Mar 12th - Apr 2nd 1999
Today in history

March 12, 1912 In Savannah, Georgia, Juliette Low held the first meeting of the Girl Guides (Girl Scouts) of America. Low had participated in Girl Guides organizations in Scotland, and she wanted American girls to have the same opportunities. Today there are over 2.5 million enrolled Girl Scouts

March 12, 1933 Newly inaugurated US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt held the first of his "fireside chats," radio addresses in which he addressed the American people in a familiar, friendly way. The "fireside chats" helped build his great popularity among the people. In his first chat, he addressed a short-term banking crisis

March 12, 1998 NASA's first new human-carrying orbital return spacecraft in more than twenty years was successfully flight tested. The X-38 "lifeboat," planned for use with the International Space Station, completed a descent from 23,000 feet to a parachute landing. The X-38 will be tested for several more years

March 13, 1781 Astronomer William Herschel discovered a new planet, which he named "the Georgium Sidus" (the Georgian Planet), in honor of King George III. Today we know it as the planet Uranus, the third largest (by diameter) in the solar system. Uranus has many strange properties:

March 13, 1947 The classic Broadway musical "Brigadoon" opened at the Ziegfeld in New York. The Lerner and Loewe production portrayed a stereotyped, humorous version of Scotland. It ran for 581 performances and there have been many revivals. "Brigadoon" is about an enchanted village:

March 13, 1988 After a 24-year construction effort, Japan's underwater Seikan Tunnel was opened, connecting the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. It is more than 33 miles (53 kilometers) long, making it the longest tunnel in the world. The Seikan Tunnel is one of Japan's magnificent transit achievements:

March 14, 1903 US President Teddy Roosevelt designated Pelican Island, near Sebastian, Florida, as the first National Wildlife Refuge in the US. It began as a 5-acre island, and has since grown into a 5000-acre refuge. The refuge protects the brown pelicans that nest there:

March 14, 1937 It was billed as "The Battle of the Century." Comedians Fred Allen and Jack Benny met in the ballroom of the Hotel Pierre, and engaged in a radio-broadcast feud, exchanging sharp-witted insults. It was part of a 12-year running gag. Benny and Allen were masters of the running gag:

March 14, 1943 Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" premiered in New York, conducted by George Szell. The short, powerful work for brass instruments has since become a classic. It was performed at Ronald Reagan's presidential inauguration. Copland was one of the great American composers of the 20th century:

March 15, 44 BC Julius Caesar had just been made "dictator for life" of the Roman Republic. The senators, outraged at the level of power he had acquired, surrounded him and stabbed him to death. The conspiracy was led by Caius Cassius and Marcus Brutus. The life of Julius Caesar:

March 15, 1937 The first blood bank in the western hemisphere opened at Chicago's Cook County Hospital. Director of Therapeutics Bernard Fantus originated the term "blood bank" and pioneered the storage and preservation of donated blood. Collecting, processing, and preserving blood is a complex science:

March 15, 1956 It was opening night on Broadway for "My Fair Lady," a Lerner and Loewe musical based on George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion." The smash hit, starring Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews, ran for more than six years, setting a new record. The movie version and the musical score were also very popular:

March 16, 1926 Robert H. Goddard successfully launched a liquid-fuel rocket, which flew to a height of 41 feet (12 meters). His prototype had the rocket engine mounted above the fuel tank, which was protected from the flame by a metal cone. Goddard found his calling while climbing a cherry tree:

March 16, 1957 Art Clokey's loveable clay character, Gumby, got his own TV show on NBC. The soft, green guy, who had been appearing on Howdy Doody since 1947, continued his adventures in a surreal, dreamlike world where nothing is as it seems. Gumby still has legions of enthusiastic fans:

March 16, 1968 A company of angry American soldiers entered the South Vietnamese village of My Lai. Commanded by Lt. William Calley, they came in shooting. More than 300 unarmed villagers were killed in what came to be known as the "My Lai Massacre." My Lai was a critical factor in growing US anti-war sentiment:

March 17, 1910 Luther and Charlotte Gulick founded the Camp Fire Girls, the first nonsectarian organization for girls in the United States. In 1975, boys were allowed to join, and today there are about 667,000 participants across the nation. Today, it's the Camp Fire Boys and Girls:

March 17, 1941 At a ceremony attended by 8,841 guests, President Roosevelt officially dedicated the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The permanent collection, which contains more than 100,000 items, can now be searched online. The National Gallery of Art:

March 17, 1969 Following the death of Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, the post was passed to Golda Meir. She was the second female Prime Minister of any country, and held the job until 1974, when she resigned in favor of Yitzhak Rabin. Meir was a leading socialist Zionist:

March 18, 1933 At the request of President Roosevelt, Congress formed the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), an ambitious project to supply electric power and create jobs, and to reconstruct one of the areas most devastated by the Great Depression. The TVA is "the nation's largest electric power producer":

March 18, 1959 US President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law an act that designated Hawaii as the fiftieth state of the Union. Although there was great celebration at the time, some people felt that the statehood act was invalid. The Hawaiian sovereignty movement is still strong, and growing:

March 18, 1965 Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov became the first human to "walk in space," tethered by an umbilical cable. Trying to return to the Voskhod 2 spacecraft he became stuck in the hatch and had to bleed air from his suit to re-enter. Leonov is also an artist specializing in space art:

March 19, 1918 Congress authorized the use of the railroad time zones for public timekeeping and introduced Daylight Saving Time to save fuel during World War I. The one-hour time shift proved unpopular and was later repealed, to be reinstated in 1942. The history of Daylight Saving Time:

March 19, 1949 The American Museum of Atomic Energy opened in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The first museum devoted entirely to atomic energy, it opened in an old wartime cafeteria. Its focus at the beginning was on the peaceful uses of atomic energy. In 1978 the name was changed to the American Museum of Science and Energy:

March 19, 1951 Herman Wouk's novel "The Caine Mutiny" was published. The Pulitzer Prize-winning story describes a shipboard revolt under Captain Queeg, a strict disciplinarian, seen through the eyes of Ensign Willie Keith. In 1954, the movie was released, starring Humphrey Bogart:

March 20, 1852 Harriet Beecher Stowe's classic novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was published. The novel narrates the passage of fugitives from slavery to freedom during the pre-civil war period. The book became an instant success, selling 300,000 copies during its first year. Uncle Tom's Cabin was the first major novel to feature an African-American hero. Learn more about this great American writer:

March 20, 1952 Humphrey Bogart won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in the movie "The African Queen". This came as a shock to the many fans and critics who had expected this award to go to Marlon Brando for his role in "A Streetcar Named Desire." More about "The African Queen":

March 20, 1987 The Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of AZT, an antiviral drug believed to prolong the lives of some AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) patients. The AIDS complex has been one of the greatest puzzles facing the medical community this century. By the year 2000, an estimated 50 million people will be infected with HIV worldwide. There is still debate about whether AZT really works:

March 21,1804 The French civil code was adopted in France by Napoleon Bonaparte. Still in place, this code influenced the civil codes of most countries of continental Europe and Latin America. The Napoleonic code protected basic freedoms won during the French revolution, such as the abolition of serfdom. Napoleon was a brilliant politician, military strategist and law maker:

March 21, 1963 Alcatraz federal penitentiary in the San Francisco Bay was shut down. Alcatraz was a maximum-security facility from 1934 to 1963 for the worst criminals in the nation. Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly were two of its most famous inmates. Today Alcatraz is a museum and a national recreation area:

March 21, 1990 After 75 years of South African rule, Namibia became independent. During most of that period, South Africa's Apartheid regime governed the country with an iron fist. Sam Nujoma became the first president of the Republic of Namibia. More about Nujoma:

March 22nd, 1622 Settlers around Jamestown, Virginia were massacred by Algonquian Indians led by Opechancanough, chief of the Pamunkey. This was the first major massacre of European colonists by Native Americans, and left 347 settlers dead -- more than a 30% of the Jamestown population. More on the history of Jamestown:

March 22, 1873 The Spanish Crown finally ended slavery in one of its last Latin American colonies, Puerto Rico. Slave owners were compensated with 35 million pesetas per slave. Despite the pronouncement of abolition, slaves were still required to keep working for three more years as indentured servants. A brief history of Puerto Rico:

March 22, 1946 The first U.S.-built rocket left the Earth's atmosphere; Germany had launched a rocket the year before. Launched from White Sands, New Mexico, the U.S. rocket attained an altitude of 50 miles. The history of modern rocketry brought together the ideas of three daring men:

March 23, 1821 Bauxite was discovered in southern France. Bauxite, the principal source of aluminum, is found in the largest quantities around the Equator. Bauxite is used in abrasives and as a refractory for spark plugs and furnace linings. Bauxite is also called aluminum ore:

March 23, 1840 The Englishman J. W. Draper took the first successful photo of the Moon. Using a daguerreotype, a precursor of the modern photograph, Draper introduced photography to the astronomical world. One of the earliest remaining daguerreotypes of the Moon:

March 23, 1942 The U.S. government began the massive imprisonment of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II. About 110,000 Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps scattered throughout several states. By the end of the war ten people had been convicted of spying for Japan; none of them were of Japanese descent. The imprisonment of Japanese Americans lasted for about three years:

March 24, 1603 Scottish king James VI became King James I of England -- a significant step towards the formation of "Great Britain" a century later. He commissioned a new translation of the Bible, which became known as the Authorized King James's Version of the Bible. King James was king of Scotland and then England for 58 years of his life:

March 24, 1882 Professor Robert Koch discovered Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a germ responsible for tuberculosis (TB). TB is an infectious disease that affects the lungs. Thanks to Koch's discovery doctors were in a stronger position to fight against a disease believed for a long time to be incurable. The fight against TB continues:

March 24, 1989 The super-tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska's Prince William Sound. The accident resulted in the leaking of approximately 11 million gallons of oil, one of the worst spills in history. The crude oil covered thousands of square miles. Subsequent surveys estimated that more than 100,000 birds and 2,600 sea otters were killed by the spill. Public outrage led to intensive efforts to restore the natural habitat:

March 25, 1409 The Council of Pisa was convened to end the Western Schism in the Roman Catholic church. The Western Schism was a period that lasted for almost 40 years when there were two, then three, rival popes. The Council of Pisa eventually led to the election of a single pope in 1417. The French city of Avignon was one of the papal sites:

March 25, 1655 The Dutch physicist and astronomer Christiaan Huygens discovered Titan, a moon of Saturn. Titan is the second largest satellite in our solar system. Observation of Titan is difficult because of the thick, dark atmosphere that covers its surface. Titan is Saturn's largest satellite:

March 25, 1896 The first modern Olympic games were inaugurated in Athens, Greece. They were the brainchild of the Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who believed that an international sports event between amateur athletes could promote peaceful relations between countries. The Athenian Olympic games assembled delegates from 12 countries:

March 26, 1920 Writer F. Scott Fitzgerald published his first novel "This Side of Paradise." A reworked version of an earlier manuscript, this novel made the 24-year-old writer famous virtually overnight. The novel recounts the career aspirations and unrequited romances of Amory Blaine. Fitzgerald is one of the towering figures of 20th century US literature:

March 26, 1937 William H. Hastie was appointed federal judge of the Virgin Islands, the first African American lawyer in the US to receive such a title. Judge Hastie served on the bench for two years then became dean and professor of law at Howard University in Washington DC. Hastie was also the first African American governor of the Virgin Islands:

March 26, 1953 Dr. Jonas Salk announced the discovery of a vaccine against poliomyelitis, or polio. Polio is an infectious viral disease that atrophies the skeletal muscles often leaving permanent disability and deformity. Before Salk's vaccine, millions of children around the world were affected by this crippling disease. Countries that use Salk's vaccine have virtually eradicated polio:

March 27, 1513 Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon sighted the coast of Florida on Easter Sunday. Since the Easter season is known in Spanish as "Pascua Florida" (flowery Easter) and the lush vegetation before him held an abundance of flowers, he decided to call the new land "La Florida." Ponce de Leon's explorations have inspired numerous artists:

March 27, 1931 English actor Charlie Chaplin received France's distinguished Legion of Honor decoration. One of the most famous silent actors, Chaplin was well known for his "little tramp" character, a funny rascal who always found clever ways of dealing with difficult situations. Apart from being an actor, Chaplin was also a film director, writer and producer:

March 27, 1964 The first such commercial station to be moored off the British coastline., Radio Caroline, began to broadcast. Transmitting from a ship of the same name, Radio Caroline could be heard in Ireland, Scotland and the North of England. Caroline is called a "pirate" station because it transmits without governmental authorization. Pirate radio stations often find themselves facing legal problems:

March 28, 1910 The first seaplane took off from water and flew for 1650 feet (500 meters) near the French city of Martigues. The builder and designer was Henri Fabre, who used a 50 horsepower rotary engine. He called his invention a "hydrovion." A drawing of Fabre's hydrovion:

March 28, 1930 The Turkish cities of Constantinople and Angora changed their names to Istanbul and Ankara, respectively. Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and then modern Turkey until 1923, at which time Angora was declared to be the new capital. Turkey is a fascinating country where Europe and Asia meet:

March 28, 1979 The most serious nuclear accident in the US occurred at the Three Mile Island power plant in Pennsylvania. A combination of human error and mechanical failure led to a partial meltdown of the reactor core. The radiation leak caused no immediate human casualties. The accident brought about the ruin of the nuclear power industry in the US:

March 29, 1886 Pharmacist John Pemberton created the soft drink Coca-Cola. The name derived from two of the ingredients contained in the original formula: extract from coca leaves (from the Andes) and kola nut (from West Africa). At the time, coca derivatives were considered to be harmless, but they were banned by Congress in 1904. More about Coke:

March 29, 1971 Chilean president Salvador Allende nationalized banks and copper mines. Allende is considered the first democratically-elected socialist president in the world. He died two years later during a bloody military coup. More on Allende's Chile:

March 29, 1974 The spacecraft Mariner 10 passed by Mercury and sent photos back home. This craft was the first to use the gravitational pull of one planet (Venus) to reach another planet (Mercury). Mariner 10 was also the first spacecraft to use the solar wind for locomotion: 

March 30, 1842 Crawford W. Long was the first doctor to anesthetize a patient using ether. Having conducted successful experiments using sulfuric ether, Long decided to try it on his patients during surgery. The date of Long's discovery is used to mark Doctor's Day:

March 30, 1867 The US government purchased Alaska from Russia. President Andrew Johnson's Secretary of State, William H. Seward, negotiated the purchase. At the time Alaska was considered a wasteland, and as a result the treaty became known as "Seward's Folly". Alaska cost the US about two cents an acre:

March 30, 1964 The television game show Jeopardy aired for the first time. One of the most popular game shows in US television, Jeopardy has only had two regular hosts in its 35-year history: Art Fleming and Alex Trebek. Trebek has been Jeopardy's host since 1984: 

March 31, 1492 King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile signed an edict to expel all Jews from Spain. Prior to 1492, many Jews had converted to Christianity to avoid persecution from the Spanish Inquisition - but many continued to profess their religion secretly. About 200,000 Jews were expelled from Spain:

March 31, 1776 Abigail Adams, wife of US president John Adams, wrote a letter to her husband in which she defended women's rights. Specifically she targeted laws that prevented married women from owning property. She wrote that women were "determined to foment a rebellion" if their rights were not guaranteed. She was a woman with a great vision:

March 31, 1889 France's Eiffel Tower was officially opened in Paris. Named after the engineer who built it, Gustave Eiffel, the iron and steel structure was created to celebrate both the World's Fair and one hundred years of the French Revolution. While some Parisians loved the tower, others despised it: 

April 1, 1760 "The Poor Robin's Almanack" published one of the first celebrations of April Fools' Day. Some believe April Fools' started independently in different countries to celebrate the Spring Equinox. Others say it celebrated New Year's Day, which fell on April 1st in the Julian calendar. Playing an innocent prank on someone can be a lot of fun:

April 1, 1826 Inventor Samuel Morey patented the internal combustion engine. This engine burns fuel such as gasoline or diesel internally to produce power, unlike steam engines which burn oil or coal outside the engine. Morey's patent was a less complex version of the combustion engines found in today's cars and trucks. A picture of an internal combustion engine:

April 1, 1970 President Richard Nixon signed a measure that banned cigarette advertising on radio and television. Opposed by all the cigarette- making companies, the measure came into force on January of 1971. The national day for tobacco-free children will take place in just two weeks: 

April 2, 1792 Congress approved the Coinage Act, authorizing the first US Mint. Constructed in Philadelphia, the Mint's original coins were made of gold, silver, and copper. In addition to the Philadelphia Mint, there are now mints in the cities of Denver, San Francisco and West Point (New York). The US Mint produces between 14-20 billion coins every year:

April 2, 1872 G. B. Brayton received a patent for the gas-powered streetcar. These cars, however, never became popular, while the electric-powered ones still circulate through many cities worldwide. Of all US cities, San Francisco has the longest streetcar tradition:

April 2, 1967 The International Children's Book Day is first celebrated. This date was chosen to commemorate the birthday of Hans Christian Andersen, one of the most well-known writers of children's literature. Some of his most famous stories were "The Emperor's New Clothes" and "Thumbelina." The 19th-century Danish author also wrote "The Nightingale":

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Updated Mar 9th 2001



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