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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Today in history—March 31

1596: René Descartes, who will earn his Baccalauréat and Licence in law from the University of Poitiers in 1616, is born at LaHaye, France.

1742: Composer P.D.Q. Bach is born at Leipzig.  Among his greatest works are his cantata Iphigenia in Brooklyn, the opera Hansel and Gretel and Ted and Alice, and his beloved Fanfare for the Common Cold.

1774: The Boston Port Act, which closes the port to shipping until restitution is made to the East India Company for loss of its product in the "Boston Tea Party," goes into effect.

1854: With Commodore Matthew Perry's warships in the harbor near Tokyo, the Japanese government agrees to permit U.S. trade through the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate, ending 200 years of seclusion.

1889: The Eiffel Tower is inaugurated in Paris.  In 1926, installation of three huge illuminated Citroën signs will make it the world's tallest advertising billboard.

1913: Financier and banker John Pierpont Morgan, who acted as a U.S. Federal Reserve before the government established one, dies at Rome, Italy.

1935: Trumpeter Herb Alpert is born at Los Angeles.  At one point his Tijuana Brass will outsell the Beatles in the U.S. 2-to-1 (with four albums in the top 20 simultaneously), and he and partner Jerry Moss will sell their A&M Records to Polygram in 1989 for $500 million.

1948: Vice President Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. (Vanderbilt Law, did not graduate), son of Tennessee Senator Albert Arnold Gore, Sr., is born at Washington, D.C.

1967: Jimi Hendrix becomes the first rock star to set fire to his guitar at a concert in London. He subsequently must be treated for burns to his hands at a local hospital.

1968: Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code goes into effect in Mississippi.

1991: The Warsaw Pact comes to an end about fifty years before experts had expected it to.

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