On this day, March 10 …
1969: James Earl Ray pleads guilty in Memphis, Tenn., to assassinating Martin Luther King Jr. (Ray later would retract that plea, maintaining his innocence until his death in 1998.)
Also on this day:
- 1496: Christopher Columbus concludes his second visit to the Western Hemisphere as he leaves Hispaniola for Spain.
- 1848: The U.S. Senate ratifies the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ends the Mexican-American War.
- 1864: President Abraham Lincoln assigns Ulysses S. Grant, who has just received his commission as lieutenant general, to command the U.S.Army.
- 1876: Alexander Graham Bell’s assistant, Thomas Watson, hears Bell say over his experimental telephone: “Mr. Watson – come here – I want to see you” from the next room of Bell’s Boston laboratory.
- 1913: Harriet Tubman, former slave, abolitionist and Underground Railroad “conductor,” dies in Auburn, N.Y.
- 1965: Neil Simon’s play “The Odd Couple,” starring Walter Matthau and Art Carney, opens on Broadway in New York City
- 1980: “Scarsdale Diet” author Dr. Herman Tarnower is shot to death at his home in Purchase, N.Y. (Tarnower’s former lover, Jean Harris, would be convicted of his murder and serve nearly 12 years in prison before being released on parole in January 1993.)
- 1985: Konstantin U. Chernenko, the Soviet Union’s leader for 13 months, dies at age 73; he is succeeded by Mikhail Gorbachev.
- 1988: Pop singer Andy Gibb, younger brother of the Bee Gees, dies in Oxford, England, at age 30 of heart inflammation.
- 1993: Dr. David Gunn is shot to death outside a Pensacola, Fla., abortion clinic by anti-abortionist Michael Griffin. (Griffin reportedly yelled "Don't kill any more babies” before the shooting. Gun's slaying is the first documented murder of an OB-GYN where the killer’s stated intention was to prevent an abortion. Griffin is serving a life sentence for Gunn’s murder.)
- 2003: Shortly before the start of the Iraq war, Natalie Maines, lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, tells a London audience: “Just so you know — we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” (Maines later would apologize for the phrasing of her remark.)
- 2019: An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashes minutes after taking off, killing all 157 people on board, including eight Americans.