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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Today in history—March 18

37: The Roman Senate makes a really bad decision, annulling the will of the Emperor Tiberius and making young Caligula emperor.

1673: Lord Berkeley of Stratton sells his half of New Jersey to the Quakers under William Penn.

1766: Speaking of bad decisions, the English Parliament passes the Stamp Act, which will become wildly unpopular in the American colonies.

1782: One of America’s most original political thinkers, John Caldwell Calhoun, is born near Abbeville, South Carolina.

1837: Stephen Grover Cleveland, the New York lawyer who as sheriff of Buffalo will become the only U.S. President to personally execute a condemned criminal, is born at Caldwell, New Jersey.

1850: Partners Henry Wells and William Fargo found a new business which they call The American Express Co.

1938: Mexican President Lázaro Cárdenas del Río nationalizes all foreign-owned oil resources in the country.

1947: William Crapo Durant, the founder of General Motors, dies at New York City. He lost control of his company in 1920 and virtually his whole fortune (at age 68) in the 1929 crash, but made a second fortune in real estate and bowling alleys.

1968: The U.S. Congress votes to take the country off the gold standard.

1974: OPEC’s five month oil embargo against the U.S. and other allies of Israel ends, but not before we get gas rationing, an "energy czar," and the 55-mile-an-hour speed limit.

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