On March 21, 1685, composer Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany.
On this date:
In 1556, Thomas Cranmer, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, was burned at the stake for heresy.
In 1804, the French civil code, or the “Code Napoleon” as it was later called, was adopted.
In 1871, journalist Henry M. Stanley began his famous expedition in Africa to locate the missing Scottish missionary David Livingstone.
In 1907, U.S. Marines arrived in Honduras to protect American lives and interests in the wake of political violence.
In 1944, Charles Chaplin went on trial in Los Angeles, accused of transporting former protegee Joan Barry across state lines for immoral purposes. (Chaplin was acquitted, but later lost a paternity suit despite tests showing he wasn’t the father of Barry’s child.)
In 1960, about 70 people were killed in Sharpeville, South Africa, when police fired on black protesters.
In 1963, the Alcatraz federal prison island in San Francisco Bay was emptied of its last inmates and closed at the order of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
In 1965, civil rights demonstrators led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. began their third, successful march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.
In 1972, the Supreme Court, in Dunn v. Blumstein, ruled that states may not require at least a year’s residency for voting eligibility.
In 1985, police in Langa, South Africa, opened fire on blacks marching to mark the 25th anniversary of Sharpeville; the reported death toll varied between 29 and 43.
In 1994, at the Academy Awards, “Schindler’s List” won seven Oscars, including best picture and best director for Steven Spielberg; Tom Hanks won best actor for “Philadelphia” while Holly Hunter was honored as best actress for “The Piano.”
In 1999, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a final effort to have American teenager Samuel Sheinbein returned to the United States to face murder charges. (Under a plea agreement, Sheinbein received a 24-year prison sentence in Israel for the slaying and dismemberment of 19-year-old Alfredo Enrique Tello Jr.; on Feb. 23, 2014, Sheinbein was killed in a prison shootout.) “Shakespeare in Love” won seven Oscars, including best picture and best actress for Gwyneth Paltrow; Roberto Benigni won best actor for “Life is Beautiful”; Steven Spielberg won best director for “Saving Private Ryan.”
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