Today's Highlights in History:
On March 10, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed an order assigning Ulysses S. Grant, who had just received his commission as lieutenant-general, to the command of the Armies of the United States (Grant assumed his new command two days later, relieving General-in-Chief Henry Halleck). The song "Beautiful Dreamer" by the late Stephen Foster was copyrighted by Wm. A. Pond & Co. of New York.
On this date:
In 1785, Thomas Jefferson was appointed America's minister to France, succeeding Benjamin Franklin.
In 1814, the two-day Battle of Laon in France ended with a Prussian-led victory over the forces of Napoleon I.
In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell's assistant, Thomas Watson, heard Bell say over his experimental telephone: "Mr. Watson -- come here -- I want to see you."
In 1880, the Salvation Army arrived in the United States from England.
In 1914, the Rokeby Venus, a 17th century painting by Diego Velazquez on display at the National Gallery in London, was slashed multiple times by Mary Richardson, who was protesting the arrest of fellow suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst. (The painting was repaired.)
In 1933, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake centered off Long Beach, Calif., resulted in 120 deaths.
In 1949, Nazi wartime broadcaster Mildred E. Gillars, also known as "Axis Sally," was convicted in Washington, D.C., of treason. (She served 12 years in prison.)
In 1959, the Tennessee Williams play "Sweet Bird of Youth," starring Paul Newman and Geraldine Page, opened at Broadway's Martin Beck Theatre.
In 1969, James Earl Ray pleaded guilty in Memphis, Tenn., to assassinating civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (Ray later repudiated that plea, maintaining his innocence until his death.)
In 1973, the Pink Floyd album "The Dark Side of the Moon" was first released in the U.S. by Capitol Records (the British release came nearly two weeks later).
In 1985, Konstantin U. Chernenko, who was the Soviet Union's leader for just 13 months, died at age 73.
In 1993, Dr. David Gunn was shot to death outside a Pensacola, Fla., abortion clinic. (Shooter Michael Griffin is serving a life sentence.)
Ten years ago: Teenage sniper Lee Boyd Malvo was sentenced in Chesapeake, Va., to life in prison for his role in the Oct. 2002 killing rampage in the Washington, D.C., area that left 10 people dead. (Malvo, 19, was sentenced a day after sniper mastermind John Allen Muhammad was given the death penalty.)
Five years ago: In his first major speech on education, President Barack Obama called for tying teachers' pay to student performance and expanding innovative charter schools. A gunman, 28-year-old Michael McLendon, killed 10 people, including his mother, four other relatives and the wife and child of a local sheriff's deputy across two rural Alabama counties before committing suicide.
One year ago: The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, accused the Taliban and the U.S. of working in concert to convince Afghans that violence would worsen if most foreign troops left -- an allegation the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph Dunford, rejected as "categorically false."
Today's Birthdays: Talk show host Ralph Emery is 81. Bluegrass/country singer-musician Norman Blake is 76. Actor Chuck Norris is 74. Playwright David Rabe is 74. Singer Dean Torrence (Jan and Dean) is 74. Actor Richard Gant is 70. Actress Katharine Houghton is 69. Rock musician Tom Scholz (Boston) is 67. Former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell is 67. Actress Aloma Wright is 64. Blues musician Ronnie Earl (Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters) is 61. Producer-director-writer Paul Haggis is 61. Alt-country/rock musician Gary Louris is 59. Actress Shannon Tweed is 57. Pop/jazz singer Jeanie Bryson is 56. Actress Sharon Stone is 56. Rock musician Gail Greenwood is 54. Magician Lance Burton is 54. Movie producer Scott Gardenhour (Film: "Pearl Harbor") is 53. Actress Jasmine Guy is 52. Rock musician Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam) is 51. Music producer Rick Rubin is 51. Britain's Prince Edward is 50. Actor Stephen Mailer is 48. Actor Philip Anthony-Rodriguez is 46. Actress Paget Brewster is 45. Actor Jon Hamm is 43. Country singer Daryle Singletary is 43. Rapper-producer Timbaland is 42. Actor Cristian (kris-tee-AHN') de la Fuente is 40. Rock musician Jerry Horton (Papa Roach) is 39. Actor Jeff Branson is 37. Singer Robin Thicke is 37. Actress Bree Turner is 37. Olympic gold medal gymnast Shannon Miller is 37. Contemporary Christian singer Michael Barnes (Red) is 35. Actor Edi Gathegi is 35. Rock musician Matt Asti (MGMT) is 34. Country singer Carrie Underwood is 31. Actress Olivia Wilde is 30. Rhythm-and-blues singer Emeli Sande is 27. Country singer Rachel Reinert is 25. Actress Emily Osment is 22.
Thought for Today: "Show me a man who claims he is objective and I'll show you a man with illusions." -- Henry R. Luce, American magazine publisher (1898-1967).