This Week in History, March 23 – 29


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 23-29, 2015


March 23

1775 – Patrick Henry proclaims while urging fellow Virginians to arm in self-defense, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

1857 – Elisha Otis’ first elevator is installed at 488 Broadway in New York City.

1903 – The Wright brothers obtain a patent for their airplane.

1929 – The first telephone IS installed in the White House during the Hoover administration.

1965 – Gemini 3 is launched, sending into space “Molly Brown,” the first 2-man U.S. flight with Gus Grissom and John Young on board. Watch the launch at:

1972 – Daredevil motorcycle driver Evel Knievel breaks his collarbone after successfully clearing 13 cars in Detroit, Michigan, on his Harley-Davidson XR-750. He holds the Guinness World Record for the most broken bones with over 400 by the end of 1975. Knievel died in 2007 at age 69.

1981 – The Supreme Court rules that states could require, with some exceptions, parental notification when teen-age girls seek abortions.

1983 – U.S. President Ronald Reagan introduces the “Star Wars” plan (Strategic Defense Initiative).

1987 – The first Soul Train Awards is held in Los Angeles and is hosted by Luther Vandross and Dionne Warwirk. Watch a performance of “That’s What Friends Are For” featuring Dionne and her niece Whitney Houston at:


1994 – Joey Buttafuoco is released from jail after serving 4 months and 9 days for statutory rape. He has an affair with then 16-year-old Amy Fisher, who shoots Joey’s wife in the face.

2005 – The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, refuses to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube. Schiavo dies 2 weeks later at age 41 after suffering irreversible brain damage 15 years earlier.


2013 – The U.S. Senate approves its first budget in four years by a margin of 50–49. President Obama fails to submit a constitutionally required budget during his first term.


March 24

1664 – Roger Williams is granted a charter to colonize Rhode Island.

1765 – Britain enacts the Quartering Act, requiring colonists to provide temporary housing to British soldiers. The Third Amendment of the Constitution restricting the housing of soldiers during peacetime is in direct response to the British Quartering Act.

1832 – Mormon Joseph Smith is beaten, tarred, and feathered in Ohio by a mob led by the brother of then 16-year-old Nancy Miranda. In 1842 Miranda, who is already married, becomes Smith’s 10th wife.

1900 – New York City Mayor Robert Anderson Van Wyck breaks ground for a new underground “Rapid Transit Railroad” that will link Manhattan and Brooklyn.

1935 – Major Bowes’ Original Amateur Hour goes national on the NBC Radio Network. Ted Mack, who supervises the auditions, hosts the TV version in 1955. Listen to the oldest known recording of the show with the Hoboken Four featuring a very young Frank Sinatra at:

1947 – John D. Rockefeller, Jr. donates the NYC East River site to the United Nations. The UN is founded in October of 1945. Construction on the headquarters building begins in 1949 and is completed in 1952.

1949 – Walter and John Huston become the first father-and-son team to win Academy Awards in the same year. The movie is “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Walter wins for Best Supporting Actor and John wins for Best Director.


1958 – Elvis Presley joins the army (serial number 53310761).

1964 – The Kennedy half-dollar is issued.


1998 – Two students, Andrew Golden age 11 and Mitchell Johnson age 13, fire on teachers and students at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas, killing five people and wounding ten others. Both are found guilty, incarcerated until they are 21 years old, then released. In 2007 Johnson is indicted on federal weapons and drug charges. He is currently serving an 18-year sentence.

2014 – The U.S. and its allies announce they would exclude Russia from the G8 meeting and boycott a planned summit in Sochi in response to Russia’s takeover of Crimea. The G7 summit is held in Brussels in June with a condemnation of Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.


March 25

1851 – Yosemite Valley is discovered in California. Galen Clark is the park’s first guardian.

1863 – The Secretary of War awards the first Army Medal of Honor to six Union Army volunteers.

1911 – 145 workers die in a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. The doors were locked so that the mostly teenaged, non-English speaking girls could not get out the 4th floor sweatshop.


1939 – Billboard Magazine introduces hillbilly (now called country) music to their chart.

1958 – The first guided missile is launched from a nuclear powered sub, the Halibut.1958 – Sugar Ray Robinson becomes the first boxing champion to win 5 titles when he defeats Carmen Basilio in 15 rounds by a split decision. Watch the second half of the fight at:

1960 – The first guided missile is launched from a nuclear powered sub, the Halibut.

1966 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that a “poll tax” is unconstitutional. In Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections the Court declares that the imposition of a poll tax in state elections violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

1987 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that women and minorities may get jobs even if they are less qualified as part of Affirmative Action.

2004 – The U.S. Senate votes (61-38) on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (H.R. 1997) making it a separate crime to harm a fetus during the commission of a violent federal crime.


March 26

1790 – Congress passes the Naturalization Act, requiring a 2-year residency for citizenship.

1845 – Joseph Francis patents a corrugated sheet-iron lifeboat.

1872 – Thomas J. Martin patents the fire extinguisher.


1910 – The U.S. forbids immigration of criminals, anarchists, paupers, and the sick.

1917 – The Seattle Metropolitans are the first U.S. hockey team to win the Stanley Cup.

1943 – U.S. Army nurse 2nd Lt. Elsie S. Ott is the first woman to receive an Air Medal. Ott is awarded the medal by Brig. Gen. Fred W. Borum for her role in the emergency evacuation of five military personnel from India to the U.S. and for her medical information for future rescues.


1953 – Dr. Jonas Salk announces on the radio that the Polio vaccine has been successfully tested.

1982 – Ground-breaking takes place for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. The Wall is completed in November. The $9 million Memorial is paid for completely by private donations.

1997 – Comet Hale-Bopp makes its closest approach to Earth (1.315 AU). It is visible in the Northern Hemisphere for about 16 months. About 40 people who are part of the “Heaven’s Gate” cult in San Diego commit mass suicide as the comet comes close to Earth. Watch news footage featuring a former member at:

1999 – A jury in Michigan finds Dr. Jack Kevorkian guilty of second-degree murder for administering a lethal injection to a terminally ill man during a “physician-assisted suicide.”

2007 – The U.S. Postal Service unveils the design for the “Forever Stamp.” There is no price printed on the stamp so, once purchased, it can be used by customers even when the price of a postage stamp increases.


March 27

1794 – The U.S. Government establishes a permanent navy and authorizes the building of six frigates.

1860 – M. L. Byrn patents the “covered gimlet screw with a ‘T’ handle” (a.k.a. the corkscrew).


1884 – The first long-distance telephone call is made from Boston to New York.

1956 – The U.S. seizes U.S. communist newspaper “Daily Worker” for non-payment of taxes. The newspaper is founded in 1924 by the American Communist Party. The last issue is published in January 1958.

1964 – An earthquake 9.2 on the Richter scale strikes Alaska, killing 118 people. It is the strongest earthquake to hit the U.S. Nine of the top ten strongest earthquakes in the U.S. have hit Alaska. Watch amateur film footage of the earthquake at:

1979 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules 8-1 that police can’t randomly stop cars because it violates the 4th Amendment protection from illegal search and seizure.

1989 – The first African American soap opera “Generations” premieres on TV.

1997 – Martin Luther King’s son Dexter meets with his father’s killer, James Earl Ray. Ray died the following year at age 70. Dexter is now 54 years old. Watch the meeting and a news report at:

1998 – The U.S. FDA approves the prescription drug Viagra. It is the first pill for male impotence.

2007 – National Football League owners vote to make the instant replay a permanent officiating tool.


March 28

1774 – Britain passes the Coercive Acts against Massachusetts in response to the Boston Tea Party.

1866 – The first use of a hospital-based ambulance is recorded in Cincinnati, Ohio.

1885 – The U.S. Salvation Army is officially organized. William Booth and his wife Catherine start the Salvation Army in England in 1852.


1946 – The U.S. State Department releases the Acheson-Lilienthal Report, outlining a plan for the international control of nuclear power. It is written in large part by Robert Oppenheimer, the committee’s chief scientific consultant.

1966 – The inaugural Country & Western Music Awards is held at the Palladium in Hollywood. Merle Haggard and Buck Owens are among the winners. Its name is changed to the Academy of County Music in the early 70s and the awards are first aired on TV in 1972. Loretta Lynn and Freddie Hart win as top female and male vocalists. Watch Kenny Rogers award the top album of the year at:

1979 – A stuck-open pressure relief valve lead to a partial meltdown and causes a major nuclear accident at Nuclear Generating Station #2 at Three Mile Island in Middletown, Pennsylvania. There are no deaths and Station #2 is permanently shut down. Station #1 is still operational. Watch an ABS News report at:

1990 – Jesse Owens is posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President George H. W. Bush. In the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Owens becomes the first American in Olympic Track and Field history to win four gold medals in a single Olympiad. Owens died in 1980 at age 66.

2010 – China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Company signs a deal to buy Ford Motor Company’s Volvo car unit for $1.8 billion.


March 29

1806 – Construction is authorized of the Great National Pike, better known as the Cumberland Road, becoming the first U.S. federal highway.

1812 – Lucy Payne Washington (the sister of Dolley Madison) marries Thomas Todd in the first wedding at the White House.

1848 – Niagara Falls stops flowing for 30 hours due to an ice jam.


1867 – Congress approves the Lincoln Memorial. The Memorial is dedicated in 1922 and Lincoln’s only surviving son, 79-year-old Robert Todd Lincoln, is in attendance.


1927 – Henry O. D. Segrave races his Mystery Sunbeam to a record 203.79 mph at Daytona Beach, Florida.


1932 – Jack Benny debuts on the radio on Ed Sullivan’s New York interview program.

1943 – Meat, butter, and cheese are rationed in the U.S. during WW II.

1951 – Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are convicted of spying. They are executed in 1953.

1961 – The 23rd Amendment is ratified, allowing Washington, DC residents to vote in presidential elections.

1971 – 1st Lt. William L Calley, Jr. is found guilty in the My Lai (Vietnam) massacre and is sentenced to life in prison with hard labor. Calley is transferred to house arrest pending appeal, where he serves 3 ½ years at Fort Benning, Georgia, before being released. He is finally pardoned by President Nixon in 1974. Calley is now 70 years old.

1973 – U.S. troops leave Vietnam nine years after The Tonkin Resolution. Two U.S. ships are attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin by three Vietnamese Navy ships on August 2, 1964. At President LBJ’s request Congress passes the Resolution authorizing the president “to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty requesting assistance in defense of its freedom.” President Nixon signs the repeal of the resolution in 1971.

1987 – During Wrestlemania III, a record 93,173 people watch Hulk Hogan beat Andre the Giant. Watch video excerpts from the event at:

1999 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above the 10,000 mark for the first time ever (10006.78).