Alexander Graham Bell made the first successful telephone call. (1876) Bell had received the patent for the telephone just three days before, beating out a competitor's patent by hours. The first words spoken over the telephone were, "Mr. Watson, come here; I want you."
James Earl Ray plead guilty to shooting Martin Luther King. (1969) Ray had a history of crime, and was first arrested for burglary when he was about 20 years old. At the time King was assassinated, Ray was an escaped convict, and he was later caught in London's Heathrow Airport with a false passport. He confessed to the crime, but later recanted. Despite this, he was sentenced to 99 years in jail, and he died in jail of hepatitis C at the age of 70.
The first Book-of-the-Month Club selection was published. (1936) The first book of the club was Lolly Willowes, or The Loving Huntsman, written by controversial authoress Sylvia Townsend Warner. It did not go over well, perhaps as much because of public sentiment about the author, who, as an openly gay woman in the early 1900s, was considered extremely scandalous.
The 1959 Tibetan Rebellion began. (1959) Over 100,000 Tibetan citizens surrounded the palace of the Dalai Lama to protect him from occupying Chinese troops. Tens of thousands were killed by shelling, and the Dalai Lama eventually escaped into exile.
The French Foreign Legion was established. (1831) Originally created to deal with problematic soldiers and give French colonials an opportunity to fight, the French Foreign Legion quickly became known as an elite military unit. The legion fought literally all over the world protecting French colonies, and continued to work to protect French citizens overseas into the 21st century.
Captain Ernest Medina was charged with war crimes for the My Lai massacre. (1970) Medina was in charge of the troops that massacred hundreds of civilians in Mai Lai, Vietnam, though he claimed that the troops were out of his control by the time they got to the village. He was court-martialed, though eventually acquitted of responsibility.
The First Punic War ended. (241 BC) The Punic Wars were a series of wars between Carthage, in modern day North Africa, and Rome, the two superpowers in the Western world at the time. The wars were also important in military history as some of the first wars fought primarily at sea.
Christopher Columbus left the New World for Spain. (1496) Columbus had spent several years sailing around the Caribbean discovering islands and searching for gold. He finally left the New World on this day, setting out from Hispaniola — the island of Haiti and the Dominican Republic — with a large number of slaves, but hardly any gold.
Jan Masaryk, the Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia, died under mysterious circumstances. (1948) Though authorities claimed he committed suicide, many in the West thought that he was actually assassinated because of his anti-Communist leanings. It was one of the first of many mysterious deaths in the Cold War, and served to deepen suspicions.
Clare Boothe Luce was born. (1903) Luce was an innovative American writer and editor and was known for her satirical aphorisms, such as "No good deed goes unpunished." She also served as a member of the House of Representatives, and left behind a legacy to support women studying science, math, and engineering.