On This Day

Historical Events on March 20

  • 141 6th recorded perihelion passage of Halley's Comet
  • 1525 Paris' parliament begins pursuit of Protestants
  • 1569 Duke of Alva leads "tenth penning" in Les Ponts de Cé

Historic Event

1598 Governor of Brittany, Philippe Emmanuel the Duke of Mercœur submits to French King Henry IV at Angers

  • 1600 The Linköping Bloodbath takes place on Maundy Thursday in Linköping, Sweden
  • 1602 United Dutch East Indian Company (VOC) forms

Historic Event

1616 Walter Raleigh released from Tower of London to seek gold in Guyana

  • 1627 France & Spain sign accord for fighting protestantism

Appointment of Interest

1664 Scientist Robert Hooke is appointed Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, London

  • 1697 Willem de Vlamingh returns to Batavia after exploring "South Land"
  • 1703 Akō incident: 46 of the 47 surviving Ronin commit seppuku (ritual suicide) as recompense for avenging their master's death in Edo
  • 1739 Iranian ruler Nadir Shah occupies Delhi in India and sacks the city, stealing the jewels of the Peacock Throne
  • 1760 Great Fire of Boston destroys 349 buildings
  • 1774 The British parliament passes first of the Intolerable Acts: the Boston Port Act, which closed Boston harbor until colonists would pay for damages following the Boston Tea Party
  • 1800 French army defeats Turks at Helipolis & advance to Cairo

Scientific Discovery

1800 Alessandro Volta reports his discovery of the electric battery in a letter to Joseph Banks, president of the Royal Society of London

  • 1813 Lady Hester Stanhope sets out for ancient city of Palmyra, the first western woman to visit
  • 1814 Prince Willem Frederik becomes monarch of Netherlands

Historic Event

1815 Napoleon enters Paris after escape from Elba, begins 100-day rule

  • 1816 US Supreme Court affirms its right to review state court decisions
  • 1833 US & Siam sign commercial treaty

Historic Publication

1852 Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" published in Boston

  • 1854 Boston Public Library opens in Boston, Massachusetts as the first large free municipal library in the US [1]
  • 1861 An earthquake completely destroys Mendoza, Argentina
  • 1865 2nd day of Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina
  • 1865 Michigan authorizes workers' cooperatives

Historic Event

1868 Jesse James Gang robs a bank in Russellville, Kentucky, of $14,000

  • 1883 Unity treaty of Paris signed: protects industrial property
  • 1885 Jan Ernst Matzeliger received patent number 274,207 for his lasting machine which creates wood or stone molds of customers' feet
  • 1885 Yiddish theater opens in NY with Goldfaden operetta
  • 1886 1st AC power plant in US begins commercial operation in Massachusetts
  • 1888 The premiere of the very first Romani language operetta staged in Moscow, Russia.
  • 1890 General Federation of Women's Clubs founded in the United States
  • 1891 53rd Grand National: Irish jockey, trainer Harry Beasley wins aboard 4/1 Come Away
  • 1892 54th Grand National: Capt. Roddy Owen wins aboard 20/1 chance Father O'Flynn
  • 1896 Marines land in Nicaragua to protect US citizens
  • 1896 Uprising in Matabeleland
  • 1897 1st US orthodox Jewish Rabbinical seminary (RIETS) incorporates in NY

Treaty of Interest

1897 France signs treaty with Emperor Menelik II of Abyssinia

  • 1900 US Secretary of State John Hay announces that all nations to whom he sent notes calling for an 'open door' policy in China have essentially accepted his stand
  • 1902 France and Russia issue a joint declaration that approves the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, but stipulates that they have the right to protect interests in China and Korea

Theater Premiere

1906 George Bernard Shaw's play "Captain Brassbound's Conversion" premieres in London

  • 1911 National Squash Tennis Association forms (NYC)
  • 1911 Winter Garden Theater opens at 1634 Broadway NYC
  • 1914 1st international figure-skating tournament held in US, New Haven
  • 1916 Allies attack Zeebrugge Belgium

Meeting of Interest

1917 After the sinking of 3 more American merchant ships, US President Woodrow Wilson meets with cabinet, who agree that war is inevitable

  • 1920 1st flight from London to South Africa lands (took 1½ months)
  • 1920 US Ladies' Figure Skating championship won by Theresa Weld

Sports History

1920 US Men's Figure Skating championship won by Sherwin Badger

  • 1920 Australasian Championships Men's Tennis, Adelaide: Pat O'Hara Wood beats fellow Australian Ronald Thomas 6-3, 4-6, 6-8, 6-1, 6-3
  • 1921 Upper Silesia votes for amalgamation with Germany in a plebiscite that is 63% in favor
  • 1922 USS Langley is commissioned, US Navy's 1st aircraft carrier
  • 1922 WIP-AM in Philadelphia PA begins radio transmissions
  • 1923 Bavarian minister of interior refuses to forbid Nazi Sturm Abteilung
  • 1923 Belgian Senate rejects Dutch University in Ghent
  • 1924 Finnair begins scheduled flight of Helsinki-Tallinn
  • 1930 Clessie Cummins sets diesel engine speed record of 129.39 kph

Historic Event

1930 American fast food restaurant chain "KFC" [Kentucky Fried Chicken] is founded by Colonel Harland Sanders in North Corbin, Kentucky

  • 1931 Bishop Schreiber warns against national-socialism in Berlin
  • 1932 Kara-Kalpak Autonomous Region in RSFSR becomes Kara-Kalpak ASSR
  • 1933 Dachau the first Nazi concentration camp, is completed
  • 1934 Rudolf Kuhnold demonstrates radar in Kiel Germany

Sports History

1934 American all-round female super athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias pitches a hitless inning for Philadelphia A's in their exhibition pre-season baseball game against Brooklyn Dodgers

Battle of Interest

1937 Franco offensive at Guadalajara, Spain

  • 1937 England beats Scotland, 6-3 at Murrayfield, Edinburgh to clinch the Home Nations Rugby Championship and Triple Crown
  • 1939 7,000 Jews flee German occupied Memel Lithuania
  • 1940 Paul Reynoud becomes French premier
  • 1941 Nazi-German Yugoslav pact drawn
  • 1942 Convoy PQ13 departs Reykjavik Iceland to Russia
  • 1942 Major German assault on Malta
  • 1943 German U-384 bombed & sinks
  • 1944 2,500 women trample guards and floorwalkers to purchase 1,500 alarm clocks announced for sale in a Chicago Illinois department store
  • 1944 Bus falls off bridge into Passaic River NJ, killing 16
  • 1945 US 70th Infantry Division captures Saarbrucken, immediately prior the invasion of Germany by the western Allies
  • 1947 180 tonne blue whale (record) caught in South Atlantic
  • 1948 1st live televised symphony performances: Eugene Ormandy leads Philadelphia Orchestra on CBS, followed 90 minutes later by Arturo Toscanini leading the NBC Orchestra on NBC
  • 1948 102nd Grand National: 50/1 chance Sheila's Cottage first mare to win the GN for 46 years; ridden by Irish jockey Arthur Thompson
  • 1949 LPGA Titleholders Championship Women's Golf, Augusta CC: Amateur Peggy Kirk wins her only major title by 2 strokes from Patty Berg and Dorothy Kirby
  • 1951 Indonesian army offensive against Darul Islam on Java
  • 1951 Fujiyoshida, a city located in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan, in the center of the Japanese main island of Honshū is founded
  • 1952 Final ratification of peace treaty restoring sovereignty to Japan by US Senate
  • 1954 "King & I" closes at St James Theater NYC after 1246 performances
  • 1954 16th NCAA Men's Basketball Championship: La Salle beats Bradley, 92-76; Explorers' small forward Tom Gola is named tournament Most Outstanding Player
  • 1954 1st newspaper vending machine used (Columbia Pennsylvania)
  • 1955 KXTV TV channel 10 in Sacramento, CA (CBS) begins broadcasting
  • 1956 Edward Ochab succeeds Bolesław Bierut as 1st secretary of the Polish Communist Party
  • 1956 Mount Bezymianny on Kamchatka Peninsula (USSR) erupts
  • 1956 Tunisia gains independence from France when the Protocol agreement signed between the two countries
  • 1956 USSR performs nuclear test
  • 1956 Union workers ended a 156-day strike at Westinghouse Electric Corp
  • 1957 Britain accepts NATO offer to mediate in Cyprus, but Greece rejects it
  • 1958 50 inches of snow falls across the Mason–Dixon line
  • 1958 Clandestine Burasi Bizim Radio (communist) begins transmitting
  • 1958 Greek Clandestine Radio (communist), Voice of Truth 1st transmission
  • 1962 Sjoukje Dijkstra becomes world champion figure skater
  • 1963 1st "Pop Art" exhibition (NYC)
  • 1964 ESRO established, European Space Research Organization
  • 1965 27th NCAA Men's Basketball Championship: UCLA beats Michigan, 91-80; Bruins' back-to-back National titles; Gail Goodrich 42 points
  • 1965 Venkataraghavan takes 8-72 v NZ at Delhi

Historic Publication

1965 Civil and Women's Rights Activist Dorothy Height has her first column published in the weekly African-American newspaper called the "New York Amsterdam News"

  • 1965 10th Eurovision Song Contest: France Gall of Luxembourg wins singing "Poupee de cire, poupee de son" written by Serge Gainsbourg in Naples
  • 1965 Wales misses out on a 4th Grand Slam after losing to France, 22-13 at Stade Colombes, Paris despite winning the Five Nations Rugby Championship

Music Single

1967 The Supremes release single "The Happening"

  • 1967 WOET (now WPTD) TV channel 16 in Dayton, OH (PBS) begins broadcasting

Historic Event

1968 LBJ signs a bill removing gold backing from US paper money

  • 1968 Military intervene in South-Yemen (leftist ministers resign)

Sports History

1969 Ethiopian athlete Abebe Bikila is paralysed in an auto-accident near Addis Ababa

  • 1971 Boston Bruins win 13th straight NHL game

Historic Event

1971 Northern Ireland Prime Minister James Chichester-Clark resigns in protest at what he views as a limited security response by the British government

  • 1972 19 mountain climbers killed on Japan's Mount Fuji during an avalanche
  • 1972 S Mansholt succeeds Malfatti as chairman of European Committee
  • 1972 Donegall Street bombing: the Provisional Irish Republican Army detonate its first car bomb on Donegall Street in Belfast; four civilians, two RUC officers and a UDR soldier killed while 148 people were wounded

Hall of Fame

1973 Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Roberto Clemente elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame, 11 weeks after his death in a plane crash

  • 1973 NBC TV premiere of pilot episode of "Police Story", based on Los Angeles Police Dept. Joseph Wambaugh's writings
  • 1974 "The Super Cops" directed by Gordon Parks premieres in NYC, New York
  • 1976 Jevgeni Kulikov skates world record 1000m (1:15.70)
  • 1976 Patricia Hearst convicted of armed robbery
  • 1977 Communists and socialists win French municipal elections

Election of Interest

1977 Parisians elect former PM Jacques Chirac as 1st mayor in a century

Election of Interest

1977 Premier Indira Gandhi loses election in India

  • 1977 PGA Tournament Players Championship, Sawgrass CC: Mark Hayes wins in windy conditions, 2 strokes ahead of runner-up Mike McCullough
  • 1978 Flyers' Rick MacLeash scores on 6th penalty shot against Islanders
  • 1980 The Mi Amigo ship containing England's pirate radio Caroline sinks
  • 1980 US appeals to International Court on hostages in Iran
  • 1981 Argentine ex-president Isabel Peron sentenced to 8 years
  • 1981 Jean Harris sentenced 15-to-life for slaying of Scarsdale Diet Dr
  • 1982 1st-class debut of Richie Richardson, Leeward Is v Barbados
  • 1982 France performs nuclear test
  • 1982 Joan Jett & Blackhearts' "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" goes #1 for 7 weeks
  • 1982 Rev Andries Treurnicht forms Conservative Party of South Africa
  • 1982 France beats Ireland, 22-9 at the Parc des Princes, Paris but the Irish take the Five Nations Rugby Championship with a 3-1 record and also their 5th Triple Crown

Sports History

1983 In a clash of tennis legends, Martina Navratilova outclasses Chris Evert Lloyd 6-2, 6-0 to win her first of 5 straight WTA Tour Championships at Madison Square Garden, NYC

  • 1984 Andy Kaufman and Fred Blassie's film "My Breakfast With Blassie" premieres
  • 1984 US Senate rejects amendment to permit spoken prayer in public schools
  • 1984 Nigerian Major-General Babatunde Idiagbon launches a campaign on ‘National Consciousness and Enlightenment’
  • 1985 Libby Riddles is 1st woman to win Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race
  • 1986 228 KPH gust of wind strikes Cairngorm (UK record)
  • 1986 Jacques Chirac forms French government
  • 1986 New York City passes its first lesbian and gay rights legislation
  • 1987 FDA approves sale of AZT (AIDS treatment)
  • 1987 NASA launches Palapa B2P
  • 1987 Soap opera "Capitol" final episode
  • 1987 Soviet filmmakers arrive in Hollywood for an entertainment summit

World Record

1987 Yvonne van Gennip skates ladies' world record 5 km (7:20.36)

  • 1988 David Henry Hwang's "M. Butterfly," premieres in NYC

Boxing Title Fight

1988 Defending champion Mike Tyson beats Tony Tubbs by TKO in round 2 at the Tokyo Dome, Tokyo for the undisputed world heavyweight boxing title

  • 1988 Eritrean War of Independence: Having defeated the Nadew Command, the Eritrean People's Liberation Front enters the town of Afabet, victoriously concluding the Battle of Afabet.

Sports History

1989 Baseball announces Reds manager Pete Rose is under investigation

  • 1989 Richard J Kerr replaces Robert M Gates as deputy director of CIA

Sports History

1990 LA Lakers retires Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's #33

Music History

1990 Singer Gloria Estefan fractures her spine when a truck hits her tour bus near Scranton, Pennsylvania

Music History

1991 Court awards Peggy Lee $3 million in suit against Disney regarding home video royalties

Music History

1991 Michael Jackson signs $65M deal with Sony Records to produce 6 albums

  • 1991 Supreme Court rules unanimously employers can't exclude women from jobs where exposure to toxic chemicals could potentially damage fetus
  • 1991 US forgives $2 billion in loans to Poland
  • 1992 Janice Pennington is awarded $1.3M for accident on Price is Right set

A First Lady Goes Shoplifting

1992 Manuel Noriega's wife Felicidad arrested for stealing buttons from dresses

World Record

1993 Dan Jansen skates world record 500m (36.02 sec)

  • 1993 IRA-bomb kills 3 year old in Warrington, England
  • 1993 France beats Wales, 26-10 at Parc des Princes, Paris for it's 10th outright Five Nations Rugby Championship
  • 1994 "Cyrano - The Musical" closes at Neil Simon NYC after 137 performances
  • 1994 "Flowering Peach" opens at Lyceum Theater NYC for 41 performances
  • 1994 "No Man's Land" closes at Criterion Theater NYC after 61 performances
  • 1994 14th Golden Raspberry Awards: "Indecent Proposal" wins
  • 1994 WrestleMania X, Madison Square Garden, NYC: Bret Hart beats Yokozuna to win WWF Championship
  • 1994 El Salvador's 1st presidential election following 12-year-old civil war
  • 1994 Mashonaland U-24 beat Matabeleland on 1st inning to win Logan Cup
  • 1994 Zulu-king Goodwill Zwelithini founds realm in South Africa
  • 1995 Dow-Jones hits record 4083.68
  • 1995 Members of the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo release sarin gas on three lines of the Tokyo subway, killing 13 people and injuring over 1,000

Music Single

1995 Beatles release single, a cover of Shirelles song, "Baby It's You" (written by Burt Bacharach & Mack David), with late John Lennon as lead singer; 1st Fab Four single in nearly 10 years

  • 1996 "Love Thy Neighbor" opens at Booth Theater NYC
  • 1996 Erik & Lyle Menendez found guilty of killing their parents
  • 1996 UK admits humans can catch CJD (Mad Cow Disease)

Theater Premiere

1997 Cheryl L. West and Shelden Epp's musical "Play On!", an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" set in 1940s Harlem, featuring music of Duke Ellington, opens at Brooks Atkinson Theatre, NYC; runs for 61 performances

  • 1997 Liggett admits cigarettes are addictive
  • 1997 World Mens Figure Skating Championship in Lausanne won by Elvis Stojko of Canada
  • 1999 Legoland, California, the first Legoland outside of Europe, opens in Carlsbad, California
  • 1999 19th Golden Raspberry Awards: An Alan Smithee Film "Burn Hollywood Burn" wins
  • 2000 Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, a former Black Panther once known as H. Rap Brown, is captured after a gun battle that leaves a Georgia sheriff's deputy dead

Papal Visit

2000 Pope John Paul II visits Holy Land - Jordan, Israel, Palestine

  • 2001 Petrobras 36 Oil Platform, the world's largest oil rig, sinks with 400,000 US gallons of fuel and crude oil aboard, after suffering three explosions on March 15

Invasion of Iraq

2003 A US-led coalition launches a ground invasion of Iraq after an ultimatum for Saddam Hussein and his sons to leave Iraq expires

Historic Event

2004 Stephen Harper wins the leadership of the newly created Conservative Party of Canada, becoming the party's first leader.

  • 2005 A magnitude 6.6 earthquake hits Fukuoka, Japan, its first major quake in over 100 years. One person is killed, hundreds are injured and evacuated.
  • 2006 Cyclone Larry makes landfall in eastern Australia, destroying most of the country's banana crop.
  • 2006 Over 150 Chadian soldiers are killed in eastern Chad by members of the rebel UFDC. The rebel movement sought to overthrow Chadian president Idriss Deby.
  • 2010 56th National Film Awards (India): "Antaheen" wins the Golden Lotus
  • 2010 France edges England, 12-10 at Stade de France, Saint Denis to complete a Grand Slam and win the Six Nations Rugby Championship; France's 17th title
  • 2012 50 people are killed and 240 injured in a wave of terror attacks across 10 cities in Iraq
  • 2012 Disney movie John Carter records one of the largest losses in cinema history with a $200 million dollar write down
  • 2013 Pierre Deligne wins the 2013 Abel Prize in mathematics
  • 2013 First Breakthrough Prizes, world's most generous science prize worth $3 million, awarded in Mathematics, Life Sciences and Physics established by Julia and Yuri Milner