Today in History: March 5

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an “Iron Curtain” has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow.—Winston Churchill

Seventy years ago today, former (and future) British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered a speech in a gymnasium at Westminster College, a small school in Fulton, Missouri, in which he described the “sphere of influence” he feared the Soviet Union was striving to develop, expand, and force on Eastern Europe. He employed a phrase that had been in use for decades but had recently regained popularity: Eastern Europe was now behind an “Iron Curtain.” The official title of the talk was, “The Sinews of Peace,” but it is known to this day as Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech.

Many historians consider the speech as a useful moment to mark the start of the Cold War between East and West, the USSR and the US.

A video clip of the key paragraphs:

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Several U.S. Presidents were sworn into office on March 5 on years when March 4 (which was Inauguration Day until 1937) fell on a Sunday: James Monroe, for his second term; Zachary Taylor; Rutherford Hayes; and Woodrow Wilson, for his second term.

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“King Kong,” the 1933 film, was broadcast on American television for the first time 60 years ago today.

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Led Zeppelin performed “Stairway to Heaven” in public for the first time 45 years ago today.

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The Homebrew Computer Club held its first meeting on this date in 1975 in programmer Gordon French’s garage in Menlo Park, California. Steve Wozniak was one of the first members; he credits that first get-together with inspiring him to build the Apple I computer. Other members included Steve Jobs. A group newsletter published technical discussions and editorials about how to (and whether to) copyright software. The future founders of Apple were in favor of free distribution of software; in one issue, contributing writer Bill Gates argued for licensing intellectual property.

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The Boston Massacre took place on this date in 1770. British soldiers fired without order on a crowd of taunting and snowball-throwing Boston civilians; five were killed.

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Joseph Stalin died on this date in 1953. Sergei Prokofiev died on this date in 1953. Herman J. Mankiewicz died in 1953 on this date, as well. Patsy Cline died on this date in 1963. John Belushi died on this date in 1982. Hugo Chávez died three years ago today.

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Sir Rex Harrison was born on this date in 1908. Momofuku Ando was born in 1910 on this date. Pier Paolo Pasolini was born on this date in 1922. Andy Gibb was born on this date in 1958.

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James Noble (“Benson”) is 94 today. Paul Sand is 81. Murray Head is 70 today.

Kent Tekulve is 69. Penn Jillette is 61. Aasif Mandvi is 50 today.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


One comment

  1. rogershipp · March 6, 2016

    I always enjoy the history!


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