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February 4, 2014

Today in History for Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014

-- — Highlight in History

On Feb. 4, 1974, newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst, 19, was kidnapped in Berkeley, Calif., by the radical Symbionese Liberation Army.

(Two months later, Hearst declared that she had joined her captors; she helped the SLA rob a bank, was captured in 1975, convicted for her role in the robbery and sentenced to seven years in prison. Hearst, who has maintained she was a victim of brainwashing, served nearly two years before President Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence; she was pardoned in 2001 by President Bill Clinton.)

On this date

In 1783, Britain’s King George III proclaimed a formal cessation of hostilities in the American Revolutionary War.

In 1789, electors chose George Washington to be the first president of the United States.

In 1861, delegates from six southern states that had recently seceded from the Union met in Montgomery, Ala., to form the Confederate States of America.

In 1919, Congress established the U.S. Navy Distinguished Service Medal and the Navy Cross.

In 1932, New York Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt opened the Winter Olympic Games at Lake Placid.

In 1941, the United Service Organizations (USO) came into existence.

In 1944, the Bronze Star Medal, honoring “heroic or meritorious achievement or service,” was authorized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1962, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was founded in Memphis, Tenn., by entertainer Danny Thomas.

In 1976, more than 23,000 people died when a severe earthquake struck Guatemala with a magnitude of 7.5, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

In 1983, pop singer-musician Karen Carpenter died in Downey, Calif., at age 32.

In 1987, pianist Liberace died at his Palm Springs, Calif., home at age 67.

In 1999, Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African immigrant, was shot and killed in front of his Bronx home by four plainclothes New York City police officers. (The officers were acquitted at trial.)

Ten years ago

The Massachusetts high court declared that gay couples were entitled to nothing less than marriage and that Vermont-style civil unions would not suffice. A Senate rattled by a ricin attack began returning to regular business with no illnesses reported. The social networking website Facebook had its beginnings as Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg launched “Thefacebook.”

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