1660 – A statute was passed limiting the sale of slaves in the colony of Virginia.
1677 – Massachusetts gained title to Maine for $6,000.
1777 – Congress ordered its European envoys to appeal to high-ranking foreign officers to send troops to reinforce the American army.
1781 – Astronomer William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus, which he named ‘Georgium Sidus,’ in honor of George III. He initially though it was a comet. It is the 7th planet from the sun and revolves around the sun every 84.02 years. It is 14.6 time the size of Earth and has five satellites. The planet Uranus is a gas giant like Jupiter and Saturn and is made up of hydrogen, helium, and methane. The third largest planet, Uranus orbits the sun once every 84 earth years and is the only planet to spin perpendicular to its solar orbital plane. In January 1986, the unmanned U.S. spacecraft Voyager 2 visited the planet, discovering 10 additional moons to the five already known, and a system of faint rings around the gas giant.
1836 – Less than a week after the disastrous defeat of Texas rebels at the Alamo, the newly commissioned Texan General Sam Houston begins a series of strategic retreats to buy time to train his ill-prepared army. Revolutionary Texans had only formally announced their independence from Mexico 11 days earlier. On March 6, 1836, the separatists chose Sam Houston to be the commander-in-chief of the revolutionary army. Houston immediately departed for Gonzales, Texas, where the main force of the revolutionary army was stationed. When he arrived, he found that the Texan army consisted of 374 poorly dressed and ill-equipped men. Most had no guns or military experience, and they had only two days of rations. Houston had little time to dwell on the situation, because he learned that the Mexican general Santa Anna was staging a siege of the Alamo in San Antonio. Before Houston could prepare his troops to rush to aid the defenders, however, word arrived that Santa Anna had wiped them out on March 6. Scouts reported that Santa Anna’s troops were heading east toward Gonzales. Unprepared to confront the Mexican army with his poorly trained force, Houston began a series of strategic retreats designed to give him enough time to whip his army into fighting shape. Houston’s decision to retreat won him little but scorn from the Texas rebels. His troops and officers were eager to engage the Mexicans, and they chafed at Houston’s insistence on learning proper field maneuvers. Houston wisely continued to organize, train, and equip his troops so they would be prepared to meet Santa Anna’s army. Finally, after nearly a month of falling back, Houston ordered his men to turn around and head south to meet Santa Anna’s forces. On April 21, Houston led his 783 troops in an attack on Santa Anna’s force of nearly twice that number near the confluence of Buffalo Bayou and the San Jacinto River. With the famous cry, “Remember the Alamo,” the Texans stormed the surprised Mexican forces. After a brief attempt at defense, the Mexican soldiers broke into a disorganized retreat, allowing the Texans to isolate and slaughter them. In a stunning victory, Houston’s army succeeded in killing or capturing nearly the entire Mexican force, including General Santa Anna, who was taken prisoner. Only two Texans were killed and 30 wounded. Fearful of execution, Santa Anna signed an order calling for the immediate withdrawal of all Mexican troops from Texas soil. The Mexicans never again seriously threatened the independence of the Lone Star Republic.
1852 – Uncle The first appearance of the character Uncle Sam in the weekly comic publication “Diogenes, His Lantern.”
1862 – Major General John P. McCown, CSA, ordered the evacuation of Confederate troops from New Madrid, Missouri, under cover of Flag Officer Hollins’ gunboat squadron consisting of C.S.S. Livingston, Polk, and Pontchartrain.
1863 – RADM Farragut’s squadron of 7 ships forces way up Mississippi River to support Union troops at Vicksburg and Baton Rouge
1865 – In a desperate measure, the Confederate States of America reluctantly approve the use of black troops as the main Rebel armies face long odds against much larger Union armies at this late stage of the war. The situation was bleak for the Confederates in the spring of 1865. The Yankees had captured large swaths of southern territory, General William T. Sherman’s Union army was tearing through the Carolinas, and General Robert E. Lee was trying valiantly to hold the Confederate capital of Richmond against General Ulysses S. Grant’s growing force. Lee and Confederate president Jefferson Davis had only two options. One was for Lee to unite with General Joseph Johnston’s army in the Carolinas and use the combined force to take on Sherman and Grant one at a time. The other option was to arm slaves, the last source of fresh manpower in the Confederacy. The idea of enlisting blacks had been debated for some time. Arming slaves was essentially a way of setting them free, since they could not realistically be sent back to the plantation after they had fought. General Patrick Cleburne had suggested enlisting slaves a year before, but few in the Confederate leadership considered the proposal, since slavery was the foundation of southern society. One politician asked, “What did we go to war for, if not to protect our property?” Another suggested, “If slaves will make good soldiers, our whole theory of slavery is wrong.” Lee weighed in on the issue and asked the Confederate government for help. “We must decide whether slavery shall be extinguished by our enemies and the slaves be used against us, or use them ourselves.” Lee asked that the slaves be freed as a condition of fighting, but the bill that passed the Confederate Congress on March 13 did not stipulate freedom for those who served. The measure did nothing to stop the destruction of the Confederacy. Several thousand blacks were enlisted in the Rebel cause, but they could not begin to balance out the nearly 200,000 blacks that fought for the Union.
1868 – For the first time in U.S. history, the impeachment trial of an American president gets underway in the U.S. Senate. President Andrew Johnson, reviled by the Republican-dominated Congress for his views on Reconstruction, stood accused of having violated the controversial Tenure of Office Act, passed by Congress over his veto in 1867. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Johnson, a U.S. senator from Tennessee, was the only senator from a seceding state who remained loyal to the Union. Johnson’s political career was built on his defense of the interests of poor white Southerners against the landed classes; of his decision to oppose secession, he said, “Damn the negroes; I am fighting those traitorous aristocrats, their masters.” For his loyalty, President Abraham Lincoln appointed him military governor of Tennessee in 1862, and in 1864 Johnson was elected vice president of the United States. Sworn in as president after Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, President Johnson enacted a lenient Reconstruction policy for the defeated South, including almost total amnesty to ex-Confederates, a program of rapid restoration of U.S.-state status for the seceded states, and the approval of new, local Southern governments, which were able to legislate “black codes” that preserved the system of slavery in all but name. The Republican-dominated Congress greatly opposed Johnson’s Reconstruction program and passed the “Radical Reconstruction” by repeatedly overriding the president’s vetoes. Under the Radical Reconstruction, local Southern governments gave way to federal military rule, and African-American men in the South were granted the constitutional right to vote. In March 1867, in order further to weaken Johnson’s authority, Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act over his veto. The act prohibited the president from removing federal office holders, including Cabinet members, who had been confirmed by the Senate, without the consent of the Senate. It was designed to shield members of Johnson’s Cabinet like Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, who was appointed during the Lincoln administration and was a leading ally of the so-called Radical Republicans in Congress. In the fall of 1867, Johnson attempted to test the constitutionality of the act by replacing Stanton with General Ulysses S. Grant. However, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to rule on the case, and Grant turned the office back to Stanton after the Senate passed a measure in protest of the dismissal. On February 21, 1868, Johnson decided to rid himself of Stanton once and for all and appointed General Lorenzo Thomas, an individual far less favorable to the Congress than Grant, as secretary of war. Stanton refused to yield, barricading himself in his office, and the House of Representatives, which had already discussed impeachment after Johnson’s first dismissal of Stanton, initiated formal impeachment proceedings against the president. On February 24, the House voted 11 impeachment articles against President Johnson. Nine of the articles cited his violations of the Tenure of Office Act; one cited his opposition to the Army Appropriations Act of 1867 (designed to deprive the president of his constitutional position as commander in chief of the U.S. Army); and one accused Johnson of bringing “into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt, and reproach the Congress of the United States” through certain controversial speeches. On March 13, according to the rules set out in Section 3 of Article I of the U.S. Constitution, the impeachment trial of President Johnson began in the Senate. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase presided over the proceedings, which were described as theatrical. On May 16 and again on May 26, the Senate voted on the charges brought against President Johnson. Both times the vote was 35 for conviction and 19 for acquittal, with seven moderate Republicans joining 12 Democrats in voting against what was a weak case for impeachment. Because both votes fell short–by one vote–of the two-thirds majority needed to convict Johnson, he was judged not guilty and remained in office. Nevertheless, he chose not to actively seek reelection on the Democratic ticket. In November, Ulysses S. Grant, who supported the Republicans’ Radical Reconstruction policies, was elected president of the United States. In 1875, after two failed bids, Johnson won reelection to Congress as a U.S. senator from Tennessee. He died less than four months after taking office at the age of 66. Fifty-one years later, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Tenure of Office Act unconstitutional in its ruling in Myers v. United States.
1869 – Arkansas legislature passed anti-Klan law.
1884 – Standard Time was adopted throughout the United States.
1885 – President Grover Cleveland wants settlers to stay off of Indian lands in Oklahoma Territory.
1895 – Award of first submarine building contract to John P. Holland Torpedo Boat Co. In 1895, John Philip Holland received the U.S. Navy contract to build a submarine. The Plunger would have been the first submarine destined for service in the U.S. Navy. However, foreseeing her failure because of an overly optimistic set of requirements, he began building another submarine using his own money and plans. This vessel was later christened USS Holland. This was truly the first successful U.S. submarine in America’s Navy. After some acceptance tests in the Potomac River (she wasn’t certified for the high seas), she was delivered in 1900 and became a model against which all subsequent submarines were compared. She could attain a speed of 7 knots on the surface with her 45 HP gasoline engine and about 5.5 knots submerged on her batteries. Her hardy crew consisted of one officer and five enlisted men. 1901 – Benjamin Harrison (67), 23rd president of the United States (1889-1893), died in Indianapolis.
1911 – Atlantic Landing Force of 688 Marines landed at Guantanamo Bay.
1917 – US authorities announce President Woodrow Wilson’s decision to arm all US merchant ships sailing in areas where German submarines are known to be active.
1930 – The trial of Edward Doheny begins in Washington, D.C.; he is charged with bribing the former Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall to obtain a lease for the Elk hills naval oil reserve; Doheny will be acquitted on 22 March.
1933 – Banks began to re-open after a holiday declared by President Roosevelt.
1942 – Julia Flikke of the Nurse Corps becomes the first woman colonel in the U.S. Army. Flikke entered the Army Nurse Corps during World War I in March 1918 and first served at the U.S. Army General Hospital in Lakewood, New Jersey. While there, she took the chief nurse examination and upon passing was named chief nurse of the Augustana unit, Base Hospital #11. The unit sailed for France in August 1918 and served for the duration of the war in Nantes, caring for the wounded from the Argonne. Following the Armistice, Flikke served for a period on Hospital Train #55 which was based in Savenay. Returning to the states, she had two brief assignments in Camp Upton, New York and Army and Navy General Hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Flikke then became a first lieutenant and accepted a transfer to the Philippine Department in 1920. While there, she first worked at the Fort William McKinley Station Hospital and later accepted a change of venue, traveling to Tientsin, China. She subsequently returned again to the United States. After a five month sojourn at Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco, California in 1922, Flikke became chief nurse of Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D.C. Her lengthy stay of 12 years in that position provided a silent testimony to her able stewardship. One account verified that she contributed to “the excellence of the professional service” and “the general satisfactory administration of the plant as a whole.” Mention was made of her “gracious manner” while serving as a hostess for “the many foreign dignitaries who came to the hospital to observe American Army medicine.” During this period of her life in 1927, Flikke became a captain. From 1934 to 1936, she was chief nurse at the Station Hospital at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. With the dawning of the new year in 1937, Flikke transferred back to the Surgeon General’s Office in Washington, D.C. and presumably served as Major Julia Stimson’s understudy for the six months prior to the latter’s retirement. As the nation galvanized to meet the coming demands of World War II, Flikke spearheaded the Army Nurse Corps’ increasingly difficult efforts to recruit, outfit, and assign the greatest number of nurses ever mobilized. One of the more visible and enduring signs of her efforts to attract nurses to military service during the war was the publication of her volume entitled Nurses in Action, The Story of the Army Nurse Corps. In December 1942, Public Law 828 authorized AUS (Army of the United States) commissions in grades from second lieutenant to colonel for Army nurses. Flikke then became the first female colonel in the AUS. At that time, the title of her position changed from superintendent to chief of the Army Nurse Corps. Simultaneously, Army nurses were given pay equal to officers of comparable grade without dependents. Flikke retired from the Army with a physical disability in June 1943 at age 65.
1943 – There was a failed assassination attempt on Hitler during the Smolensk-Rastenburg flight. A time-bomb was placed on board Hitler’s personal aircraft by German Army conspirators intending to assassinate the Fuhrer. It failed to explode.
1944 – On Bougainville, US forces mount a counterattack, with armor and air support, and recapture most of the ground lost during the last few days.
1944 – On Hauwei Island, the small US forces overrun the Japanese garrison. Artillery units are landed to support planned operations on Manus Island.
1945 – The 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 9th Marine Regiment attacked through “Cushman’s Pocket,” Iwo Jima. This was the last strongpoint of enemy resistance on the island.
1946 – The end of World War II, and America’s concurrent shift to a peacetime economy, stirred the ever-simmering tension between labor and management. After tightening their belts, and forgoing the right to strike during the war, workers sought higher wages and a better standard of living when the war was won. Business leaders responded by looking to roll back the government and unionýs respective efforts to shape post-war wages and prices. These competing desires were on full display in the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike against General Motors (GM) that stretched from November 1945 until March of 1946. The walkout was engineered by UAW chief Walter Reuther, who was not only agitating for higher pay for GM’s 320,000 employees, but also looked to consolidate his power in the stratified world of the auto union. With his eyes on both these prizes, Reuther took a hard line stance at the negotiating table: he demanded that GM open its ledgers to the union, which, theoretically, would reveal that the company had prospered during the war and could easily afford a boost in wages. Leaders for the auto giant flatly refused to “open the books” and mounted a propaganda campaign aimed at branding the request as another example of labor’s ever-intrusive tendencies. Finally, on March 13, 1946, the two sides quit their bickering and the 175,00 strikers agreed to head back to work. Although GM caved in and handed out a wage hike, the coming months hardly made the strike seem like a victory: business leaders in various industries proved successful in their drive for price increases, which opened the floodgates of inflation and in turn wiped out the workers’ wage gains.
1951 – The communists started to withdraw across all fronts.
1952 – Far East Air Forces flew its 13,000th sortie of the Korean War.
1953 – Colonel Royal N. “The King” Baker, 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, achieved his 30th aerial victory and became the fifth ranking ace of the Korean War.
1961 – President John F. Kennedy proposes a 10-year, multibillion-dollar aid program for Latin America. The program came to be known as the Alliance for Progress and was designed to improve U.S. relations with Latin America, which had been severely damaged in recent years. When Kennedy became president in 1961, U.S. relations with Latin America were at an all-time low. The Latin American republics were disappointed with U.S. economic assistance after World War II. They argued that they had supported America during the war by increasing their production of vital raw materials and keeping their prices low–when the United States began massive aid programs to Europe and Japan after the war, Latin American nations protested that they also deserved economic assistance. Their anger was apparent during Vice President Richard Nixon’s trip through the region in 1958, when a mob attacked his car at a stop in Caracas. More troubling to American officials was the threat of communism in Latin America. In 1954, the Central Intelligence Agency had funded and supplied a revolution that overthrew the leftist government of Guatemala. In 1959, Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba and by 1961, the United States had severed relations with his government. In response to these developments, Kennedy made his plea for the Alliance for Progress. In requesting funds from Congress, the president stressed the need for improved literacy, land use, industrial productivity, health, and education in Latin America. The United States needed to help Latin America, where “millions of men and women suffer the daily degradations of hunger and poverty” and “discontent is growing.” The United States would provide money, expertise, and technology to raise the standard of living for the people of Latin America, which would hopefully make the countries stronger and better able to resist communist influences. In response to Kennedy’s plea, Congress voted for an initial grant of $500 million in May 1961. During the next 10 years, billions were spent on the Alliance, but its success was marginal and there were many reasons that the program was ultimately a failure. American congressmen were reluctant to provide funds for land redistribution programs in Latin America because they felt it smacked of socialism. Latin American elites directed most of the funds into pet projects that enriched themselves but did little to help the vast majority of their people. The Alliance certainly failed in its effort to bring democracy to Latin America: by the time the program faded away in the early-1970s, 13 governments in Latin America had been replaced by military rule.
1963 – Soviet reconnaissance planes fly over Alaskan airspace, becoming the first established Soviet overflight of the US.
1969 – In Vietnam Navy Lt. John Kerry rescued Jim Rassman on the Bay Hap River while under Viet Cong fire.
1969 – The Apollo 9 astronauts splashed down, ending a mission that included the successful testing of the lunar module.
1970 – Cambodia ordered Hanoi and Viet Cong troops to get out.
1974 – The U.S. Senate voted 54-33 to restore the death penalty.
1974 – Arab nations decided to end the oil embargo on the U.S.
1975 – Ban Me Thuot, capital of Darlac Province in the Central Highlands, falls to North Vietnamese troops. In late January 1975, just two years after the cease-fire established by the Paris Peace Accords, the North Vietnamese launched Campaign 275. The objective of this campaign was to capture Ban Me Thuot in the Central Highlands. The battle began on March 4 and the North Vietnamese quickly encircled the city with five main force divisions, cutting it off from outside support. As it became clear that the communists would take the city and probably the entire province, South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu decided to withdraw his forces in order to protect the more critical populous areas to the south. 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 started out as an orderly withdrawal soon turned into panic and 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 while the North Vietnamese continued their attack all the way to Saigon. South Vietnam surrendered unconditionally to the North Vietnamese on April 30 and the war was over.
1981 – The U.S. planned to send 15 Green Berets to El Salvador as military advisors.
1989 – The space shuttle Discovery blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on a five-day mission. 1990 – President Bush lifted trade sanctions against Nicaragua in a show of support for President-elect Violeta Chamorro.
1992 – The U.N. Security Council continued to demand that Iraq comply totally with Gulf War cease-fire resolutions, rebuffing an appeal for leniency from Saddam Hussein’s special envoy, deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz.
1995 – Two Americans working for U.S. defense contractors in Kuwait, David Daliberti and William Barloon, were seized by Iraq after they strayed across the border; sentenced to eight years in prison, both were freed the following July.
1998 – US Sergeant Major Gene McKinney (47), once the Army’s top enlisted man, was cleared on 18 of 19 charges brought against him by women who said he pressured them for sex. He was convicted for obstruction of justice for trying to persuade his chief accuser to lie. McKinney was reprimanded and demoted by one rank.
1999 – In Zimbabwe three Americans appeared in court on charges of terrorism, espionage and sabotage against Pres. Kabila. They had been tortured and pictures with the names: Gary George Blanchfield, Jona Lamonte-Dixon, and Joseph Pettijohn were displayed. The men were associated with Harvestfield Ministries in Indianapolis.
2000 – In Costa Rica 2 American women were found shot to death near Cabhuita. Emily Howell of Kentucky and Emily Eagen of Michigan were attacked while driving an SUV. A 16-year-old boy was later arrested and 2 other suspects were sought. Jorge Alberto Urbina (19) was arrested Mar 28. The 16-year-old was sentenced to 14 ½ years in prison.
2001 – Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian national who was arrested with a carload of explosives just before New Year’s Eve 1999, went on trial in Los Angeles on charges of plotting to bomb Seattle and other U.S. cities during the millennium celebrations. He was convicted of terrorism the following month.
2001 – In Costa Rica Shannon Martin (23), a student from Topeka, Kan., was stabbed to death, after she left a nightclub in Golfito, 100 miles south of San Jose. In 2003 Kattia Cruz, 28, and Luis Alberto Castro, 38, were found guilty of murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison for the killing.
2002 – Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge announces a color-coded warning system that will alert Americans to terror danger levels. Red will be the most severe, followed by orange, yellow, blue and green.
2003 – Forced into a diplomatic retreat, U.S. officials said President Bush might delay a vote on his troubled United Nations resolution or even drop it, and fight Iraq without the international body’s backing.
2004 – In Afghanistan Taliban armed with rockets and heavy machine guns attacked a government office near the Afghan-Pakistan border, sparking a firefight that killed one Afghan soldier and three Taliban.
2015 – NASA reports that scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope have found a salty ocean lurking beneath the surface of Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
KYLE, PATRICK J.
Rank and organization: Landsman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1855, Ireland. Accredited to: Massachusetts. Citation: For rescuing from drowning a shipmate from the U.S.S. Quinnebaug, at Port Mahon, Minorca, 13 March 1879.
*CRAIN, MORRIS E.
Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company E, 141st Infantry, 36th Infantry Division. Place and date: Haguenau, France, 13 March 1945. Entered service at: Paducah, Ky. Birth: Bandana, Ky. G.O. No.: 18, 13 February 1946. Citation: He led his platoon against powerful German forces during the struggle to enlarge the bridgehead across the Moder River. With great daring and aggressiveness he spearheaded the platoon in killing 10 enemy soldiers, capturing 12 more and securing its objective near an important road junction. Although heavy concentrations of artillery, mortar, and self-propelled gunfire raked the area, he moved about among his men during the day, exhorting them to great efforts and encouraging them to stand firm. He carried ammunition and maintained contact with the company command post, exposing himself to deadly enemy fire. At nightfall the enemy barrage became more intense and tanks entered the fray to cover foot troops while they bombarded our positions with grenades and rockets. As buildings were blasted by the Germans, the Americans fell back from house to house. T/Sgt. Crain deployed another platoon which had been sent to his support and then rushed through murderous tank and small-arms fire to the foremost house, which was being defended by 5 of his men. With the enemy attacking from an adjoining room and a tank firing pointblank at the house, he ordered the men to withdraw while he remained in the face of almost certain death to hold the position. Although shells were crashing through the walls and bullets were hitting all around him, he held his ground and with accurate fire from his submachinegun killed 3 Germans. He was killed when the building was destroyed by the enemy. T/Sgt. Crain’s outstanding valor and intrepid leadership enabled his platoon to organize a new defense, repel the attack and preserve the hard-won bridgehead.