Nov. 3 (UPI) -- On this date in history:
In 1868, John Willis Menard of Louisiana became the first African American elected to the United States House of Representatives. Opposition to his election prevented him from ever being seated.
In 1903, Panama, with the support of the U.S. government, issued a declaration of independence from Colombia.
In 1948, U.S. President Harry S. Truman defeated Republican challenger Thomas Dewey. In what was perhaps the greatest upset in American political history, Truman, who had been given no chance in pre-election polls and forecasts, seized the lead with the first returns last night and never lost it.
In 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first animal into space -- a dog named Laika -- aboard the Sputnik 2 spacecraft.
In 1964, residents of the District of Columbia got to vote for the first time in a presidential election thanks to the passage of the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution.
In 1979, five members of the Communist Workers Party, participating in a "Death to the Klan" rally in Greensboro, N.C., were shot to death by a group of Klansmen and neo-Nazis. Seven others were wounded.
In 1986, a Lebanese magazine exposed the secret weapons-for-hostages deal taking place between the United States and Iran. The scandal, which would escalate into the Iran-Contra affair, resulted in the indictments of numerous officials including Oliver North as well as then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.
In 2012, hundreds of people, many dressed as Big Bird, marched in Washington to show support for the U.S. Public Broadcasting System.