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April 3, 1963


John F. Kennedy, during his campaign for the Presidency in 1960, said that America should be “first, not if or when, but first period.”

Today President Kennedy was asked at his afternoon televised news conference at the State Department Auditorium if the United States will be 1st in space & “beat the Russians to the moon”.

JFK answered by reminding the reporters that the US will not get “our new boosters until 1964, 1965 & 1966” & that “we’ll have to wait and see”.

The President did express optimism, however, that his goals in space can be accomplished:

“We are behind now and we will continue to be behind, but if we make a major effort, we have a chance, I believe, to be ahead at the end of this decade & that is where I think we ought to be.”

April 3, 1963


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. & other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement began today a campaign to desegregate business & public facilities in Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr. King calls Birmingham “the most segregated city in the United States”.

April 3, 1968


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee tonight, told his audience: 

“It really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountain top…”

Dr. King is in Memphis to support the city’s sanitation workers who are on strike because of low pay & poor working conditions.  

The theme of the strike, printed on their posters, is: “I AM A MAN”.

Dr. King began his speech by saying that if God had asked him what time period he would like to live in, he would have said:

“If you allow me to live just a few years in the 2nd half of the 20th Century, I will be happy.”

Dr. King went on to describe his answer to God’s question as “strange” because:

“the world is all messed up.  The nation is sick.  Trouble is in the land…but…only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”

He would choose this era to live because “the masses are rising up around the world (&)  the cry is always the same: ‘We want to be free'”.

Dr. King concluded his emotional & moving speech with these words:

“I don’t know what will happen now.  We’ve got difficult days ahead.  But it really doesn’t matter with me now because I’ve been to the mountaintop & I’ve looked over. And I have seen the Promised Land.”

“I may not get there with you.   But….we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”*

*Dr. King’s “Mountaintop speech” is rated in the top 100 speeches of all time by “American Rhetoric”.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot & killed the following afternoon in Memphis.

April 3, 1948


President Harry S. Truman signed the European Recovery Act today at the White House.

The act provides for $4 billion for the rebuilding of Western Europe in the aftermath of  WWII.

Mr. Truman’s signature makes good on the proposal made by his Secretary of State, George C. Marshall, on June 5. 1947.

General Marshall, speaking at Harvard Yard,  said the US should provide billions of dollars for the stagnant economies of Western Europe.

In signing the act President Truman said:

“Few Presidents have had the opportunity to sign legislation of such importance” & described the act as “the greatest venture in constructive statesmanship that any nation has undertaken.”*

*The Marshall Plan, as it came to be known, would ultimately provide $12 billion in aid to Western Europe.  The Soviet Union denounced the enterprise & Eastern European nations either did likewise or just ignored it.

April 3, 1882


Jesse James, the most famous of American outlaws, was shot & killed today in St. Joseph, Missouri.

The outlaw, who was living in the town under an alias, Thomas Howard, was shot in the back of the head by Bob Ford, a member of his own gang.

The motive for the killing appears to be the reward money being offered for Jesse James “Dead or Alive”.

The shooting took place at a home rented by “Mr. Howard” who, at the time, was standing on a chair attempting to straighten a picture.

“Poor Jesse had a wife to mourn his life
An’ his children too, they were brave
But that dirty little coward shot Mr. Howard
An’ laid Jesse James in his grave.”

The Ballad of Jesse James
by Billy Gashade (1882)

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