This Week in History, March 17-23, 2014


by Dianne Hermann

“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”
– Winston Churchill

Week of March 17-23, 2014

March 17

1753 – The first official St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in the U.S.

1854 – Worcester, Massachusetts, is the first U.S. city to purchase land for a park.

1927 – The U.S. government does not sign the League of Nations disarmament treaty after World War I.

1942 – U.S. General Douglas MacArthur arrives in Australia to become supreme commander during World War II where he makes his “I shall return” promise.

1963 – Elizabeth Ann Seton, the founder of the first Catholic School in the U.S., is beatified by Pope John XXIII. She is canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975.


1970 – The U.S. casts its first UN Security Council veto. We cast the lone veto regarding the Rhodesian crisis to prevent another resolution relating to Israel.

2008 – New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer resigns after a scandal involving a high-end prostitute. David Paterson becomes the acting New York State governor. Spitzer loses his bid for mayor of New York City in 2013.


March 18

1834 – The first railroad tunnel in the U.S. is completed in Pennsylvania. The Staple Bend Tunnel is 900 feet long.

1850 – Henry Wells and William Fargo form American Express in Buffalo, New York.

1877 – President Rutherford B. Hayes appoints Frederick Douglass as the U.S. Marshal of Washington, DC.

1882 – Morgan Earp is assassinated in Tombstone, Arizona, two months after the gunfight at the OK Corral. Wyatt Earp’s brother is killed by outlaws after he played billiards.

1931 – The first electric shavers go on sale in the U.S. They are made by Schick. Army Lieutenant Colonel Jacob Schick invents a new type of safety razor in 1921 and continues to improve on his original invention. Schick died in 1937 at age 59.

1961 – “Poppin’ Fresh” the Pillsbury Dough Boy is introduced.


1977 – Vietnam hands over 22 sets of MIA remains to the U.S. while 1,642 Americans are still listed as missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War.



March 19

1831 – The City Bank of New York is the first U.S. bank to be robbed. Thieves make off with $245,000.

1920 – The U.S. Senate rejects the Treaty of Versailles for the second time by refusing to ratify League of Nations’ covenant (maintaining its isolation policy).

1928 – “Amos & Andy” debuts on NBC radio in Chicago featuring white actors Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll. Black actors Alvin Childress and Spencer Williams play Amos and Andy on TV from 1951 to 1953.


Radio’s Amos & Andy


TV’s Amos & Andy

1953 – The 25th Academy Awards is the first one to be televised. Cecil B. DeMille’s “Greatest Show on Earth” beats out Stanley Kramer’s “High Noon” for best picture.

1979 – C-SPAN (an acronym for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, a private, nonprofit American cable television network) is launched.

2013 – NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity discovers further evidence of water-bearing minerals.


March 20

1816 – The U.S. Supreme Court affirms its right to review state court decisions in Martin v Hunter’s lessee involving a land dispute.

1852 – Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is published.

1952 – The U.S. Senate ratifies the peace treaty with Japan. The treaty goes into effect in April of 1952.

1976 – Patricia Hearst is convicted of the armed robbery she committed after being held captive by the SLA. Her defense was Stockholm Syndrome and fear of what the SLA would have done if she didn’t do as directed.

1984 – The U.S. Senate rejects an amendment to permit spoken prayer in public schools.

1985 – Libby Riddles is the first woman to win the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race.



March 21

1843 – Preacher William Miller of Massachusetts predicts the world will end on this day. He is an early pioneer of the Seventh Day Adventist movement.

1934 – Female track and field Olympian and future golf legend Babe Didrikson pitches an inning in an A’s-Dodgers exhibition game. The Associated Press declares Babe Didrikson Zaharias to be the “Woman Athlete of the Half Century” in 1950. Zaharias died in 1956 at the age of 45.


1965 – Martin Luther King, Jr. begins the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, a distance of about 50 miles. They arrive on March 25th.

1980 – President Jimmy Carter announces the U.S. will boycott the Moscow Olympics.

1980 – J.R. Ewing is shot on the TV show Dallas, sparking the summer-long question, “Who shot JR?” Spoiler Alert – It is revealed in the season premier on November 21st that J.R.’s sister-in-law Kristin Shepard is the one “Who done it” in the highest rated TV show at the time.

1983 – All Time Magazines are recalled because of the only known typo on cover (control is misspelled contol).


March 22

1790 – Thomas Jefferson becomes the first U.S. Secretary of State under President Washington.

1794 – Congress bans U.S. vessels from supplying slaves to other countries.

1882 – The Edmunds Act is adopted by the U.S. to suppress polygamy. About 1,300 men are later imprisoned under the act.

1903 – Niagara Falls runs out of water because of a drought.

1934 – The first Masters golf championship begins in Augusta, Georgia. Horton Smith wins with two under par.

1935 – Blood tests are authorized as evidence in court cases in New York.

1946 – The WAC rocket, the first U.S. rocket to leave the Earth’s atmosphere, travels 50 miles up. Early rockets are named for enlisted ranks in the Army. WAC stands for Women’s Army Corps.


1990 – An Anchorage jury finds Capt. Hazelwood innocent of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

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 were part of the “Heaven’s Gate” cult in San Diego committed mass suicide as the comet came close to Earth.


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 an airplane patent.

1965 – Gemini 3 is launched, sending into space the first U.S. 2-man flight with Gus Grissom and John Young.

1972 – Daredevil motorcycle driver Evel Knievel breaks his collarbone after successfully clearing 13 cars in Detroit, Michigan. 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.


1987 – The first Soul Train Awards is held.

1994 – Joey Buttafuoco is released from jail after serving 4 months and 9 days for statutory rape. He had an affair with then 16-year-old Amy Fisher, who shot 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 died 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 failed to submit a constitutionally required budget during his first term.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.