Today is Thursday, April 3, the 93rd day of 2014. There are 272 days left in the year.
On April 3, 1974, deadly tornadoes began hitting wide parts of the South and Midwest before jumping across the border into Canada; within a 24-hour period, more than 300 fatalities resulted from what became known as the Super Outbreak.
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 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 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Smith v. Allwright, struck down a Democratic Party of Texas rule that allowed only white voters to participate in Democratic primaries.
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 1973, the first handheld portable telephone was demonstrated for reporters on a New York City street corner as Motorola executive Martin Cooper called Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs.
In 1985, the landmark Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant closed after 56 years in business.
In 1996, an Air Force jetliner carrying Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and American business executives crashed in Croatia, killing all 35 people aboard.
Ten years ago: Surrounded by police, five suspects in the Madrid railway bombings blew themselves up in a building outside the Spanish capital, also killing a special forces agent. Soccer player Freddy Adu, age 14, became the youngest athlete in a major American professional sport in well over a century as he entered a game between his team, D.C. United, and the San Jose Earthquakes (D.C. United won, 2-1).
Five years ago: An ethnic Chinese from Vietnam, Jiverly Wong, opened fire inside an immigrant community center in Binghamton, N.Y., killing 13 people, most of them immigrants, before taking his own life. The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously legalized gay marriage. The Labor Department reported unemployment reached 8.5 percent in March 2009, the highest in a quarter-century. President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, arrived in Strasbourg, France, after two days in London. Tom Braden, who helped launch CNN’s “Crossfire” and whose memoir “Eight is Enough” inspired a TV show, died in Denver at age 92.
One year ago: The White House announced President Barack Obama would return 5 percent of his salary each month to the Treasury in a show of solidarity with federal workers smarting from government-wide spending cuts. Palestinian militants launched several rockets into southern Israel and Israeli aircraft struck targets in the Gaza Strip in the heaviest exchange of fire between the sides since a cease-fire ended a major flare-up the previous year. Rutgers fired basketball coach Mike Rice after a videotape aired showing him shoving, grabbing and throwing balls at players in practice and using gay slurs. Oscar-winning screenwriter and award-winning novelist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, 85, died in New York.