Today in History

Today is Wednesday, Feb. 3, the 34th day of 2016. There are 332 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Feb. 3, 1959, rock-and-roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson died in a small plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa.

On this date:

In 1783, Spain formally recognized American independence.

In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens held a shipboard peace conference off the Virginia coast; the talks deadlocked over the issue of Southern autonomy.

In 1913, the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, providing for a federal income tax, was ratified.

In 1924, the 28th president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, died in Washington, D.C., at age 67.

In 1930, the chief justice of the United States, William Howard Taft, resigned for health reasons. (He died just over a month later.)

In 1943, during World War II, the U.S. transport ship Dorchester, which was carrying troops to Greenland, sank after being hit by a German torpedo; of the more than 900 men aboard, only some 230 survived.

In 1959, An American Airlines Lockheed Electra crashed into New York's East River, killing 65 of the 73 people on board.

In 1966, the Soviet probe Luna 9 became the first manmade object to make a soft landing on the moon.

In 1971, New York City police officer Frank Serpico, who had charged there was widespread corruption in the NYPD, was shot and seriously wounded during a drug bust in Brooklyn.

In 1991, the rate for a first-class postage stamp rose to 29 cents.

In 1994, the space shuttle Discovery lifted off, carrying Sergei Krikalev, the first Russian cosmonaut to fly aboard a U.S. spacecraft.

In 1998, Texas executed Karla Faye Tucker, 38, for the pickax killings of two people in 1983; she was the first woman executed in the United States since 1984. A U.S. Marine plane sliced through the cable of a ski gondola in Italy, sending the car plunging hundreds of feet, killing all 20 people inside.

In 2005, Alberto Gonzales won Senate confirmation as attorney general.

Ten years ago: An Egyptian passenger ferry sank in the Red Sea during bad weather, killing more than 1,000 passengers. Twenty-three al-Qaida prisoners escaped from a Yemeni prison, including one convicted of the 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole. Actor Al Lewis ("The Munsters") died in New York (he was probably 82, although he'd claimed to have been born in 1910, which would have made him 95).

Five years ago: Tens of thousands of protesters staged unprecedented demonstrations against Yemen's autocratic president, Ali Abdullah Saleh (AH'-lee ahb-DUH'-luh sah-LEH'), a key U.S. ally in battling Islamic militants, as unrest inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia spread further in the Arab world.

One year ago: An evening rush-hour commuter train with 750 people aboard slammed into a SUV at a crossing in Valhalla, New York, killing the vehicle's driver and six people on the train. A video released on militant websites purportedly showed a Jordanian pilot who was captured by the Islamic State group being burned to death.

Today's Birthdays: Comedian Shelley Berman is 91. Former Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., is 83. Football Hall-of-Famer Fran Tarkenton is 76. Actress Bridget Hanley is 75. Actress Blythe Danner is 73. Singer Dennis Edwards is 73. Football Hall-of-Famer Bob Griese is 71. Singer-guitarist Dave Davies (The Kinks) is 69. Singer Melanie is 69. Actress Morgan Fairchild is 66. Actress Pamela Franklin is 66. Actor Nathan Lane is 60. Rock musician Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth) is 60. Actor Thomas Calabro is 57. Actor-director Keith Gordon is 55. Actress Michele Greene is 54. Country singer Matraca (muh-TRAY'-suh) Berg is 52. Actress Maura Tierney is 51. Actor Warwick Davis is 46. Actress Elisa Donovan is 45. Reggaeton singer Daddy Yankee is 40. Musician Grant Barry is 39. Human rights activist Amal Alamuddin Clooney is 38. Singer-songwriter Jessica Harp is 34. Actor Matthew Moy is 32. Actress Rebel Wilson is 30. Rapper Sean Kingston is 26.

Thought for Today: "Your friend will argue with you." — Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Russian writer (1918-2008).