Today in history

Highlight: In 1939, Roman Catholic Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli was elected pope on his 63rd birthday; he took the name Pius XII.

In 1793, the first president of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston, was born near Lexington, Va.

In 1836, the Republic of Texas formally declared its independence from Mexico.

In 1861, the state of Texas, having seceded from the Union, was admitted to the Confederacy.

In 1877, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was declared the winner of the 1876 presidential election over Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, even though Tilden had won the popular vote.

In 1917, Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship as President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones-Shafroth Act.

In 1939, the Massachusetts legislature voted to ratify the Bill of Rights, 147 years after the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution had gone into effect. (Georgia and Connecticut soon followed.) John Ford’s classic Western “Stagecoach,” starring Claire Trevor and John Wayne, opened in New York.

In 1942, the original Stage Door Canteen, a wartime club for U.S. servicemen, officially opened its doors in New York’s Broadway theater district.

In 1944, “Casablanca” won best picture, best director and best screenplay at the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Jennifer Jones received the best actress award for “The Song of Bernadette” while Paul Lukas won best actor for “Watch on the Rhine.”

In 1951, the East beat the West, 111-94, in the first NBA All-Star Game, which took place at Boston Garden.

In 1962, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points for the Philadelphia Warriors in a game against the New York Knicks, an NBA record that still stands. (Philadelphia won, 169-147.)

In 1972, the United States launched the Pioneer 10 space probe, which flew past Jupiter in late 1973, sending back images and scientific data.

In 1989, representatives from the 12 European Community nations agreed to ban all production of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) by the end of the 20th century.

Ten years ago: A series of coordinated blasts in Iraq killed 181 people at shrines in Karbala and Baghdad as thousands of Shiite Muslim pilgrims gathered for a religious festival. John Kerry laid claim to the Democratic presidential nomination after his victories in Super Tuesday contests.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama introduced Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as his choice to be secretary of health and human services. Soldiers assassinated the president of Guinea-Bissau, Joao Bernardo “Nino” Vieira.

One year ago: The day after $85 billion in across-the-board federal spending cuts went into effect, President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans refused to concede any culpability for failing to stave off the sequester. Alaska’s 41st Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race kicked off with a festive ceremonial start in Anchorage.

Author Tom Wolfe is 84. Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is 83. Author John Irving is 72. Rock singer Jon Bon Jovi is 52. Actor Daniel Craig is 46. Rock singer Chris Martin (Coldplay) is 37. Actress Bryce Dallas Howard is 33.