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5 Fun Facts About January 31 In North Carolina History

---Learn Every Day: NC Today In History Facts Texted Each Day - Text: history nc To: 618-270-4005---

1. On January 31, 1940, the famous singer and actress, Etta James, was born in Los Angeles, California. Although not originally from North Carolina, James had a number of connections to the state throughout her career, including recording many of her most famous songs at the legendary Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, just across the state line.

2. January 31, 1865, saw the Battle of River's Bridge, one of the many small skirmishes that took place throughout the Carolinas during the Civil War. Union forces led by General William T. Sherman clashed with Confederate forces near the Edisto River, resulting in a decisive Union victory.

3. On January 31, 1906, the state of North Carolina passed the first eugenics sterilization law in the United States. The law authorized the involuntary sterilization of individuals deemed "feeble-minded" or otherwise unfit to reproduce, and ultimately led to the forced sterilization of thousands of North Carolinians over the course of several decades.

4. North Carolina Senator Sam Ervin, Jr., known for his role in the Watergate scandal, was born on January 31, 1896. Ervin served in the Senate from 1954 to 1974, and gained national attention as the chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973.

5. January 31, 1923, saw the birth of Thomas Ruffin, the first African American to serve on the North Carolina Supreme Court. Ruffin was appointed to the court in 1995, and served until 2001. He also served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit from 1991 to 1995.
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