• On March 30, 1867, U.S. Secretary of State William Seward signs a treaty with Russia to buy Alaska for $7 million. Despite the bargain price of roughly 2 cents an acre, the Alaskan purchase was ridiculed as “Seward’s Folly” and “Seward’s icebox.”
• On March 31, 1889, the Eiffel Tower is dedicated in Paris in a ceremony presided over by Gustave Eiffel, its designer, and French Prime Minister Pierre Tirard. At 984 feet, the Eiffel Tower remained the world’s tallest man-made structure until the completion of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930.
• On April 2, 1902, the first American theater devoted solely to movies opens in Los Angeles. Housed in a circus tent, the venue was dubbed “The Electric Theater.” A ticket cost 10 cents for a one-hour show.
• On April 4, 1913, Chicago bluesman Muddy Waters is born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Born McKinley Morganfield, he wrote “Rollin’ Stone,” “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “Got My Mojo Working,” songs that would later inspire Bob Dylan.
• On April 5, 1931, Fox Film Corp. drops John Wayne from its stable of actors after he failed to impress the studio in a series of bit parts. In 1939, Wayne had his breakthrough in “Stagecoach,” and 30 years later he would win an Oscar for “True Grit.”
• On April 3, 1955, the American Civil Liberties Union announces it will defend Allen Ginsberg’s racy book “Howl” against obscenity charges after 520 copies of the book were seized entering the U.S. from England. American publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti was later arrested and tried for promoting obscene material, but was found not guilty.
• On April 1, 1970, President Richard Nixon signs legislation officially banning cigarette ads on television and radio. Nixon, who was an avid pipe smoker, supported the legislation at the increasing insistence of public health advocates.
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