March 17th in history:
Franklin D. Roosevelt resigned from the New York State Senate on March 17th, 1913, to become assistant secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson. It was his eighth wedding anniversary. In the next 20 years, Roosevelt would become a vice-presidential candidate, governor of New York and president of the United States.
Eliot Spitzer had been governor of New York for just over a year when he resigned on this date in 2008, after a prostitution scandal in which he admitted to being a client of an escort agency.
New Yorkers like to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a big parade in Manhattan. The Irish holiday was celebrated in New York City for the first time on March 17th, 1756.
St. Patrick’s Day is the birthday of two actors who have starred in movies and TV shows about New York City: Kurt Russell (born 1951), who played Snake Plissken in the action drama Escape from New York; and Gary Sinise (1955), Mac Taylor from “CSI: New York,” also known as Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump.
Sinise also played real-life astronaut Ken Mattingly in the movie Apollo 13. Mattingly was born March 17th, 1936. He was pulled from the Apollo 13 mission days before its launch in 1970 after being exposed to German measles, so he missed being aboard the spacecraft that had to return to Earth after an explosion. Mattingly did get to circle the moon two years later, as the command module pilot of Apollo 16.
March 16th in history:
The Army Corps of Engineers was established on March 16th, 1802, to operate the military academy at West Point.
On this date in 1916, General John J. Pershing (West Point class of 1886) led the horsemen of the Cavalry across the Mexican border to search for revolutionary Pancho Villa.
Most people gave up horses for cars in the early 20th century. On March 16th, 1958, Ford produced its 50 millionth car, a Thunderbird. Exactly 10 years later on the same date, General Motors made its 100 millionth auto. It was an Olds Toronado.
March 15th in history:
Beware March 15th, the Ides of March — the day in 44 B.C. when emperor Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by several members of the Roman Senate.
The Russian title “Czar,” meaning an emperor, is thought to be related to the name Caesar. Czar Nicholas the 2nd of Russia abdicated on March 15th, 1917. His brother then became the czar.
Russia was part of the Soviet Union for decades after the monarchy fell. On March 15th, 1990, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev officially took the title of “president” of the USSR. He was the last Soviet president, when the Union disbanded the following year.
A band called the Ides of March was climbing up the record charts on this day in 1970 with its biggest hit, “Vehicle.” At the same time, the song “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)” by Sly and the Family Stone was headed down the charts after hitting number 1 in February. The band’s leader, Sly Stone, was born on March 15th (year in dispute, 1943 or 1944).
March 14th in history:
Warren G. Harding made history on March 14th, 1923, as the first president to file an income tax report. This was 10 years after the 16th Amendment was ratified, legalizing income taxes in the U.S.
Harding died of an illness later that year, the third year of his presidency. John F. Kennedy also died in his third year as president. Just after his assassination, Kennedy was buried in a simple grave at Arlington Cemetery. On this day in 1967, Kennedy’s body was moved to a more elaborate gravesite. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and two Kennedy children also are buried at the site, with the graves of Senators Robert and Edward Kennedy nearby.
President Kennedy set a national goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960’s. Astronauts Frank Borman and Eugene Cernan both orbited the moon on different Apollo flights, and Cernan actually walked on the moon during the last manned lunar mission, Apollo 17. Both men were born on March 14th…Borman in 1928, and Cernan six years later.
March 13th in history:
Attorney Clarence Darrow, the defense lawyer at the Scopes “Monkey” trial, died on this date in 1938. It was exactly 13 years after the day the Tennessee House voted to ban the teaching of evolution in state schools. Passage of that law led to the Scopes trial.
A major scientific discovery on March 13th, 1781: Astronomer William Herschel announced that he had found the planet Uranus. It was the first planet in the solar system to be discovered by telescope.
And on this date in 1930, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh announced to the Harvard College Observatory that he had discovered a ninth planet, which would be named Pluto. In 2006, Pluto was downgraded to the status of “dwarf planet.”
Former Massachusetts Governor Willard Mitt Romney, better known as “Mitt,” was born on March 12th, 1947. Romney was the Republican nominee for president in the 2012 election, following in the footsteps of his father George Romney, who campaigned for the White House in 1968 while serving as governor of Michigan.
Mitt Romney ran for the U.S. Senate against Ted Kennedy in 1994. That same year, on March 12th, the Church of England ordained female priests for the first time.
The first Girl Scout meeting in the U.S. occurred on March 12th, 1912, in Savannah, Georgia. Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low recruited 18 girls for the meeting. (We don’t know if cookies were served.)
And March 12th is the birthday of the most famous female spy for CONTROL…Barbara Feldon, Agent 99 in the TV series “Get Smart.” But would you believe, we don’t know for sure what year she was born. Must be a government secret.
March 11th in history:
A three-day standoff in Washington, D.C. ended on March 11th, 1977, when a group of armed Hanafi Muslims released dozens of hostages who had been held at three buildings. Two people died during the siege, and future Washington Mayor Marion Barry was wounded by gunfire.
The Branch Davidian standoff at Waco, Texas had being going for two weeks when Janet Reno became the first female attorney general of the U.S. on this day in 1993. Reno was blamed by many for the fiery and deadly conclusion of the Waco incident, but she remained head of the Justice Department for almost eight years.
Justice Antonin Scalia served nearly 30 years on the U.S. Supreme Court, after being appointed in 1986. Scalia was born March 11th, 1936.
Author and attorney Erle Stanley Gardner played a judge in the final episode of the “Perry Mason” TV series in 1966…which is fitting, because Gardner created the character of Mason, a defense lawyer who never loses a case. Gardner was 80 years old when he died on March 11th, 1970.