March 21st in History

This day in historyMarch 21 is the 80th day of the year (81st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 285 days remaining until the end of the year. In astrology, the day of the equinox is the first full day of the sign of Aries. It is also the traditional first day of the astrological year.



In 537,  Siege of Rome: King Vitiges attempts to assault the northern and eastern city walls, but is repulsed at the Praenestine Gate, known as the Vivarium, by the defenders under the Byzantine generals Bessas and Peranius.

In 630,  Emperor Heraclius returns the True Cross, one of the holiest Christian relics, to Jerusalem.

In 717,  Battle of Vincy between Charles Martel and Ragenfrid.

In 1152,  Annulment of the marriage of King Louis VII of France and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine.

In 1188,  Emperor Antoku accedes to the throne of Japan.

In 1413,  Henry V becomes King of England.

In 1556,  In Oxford, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer is burned at the stake.

John Law-Casimir Balthazar mg 8450.jpgIn 1729,  John Law, Scottish economist (b. 1671) dies in poverty. He was a Scottish economist who believed that money was only a means of exchange that did not constitute wealth in itself and that national wealth depended on trade. He was appointed Controller General of Finances of France under King Louis XV.  In 1716 Law established the Banque Générale in France, a private bank, but three-quarters of the capital consisted of government bills and government-accepted notes, effectively making it the first central bank of the nation. He was responsible for the Mississippi Company bubble and a chaotic economic collapse in France, which has been compared to the early-17th century tulip mania in Holland.  The Mississippi Bubble was contemporaneous with the South Sea Company bubble of England. Law was a gambler and a brilliant mental calculator. He was known to win card games by mentally calculating the odds. He originated economic ideas such as “The Scarcity Theory of Value” and the “real bills doctrine“. Law’s views held that money creation will stimulate the economy, that paper money is preferable to metallic money which should be banned, and that shares are a superior form of money since they pay dividends.

In 1788,  A fire in New Orleans leaves most of the town in ruins.

In 1790, Thomas Jefferson reported to President George Washington in New York as the new Secretary of State. He later was the third president of the United States.

In 1791, Captain Hopley Yeaton was commisioned as the first U.S. naval officer.

In 1800,  With the church leadership driven out of Rome during an armed conflict, Pius VII is crowned Pope in Venice with a temporary papal tiara made of papier-mâché.

In 1801,  The Battle of Alexandria is fought between British and French forces near the ruins of Nicopolis in Egypt.

In 1804,  Code Napoléon is adopted as French civil law.

In 1814,  Napoleonic Wars: Austrian forces repel French troops in the Battle of Arcis-sur-Aube.

In 1821,  Greek War of Independence: First revolutionary act in the monastery of Agia Lavra, Kalavryta.

In 1824, The Rensselaer School in Troy, New York, was incorporated. The school, known today as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, became the first engineering college in the United States.

In 1826, Beethoven’s Quartet #13 in B flat maj (Op 130) premieres in Vienna.

In 1844,  The Bahá’í calendar begins. This is the first day of the first year of the Bahá’í calendar. It is annually celebrated by members of the Bahá’í Faith as the Bahá’í New Year or Náw-Rúz.

In 1857,  An earthquake in Tokyo, Japan kills over 100,000.

In 1859, The first Zoological Society was incorporated in Philadelphia.

In 1861,  Alexander Stephens gives the Cornerstone Speech

In 1865, Battle of Bentonville ends, last Confederate effort to stop Sherman.

In 1871,  Otto von Bismarck is appointed Chancellor of the German Empire.

In 1871,  Journalist Henry Morton Stanley begins his trek to find the missionary and explorer David Livingstone.

In 1871, Otto von Bismarck opened the first Reichstag, or Parliament, in the newly created German Reich.

In 1891, A Hatfield married a McCoy, which ended a long family feud in West Virginia between the families. The last of the original feuding families died in 1984. The feud started with an accusation of pig-stealing and it lasted 20 years. Outsiders claimed at least a half-a-dozen vicious murders. Richard Dawson revived the concept without weapons on the game show “Family Feud” in 1976.

In 1913,  Over 360 are killed and 20,000 homes destroyed in the Great Dayton Flood in Dayton, Ohio.

In 1917, Czar Nicholas II and his family were arrested by the revolutionary forces in Russia.

In 1918,  World War I: The first phase of the German Spring Offensive (Somme Offensive), Operation Michael, begins. The German leadership was hoping to break through the Allied line before American reinforcements could arrive.

In 1919,  The Hungarian Soviet Republic is established becoming the first Communist government to be formed in Europe after the October Revolution in Russia.

In 1921,  The New Economic Policy is implemented by the Bolshevik Party in response to the economic failure as a result of War Communism.

In 1925,  The Butler Act prohibits the teaching of human evolution in Tennessee.

In 1925,  Syngman Rhee is removed from office after being impeached as the President of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea.

In 1927, The Nationalist Chinese forces of Chiang Kai-shek took the city of Shanghai.

In 1928,  Charles Lindbergh is presented with the Medal of Honor for the first solo trans-Atlantic flight.

In 1933,  Construction of Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp, is completed.

In 1935,  Shah of Iran Reza Shah Pahlavi formally asks the international community to call Persia by its native name, Iran, meaning “Land of the Aryans“.

In 1937,  Ponce Massacre: Nineteen people in Ponce, Puerto Rico, are gunned down by a police squad acting under orders of US-appointed Governor, Blanton C. Winship.

In 1943,  Wehrmacht officer Rudolf von Gersdorff plots to assassinate Adolf Hitler by using a suicide bomb, but the plan falls through. Von Gersdorff is able to defuse the bomb in time and avoid suspicion.

In 1943, British eighth army opens assault on Marethlinie, Tunisia.

In 1943, the U.S.S. Cod, the Gato-class submarine now on display in Cleveland, is launched at Groton, Conn. (The sub was on patrol in the Pacific by October 1943.).

In 1945,  World War II: British troops liberate Mandalay, Burma.

In 1945,  World War II: Operation Carthage: Royal Air Force planes bomb Gestapo headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. They also hit a school and 125 civilians are killed.

In 1945,  World War II: Bulgaria and the Soviet Union successfully complete their defense of the north bank of the Drava River as the Battle of the Transdanubian Hills concludes.

In 1945, 7,000 Allied planes dropped more than 12,000 tons of explosives on Germany during a single World War II daytime bombing raid.

In 1946,  The Los Angeles Rams sign Kenny Washington, making him the first black player in the American football since 1933.

In 1946, the United Nations set up temporary headquarters at Hunter (now Lehman) College in New York (Bronx).

In 1947, President Truman signs Executive Order 9835 requiring all federal employees to have allegiance to the United States.

In 1952,  Alan Freed presents the Moondog Coronation Ball, the first rock and roll concert, in Cleveland, Ohio.

In 1960,  Apartheid in South Africa: Massacre in Sharpeville, South Africa: Police open fire on a group of unarmed black South African demonstrators, killing 69 and wounding 180.

In 1963,  Alcatraz, a federal penitentiary on an island in San Francisco Bay, was emptied of its last inmates at the order of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, after three decades of housing some of America’s most notorious criminals.

In 1965,  Ranger program: NASA launches Ranger 9, the last in a series of unmanned lunar space probes.

In 1965,  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. leads 3,200 people on the start of the third and finally successful civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama protected by federal troops following an assault on them by local police two  weeks earlier. 25,000 people join in by the time the marchers reach the capital  of Montgomery on the 25th. Later, at the end of the march, King will tell the crowd, “We are on the move and no wave of racism will stop us.”

In 1966, the Supreme Court reverses a Massachusetts ruling that the eighteen-century novel “Fanny Hill” was obscene (it had “redeeming social value”).

In 1968,  Battle of Karameh in Jordan between Israeli Defense Forces and Fatah.

In 1970,  The first Earth Day proclamation is issued by Mayor of San Francisco Joseph Alioto.

In 1980,  US President Jimmy Carter announces a United States boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

In 1980,  Dallas aired its “A House Divided” episode which led to eight months of international intrigue regarding Who shot J.R.?

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan tapped former Environmental Protection Agency administrator William D. Ruckelshaus to again head the EPA, following the resignation of Anne M. Burford.

In 1989,  Sports Illustrated reports allegations tying baseball player Pete Rose to baseball gambling.

In 1990,  Namibia becomes independent after 75 years of South African rule.

In 1990, Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev increased pressure on the breakaway republic of Lithuania, ordering its citizens to turn in their guns.

In 1993, Seven more adults left the besieged Branch Davidian compound as federal authorities continued negotiations with cult leader David Koresh to end the standoff.

In 1999,  Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones become the first to circumnavigate the Earth in a hot air balloon. Around the world in 19 days. They flew — or maybe we should say floated — more than 29,000 miles after launching their quest from the Swiss Alps March 1.

In 2000,  Pope John Paul II makes his first ever pontifical visit to Israel.

In 2000, A divided Supreme Court ruled the government lacked authority to regulate tobacco as an addictive drug, throwing out the Clinton administration’s main anti-smoking initiative.

In 2006,  The social media site Twitter is founded.

In 2009,  Four police officers are shot and killed and a fifth is wounded in two shootings at Oakland, California.

ChuckBednarik1952Bowman.jpgIn 2015,  Chuck Bednarik, American lieutenant and football player (b. 1925) dies at 4:23 a.m. on March 21, 2015 after having fallen ill the previous day. He was 89. He  was a professional American football player, known as one of the most devastating tacklers in the history of football and the last full-time two-way player in the National Football League. A Slovak American from the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania, Bednarik played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1949 through 1962 and, upon retirement, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967 (his first year of eligibility).

Bednarik began playing football in Bethlehem. He played for Bethlehem’s Liberty High School.

Following his graduation from high school, he entered the United States Army Air Forces and served as a B-24 waist-gunner with the Eighth Air Force. Bednarik flew on 30 combat missions over Germany, for which he was awarded the Air Medal and four Oak Leaf Clusters, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and four Battle Stars.

Bednarik subsequently attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he was a 60-minute man, excelling as both center and linebacker, as well as occasional punter. He was a three-time All-American, and was elected a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, as were two of his teammates on the 1947 squad—tackle George Savitsky and tailback Tony Minisi—and his coach, George Munger. At Penn, he also was third in Heisman Trophy voting in 1948 and won the Maxwell Award that year. In 1969 he was voted by a panel of sportswriters, coaches and hall of fame players as “The Greatest Center of All-Time.”

In 2016, Rosaria Butterfield is a former lesbian and feminist who has written books about her conversion to Christianity. A self-described former lesbian and feminist said on Wednesday that the Supreme Court’s decision in the Obergefell v. Hodges case declaring states’ ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, created the “nation’s reigning idol.”

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