Today in History

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Today in History

Today is Saturday April 3, the 93rd day of 2021. There are 272 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On April 3, 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. delivered what turned out to be his final speech, telling a rally of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, that “I’ve been to the mountaintop” and “seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!” (About 20 hours later, King was felled by an assassin’s bullet at the Lorraine Motel.)

On this date:

In 1860, the legendary Pony Express began carrying mail between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. (The delivery system lasted only 18 months before giving way to the transcontinental telegraph.)

In 1865, Union forces occupied the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.

In 1882, outlaw Jesse James was shot to death in St. Joseph, Missouri, by Robert Ford, a member of James’ gang.

In 1936, Bruno Hauptmann was electrocuted in Trenton, New Jersey, for the kidnap-murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr.

In 1942, during World War II, Japanese forces began their final assault on Bataan against American and Filipino troops who surrendered six days later; the capitulation was followed by the notorious Bataan Death March.

In 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Smith v. Allwright, struck down a Democratic Party of Texas rule that allowed only white voters to participate in Democratic primaries.

In 1946, Lt. Gen. Masaharu Homma, the Japanese commander held responsible for the Bataan Death March, was executed by firing squad outside Manila.

In 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed the Marshall Plan, designed to help European allies rebuild after World War II and resist communism.

In 1973, the first handheld portable telephone was demonstrated for reporters on a New York City street corner as Motorola executive Martin Cooper called Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs.

In 1990, jazz singer Sarah Vaughan died in suburban Los Angeles at age 66.

In 1996, Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski (kah-ZIHN’-skee) was arrested at his remote Montana cabin.

In 2005, a day after the death of Pope John Paul II, the body of the pontiff lay in state. Millions prayed and wept at services across the globe, as the Vatican prepared for the ritual-filled funeral and conclave that would choose a successor.

Ten years ago: The United States agreed to NATO’s request for a 48-hour extension of American participation in coalition air strikes against targets in Libya.

Five years ago: An international coalition of media outlets published the “Panama Papers,” thousands of pages of leaked documents relating to offshore accounts that revealed attempts by world leaders, celebrities and businesses to dodge taxes in their home countries. A southbound Amtrak train struck a piece of heavy equipment just south of Philadelphia and derailed; two Amtrak workers were killed.

One year ago: President Donald Trump announced new federal guidelines recommending that Americans wear face coverings when in public to help fight the spread of the coronavirus, but Trump immediately said he had no intention of following that advice himself; he said he could not envision himself covering his face while sitting in the Oval Office greeting world leaders. Trump said he was preventing the export of N95 respirator masks and surgical gloves under the Defense Production Act, a move he said was necessary to ensure that medical supplies were available in the U.S. The government reported that more than 700,000 jobs were lost in March because of the pandemic, and economists predicted far worse data ahead. Passengers from two cruise ships were freed from their cabins and allowed to disembark in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after the removal of 14 critically ill people who were taken to hospitals.

Today’s Birthdays: Conservationist Dame Jane Goodall is 87. Actor William Gaunt is 84. Songwriter Jeff Barry is 83. Actor Eric Braeden is 80. Actor Marsha Mason is 79. Singer Wayne Newton is 79. Singer Tony Orlando is 77. Comedy writer Pat Proft is 74. Folk-rock singer Richard Thompson is 72. Country musician Curtis Stone (Highway 101) is 71. Blues singer-guitarist John Mooney is 66. Rock musician Mick Mars (Motley Crue) is 65. Actor Alec Baldwin is 63. Actor David Hyde Pierce is 62. Rock singer John Thomas Griffith (Cowboy Mouth) is 61. Comedian-actor Eddie Murphy is 60. Rock singer-musician Mike Ness (Social Distortion) is 59. Rock singer Sebastian Bach is 53. Rock musician James MacDonough is 51. Olympic gold medal ski racer Picabo Street is 50. Actor Jennie Garth is 49. Actor Jamie Bamber is 48. Actor Adam Scott is 48. Christian rock musician Drew Shirley (Switchfoot) is 47. Comedian Aries Spears is 46. Actor Matthew Goode is 43. Actor Cobie Smulders is 39. Rock-pop singer Leona Lewis is 36. Actor Amanda Bynes is 35. Actor-comedian Rachel Bloom is 34. Actor Hayley Kiyoko is 30. Rock musician Sam Kiszka (Greta Van Fleet) is 22.