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April 3, 2013

Today in History for Wednesday, April 3, 2013

-- — Today is Wednesday, April 3, the 93rd day of 2013. There are 272 days left in the year.

Highlight in History

On April 3, 1973, the first handheld portable telephone was demonstrated for reporters on a New York City street corner as Motorola executive Martin Cooper contacted Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs using a Motorola device that, according to an AP story, looked like “a small, domesticated version of military walkie-talkies” and weighed less than three pounds.

On this date

In 1776, George Washington received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Harvard College.

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

In 1869, Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16, premiered in Copenhagen.

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

In 1913, British suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst was sentenced to three years in jail for inciting supporters to bomb the home of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George. (Pankhurst, known for staging hunger strikes in prison, was repeatedly released and reincarcerated, serving roughly 30 days total behind bars.)

In 1936, Bruno Hauptmann was electrocuted in Trenton, N.J. 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 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 1968, the day before he was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “mountaintop” speech to a rally of striking sanitation workers.

In 1974, deadly tornadoes struck wide parts of the South and Midwest before jumping across the border into Canada; more than 300 fatalities resulted.

In 1996, an Air Force jetliner carrying Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and American business executives crashed in Croatia, killing all 35 people aboard.

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