This Week in History, March 2 – 8


This Week In History

by Dianne Hermann


“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people.

They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

– Thomas Jefferson


Week of March 2-8, 2015


March 2

1819 – The U.S. passes its first immigration law.

1867 – The U.S. Congress creates the Department of Education.

1877 – Rutherford B. Hayes (R) is declared president despite Samuel J. Tilden (D) winning the popular vote, but Tilden is 1 electoral vote short of victory. The other presidents who receive fewer popular votes but more electoral votes, thus becoming president, are John Quincy Adams (over Andrew Jackson), Benjamin Harrison (over Grover Cleveland), and George W. Bush (over Al Gore).

1923 – Time magazine debuts. Speaker of the House of Representatives Joseph G. Cannon is on the first cover.


1939 – The Massachusetts Legislature votes to ratify the Bill of Rights – 147 years late.

1950 – Silly Putty is invented accidentally by James Wright, a General Electric engineer. GE is under a government contract to create an inexpensive substitute for synthetic rubber


1962 – Wilt Chamberlain, with the Philadelphia Warriors, scores an incredible 100 points in a National Basketball Association game against the New York Nicks. The record still stands. Chamberlain died in 1999 at age 63. Watch Wilt “The Stilt” score the 100 points at:

1976 – Walt Disney World logs its 50 millionth guest.

1977 – Bette Davis is the first woman to receive American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award. Davis died in 1989 at age 81. Watch Davis accept the award at:

1977 – Future Tonight Show host Jay Leno debuts with host Johnny Carson. Leno is the host of The Tonight Show from 1992 to 2014, with a brief ill-fated break in 2009 when Conan O’Brien takes over the microphone.

1985 – The U.S. approves screening test for the AIDS virus.

1986 – Protesters try to stop the Land Rover motor company from being sold to the U.S. Ford buys the Land Rover in 2000 and sells it to Tata Motors in 2008.

1994 – Representative William Natcher (D-KY) casts his 18,401st (and last) consecutive vote. Natcher dies while in office on March 29th at age 84.


March 3

1791 – Congress establishes the U.S. Mint.

1812 – The U.S. Congress passes the first foreign aid bill to aid Venezuela earthquake victims.

1837 – Congress increases Supreme Court membership from 7 to 9 justices.

1845 – The U.S. Senate overrides a presidential veto for the first time. President Tyler vetoes a Congressional bill that would have denied him the power to appropriate federal funds to build ships without Congressional approval.

1885 – American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) incorporates.

1885 – Congress passes the Indian Appropriations Act, making Indians wards of the federal government.

1887 – Anne Sullivan begins teaching 6-year-old blind and deaf Helen Keller. Sullivan died in 1936 at age 70. Author and lecturer Helen Keller died in 1968 at age 87. Watch an actual newsreel with Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller explaining how she taught Helen to speak at:

1915 – The National Advisory Committee Aeronautics is founded, which is the predecessor of NASA.

1923 – The U.S. Senate rejects membership in the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

1926 – The International Greyhound Racing Association is formed in Miami, Florida.

1931 – The “Star Spangled Banner” officially becomes the U.S. national anthem. Francis Scott Key writes it as a poem on a ship near Fort McHenry, Maryland, during the War of 1812.

1934 – John Dillinger breaks out of jail using a wooden pistol. Dillinger takes part in a robbery on March 6th in South Dakota, on March 13th in Iowa, and on June 30th in Indiana. After spending time with family and friends Dillinger is shot and killed by federal agents on July 22nd outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago. He is 31 years old. His body is put on display for 2 days for the public to view.

1972 – Sculpted figures of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson are completed on Stone Mountain in Georgia.


1975 – The first “People’s Choice Awards” show airs on TV. The Favorite All-Around Male and Female Entertainers are Bob Hope and Carol Burnett.

1991 – The Los Angeles Police severely beat motorist Rodney King, which is captured on amateur video. Four LAPD police officers are indicted for assault and using excessive force. Their acquittal results in riots where more than 50 people are killed. King is arrested several more times for various offenses. King died in 2012 at age 47. Watch an ABC news report at:

2005 – Steve Fossett becomes the first person to fly an airplane solo around the world without any stops and without refueling. The journey of 25,000 miles is completed in 67 hours and 2 minutes. Watch a video about Fossett and the flight at:


March 4

1793 – George Washington is inaugurated for his second term as president and delivers the shortest inaugural speech (133 words).


1801 – Thomas Jefferson is the first president inaugurated in Washington, DC.

1841 – William Henry Harrison delivers the longest inauguration speech in history (8,443 words).

1849 – The U.S. has no president for one day. James Polk’s term ends at noon on Sunday, but Zachary Taylor refuses to be sworn in on Sunday. Senator David Atchison (D-MO), the President Pro Tem, is sworn in for one day and Taylor is sworn in on Monday.


1861 – Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated as the sixteenth president. For the first time the U.S. has five living former presidents: Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan. The last time there are five living presidents is during George W. Bush’s administration. The five living former presidents are Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

1902 – The American Automobile Association (AAA) is founded in Chicago.

1917 – Representative Jeannette Rankin (R-MT) becomes the first female member of Congress. She is the only member of Congress to vote against declaring war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Rankin died in 1973 at age 92.

1934 – The Easter Cross located on Mt. Davidson (San Francisco) is dedicated. In 1991 the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Jewish Congress, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State sue the city over its ownership of the cross. The city loses and in 1997 auctions the .38-acre and cross to the highest bidder. The Council of Armenian American Organization purchases the cross for $26,000.


1964 – Jimmy Hoffa is convicted of jury tampering. He appeals his case all the way to the Supreme Court, and loses. (See March 7, 1967)

1995 – A blind teenage boy receives a “Bionic Eye” at a Washington Hospital.

1997 – President Clinton bans federally funded human cloning research.

2006 – The final attempted contact with Pioneer 10 by the Deep Space Network is unsuccessful when no response is received. Pioneer is launched on 1972 and is over 6 billion miles from earth.


March 5

1770 – During the “Boston Massacre,” British troops kill five citizens in a crowd. Crispus Attucks, an American of African decent, is the first to die. He is later held up as early black martyr.

1821 – Monroe is the first President inaugurated on March 5th because 4th is Sunday.

1836 – Samuel Colt manufactures the first pistol, a 34-caliber “Texas” model.

1845 – Congress appropriates $30,000 to ship camels to the U.S. for use in the western deserts. The first shipment from Egypt arrives with 33 camels and the second shipment has 41 camels. The camels are used extensively but are scattered during the Civil War. Several camels are reported to have survived and bred, with numerous sightings reported in the southwest desert for decades after.


1923 – Montana and Nevada become the first states to enact old age pension laws.

1925 – South Dakota Governor Gunderson signs a bill establishing a memorial association that will build Mount Rushmore. The faces of presidents Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Lincoln (L to R) are carved under the direction of sculptor Gutzon Borglum. He dies before the monument is dedicated in October of 1941.


1946 – Winston Churchill delivers his “Iron Curtain” speech in Fulton, Missouri. Watch Churchill’s speech at:

1960 – Elvis Presley ends his 2-year hitch in the U.S. Army and resumes his music career.

1979 – Voyager I, launched in 1977, makes its closest approach to Jupiter (172,000 miles).

1984 – The Supreme Court rules by a 5-4 decision in Lynch v Donnelly that a city (Pawtucket, Rhode Island) may use public money for a Nativity scene because it does not violate the Establishment Clause and has “legitimate secular purposes.”


March 6

1831 – Edgar Allan Poe is removed from West Point Military Academy after 7 months. Poe is court-martialed in January of 1831 after he stops going to class, parades, roll calls, and chapel.


1836 – Several thousand Mexican soldiers under the command of Santa Anna overrun the Alamo defended by fewer than 200 Americans near modern-day San Antonio, Texas. All defenders were killed, including Jim Bowie and former Congressman Davey Crockett.

1857 – In the infamous Dred Scott Decision the Supreme Court rules that slaves cannot be citizens or sue in federal court. The Dred Scott decision is overturned by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution, which are ratified in 1865 and 1868 respectively.

1930 – Clarence Birdseye of Brooklyn develops a method for quick freezing food.

1964 – Liz Taylor gets divorced for the 3rd time, this time from Eddie Fisher.


1964 – Cassius Clay joins the Nation of Islam and its leader, Elijah Muhammad, renames him Muhammad Ali.

1967 – Muhammad Ali is ordered by selective service to be inducted. He refuses.

1967 – Joseph Stalin’s only daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva asks for political asylum in U.S. at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, which is granted.

1981 – Walter Cronkite signs off for the final time on the “CBS Evening News.” Watch it at:

1980 – At the 7th Daytime Emmy Awards presentation, nominee  Lucci loses for the 1st of 18 times. Lucci finally wins an Emmy in 1999.

1982 – In the NBA’s highest scoring game to date, the San Antonio Spurs beat the Milwaukee Bucks 171-166 (337 points) in triple overtime. The current record is 370 points when the Detroit Pistons beat the Denver Nuggets 186-184 in triple overtime in December 1993.

1985 – Yul Brynner appears in his 4,500th stage performance of “The King & I.” He stars in 4,633 performances, the last one just four months before his death. He also stars in the movie of the same name. Brynner wins a Tony in 1952 and an Oscar in 1956 for the musical and movie, respectively.


1991 – Following Iraq’s capitulation in the Persian Gulf conflict, President Bush tells Congress that, “Aggression is defeated. The war is over.”


March 7

1644 – Massachusetts establishes the first 2-chamber (bicameral) legislature in the colonies.

1876 – Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone.

1908 – Cincinnati Mayor Mark Breith stands before the city council and announces that, “Women are not physically fit to operate automobiles.”

1918 – President Wilson authorizes the U.S. Army’s Distinguished Service Medal and is principally awarded to general officers.



1917 – The first jazz record “Dixie Jazz Band One Step” is recorded by Nick LaRocca’s Original Dixieland Jazz Band and released by RCA Victor in Camden, New Jersey. Listen to the original recording at:

1942 – The first cadets graduate from flying school at Tuskegee, Alabama. The Tuskegee Airmen, the first black pilots in the U.S. armed forces, distinguish themselves during World War II.

1955 – “Peter Pan” starring Mary Martin is televised. Watch her original TV performance at:

1959 – Melvin C. Garlow is the first aviator to fly a million miles in a jet.

1967 – Teamster Union president Jimmy Hoffa begins an 8-year jail sentence for defrauding the union and jury tampering. His sentence is commuted on December 23, 1971. Hoffa disappears in July 1975. His disappearance is never solved and his body is never found.

1993 – Former “Diff’rent Strokes” child actor Todd Bridges is arrested for stabbing a tenant. It is later determined Bridges acted in self-defense. He is now 49 years old.


March 8

1884 – Susan B. Anthony addressed the U.S. House Judiciary Committee arguing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing women the right to vote. Anthony’s argument came 16 years after legislators had first introduced a federal women’s suffrage amendment. The 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote was not passed until 1919 and was ratified in 1920. The 15th Amendment guaranteeing black men the right to vote was ratified in 1870. Anthony died in 1906 at age 86.

The Constitution gave everyone the right to vote but it was left to the states to decide who met the qualifications.



1894 – The state of New York enacts the nation’s first dog-licensing law.

1913 – The Internal Revenue Service begins to levy and collect income taxes.

1924 – A coal mine explosion at Castle Gate, Utah kills 171 miners.

1948 – The Supreme Court rules 8-1 in McCollum v Illinois Board of

Education that religious instruction in public schools is unconstitutional.

1953 – The U.S. Census Bureau indicates that 239,000 farmers gave up farming in the previous 2 years.

1958 – Nobel Prize winning author William Faulkner says U.S. schools have “degenerated to become babysitters.”

1973 – The Eisenhower Tunnel in Colorado opens. It is the world’s highest vehicle tunnel at 11,155 feet.


1983 – IBM releases PC DOS version 2.0.

1983 – President Ronald Reagan calls the USSR an “Evil Empire.” While in Berlin in 1987 Reagan tells Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” The Berlin Wall is torn down in 1989 and the empire falls in 1991. Watch the speech at: