Today in History

The Associated Press Published:

Today is Sunday, March 11, the 71st day of 2012. There are 295 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami struck Japan's northeastern coast, a combined disaster that killed nearly 20,000 people and caused grave damage to the Fukushima Dai-ichi (foo-koo-SHEE'-mah dy-EE'-chee) nuclear power station in the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

On this date:

In 1810, French Emperor Napoleon I was married by proxy to Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria.

In 1861, the Constitution of the Confederate States of America was adopted by the Confederate Congress in Montgomery, Ala.

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 1888, the famous Blizzard of '88 began inundating the northeastern United States, resulting in some 400 deaths.

In 1930, former President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

In 1942, as Japanese forces continued to advance in the Pacific during World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur left the Philippines for Australia. (MacArthur, who subsequently vowed, "I shall return," kept that promise more than 2½ years later.)

In 1959, the Lorraine Hansberry drama "A Raisin in the Sun" opened at New York's Ethel Barrymore Theater.

In 1962, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy met with Pope John XXIII at the Vatican.

In 1965, the Rev. James J. Reeb, a white minister from Boston, died after being beaten by whites during civil rights disturbances in Selma, Ala.

In 1977, more than 130 hostages held in Washington, D.C. by Hanafi Muslims were freed after ambassadors from three Islamic nations joined the negotiations.

In 1985, Mikhail S. Gorbachev was chosen to succeed the late Soviet President Konstantin U. Chernenko.

In 2004, ten bombs exploded in quick succession across the commuter rail network in Madrid, Spain, killing 191 people and wounding more than 2,000 in an attack linked to al-Qaida-inspired militants.

Ten years ago: Two columns of light soared skyward from Ground Zero in New York as a temporary memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. At the White House, President George W. Bush unveiled a commemorative stamp to raise money to help 9/11 victims "get their lives back in order." Israel lifted Yasser Arafat's three-month confinement in the West Bank.

Five years ago: President George W. Bush, continuing his tour of Latin America, met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe (oo-REE'-bay). Newborn Mychael Darthard-Dawodu (meh-KEHL' DAHR'-thuhd DOW'-uh-doo) was found safe in Clovis, N.M., a day after she was abducted from a hospital in Lubbock, Texas. (The abductor, Rayshaun Parson, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.) Actress-singer Betty Hutton died in Palm Springs, Calif., at age 86.

One year ago: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a measure to eliminate most union rights for public employees, a proposal which had provoked three weeks of loud, relentless protests. NFL owners and players broke off labor negotiations hours before their contract expired; the union decertified and the league imposed a lockout that lasted 4½ months. Songwriter Hugh Martin, whose works included "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "The Trolley Song," died in Encinitas, Calif., at age 96.

Today's Birthdays: Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is 81. ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson is 78. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is 76. Musician Flaco Jimenez (FLAH'-koh hee-MEH'-nez) is 73. Actress Tricia O'Neil is 67. Actor Mark Metcalf is 66. Rock singer-musician Mark Stein (Vanilla Fudge) is 65. Singer Bobby McFerrin is 62. Movie director Jerry Zucker is 62. Actress Susan Richardson is 60. Recording executive Jimmy Iovine (eye-VEEN') is 59. Singer Nina Hagen is 57. Country singer Jimmy Fortune (The Statler Brothers) is 57. Singer Cheryl Lynn is 55. Actor-director Peter Berg is 50. Actor Jeffrey Nordling is 50. Actress Alex Kingston is 49. Country musician David Talbot is 49. Actor Wallace Langham is 47. U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., is 47. Actor John Barrowman is 45. Singer Lisa Loeb is 44. Singer Pete Droge is 43. Actor Terrence Howard is 43. Rock musician Rami Jaffee is 43. Actor Johnny Knoxville is 41. Rock singer-musicians Benji and Joel Madden (Good Charlotte) are 33. Actor David Anders is 31. Singer LeToya is 31. Actress Thora Birch is 30. Actor Rob Brown is 28. Actor Anton Yelchin is 23.

Thought for Today: "It's all right to hesitate if you then go ahead." -- Bertholt Brecht, German poet and dramatist (1898-1956).

(Above Advance for Use Sunday, March 11)

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