1655 – John Casor becomes the first legally-recognized slave in England’s North American colonies where a crime was not committed. John Casor (surname also recorded as Cazara and Corsala), a servant in Northampton County in the Virginia Colony, in 1655 became the first person of African descent in Britain’s Thirteen Colonies to be declared as a slave for life as the result of a civil suit. In one of the earliest freedom suits, Casor argued that he was an indentured servant who had been forced by Johnson to serve past his term; he was freed and went to work for Robert Parker as an indentured servant. Johnson sued Parker for Casor’s services. In ordering Casor returned to his master for life, Anthony Johnson, a free black, the court both declared Casor a slave and sustained the right of free blacks to own slaves. Slavery law hardened during Casor’s lifetime, though slavery is not considered restricted to people of African descent, as more than 500,000 Irish, as young as 10 years old were enslaved by England from 1610-1843, under the aims of King James I. In 1662, the Virginia colony passed a law incorporating the principle of partus sequitur ventrem, ruling that children of enslaved mothers would be born into slavery, regardless of their father’s race or status. This was in contradiction to English common law for English subjects, which based a child’s status on that of the father. In 1699 Virginia passed a law deporting all free blacks.
1690 – French and Algonquins destroy Schenectady, New York, killing 60 settlers, including ten women and at least twelve children.
1775 – An anonymous writer, thought by some to be Thomas Paine, publishes “African Slavery in America”, the first article in the American colonies calling for the emancipation of slaves and the abolition of slavery.
1777 – Regiments from Ansbach and Bayreuth, sent to support Great Britain in the American War of Independence, mutiny in the town of Ochsenfurt.
1782 – In Gnadenhutten, a Moravian missionary village in the Ohio territory, American militiamen massacre 96 Christian Delaware Indians in retaliation for raids executed by other tribes. The site of the village has been preserved. A reconstructed mission house and cooper’s house were built there, and a monument to the dead was erected. The burial mound is marked and has been maintained on the site. The village site has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
1785 – Congress appoints Henry Knox as secretary of war. The post has been vacant for two years since the resignation of General Benjamin Lincoln.
1790 – George Washington delivered the first State of the Union address.
1796 – Back in the tender days of the nation’s infancy, the Supreme Court handed down an early decision on taxation in the case of Hylton v. United States. The Court, which delivered its decision on this day in 1796, ruled that the carriage tax, the issue at the heart of the case, was an indirect tax. As such, the carriage tax was deemed constitutional, marking the first time in U.S. history that Court had weighed in on the constitutionality of legislation that had been passed by Congress.
1813 – President Madison names Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin and Delaware Senator James A. Bayard as special peace commissioners to join US minister to Russia John Quincy Adams in St. Petersburg at the invitation of Czar Alexander I, who has offered to mediate between Great Britain and the US in the War of 1812. Bayard and Gallatin will arrive in St. Petersburg 21 July.
1822 – President Monroe sends a special message to Congress proposing US recognition of the new Latin American republics that have recently achieved independence from Spain. Among them are Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Mexico. Henry Clay has been pressing for recognition since 1818, but Monroe delayed until after ratification of the US treaty with Spain and the cession of the formerly Spanish region of Florida to the US.
1847 – Commodore David Connor leads successful amphibious assault near Vera Cruz, Mexico.
1854 – US Commodore Matthew C. Perry landed at Yokohama on his 2nd trip to Japan. Within a month, he concluded a treaty with the Japanese.
1861 – St. Augustine, Florida, surrendered to Union armies.
1862 – On the second day of the Battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern) in Arkansas, Confederate forces, including some Indian troops, under General Earl Van Dorn surprised Union troops, but the Union troops won the battle. Pea Ridge Natl. Military Park, Arkansas, marked the site where Confederate commanders, Gen. Ben McCulloch and Gen. James McIntosh, were killed.
1862 – Ironclad C.S.S. Virginia, Captain Buchanan, destroyed wooden blockading ships U.S.S. Cumberland and U.S.S. Congress in Hampton Roads. Virginia, without trials or under way-training, headed directly for the Union squadron. She opened the engagement when less than a mile distant from Cumberland and the firing became general from blockaders and shore batteries. Virginia rammed Cumberland below the waterline and she sank rapidly, “gallantly fighting her guns,” Buchanan reported in tribute to a brave foe, “as long as they were above water. Buchanan next turned Virginia’s fury on Congress, hard aground, and set her ablaze with hot shot and incendiary shell. The day was Virginia’s but it was not without loss. Part of her ram was wrenched off and left imbedded in the side of stricken Cumberland, and Buchanan received a wound in the thigh which necessitated his turning over command to Lieutenant Catesby ap R. Jones. Secretary of the Navy Mallory wrote to President Davis of the action: “The conduct of the Officers and men of the squadron . . . reflects unfading honor upon themselves and upon the Navy. The report will be read with deep interest, and its details will not fail to rouse the ardor and nerve the arms of our gallant seamen. It will be remembered that the Virginia was a novelty in naval architecture, wholly unlike any ship that ever floated; that her heaviest guns were equal novelties in ordnance; that her motive power and obedience to her helm were untried, and her officers and crew strangers, comparatively, to the ship and to each other; and yet, under all these disadvantages, the dashing courage and consummate professional ability of Flag Officer Buchanan and his associates achieved the most remarkable victory which naval annals record.” U.S.S. Monitor, Lieutenant Worden, arrived in Hampton Roads at night. The stage was set for the dramatic battle with C.S.S. Virginia the following day. ‘ Upon the untried endurances of the new Monitor and her timely arrival,” observed Captain Dahlgren, ”did depend the tide of events. . . ” The C.S.S. Virginia was originally the U.S.S. Merrimack, a forty-gun frigate launched in 1855. The Merrimack served in the Caribbean and was the flagship of the Pacific fleet in the late 1850s. In early 1860, the ship was decommissioned for extensive repairs at the Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia. It was still there when the war began in April 1861, and Union sailors sank the ship as the yard was evacuated. Six weeks later, a salvage company raised the ship and the Confederates began rebuilding it. The project required $172,000 to build an ironclad upon the Merrimack’s hull. A new gun deck was added and an iron canopy was draped over the entire vessel. The most challenging part of the construction came in finding the iron plating. Richmond’s Tredegar Iron Works finally produced it, but the plant had to alter its operations to roll more than 300 tons of scrap iron for the two-inch thick plating.
1862 – Nat Gordon, last pirate, was hanged in NYC for stealing 1,000 slaves.
1865 – Battle of Kingston, NC (Wilcox’s ridge, Wise’s Forks).
1874 – Millard Fillmore (b.1800), the 13th president of the United States (1850-1853), died in Buffalo, N.Y.
1880 – President Rutherford B. Hayes declared that the United States would have jurisdiction over any canal built across the isthmus of Panama.
1913 – Internal Revenue Service began to levy and collect income taxes.
1916 – US invaded Cuba for 3rd time. This time “to end corrupt Menocal regime.”
1917 – Riots, strikes, and mass demonstrations break out in Moscow. People are demonstrating against shortages of food and fuel, and the autocratic style of the government. The police use lethal force against the demonstrators, but the unrest continues over the following days.
1919 – Reports from Paris indicated that 6,000 American men had married French women in the past year.
1930 – William Howard Taft (72), 27th president of the United States (1909-1913), died in Washington. In addition to John F. Kennedy, William Howard Taft is the only other U.S. president buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Born in Cincinnati on September 15, 1857, Taft was the 27th president, serving from 1909 to 1913. He later served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1921 until illness forced him to resign in 1930.
1933 – Anton J. Cermak (b.1873), Czech-born 35th mayor of Chicago, died following the Feb 15th assassination attempt in Miami by Guiseppe Zangara, who was trying to shoot FDR. Zangara was executed in the electric chair on March 21, 1933. Cermak became the 2nd US mayor to die in a political killing.
1934 – Edwin Hubble photo showed as many galaxies as Milky Way has stars.
1941 – The Lend-Lease Bill is passed by the Senate by 60 votes to 13.
1942 – Coast Guard plane located the lifeboats of SS Arubutan, which had been sunk by a Nazi submarine off the North Carolina coast, and directed CGC Calypso to them.
1943 – A change in the standard encoding machine used by the German U-boat fleet creates problems for Allied anti-submarine warfare. A fourth rotor is added to the Engima to ensure secure communications. Allied cryptographers are able to decipher the German communication, after a brief delay.
1943 – US Ambassador to the USSR, Admiral W.M. Standley, claims that the Soviet leaders are not telling their people about all the aid the US is sending. On March 11, Soviet Ambassador to the US, Maxim Litvinov, thanks the US for its aid.
1944 – USAAF heavy bombers raid Berlin for a second time. About 10 percent of the force of 580 bombers is lost despite the escort of 800 fighters.
1944 – Japanese forces attack the American beachhead on Bougainville. The US airfields at Piva are shelled by the Japanese and some of the American bombers are withdrawn. Japanese infantry infiltrate the positions of the US 37th Division. The attacking troops are most from the Japanese 6th Division (General Hyakutake).
1944 – On New Britain, the attacks of US 1st Marine Division makes progress as does the American advance along the coast from Cape Gloucester.
1945 – Phyllis Mae Daley received a commission in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps. She was the first African-American nurse to serve duty in World War II.
1945 – During the night, German forces from the garrisons in the occupied Channel Islands mount a raid on Granville on the west coast of the Cotentin Peninsula. One small US warship and 4 merchant ships are sunk. The raiders also free 67 German prisoners of war.
1945 – American efforts to reinforce the Remagen bridgehead continue. German bombers, including some jets, begin attacks on the bridge but fail to destroy it. To the north, units of the Canadian 2nd Corps (part of Canadian 1st Army) capture Xanten.
1945 – On Iwo Jima, the forces of US 5th Amphibious Corps continue pushing northward with heavy fire support. Japanese forces are now all within one mile of the north end of the island.
1950 – Marshall Voroshilov of USSR announced they had developed atomic bomb.
1954 – The U.S. signed a defense pact with Japan, offering them $100 million in aid within the next three months.
1958 – Battleship USS Wisconsin (BB-64) is decommissioned, leaving the Navy without an active battleship for the first time since 1895.
1961 – US nuclear submarine Patrick Henry arrived at Scottish naval base of Holy Loch from SC in a record under seas journey of 66 days 22 hrs.
1965 – The USS Henrico, Union, and Vancouver, carrying the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade under Brig. Gen. Frederick J. Karch, take up stations 4,000 yards off Red Beach Two, north of Da Nang. First ashore was the Battalion Landing Team 3/9, which arrived on the beach at 8:15 a.m. Wearing full battle gear and carrying M-16s, the Marines were met by sightseers, South Vietnamese officers, Vietnamese girls with leis, and four American soldiers with a large sign stating: “Welcome, Gallant Marines.” Gen. William Westmoreland, senior U.S. military commander in Saigon, was reportedly “appalled” at the spectacle because he had hoped that the Marines could land without any fanfare. Within two hours, Battalion Landing Team 1/3 began landing at Da Nang air base. The 3,500 Marines were deployed to secure the U.S. airbase, freeing South Vietnamese troops up for combat. On March 1, Ambassador Maxwell Taylor had informed South Vietnamese Premier Phan Huy Quat that the United States was preparing to send the Marines to Vietnam. Three days later, a formal request was submitted by the U.S. Embassy, asking the South Vietnamese government to “invite” the United States to send the Marines. Premier Quat, a mere figurehead, had to obtain approval from the real power, Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, chief of the Armed Forces Council. Thieu approved, but, like Westmoreland, asked that the Marines be “brought ashore in the most inconspicuous way feasible.” These wishes were ignored and the Marines were given a hearty, conspicuous welcome when they arrived.
1968 – A Soviet submarine, code-named K129, sank in the Pacific at a depth of almost 20,000 feet. A US sub, the Halibut, found the Soviet vessel 6 months later and recovered 3 missiles with nuclear warheads, Soviet code books and an encryption machine. In 1974 the CIA attempted to recover the sub. A 100 foot section was pulled in by the Glomar Explorer with 2 nuclear tipped torpedoes and the bodies of 6 Russian sailors.
1970 – The Nixon administration disclosed the deaths of 27 Americans in Laos.
1971 – Radio Hanoi broadcast Jimi Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner.”
1973 – The first “Coast Guard-controlled drug seizure” took place when the cutter Dauntless seized the sport fishing vessel Big L which was carrying an illicit cargo: one ton of marijuana.
1975 – South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu orders the withdrawal of South Vietnamese forces from the Central Highlands. In late January 1975, just two years after the cease-fire had been established by the Paris Peace Accords, the North Vietnamese launched Campaign 275. The objective of this campaign was the capture of Ban Me Thuot in the Central Highlands. The battle began on March 4 and the North Vietnamese quickly encircled the city. As it became clear that the communists would take the city and probably the entire Darlac province, Thieu decided to withdraw his forces in order to protect the more critical populous areas. Accordingly, he ordered his forces in the Central Highlands to pull back from their positions. Abandoning Pleiku and Kontum, the South Vietnamese forces began to move toward the sea, but what began as an orderly withdrawal soon turned into panic. The South Vietnamese forces rapidly fell apart. The North Vietnamese were successful in both the Central Highlands and further north at Quang Tri, Hue, and Da Nang. The South Vietnamese soon collapsed as a cogent fighting force and the North Vietnamese continued the attack all the way to Saigon. South Vietnam surrendered unconditionally on April 30.
1977 – The U.S. Army announced that they had conducted 239 open-air tests of germ warfare.
1979 – Philips demonstrates the Compact Disc publicly for the first time.
1982 – The United States government issues a public statement accusing the Soviet Union of using poison gas and chemical weapons in its war against rebel forces in Afghanistan. The accusation was part of the continuing U.S. criticism of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. Since sending troops into Afghanistan in 1979 in an attempt to prop up a pro-Soviet communist government, the Soviet Union had been on the receiving end of an unceasing string of criticism and diplomatic attacks from the United States government. First the Carter administration, and then the Reagan administration, condemned the Soviets for their intervention in a sovereign nation. Because of the issue, arms control talks had been tabled, the United States had boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, and diplomatic tension between America and Russia reached alarming proportions. Reports that the Soviets were using poison gas and chemical weapons in Afghanistan only intensified the heightened tensions. The U.S. government’s official statement charged that over 3,000 Afghans had been killed by weapons, including “irritants, incapacitants, nerve agents, phosgene oxime and perhaps mycotoxins, mustard, lewisite and toxic smoke.” Evidence to support these charges was largely anecdotal and a number of U.S. scientists had serious doubts about the data put forward by the Reagan administration. Some critics charged that the accusations were a smokescreen behind which the United States could go forward with further development and stockpiling of its own chemical weapons arsenal. The U.S. attack must have seemed mildly ironic to the Soviets, who had pilloried America for the use of defoliants and other chemical weapons during its war in Vietnam. By 1982, many Americans were referring to Afghanistan as “Russia’s Vietnam.”
1983 – Pres Reagan called the USSR an “Evil Empire.”
1988 – Seventeen soldiers died when two Army helicopters from Fort Campbell, Ky., collided in midair.
1990 – Opening arguments were heard in the Iran-Contra trial of former national security adviser John M. Poindexter.
1991 – Planeload after planeload of US troops arrived home from the Persian Gulf to an emotional welcome from relatives. Iraq handed over 40 foreign journalists and two American soldiers whom it had captured.
1994 – The Defense Department announced a smoking ban for workplaces ranging from the Pentagon to battle tanks.
1995 – Two United States diplomats were killed, one injured, when their car was ambushed as they were driving to the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan.
1999 – The Clinton administration directed the firing of nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee from his job at the Los Alamos National Laboratory because of alleged security violations.
1999 – US warplanes dropped laser-guided bombs on northern and southern Iraq.
2001 – The space shuttle Discovery lifted off with supplies for the int’l. space station in a new Italian module named Leonardo. The 12-day mission also included a fresh crew of 3 for the station.
2001 – In Afghanistan the giant Buddha at Bamiyan was destroyed.
2002 – The Holy Land Foundation filed suit against the US Departments of Justice, Treasury and State for violation of its civil rights and putting it out of business as a suspected conduit for terrorist funds.
2003 – The first Afghan radio station programmed solely for women began broadcasting in Kabul. Daily broadcasts will increase to 2 hours next week and up to 4 hours in several months.
2003 – Iraq resumed the destruction of banned Al Samoud 2 missiles after taking a day off and called on the UN to lift sanctions after arms inspectors gave a positive assessment of Baghdad’s cooperation. Iraq also demanded that the UN strip Israel of weapons of mass destruction, require withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territory and that the UN brand the US and Britain as liars.
2003 – A report by UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix to the Security Council says that he suspects Iraq might be trying to produce new missiles. He also says it will take months to disarm Iraq, even with its active cooperation. The Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed El Baradei, says there is no evidence Iraq has a nuclear weapons development program.
2004 – In Haiti US Marines shot and killed the driver of a vehicle speeding up to a military checkpoint.
2004 – Iraq’s Governing Council signed a landmark interim constitution after resolving a political impasse sparked by objections from the country’s most powerful cleric.
2004 – Abu Abbas (56), the Palestinian who planned the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro passenger ship in which a wheelchair-bound American tourist was killed and thrown overboard, died of natural causes in Baghdad while in U.S. custody.
2005 – China unveiled a law authorizing an attack if Taiwan moves toward formal independence, increasing pressure on the self-ruled island while warning other countries not to interfere.
2013 – North Korea ends all peace pacts with South Korea and closes the main Panmunjom border crossing inside the Korean Demilitarized Zone. North Korean generals affirm they are aiming their long range missiles at the U.S. mainland in retaliation for the recently approved U.N. sanctions.
2014 – During an interview with French television channel France 24, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of openly funding ISIS.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken this Day
Rank and organization: Ordinary Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 24 May 1886, Austria. Accredited to: lowa. G.O. No.: 19, 1 May 1906. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Pampanga, Mount Dajo Jolo, Philippine Islands, 8 March 1906. Serving in the presence of the enemy on this date, Fitz displayed bravery and extraordinary heroism.
General Order: Citation: For extraordinary heroism in action on 8 March 1943. Private Watson was on board a ship which was attacked and hit by enemy bombers. When the ship was abandoned, Private Watson, instead of seeking to save himself, remained in the water assisting several soldiers who could not swim to reach the safety of the raft. This heroic action, which subsequently cost him his life, resulted in the saving of several of his comrades. Weakened by his exertions, he was dragged down by the suction of the sinking ship and was drowned. Private Watson’s extraordinarily valorous actions, daring leadership, and self-sacrificing devotion to his fellow-man exemplify the finest traditions of military service.
*LA BELLE, JAMES DENNIS
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Born: 22 November 1925, Columbia Heights, Minn. Accredited to: Minnesota. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 8 March 1945. Filling a gap in the front lines during a critical phase of the battle, Pfc. LaBelle had dug into a foxhole with 2 other marines and, grimly aware of the enemy’s persistent attempts to blast a way through our lines with hand grenades, applied himself with steady concentration to maintaining a sharply vigilant watch during the hazardous night hours. Suddenly a hostile grenade landed beyond reach in his foxhole. Quickly estimating the situation, he determined to save the others if possible, shouted a warning, and instantly dived on the deadly missile, absorbing the exploding charge in his own body and thereby protecting his comrades from serious injury. Stouthearted and indomitable, he had unhesitatingly relinquished his own chance of survival that his fellow marines might carry on the relentless fight against a fanatic enemy His dauntless courage, cool decision and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of certain death reflect the highest credit upon Pfc. LaBelle and upon the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Born: 22 October 1915, Ennie, Tex. Appointed from: Texas. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as leader of a Rifle Platoon attached to the 2d Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 8 March 1945. Resuming his assault tactics with bold decision after fighting without respite for 2 days and nights, 1st Lt. Lummus slowly advanced his platoon against an enemy deeply entrenched in a network of mutually supporting positions. Suddenly halted by a terrific concentration of hostile fire, he unhesitatingly moved forward of his front lines in an effort to neutralize the Japanese position. Although knocked to the ground when an enemy grenade exploded close by, he immediately recovered himself and, again moving forward despite the intensified barrage, quickly located, attacked, and destroyed the occupied emplacement. Instantly taken under fire by the garrison of a supporting pillbox and further assailed by the slashing fury of hostile rifle fire, he fell under the impact of a second enemy grenade but, courageously disregarding painful shoulder wounds, staunchly continued his heroic 1-man assault and charged the second pillbox, annihilating all the occupants. Subsequently returning to his platoon position, he fearlessly traversed his lines under fire, encouraging his men to advance and directing the fire of supporting tanks against other stubbornly holding Japanese emplacements. Held up again by a devastating barrage, he again moved into the open, rushed a third heavily fortified installation and killed the defending troops. Determined to crush all resistance, he led his men indomitably, personally attacking foxholes and spider traps with his carbine and systematically reducing the fanatic opposition until, stepping on a land mine, he sustained fatal wounds. By his outstanding valor, skilled tactics, and tenacious perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, 1st Lt. Lummus had inspired his stouthearted marines to continue the relentless drive northward, thereby contributing materially to the success of his regimental mission. His dauntless leadership and unwavering devotion to duty throughout sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.
*MATHIS, JACK W. (Air Mission)
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps, 359th Bomber Squadron, 303d Bomber Group. Place and date: Over Vegesack, Germany, 18 March 1943. Entered service at: San Angelo, Tex. Born: 25 September 1921, San Angelo, Tex. G.O. No.: 38, 12 July 1943. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy over Vegesack, Germany, on 18 March 1943. 1st Lt. Mathis, as leading bombardier of his squadron, flying through intense and accurate antiaircraft fire, was just starting his bomb run, upon which the entire squadron depended for accurate bombing, when he was hit by the enemy antiaircraft fire. His right arm was shattered above the elbow, a large wound was torn in his side and abdomen, and he was knocked from his bomb sight to the rear of the bombardier’s compartment. Realizing that the success of the mission depended upon him, 1st Lt. Mathis, by sheer determination and willpower, though mortally wounded, dragged himself back to his sights, released his bombs, then died at his post of duty. As the result of this action the airplanes of his bombardment squadron placed their bombs directly upon the assigned target for a perfect attack against the enemy. 1st Lt. Mathis’ undaunted bravery has been a great inspiration to the officers and men of his unit.