Today in History: March 10, First words spoken over phone


Today is Friday, March 10, the 69th day of 2023. There are 296 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight in history:

On March 10, 1969, James Earl Ray pleaded guilty in Memphis, Tennessee, to assassinating civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (Ray later repudiated that plea, maintaining his innocence until his death.)

On this date:

In 1496, Christopher Columbus concluded his second visit to the Western Hemisphere as he left Hispaniola for Spain.

In 1785, Thomas Jefferson was appointed America’s minister to France, succeeding Benjamin Franklin.

In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln assigned Ulysses S. Grant, who had just received his commission as lieutenant-general, to the command of the Armies of the United States.

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell’s assistant, Thomas Watson, heard Bell say over his experimental telephone: “Mr. Watson — come here — I want to see you” from the next room of Bell’s Boston laboratory.

In 1906, about 1,100 miners in northern France were killed by a coal-dust explosion.

In 1913, former slave, abolitionist and Underground Railroad “conductor” Harriet Tubman died in Auburn, New York; she was in her 90s.

In 1965, Neil Simon’s play “The Odd Couple,” starring Walter Matthau and Art Carney, opened on Broadway.

In 1985, Konstantin U. Chernenko, who was the Soviet Union’s leader for 13 months, died at age 73; he was succeeded by Mikhail Gorbachev.

In 1988, pop singer Andy Gibb died in Oxford, England, at age 30 of heart inflammation.

In 2015, breaking her silence in the face of a growing controversy over her use of a private email address and server, Hillary Rodham Clinton conceded that she should have used government email as secretary of state but insisted she had not violated any federal laws or Obama administration rules.

In 2019, a Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after taking off from the capital, Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board; the crash was similar to one in October 2018 in which a 737 Max 8 flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 people on the plane. (The aircraft would be grounded worldwide after the two disasters, bringing fierce criticism to Boeing over the design and rollout of the jetliner.)

Ten years ago: The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai (HAH’-mihd KAHR’-zeye), accused the Taliban and the U.S. of working in concert to convince Afghans that violence would worsen if most foreign troops left — an allegation the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph Dunford, rejected as “categorically false.”

Five years ago: Syrian government forces made their deepest push yet into the eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus in a major blow to opposition fighters. Campaigning in western Pennsylvania for a Republican House candidate, President Donald Trump told a rally that his new tariffs were saving the steel industry.

One year ago: Civilians trapped inside Mariupol desperately scrounged for food and fuel as Russian forces kept up their bombardment of the Ukrainian port city amid international condemnation over an airstrike a day earlier that killed three people at a maternity hospital. “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler was handcuffed by Atlanta police after he was mistaken for a robber when he passed a teller a note while trying to withdraw a large amount of cash from his account.

Today’s birthdays: Bluegrass/country singer-musician Norman Blake is 85. Actor Chuck Norris is 83. Playwright David Rabe is 83. Singer Dean Torrence (Jan and Dean) is 83. Actor Katharine Houghton (Film: “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”) is 81. Actor Richard Gant is 79. Rock musician Tom Scholz (Boston) is 76. Former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell is 76. TV personality/businesswoman Barbara Corcoran (TV: “Shark Tank”) is 74. Actor Aloma Wright is 73. Blues musician Ronnie Earl (Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters) is 70. Producer-director-writer Paul Haggis is 70. Alt-country/rock musician Gary Louris is 68. Actor Shannon Tweed is 66. Pop/jazz singer Jeanie Bryson is 65. Actor Sharon Stone is 65. Rock musician Gail Greenwood is 63. Magician Lance Burton is 63. Actor Jasmine Guy is 61. Rock musician Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam) is 60. Music producer Rick Rubin is 60. Britain’s Prince Edward is 59. Rock singer Edie Brickell is 57. Actor Stephen Mailer is 57. Actor Philip Anthony-Rodriguez is 55. Actor Paget Brewster is 54. Actor Jon Hamm is 52. Rapper-producer Timbaland is 51. Actor Cristián (kris-tee-AHN’) de la Fuente is 49. Rock musician Jerry Horton (Papa Roach) is 48. Actor Jeff Branson is 46. Singer Robin Thicke is 46. Actor Bree Turner is 46. Olympic gold medal gymnast Shannon Miller is 46. Contemporary Christian singer Michael Barnes (Red) is 44. Actor Edi Gathegi is 44. Actor Thomas Middleditch is 41. Country singer Carrie Underwood is 40. Actor Olivia Wilde is 39. R&B singer Emeli Sandé (EH’-mihl-ee SAN’-day) is 36. Country singer Rachel Reinert is 34. Country musician Jared Hampton (LANCO) is 32. Actor Emily Osment is 31.

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