On This Day February 25
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1870 – Hiram Rhodes Revels, a Republican from Natchez, Mississippi, is sworn into the U.S. Senate, becoming the first African American ever to sit in Congress. He is assigned to serve on the Committee on Education and Labor and the Committee on the District of Columbia.
1916 – German troops seize Fort Douaumont, the most formidable of the forts guarding the walled city of Verdun, France, four days after launching their initial attack. The Battle of Verdun becomes the longest and bloodiest conflict of World War I, lasting 10 months and resulting in over 700,000 casualties.
1950 – The TV comedy “Your Show of Shows,” hosted by Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, premieres, eventually helping launch the successful entertainment careers of Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Woody Allen and others.
1964 – Twenty-two-year-old Cassius Clay (who later changes his name to Muhammad Ali) stuns odds-makers by dethroning world heavyweight boxing champ Sonny Liston in a seventh-round technical knockout in Miami Beach.
1984 – A massive explosion, triggered when gasoline from a ruptured pipeline ignited, levels a shantytown outside Sao Paulo, Brazil, killing at least 500 people — mostly young children. However, investigators speculate that the actual death toll may have been closer to 700 since many bodies were incinerated in the intense blaze.
2004 – “The Passion of the Christ,” Mel Gibson’s controversial film about the final hours of Jesus of Nazareth’s life, opens in U.S. theaters, starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus. It receives three Oscar nominations.
1956 – Elvis Presley scores his first hit when “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” reaches No. 1 on the Billboard Country & Western chart. The Beatles cover the song in 1964 on the BBC radio show “From Us to You,” with George Harrison on lead vocals.
1981 – Christopher Cross, then a little-known musician from Texas, cleans up at the Grammy Awards with five statuettes, including Best New Artist, Album of the Year (“Christopher Cross”) and Song of the Year (“Sailing”).
1984 – “Jump,” by Van Halen, kicks off five weeks atop the U.S. singles chart. The track, off the band’s “1984” album, is ranked among the “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll” by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
1995 – Madonna begins seven weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Take a Bow,” off her “Bedtime Stories” album. The single becomes her eleventh chart-topper. With it, Madonna replaces Carole King as the female who had written the most No. 1 songs.