Today in History: Pancho Villa's US Invasion, Ash Wednesday and New York Times Co. v. Sullivan

1) Today is Ash Wednesday, March 9, the 68th day of 2011. There are 297 days left in the year.

2) In 1916, Mexican raiders led by Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, New Mexico killing 18 Americans in the only ground invasion of the continental U.S. since 1812.

Did you Know?

Pancho Villa was a Mexican revolutionary leader, who was also a bandit. Many remember him as a folk hero. Pancho Villa's real name was Doroteo Arango.

Pancho Villa's raid on the United States was a result of the U.S. government's official recognition of the Carranza regime, whom Villa was fighting against.

As the nonfiction book "Huachuca Illustrated" says: 

"Villa believed, mistakenly, that Carranza had entered into a secret agreement with the U.S. that would make Mexico a protectorate of the U.S. The Americans, who once supported him and made much of him in their press, he now thought of as his betrayers."

Historical accounts say that all that could be heard during his 1916 invasion was cries of, "Viva Villa!" The invasion enraged the nation and almost started a war with Mexico. President Woodrow Wilson sent 10,000 soldiers across the border in search of Pancho Villa for over a year, but with no success. 

3) In 1964, the Supreme Court, in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, ruled that public officials who charged they'd been libeled by news reports could not recover damages unless they proved actual malice on the part of the news organization.

Did you know?

The Actual Malice ruling was a major change in libel law in the United States. It says that in order for a public figure to win a defamation case against a news organization, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant (the news organization) either knew the statements were false or was reckless as to whether they were or not.

4) In 1977, about a dozen armed Hanafi Muslims invaded three buildings in Washington, D.C., killing one person and taking more than 130 hostages. (The siege ended two days later.) 

5) In 1981, Dan Rather made his debut as principal anchorman of "The CBS Evening News."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Follow us on
Like us at