March Anniversaries | History | Smithsonian

March Anniversaries

Momentous or merely memorable

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95 Years Ago:  Burning Mayhem
On March 25, 1911, a fire erupts in the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in New York City, forcing some of the workers, trapped inside by locked doors and a lack of fire escapes, to jump to their deaths. Firemen are “crushed to the pavement by the rain of falling bodies,” reports the Chicago Daily Tribune. Nearly 150 lives are lost. The industrial disaster leads to the creation of factory fire codes and child labor laws.

25 Years Ago:  Attempted Assassination
John Hinckley Jr., vying for actress Jodie Foster’s attention, shoots President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981, in Washington, D.C. “Honey, I forgot to duck,” the 70-year-old leader tells his wife, Nancy. In December 2005, a judge grants Hinckley, committed to a psychiatric hospital, permission to visit his parents in Virginia.

200 Years Ago:  How Do I Love Thee?
Poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning is born on March 6, 1806, in England. Her verse garners her many admirers, including the poet Robert Browning. Her greatest work, Sonnets from the Portuguese, is inspired by their secret courtship and their marriage. In 1861, Browning, suffering from poor health, dies at age 55 from a bronchial attack in the arms of her husband.

130 Years Ago:  Can You Hear Me Now?
February 14, 1876, inventor Elisha Gray files a “notice of invention” at the U.S. Patent Office; he believes he has found a way to electrically transmit speech. On that very day, Alexander Graham Bell files an application for the same invention. The Patent Office awards Bell the patent for the telephone on March 7, 1876.    

50 Years Ago:  Guilty King
Martin Luther King Jr. is found guilty of violating an antiboycott law, March 22, 1956, for leading the citizens of Montgomery, Alabama, in a boycott of city buses. King pays a $500 fine. Segregation on buses officially ends December 21, 1956, after the Supreme Court upholds a decision declaring it unconstitutional.

100 Years Ago:  Got Game
At an athletic convention on March 30, 1906, Dr. Dudley Sargent of Harvard University warns that sports such as basketball are harmful to women because of their “inability to bear a prolonged mental and physical strain.”

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