March 20th In History

This day in historyMarch 20 is the 79th day of the year (80th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 286 days remaining until the end of the year. Typically the March equinox falls on this date, marking the vernal point in the Northern Hemisphere and the autumnal point in the Southern Hemisphere, when both day and night are of equal length.



In 235,  Maximinus Thrax is proclaimed emperor. He is the first foreigner to hold the Roman throne.

In 673,  Emperor Tenmu of Japan assumes the Chrysanthemum throne at the Palace of Kiyomihara in Asuka.

In 1206,  Michael IV Autoreianos is appointed Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

King Henry IV from NPG (2).jpgIn 1413,  Henry IV of England (b. 1367) dies. He was King of England and Lord of Ireland (1399–1413). He was the tenth King of England of the House of Plantagenet and also asserted his grandfather‘s claim to the title King of France. He was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, hence his other name, Henry (of) Bolingbroke /ˈbɒlɪŋbrʊk/. His father, John of Gaunt, was the third son of Edward III, and enjoyed a position of considerable influence during much of the reign of Henry’s cousin Richard II, whom Henry eventually deposed. Henry’s mother was Blanche, heiress to the considerable Lancaster estates, and thus he became the first King of England from the Lancaster branch of the Plantagenets.

In 1549, Sir Thomas Seymour, Lord High Admiral of the English Navy, fell in love with a girl named Elizabeth, who happened to be the princess, later to become the Queen of England. She didn’t reciprocate his love, yet he kept pestering the girl. He was later charged with treason and beheaded on this day.

In 1600,  The Linköping Bloodbath takes place on Maundy Thursday in Linköping, Sweden.

In 1602,  The Dutch East India Company is established. During its 96-year history, it became one of the world’s most powerful companies.

In 1616,  Sir Walter Raleigh is freed from the Tower of London after 13 years of imprisonment.

Portrait of man in black with shoulder-length, wavy brown hair, a large sharp nose, and a distracted gazeIn 1726,  Isaac Newton, English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher (b. 1642) dies. He was an English physicist and mathematician who is widely recognized as one of the most influential scientists of all time and played a key role in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (“Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”), first published in 1687, laid the foundations for classical mechanics. Newton also made seminal contributions to optics and shares credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the invention of infinitesimal calculus. Newton’s Principia formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation that dominated scientists’ view of the physical universe for the next three centuries. It also demonstrated that the motion of objects on Earth and of celestial bodies could be described by the same principles. By deriving Kepler’s laws of planetary motion from his mathematical description of gravity, Newton removed the last doubts about the validity of the heliocentric model of the cosmos. Newton built the first practical reflecting telescope and developed a theory of colour based on the observation that a prism decomposes white light into the many colours of the visible spectrum. He also formulated an empirical law of cooling and studied the speed of sound. In addition to his work on calculus, Newton contributed as a mathematician to the study of power series, generalised the binomial theorem to non-integer exponents, and developed Newton’s method for approximating the roots of a function. Newton was a fellow of Trinity College and the second Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. He was a devout but unorthodox Christian and, unusual for a member of the Cambridge faculty, he refused to take holy orders in the Church of England, perhaps because he privately rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. In addition to his work on the mathematical sciences, Newton also dedicated much of his time to the study of alchemy and biblical chronology, but most of his work in those areas remained unpublished until long after his death. In his later life, Newton became president of the Royal Society. He also served the British government as Warden and Master of the Royal Mint.

In 1760,  The “Great Fire” of Boston, Massachusetts, destroys 349 buildings.

In 1780, The firm of James Watt & Co. was formed for the manufacture of the first duplicating machines, invented by Watt to cope with the large
amount of copying involved in his steam engine business.

In 1800, the French army under J.B. Kleber defeated the Turks at Helipolis, Turkey, and began advancing toward Cairo, Egypt.

In 1815,  After escaping from Elba, Napoleon enters Paris with a regular army of 140,000 and a volunteer force of around 200,000, beginning his “Hundred Days” rule.

In 1816, the U.S. Supreme Court, in its Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee ruling, affirmed its right to review state court decisions.

In 1848  Revolutions of 1848 in the German states: King Ludwig I of Bavaria abdicates.

In 1852,  Harriet Beecher Stowe‘s Uncle Tom’s Cabin is published. The book sold 300,000 copies in its first year. It was the first book to sell
1,000,000 copies.

In 1854,  The Republican Party of the United States is organized in Ripon, Wisconsin.

In 1861,  An earthquake completely destroys Mendoza, Argentina.

In 1865, a plan by John Wilkes Booth to abduct President Abraham Lincoln was foiled when Lincoln changed plans and failed to appear at the Soldier’s Home near Washington, DC. Booth would later assassinate the President while Lincoln was attending a performance at Ford’s Theatre in the nation’s capital

In 1868, Jesse James Gang robs bank in Russelville Kentucky of $14,000.

In 1883,  The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property is signed.

In 1886, the first AC power plant in the U.S. began commercial operation in Mass.

In 1888,  The premiere of the very first Romani language operetta is staged in Moscow, Russia.

In 1888, Start of the Sherlock Holmes Adventure, “A Scandal in Bohemia”.

In 1896, U.S. Marines landed in Nicaraqua to protect U.S. citizens in the wake of a revolution.

In 1899, Martha M. Place of Brooklyn, New York, became the first woman to be put to death by electrocution as she was executed at Sing Sing for the murder of her stepdaughter.

In 1913,  Sung Chiao-jen, a founder of the Chinese Nationalist Party, is wounded in an assassination attempt and dies 2 days later.

In 1916,  Albert Einstein publishes his general theory of relativity.

In 1918,  Lewis A. Grant, American general and lawyer (b. 1828) dies. He was a teacher, lawyer, soldier in the Union Army during the American Civil War, and later Assistant U.S. Secretary of War. He was among the leading officers from the state of Vermont, and received the Medal of Honor for “personal gallantry and intrepidity.”

In 1922,  The USS Langley (CV-1) is commissioned as the first United States Navy aircraft carrier.

In 1923,  The Arts Club of Chicago hosts the opening of Pablo Picasso‘s first United States showing, entitled Original Drawings by Pablo Picasso, becoming an early proponent of modern art in the United States.

In 1933,  Giuseppe Zangara is executed in Florida‘s electric chair for fatally shooting Anton Cermak in an assassination attempt against President-Elect Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1933,  Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler ordered the creation of Dachau Concentration Camp as Chief of Police of Munich and appointed Theodor Eicke as the camp commandant.

In 1934, the first test of a practical radar apparatus was made by Rudolf Kuhnold in Germany.

In 1942,  World War II: General Douglas MacArthur, at Terowie, South Australia, makes his famous speech regarding the fall of the Philippines, in which he says: “I came out of Bataan and I shall return”.

In 1948,  With a Musicians Union ban lifted, the first telecasts of classical music in the United States, under Eugene Ormandy and Arturo Toscanini, are given on CBS and NBC.

In 1951,  Fujiyoshida, a city located in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan, in the center of the Japanese main island of Honshū is founded.

In 1952,  The United States Senate ratifies a peace treaty with Japan.

In 1956,  Tunisia gains independence from France.

In 1964,  The precursor of the European Space Agency, ESRO (European Space Research Organization) is established per an agreement signed on June 14, 1962.

In 1968, President Johnson signed a bill removing gold backing from U.S. paper money.

In 1972,  The Troubles: A Provisional IRA car bomb kills seven and injures 148 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was the first of many car bomb attacks by the group.

In 1974,  Ian Ball attempts, but fails, to kidnap Her Royal Highness Princess Anne and her husband Captain Mark Phillips in The Mall, outside Buckingham Palace, London.

In 1976, Publishing heiress Patty Hearst was found guilty of assisting in a bank robbery, despite the best efforts of her defense lawyer, F. Lee Bailey.
Bailey had argued that Hearst was coerced into participating in the heist by its organizers, members of the cultish Symbionese Liberation Army.

In 1980,  The Radio Caroline ship, Mi Amigo founders in a gale off the English coast.

In 1985,  Libby Riddles becomes the first woman to win the 1,135-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

In 1985,  Canadian paraplegic athlete and humanitarian Rick Hansen begins his circumnavigation of the globe in a wheelchair in the name of spinal cord injury medical research.

In 1987,  The Food and Drug Administration approves the anti-AIDS drug, AZT.

In 1988,  Eritrean War of Independence: Having defeated the Nadew Command, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front enters the town of Afabet, victoriously concluding the Battle of Afabet.

In 1988, Eight-year-old DeAndra Anrig found herself airborne when the string of her kite was snagged by an airplane flying over Shoreline Park in
Mountain View, California. (DeAndra was lifted ten feet off the ground and carried 100 feet until she let go; she was not seriously hurt.)

In 1990,  Ferdinand Marcos‘s widow, Imelda Marcos, goes on trial for bribery, embezzlement, and racketeering.

In 1991, The Supreme Court ruled employers could not adopt “fetal protection” policies barring women of child-bearing age from certain hazardous jobs.

In 1992, Congress passed, and President Bush immediately vetoed, a Democratic tax cut for the middle class that would have been funded by
a tax hike on the rich.

In 1993,  The Troubles: A Provisional IRA bomb kills two children in Warrington, England. It leads to mass protests in both Britain and Ireland.

In 1994,  Lewis Grizzard, American author (b. 1946) died of complications of his fourth heart-valve surgery.. He was an American writer and humorist, known for his Southern demeanor and commentary on the American South. Although he spent his early career as a newspaper sports writer and editor, becoming the sports editor of the Atlanta Journal at age 23, he is much better known for his humorous newspaper columns in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a popular stand-up comedian & lecturer. Grizzard also published a total of twenty-five books, including collections of his columns (e.g. Chili Dawgs Always Bark at Night), expanded versions of his stand-up comedy routines (I Haven’t Understood Anything Since 1962), and the autobiographical If I Ever Get Back to Georgia, I’m Gonna Nail My Feet to the Ground. Although much of his comedy discussed the South and Grizzard’s personal and professional lives, it was also a commentary on issues prevalent throughout America, including relationships between men and women (e.g. If Love Were Oil, I’d Be About a Quart Low), politics, and health, especially heart health. Grizzard was also the stepbrother of the Southern humorist Ludlow Porch.

In 1995,  A sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway kills 13 and wounds 1,300 persons.

In 1999,  Legoland California, the only Legoland outside of Europe, opens in Carlsbad, California.

In 2000,  Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, a former Black Panther once known as H. Rap Brown, is captured after murdering Georgia sheriff’s deputy Ricky Kinchen and critically wounding Deputy Aldranon English.

In 2003,  2003 invasion of Iraq: In the early hours of the morning, the United States and three other countries (the UK, Australia and Poland) begin military operations in Iraq.

In 2006,  Over 150 Chadian soldiers are killed in eastern Chad by members of the rebel UFDC. The rebel movement sought to overthrow Chadian president Idriss Deby.

Lady Bird Johnson and Udall on a trip to Grand Teton National Park, August 1964

In 2010, Stewart Udall, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 37th United States Secretary of the Interior (b. 1920) dies peacefully at his home in the foothills of Santa Fe, New Mexico at the age of 90. He was an American politician and later, a federal government official. After serving three terms as a congressman from Arizona, he served as Secretary of the Interior from 1961 to 1969, under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

In 2012,  At least 52 people are killed and more than 250 injured in a wave of terror attacks across ten cities in Iraq.

In 2014,  Four suspected Taliban members attack the luxurious Kabul Serena Hotel, killing at least nine people.

In 2015,  A Solar eclipse, equinox, and a Supermoon all occur on the same day.

%d bloggers like this: