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.)ADVERTISEMENT
In 2020, clusters of the coronavirus swelled on both U.S. coasts, with more than 70 cases linked to a biotech conference in Boston and infections turning up at 10 nursing homes in the Seattle area. Members of a choir in Washington state gathered for a rehearsal that was later found to have been a superspreader event; disease trackers said a choir member with coronavirus symptoms attended, and 52 of the 60 others who were there got sick with confirmed or probable COVID-19, including two who died. (Experts said the public health investigation that followed was key in concluding that the virus was spreading through the air.)