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Today in History for March

Mar 01

What are the Articles of Confederation?

March 1, 1781 — The Articles of Confederation was ratified today. The first written constitution of the United States, it stemmed from wartime urgency. Its progress was slowed by fears of central authority and extensive land claims by states before...

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Mar 02

Which state once prohibited theatrical performances?

March 2, 1789 — Pennsylvania ended its ban on theatrical performances today, along with other forms of expensive entertainment. The prohibition began in 1774 when the Continental Congress passed it, fearing that the distraction of theater would lead to mischievous effects...

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Mar 03

When was the first postage stamp issued?

March 3, 1847 — Today, the Postmaster General awarded the contract to print the first postage stamp to the New York City engraving firm of Rawdon, Wright, Hatch, and Edson. The first stamp was issued on July 1, 1847, in New York City. Boston...

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Mar 04

Which presidents were inaugurated on March 4?

March 4, 1793 — The second inauguration of George Washington took place in the Senate Chamber of Congress Hall in Philadelphia on March 4, 1793. It marked the commencement of the second four-year term of Washington as president and John Adams as...

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Mar 04

Who was Rebecca Gratz?

March 4, 1781 — Rebecca Gratz was born today in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (she died on August 27, 1869) in Philadelphia. A preeminent Jewish American educator and philanthropist, at age 20 (in 1801), she helped establish the Female Association for the Relief of Women and Children in Reduced Circumstances,...

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Mar 05

How many civilians died in the Boston Massacre?

March 5, 1770 — Five civilians died during the outbreak of violence that occurred today in Boston — a battle that historians consider to be the beginning of the Revolutionary War. The skirmish started as a street fight between a patriot mob throwing...

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Mar 07

Which famous female philanthropist was born today?

March 7, 1857 — Born today was Louise Whitfield Carnegie, a woman who would grow up to be the wife of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Daughter of New York City merchant John D. Whitfield, Louise was born in the Gramercy Park neighborhood of Manhattan. On April...

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Mar 08

Which first lady never actually became first lady?

March 8, 1783 — Hannah Hoes Van Buren was born today. The wife of the 8th President of the United States, Martin Van Buren, she died of consumption on February 5, 1819 — 18 years before her husband took office on March 4, 1837. The couple...

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Mar 10

Who is the only U.S. president to hold a patent?

March 10, 1849 — Today, Abraham Lincoln applied for a patent for an invention that lifted a boat over shoals and obstructions. A patent lawyer at one point in his career, the application process very familiar to the future president. On May...

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Mar 11

Where was the first woman’s medical college located?

March 11, 1850 — The Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania opened today in the heart of Philadelphia. It was the first medical institution to train women only, and offer them an MD degree. Men began attending the school in 1970; it was renamed The...

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Mar 12

Who founded a settlement today that will become Chicago?

March 12, 1773 — Jean Baptiste Point du Sable is considered the first man to make his home in a US settlement, which today is Chicago. As a free black man born in Haiti before 1750, he was also the city's first black resident. Starting in 1768, he operated as...

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Mar 13

What is the history of Uncle Sam?

March 13, 1852 — Frank Bellew's cartoon, "Uncle Sam," made its debut today in the NY Lantern Weekly. The character’s name is attributed to Samuel Wilson, a meat packer who supplied food to the troops during the War of 1812. Legend has...

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Mar 15

Who was the first nun to take her vows in America?

March 15, 1729 — Sister St. Stanislas Hachard (1704-1760) took her vows today in New Orleans, making her America's first official nun. The founder and first abbess of the Ursuline Convent in French Louisiana, her biography is known thanks to the letters...

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Mar 16

What was the Freedom’s Journal?

March 16, 1827 — Rev. Peter Williams, Jr.'s Freedom’s Journal began publishing today in New York. The first African-American-owned and operated newspaper published in the US, Williams was on a mission to write articles that would appeal to the 300,000 free blacks in the...

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Mar 17

When was the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade held in NYC?

March 17, 1762 — Today marks the anniversary of the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City. The Charitable Irish Society of Boston organized the first observance. But the celebration was not Catholic in nature, as Irish immigration to the colonies...

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Mar 18

Where was the first railroad tunnel completed in the US?

March 18, 1834 — The first railway tunnel was completed today in Pennsylvania. Named the Staple Bend Tunnel. it was 901 feet long and located 4 miles east of Johnstown, PA, in a town called Mineral Point. Construction began on April 12, 1831 by the Allegheny Portage...

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Mar 19

Who was Ellen Gates Starr?

March 19, 1859 — Born today in Illinois is American social reformer and activist Ellen Gates Starr, a woman who would grow up to became close friends with women's rights activist Jane Addams and go on to co-founded Hull House in Chicago. Starr's father...

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Mar 21

What sparked the Great New Orleans Fire?

March 21, 1788 — The Great New Orleans Fire today blew through 856 of the 1,100 structures in New Orleans, Louisiana (aka: New Spain). The blaze spanned the south central Vieux Carré from Burgundy to Chartres Street, and nearly touched the Mississippi River front buildings. The Good...

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Mar 22

Which president was the first Secretary of State?

March 22, 1790 — Thomas Jefferson became the first US Secretary of State today. The process began on September 29, 1789, when President George Washington appointed Jefferson to be Minister to France. The author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was one of...

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Mar 23

What is foodie Fannie Farmer’s claim to fame?

March 23, 1857 — Fannie M. Farmer is born today in Boston. The American culinary expert will grow up to become the author of the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, one of the first widely used culinary texts. Her father, John Franklin Farmer, was an editor and printer. The...

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Mar 24

Which American religious figure was tarred and feathered today?

March 24, 1832 — Founder of Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement, Joseph Smith (December 23, 1805 – June 27, 1844), was beaten, tarred, and feathered today in Ohio. The author of the Book of Mormon, was a prominent and controversial American religious leader who spent...

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Mar 25

Which Civil War hostess was tried for treason today in 1862?

March 25, 1862 — Civil War hostess and spy Rose O'Neal Greenhow (1814– October 1, 1864) was tried for treason today. The renowned Confederate spy was a socialite in Washington, DC before the war. "Wild Rose" cultivated friendships with presidents, generals, senators, and high-ranking military officers,...

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Mar 28

Who located the site for the Presidio of San Francisco?

March 28, 1776 — Today, Juan Bautista de Anza Bezerra Nieto (July 6/7, 1736 – December 19, 1788) located the sites for the Presidio of San Francisco and Mission San Francisco de Asis in present-day San Francisco, California. The Spanish explorer of Basque descent, and Governor of New...

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Mar 29

What famous waterfall stopped flowing today in 1848?

March 29, 1848 — Believe it or not Niagara Falls stopped flowing today. The one-day interruption was caused by an ice jam in Lake Erie. Fortunately, strong winds broke apart the jam the next day, and the water resumed its flow. "For...

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Mar 01

What is the history of the leap year?

February 29, 1800 — Known as the leap day of the Gregorian calendar, February 29 is a date that occurs in most years that are divisible by 4 — such as 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020 and 2024. Introduced as part of...

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Mar 30

When was the pencil patented?

March 30, 1858 — The pencil with an attached eraser was patented today. The new design was invented by Philadelphia's Hymen L. Lipman (March 20, 1817 – November 4, 1893) who received US Patent 19,783. Born March 20, 1817, in Kingston, Jamaica, to English parents, Lipman's...

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Mar 31

Who was one of the first advocates for women’s rights?

March 31, 1776 — Today in history, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, urging him and the other members of the Continental Congress not to forget about the nation’s women when fighting for America’s independence from Great Britain. She said:...

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