His original "Gravity Pleasure Switchback Railway" costs him $1,600 to build, and he makes his investment back in three weeks.

1891: Lawyer and oilman James Stephen Hogg becomes the first native-born Texan to be elected governor.  He really does have a daughter named Ima Hogg, but her sister "Ura Hogg" is apocryphal.

1921: Turkey adopts the Muslim world’s first wholly secular constitution.

Slim_whitman 1924: Singer Ottis Dewey Whitman, Jr.—better known as "Slim" (left)—is born in Tampa, Florida.  In 1979, Suffolk Marketing will begin direct telemarketing of music—"Not available in stores!"—with his All My Best album. It sells four million copies.

1929: Fox releases the first full-length talking picture to be filmed outdoors, In Old Arizona, which is shot in California and Utah.  Warner Baxter wins an Oscar for his role as the Cisco Kid.

1953: The first U.S. television program is broadcast into Canada, Westinghouse Electric’s Studio One on CBS.  It becomes something of a trend.

1958: The Silhouettes release their hit, Get a Job.

1975: Agent Michael Ovitz founds what will become Hollywood’s most successful talent broker, Creative Artists Agency.

1978: The wunderkind of ABC Television, Fred Silverman, quits to become president of rival NBC.  His term there turns out nearly as badly as his most cherished project, the projected Super Train (a/k/a Express to Terror) series about a nuclear powered train.

1986: France and the United Kingdom announce plans for a new tunnel under the English channel, to create the first land link between the British Isles and the European continent for—well, a long time.

2002: Nine "mainline" Protestant denominations—including Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Christian groups—reach an "inter-communion" agreement called "Churches Uniting in Christ."  They agree, among other things, to recognize each others’ rites as valid.

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