Today in History


Today is Saturday, March 11, the 70th day of 2023. There are 295 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight in history:

On March 11, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Bill, providing war supplies to countries fighting the Axis.

On this date:

In 1862, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln removed Gen. George B. McClellan as general-in-chief of the Union armies, leaving him in command of the Army of the Potomac, a post McClellan also ended up losing.

In 1918, what were believed to be the first confirmed U.S. cases of a deadly global flu pandemic were reported among U.S. Army soldiers stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas; 46 soldiers would die. (The worldwide outbreak of influenza claimed an estimated 20 to 40 million lives.)

In 1942, as Japanese forces continued to advance in the Pacific during World War II, U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur left the Philippines for Australia, where he vowed on March 20, “I shall return” — a promise he kept more than 2 1/2 years later.

In 1954, the U.S. Army charged that Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy, R-Wis., and his subcommittee’s chief counsel, Roy Cohn, had exerted pressure to obtain favored treatment for Pvt. G. David Schine, a former consultant to the subcommittee. (The confrontation culminated in the famous Senate Army-McCarthy hearings.)

In 1985, Mikhail S. Gorbachev was chosen to succeed the late Konstantin U. Chernenko as general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.

In 1997, rock star Paul McCartney was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

In 2002, two columns of light soared skyward from Ground Zero in New York as a temporary memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks six months earlier.

In 2004, ten bombs exploded in quick succession across the commuter rail network in Madrid, Spain, killing 191 people in an attack linked to al-Qaida-inspired militants.

In 2006, former Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic (sloh-BOH’-dahn mee-LOH’-shuh-vich) was found dead of a heart attack in his prison cell in the Netherlands, abruptly ending his four-year U.N. war crimes trial; he was 64.

In 2010, a federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld the use of the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” on U.S. currency.

In 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami struck Japan’s northeastern coast, killing nearly 20,000 people and severely damaging the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station.

In 2020, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was sentenced in New York to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual abuse.

Ten years ago: Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D) was convicted of a raft of crimes, including racketeering conspiracy (he was later sentenced to 28 years in prison). North Korea said it was no longer bound by the 1953 armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War, following days of increased tensions over its latest nuclear test. (A U.N. spokesman said that North Korea could not unilaterally dissolve the armistice.)

Five years ago: The White House pledged to help states pay for firearms training for teachers, and renewed its call for an improved background check system, as part of a new plan to prevent school shootings like the one that left 17 people dead at a Florida high school four weeks earlier; the plan did not include a push to boost the minimum age for purchasing assault weapons to 21. Lawmakers in China abolished presidential term limits that had been in place for more than 35 years, opening up the possibility of Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) holding power for life.

One year ago: Russia widened its offensive in Ukraine, striking airfields in the west and a major industrial city in the east, while the huge armored column that had been stalled for over a week outside Kyiv went on the move again. A grand jury declined to indict Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson following a police investigation sparked by lawsuits filed by 22 women who accused him of harassment and sexual assault. Officials said actor and singer Jussie Smollett began a 150-day jail sentence for lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack that he staged himself.

Today’s birthdays: Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is 92. Former ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson is 89. Musician Flaco Jimenez (FLAH’-koh hee-MEH’-nez) is 84. Actor Tricia O’Neil is 78. Actor Mark Metcalf is 77. Rock singer-musician Mark Stein (Vanilla Fudge) is 76. Singer Bobby McFerrin is 73. Movie director Jerry Zucker is 73. Singer Cheryl Lynn is 72. Actor Susan Richardson is 71. Recording executive Jimmy Iovine (eye-VEEN’) is 70. Singer Nina Hagen is 68. Country singer Jimmy Fortune (The Statler Brothers) is 68. Actor Elias Koteas (ee-LY’-uhs koh-TAY’-uhs) is 62. Actor-director Peter Berg is 61. Singer Mary Gauthier (GOH’-shay) is 61. Actor Jeffrey Nordling is 61. Actor Alex Kingston is 60. Actor Wallace Langham is 58. Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., is 58. Actor John Barrowman is 56. Singer Lisa Loeb is 55. Neo-soul musician Al Gamble (St. Paul & the Broken Bones) is 54. Singer Pete Droge is 54. Actor Terrence Howard is 54. Rock musician Rami Jaffee is 54. Actor Johnny Knoxville is 52. Rock singer-musicians Benji and Joel Madden (Good Charlotte; The Madden Brothers) are 44. Actor David Anders is 42. Singer LeToya Luckett is 42. Actor Thora Birch is 41. TV personality Melissa Rycroft is 40. Actor Rob Brown is 39. Actor Jodie Comer is 30.

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