March 12th in History

This day in historyMarch 12
is the 71st day of the year (72nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 294 days remaining until the end of the year.



In 538,  Vitiges, king of the Ostrogoths ends his siege of Rome and retreats to Ravenna, leaving the city in the hands of the victorious Byzantine general, Belisarius.

In 1550,  Several hundred Spanish and indigenous troops under the command of Pedro de Valdivia defeat an army of 60,000 Mapuche at the Battle of Penco during the Arauco War in present-day Chile.

In 1609, Bermuda becomes an English colony.  After 1949, when Newfoundland became part of Canada, Bermuda was automatically ranked as the oldest remaining British Overseas Territory. Since the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997, it is the most populous Territory. Its first capital, St. George’s, was established in 1612 and is the oldest continuously inhabited English town in the New World.

In 1622,  Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier, founders of the Jesuits, are canonized as saints by the Catholic Church.

In 1689,  The Williamite War in Ireland begins.

In 1811,  Peninsular War: A day after a successful rearguard action, French Marshal Michel Ney once again successfully delayed the pursuing Anglo-Portuguese force at the Battle of Redinha.

Alexander MacKenzie by Thomas Lawrence (c.1800).jpg

Alexander MacKenzie by Thomas Lawrence

In 1820,  Alexander Mackenzie, Scottish explorer and politician (b. 1764) dies in 1820 of Bright’s disease, at an age of 56 (his exact date of birth unknown). He is buried near Avoch on the Black Isle. He was a Scottish explorer. He is known for his overland crossing of what is now Canada to reach the Pacific Ocean in 1793. This was the first east to west crossing of North America north of Mexico and preceded the Lewis and Clark expedition by 10 years.

In 1864,  American Civil War: The Red River Campaign begins as a US Navy fleet of 13 Ironclads and 7 Gunboats and other support ships enter the Red River.

In 1868,  Henry O’Farrell attempts to assassinate Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh.

In 1868,  Basutoland, today called Lesotho, is annexed by the United Kingdom.

In 1877, The first department store in Philadelphia, and one of the first in the country, opened by John Wanamaker in Philadelphia (Wanamaker’s). At its zenith in the early 20th century, Wanamaker had department stores, located both in Philadelphia, and two locations in New York City; at Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street, and the other at 770 Broadway. Both employed extremely large staffs. By the end of the 20th century in the shopping-mall era, there were 16 Wanamaker’s outlets, but after years of change the chain was bought by Albert Taubman, and added to his previous purchase of Woodward & Lothrop, the Washington, D.C., department store. In 1994, Woodies, as it was known, filed for bankruptcy. The assets of Woodies were purchased by the May Company Department Stores and JCPenney. In 1995, Wanamakers transitioned to Hecht’s, one of the May Company brands. As of 2012, the occupant of the former Philadelphia Wanamaker’s Department Store is Macy’s Center City.

In 1881,  Andrew Watson makes his Scotland debut as the world’s first black international football player and captain.

In 1884, The legislature of the state of Mississippi established Industrial Institute & College, (later Mississippi University for Women) the first public college for women in the United States. Other states soon followed: Georgia created Georgia State College for Women in 1889, North Carolina created North Carolina Women’s College in 1891, and Florida converted its coeducational Florida State College to a women-only school in 1905. This is similar to the establishment of Douglass Residential College (Rutgers University), which was founded as the New Jersey College for Women in 1918 by Mabel Smith Douglass.

In 1885,  Tonkin Campaign: France captures the citadel of Bắc Ninh.

In 1894,  Coca-Cola is bottled and sold for the first time in Vicksburg, Mississippi, by local soda fountain operator Joseph Biedenharn.

In 1910,  Greek cruiser Georgios Averof is launched at Livorno.

In 1912,  The Girl Guides (later renamed the Girl Scouts of the USA) are founded in the United States by Juliette Gordon Low.

In 1913,  Canberra Day: The future capital of Australia is officially named Canberra. (Melbourne remains temporary capital until 1927 while the new capital is still under construction.)

George Westinghouse.jpgIn 1914,  George Westinghouse, American engineer and businessman (b. 1846) dies at age 67. He was initially interred in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY then removed on December 14, 1915. As a Civil War veteran, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, along with his wife Marguerite, who survived him by three months. She had also initially interred in Woodlawn and removed and reinterred at the same time as George. Although a shrewd and determined businessman, Westinghouse was a conscientious employer and wanted to make fair deals with his business associates. He was an American entrepreneur and engineer who invented the railway air brake and was a pioneer of the electrical industry, gaining his first patent at the age of 22. Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for much of his career, Westinghouse was one of Thomas Edison‘s main rivals in the early implementation of the American electricity system. Westinghouse’s electricity distribution system, based on alternating current, ultimately prevailed over Edison’s insistence on direct current. In 1911 Westinghouse received the AIEE’s Edison Medal “For meritorious achievement in connection with the development of the alternating current system.”

In 1918,  Moscow becomes the capital of Russia again after Saint Petersburg held this status for 215 years.

In 1920,  The Kapp Putsch begins when the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt is ordered to march on Berlin.

In 1921,  İstiklâl Marşı is adopted in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.

In 1922,  Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan form The Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic

In 1928,  In California, the St. Francis Dam fails; the resulting floods kill over 600 people.

In 1930,  Mahatma Gandhi leads a 200-mile march, known as the Salt March, to the sea in defiance of British opposition, to protest the British monopoly on salt

In 1933,  Great Depression: Franklin D. Roosevelt addresses the nation for the first time as President of the United States. This is also the first of his “fireside chats“.

In 1934,  Konstantin Päts and General Johan Laidoner stage a coup in Estonia, and ban all political parties.

In 1938,  Anschluss: German troops occupy and absorb Austria. The “Anschluss” took place as German troops entered Austria, completing what Adolf Hitler described as his mission to restore his homeland to the Third Reich.

In 1940,  Winter War: Finland signs the Moscow Peace Treaty with the Soviet Union, ceding almost all of Finnish Karelia. Finnish troops and the remaining population are immediately evacuated.

In 1942,  Pacific War: The Battle of Java ends with an Allied surrender to the Japanese Empire.

In 1945, N.Y. is the first state to prohibit discrimination by race & creed in employment.


Anne Frank School Photo

In 1945, Anne Frank, the Jewish teenager who kept a diary of her wartime experiences, dies in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. She was 15. The exact date could not be determined and could have been as early as February. She was a German-born diarist and writer. She is one of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Her diary, The Diary of a Young Girl, which documents her life in hiding during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II, is one of the world’s most widely known books and has been the basis for several plays and films.

Born in the city of Frankfurt, Germany, she lived most of her life in or near Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Born a German national, Frank lost her citizenship in 1941 and thus becamestateless. The Frank family moved from Germany to Amsterdam in the early 1930s when the Nazis gained control over Germany. By May 1940, they were trapped in Amsterdam by the German occupation of the Netherlands. As persecutions of the Jewish population increased in July 1942, the family went into hiding in some concealed rooms behind a bookcase in the building where Anne’s father worked. In August 1944, the group was betrayed and transported to concentration camps. Anne and her sister, Margot, were eventually transferred to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they died (probably of typhus) in February or March 1945, just weeks before the camp was liberated in April.

Otto Frank, the only survivor of the family, returned to Amsterdam after the war to find that Anne’s diary had been saved by one of the helpers, Miep Gies, and his efforts led to its publication in 1947. It was translated from its original Dutch version and first published in English in 1952 as The Diary of a Young Girl, and has since been translated into over 60 languages. The diary, which was given to Anne on her thirteenth birthday, chronicles her life from 12 June 1942 until 1 August 1944.

In 1945, USSR gives Transylvania to Romania. It just couldn’t deal with the vampires.

In 1947,  The Truman Doctrine is proclaimed to help stem the spread of Communism.

In 1950,  The Llandow air disaster occurs near Sigingstone, Wales, in which 80 people die when their aircraft crashed, making it the world’s deadliest air disaster at the time.

Dennisketcham.jpgIn 1951, the comic strip “Dennis The Menace” by Hank Ketchum debuted, inspired by his own son, Dennis.

In 1961,  First winter ascent of the North Face of the Eiger.

In 1964, Malcolm X resigned from the Nation of Islam.

In 1967,  Suharto takes over from Sukarno to become Acting President of Indonesia.

In 1968,  Mauritius achieves independence from the United Kingdom.

In 1971,  The March 12 Memorandum is sent to the Demirel government of Turkey and the government resigns.

In 1985, former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon announced that he planned to drop Secret Service protection and hire his own bodyguards. The plan would save taxpayers about $3 million a year. Nixon said that he was taking the action, “to do his part to help cut the federal deficit.”

In 1990, Vice President Quayle met in Santiago, Chile, with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who promised to peacefully relinquish power to Violeta Chamorro, the U.S.-backed candidate who had won Nicaragua’s presidential election.

In 1992,  Mauritius becomes a republic while remaining a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

In 1993,  Several bombs explode in Bombay (Mumbai), India, killing about 300 and injuring hundreds more.

In 1993,  North Korea nuclear weapons program: North Korea says that it plans to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and refuses to allow inspectors access to its nuclear sites.

In 1993,  The Blizzard of 1993: Snow begins to fall across the eastern portion of the US with tornadoes, thunder snow storms, high winds and record low temperatures. The storm lasts for 30 hours.

In 1993,  Janet Reno is sworn in as the United States’ first female attorney general.

In 1994,  The Church of England ordains its first female priests.

In 1999,  Former Warsaw Pact members the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland join NATO.

In 2003,  Zoran Đinđić, Prime Minister of Serbia, is assassinated in Belgrade.

In 2004,  The President of South Korea, Roh Moo-hyun, is impeached by its National Assembly: The first such impeachment in the nation’s history.

In 2005,  Karolos Papoulias becomes President of Greece.

In 2009,  Financier Bernard Madoff pleads guilty in New York to scamming $18 billion, the largest in Wall Street history.

In 2011,  A reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant melts and explodes and releases radioactivity into the atmosphere a day after Japan’s earthquake.

In 2014,  A gas explosion in the New York City neighborhood of East Harlem kills eight and injures 70 others.

In 2016, Lloyd Shapley, American mathematician and economist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1923) dies. He was an American mathematician and Nobel Prize-winning economist. He contributed to the fields of mathematical economics and especially game theory. Since the work of von Neumann and Morgenstern in 1940s, Shapley has been regarded by many experts as the very personification of game theory. With Alvin E. Roth, Shapley won the 2012 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences “for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design.” From 1981 until his death, Shapley was a professor at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), serving at the time of his death as a professor emeritus there, affiliated with departments of Mathematics and Economics. He died on March 12, 2016, in Tucson, Arizona, after suffering from a broken hip, at the age of 92.

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