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This Month in History: Battle of the Alamo, Boston Massacre, and More
Today, President Trump announced he will to cut aid for Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, due to their support of illegal immigration to the US. Trump also claimed that the US-Mexico border will be sealed next week if Mexico does not follow the plan. In the Battle of the Alamo, 183 year’s ago this month, Texans desperately wanted to break free from Mexico. The Boston Massacre, 249 years ago this month, was just one of the many reason our founding fathers wished to separate from Britain. Today, we see Britain, a once-great nation, further diminishing the rights of its people, even to the point where it is illegal to post an internet meme. Let’s take a walk down America’s memory lane for the month of March.
March 1, 1872
Yellowstone is established as the world’s first national park. Signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant, Yellowstone covers over two million acres in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. It is well known for its beautiful landscape, which features the Old Faithful geyser and Tower Fall. The park’s establishment sparked a national park movement worldwide, and in America, President Theodore Roosevelt would double their number. Wildlife of Yellowstone includes deer, elk, moose, bison, bear, wolf, and many others.
March 2, 1836
The Republic of Texas is established. Feeling that Mexico, under the rule of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, was becoming too powerful and tyrannical, the Texans decided to break away and form their own republic.
In the Battle of the Alamo, 183 year’s ago this month, Texans desperately wanted to break free from Mexico.
This sparked the Texas Revolution, during which many famous battles, including Gonzales, the Alamo, and Goliad, were fought, with the Alamo becoming renowned in American culture for the bravery demonstrated by the Texans. The Republic of Texas was established during the revolt and its first president was Sam Houston (though David G. Burnet served as an interim first president). The Texas Revolution would end on April 21, 1836, but hostilities between Texas and Mexico would continue, and the Mexican-American War would begin following the US admitting Texas as a state in 1845.
March 3, 1945
American and Filipino troops recapture Manila. This month-long battle resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 civilians and featured some of the worst fighting in the Pacific Theatre of World War II. The battle was very significant in that it marked a previous loss for American and Filipino forces in 1942, resulting in the Japanese takeover of the Philippines and the devastating Bataan Death March. Following the victory in Manila, General Douglas MacArthur would return to see American occupation of the region and the rebuilding of the pacific.
March 4, 1789
The first US Congress meets for the first time in New York City. During this period, the Constitution took effect, and the first 12 amendments were introduced. The first 10 were ratified and became known as the Bill of Rights. The leading officials included John Adams as Senate President, John Langdon as Senate President pro tem, and Frederick Muhlenberg as Speaker of the House.
March 5, 1770
The Boston Massacre occurs. Following heavy tension between Boston colonists and the British Empire due to newly-enacted taxes and legislation in 1768, British troops were stationed in the city. This sparked outrage among Boston residents and a confrontation eventually occurred. A large crowd of civilians, angry with the British Crown, confronted the soldiers, and there are reports that some citizens were armed with clubs and rocks. No one is completely certain as to what exactly prompted them to do so, but the troops opened fire on the crowd, killing five and wounding at least six others. This event is considered one of the primary triggering events of the American Revolution.
March 6, 1836
The Battle of the Alamo is fought. Following a 13-day siege by Mexican troops under the command of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the famous battle broke out in the early morning hours. Lead by notable heroes such as Davy Crockett, William Travis, and Jim Bowie, Texan forces managed to hold off two waves of Santa Anna’s soldiers. Virtually all Texan combatants were killed. The most well-known battle of the War for Texas Independence, “Remember the Alamo” became a rallying cry for Texans. Santa Anna was finally defeated at the Battle of San Jacinto, April 21, 1836.
March 8, 1983
President Ronald Reagan delivers his “Evil Empire” speech. This was the first time that the phrase “Evil Empire” was used to describe the Soviet Union. During this speech, Reagan proclaimed that the USSR was living out its final days and that he had a strategy to end the Cold War. Reagan would, in turn, lay the groundwork for ending the Cold War with his peace through strength initiative and the drafting of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, and in 1991, the day after Christmas, the Soviet Union dissolved.
March 9, 1862
The Battle of Hampton Roads, Virginia, is fought. The significance of this battle lays in the fact that it was the first in which two ironclad warships clashed. Replacing traditional wooden ships, ironclads dominated the southern coast and Mississippi River during the Civil War. Ironclads would prove to be very successful and paved the way for the battleship just 40 years later, with the introduction of the Dreadnought. The names of the two ships were the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia. This battle ended with a tactical Confederate victory, but a strategic Union victory, as Union forces maintained their blockade of the James River.
March 10, 1848
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed, ending the Mexican-American War. On behalf of the US, Nicholas Trist acted as negotiator, while Jose Bernardo Couto, Miguel de Atristain, and Luis Gonzaga acted on behalf of Mexico. The result of the Treaty was the acquisition of western territories by the US, reducing Mexican territory by half. The area gained would later include the states of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, and Wyoming. The US also retired Mexico’s debt.
March 11, 1941
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Lend-Lease Act. This policy promoted the sending of food and material aid to the Soviet Union, Britain, Free France, China, and other Allied nations. Following Japan’s defeat at the end of World War II, the program ended overnight.
March 12, 1947
President Harry Truman announces the Truman Doctrine. Considered by some historians to be the start of the Cold War, Truman’s plan would not officially go into action until July of that year. His goal was to provide financial aid to Turkey and Greece, the latter of which was engulfed in a civil war. Truman believed that US intervention would prevent either nation from falling to communism, and the doctrine would pave the way for the creation of NATO just two years later.
March 13, 1862
The US government forbids Union Army officers from returning fugitive slaves, annulling the Fugitive Slave Clause. This act was introduced with the Compromise of 1850, which admitted California into the Union as a free state, as well as new territory within Texas and New Mexico, and the territory of Utah, with slavery being undecided in the latter two. With the federal government forbidding Union officers from returning fugitive slaves, this set the stage for the Emancipation Proclamation.
March 15, 1767
President Andrew Jackson is born in the Waxhaw Settlement between North and South Carolina. From the late 1700s to the 1820s, he represented Tennessee in both the US House of Representatives and US Senate. During this time, he acquired a piece of property outside of Nashville, known as the Hermitage, and became a wealthy slave-owner. After gaining fame at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812, Jackson lead troops during the Creek War and First Seminole War. Considered one of the founders of the Democratic Party, Jackson served as president from 1829-1837, during which time he dissolved the Second National Bank and prevented the secession of South Carolina by defusing the Nullification Crisis. He also authorized the relocation of five Native American tribes from the east to Oklahoma. This became known as the Trail of Tears, and today, Jackson is often considered to be one of America’s most controversial presidents. He passed away on June 8, 1845.
March 16, 1968
As with the good events in American history, we must also remember the bad, so that we may never repeat them. On this day in 1968, the My Lai Massacre occurs in South Vietnam. Soldiers from US Army Company C, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division killed between 300-500 Vietnamese civilians. Twenty-six soldiers were charged with criminal offenses, but only Lieutenant William Calley, Jr. was found guilty. He ended up only serving three and a half years under house arrest.
March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day
Originally established in the early 1600s as an official Christian feast, this day is celebrated throughout Western culture. March 17 marks the death date of Saint Patrick, but the holiday is observed to celebrate not only Irish culture, but also the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It is said that Saint Patrick used a shamrock to demonstrate the holy trinity.
March 18, 1837
President Grover Cleveland is born in Caldwell, New Jersey. A member of the Democratic Party, Cleveland originally served as Sheriff of Erie County, New York, from 1871-1873, before serving as Mayor of Buffalo, New York, from January 2 to November 20, 1882. He then served as the 28th Governor of New York from 1883-1885. Cleveland is, thus far, the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms; the first was from 1885-1889, while the second was from 1893-1897. He oversaw the dedication of the Statue of Liberty and passed away on June 24, 1908.
March 19, 2003
The Coalition Invasion of Iraq begins. Led by President George W. Bush, the Coalition’s goal was to end Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror and to uncover weapons of mass destruction. Intelligence forces believed Iraq harbored these weapons following the attacks of September 11, 2001. The invasion lasted until May 1, 2003. Following this, the Iraq War began, in which Coalition forces fought against militant insurgents. Hussein was captured on December 13, 2003 and executed on December 30, 2006. The Iraq War ended in 2011, but the War on Terror continues.
March 20, 1852
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is published. An abolitionist and teacher from Connecticut, Beecher Stowe wrote this novel with the intention of expanding the abolitionist movement, and it became the best-selling novel of the 1800s. Many Northerners were inspired by it, but many Southerners were outraged. The book is considered to have played a role in igniting the separation of the states. It is rumored that when President Lincoln met Beecher Stowe at the start of the Civil War, he stated, “So this is the little lady who started this great war.”
March 21, 1965
Martin Luther King, Jr. leads the Selma to Montgomery March. Covering 54 miles, this march consisted of nonviolent protesters demonstrating their desire for Black Americans to exercise their constitutional right to vote. King had earlier acknowledged that Black voters in the South were often suppressed, and in the North, Blacks often felt as though they no reason for voting, due to injustice. The demonstration resulted in the passing of the Voting Rights Act, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 6 of that year.
March 22, 1765
British Parliament passes the Stamp Act on the American Colonies. This tax was placed on all forms of printed paper, including playing cards and magazines, and forced the placing of a revenue stamp on paper. Established to help pay for Britain’s debt following the French and Indian War, this tax would spark outrage among the colonists and would help ignite the American Revolution.
March 23, 1775
Patrick Henry delivers his Liberty or Death speech. Given at the present-day location of St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, Henry’s speech sparked a fire in the hearts of the delegates who were present, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In response to Henry’s statements, Lord Dunmore of Virginia seized Williamsburg’s gunpowder supply, and this is said to be the speech that prompted the colonists to seek rebellion.
March 24, 1989
The Exxon-Valdez Oil Spill occurs. In Prince William Sound, Alaska, an oil tanker struck Bligh Reef, spilling over 10 million gallons of oil into the ocean. This caused devastating effects to various populations of wildlife, including those of fish, birds, whales, and sea otters. Thirty years later, the effects of this tragedy are still in play, and it is considered to be the second-worst oil spill in U.S. waters, second only to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, which occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
March 26, 1979
The Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty is signed in Washington, DC. Following the Six-Day War in 1967, Egypt demilitarized the Sinai and allowed Israeli ships to pass through the Suez Canal. In 1978, the Camp David Accords were signed by the leaders of the two nations. That event became known as Jimmy Carter’s greatest presidential accomplishment. Carter was also present at the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.
March 27, 1814
The Battle of Horseshoe Bend is fought. Part of the War of 1812, this battle, fought in present-day Alabama, consisted of US troops defeating Creek forces, who opposed U.S. expansion into western territories. Together with Cherokee, Choctaw, and Lower Creek tribes, the Allies won a significant victory. This battle also ended the Creek War and William Weatherford surrendered to General Andrew Jackson in August 1814.
March 28, 1862
The Battle of Glorieta Pass, New Mexico, comes to an end. Often considered to be the “Gettysburg of the West,” this was the largest battle of the New Mexico Campaign during the Civil War. Although Confederate forces fought hard to break the Union line near the Rockies, the battle resulted in a Union victory. New Mexico would be admitted into the Union on January 6, 1912.
March 29, 1973
The last US troops leave South Vietnam. Beginning on November 1, 1955, the Vietnam War served as the largest and longest proxy conflict of the Cold War. It officially ended on April 30, 1975, but the Paris Peace Accords of 1973 ended US involvement. It is often considered to be one of America’s most controversial wars. In 2017, President Donald Trump declared March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.
March 30, 1981
John Hinckley, Jr. conducts an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in Washington, DC. Reagan was shot by Hinckley’s .22 caliber handgun. Secret service agent Timothy McCarthy and police officer Thomas Delahanty were also wounded. Reagan’s assistant, James Brady, received a serious wound to the head, leaving him paralyzed. Reagan suffered a broken rib and a punctured lung, but miraculously recovered. The Brady Bill, named after James Brady, which requires a waiting period for handgun purchases, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Reagan himself, as well as former presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, also provided support for the law.
March 31, 1774
The British Empire enacts the Boston Port Act. Though it would not officially go into law until June 1 of that year, this law prohibited the sale and transfer of products in Boston Harbor. Considered part of the Intolerable Acts, Continental Congress met on September 5 of that year to respond to this law, which they considered a major infringement on the rights of the American colonists.
March is certainly a month to remember when it comes to American history. Reflecting on America’s historical events for any month can be interesting. While it is often thought that historians simply try to figure out what happened in the past, this could not be further from the truth. While historians do try to figure out why certain historical events occurred the way that they did, a historian also attempts to use history to figure out how to tie in current events with the past, so that both past and present can be better understood.
In the month of March, we celebrate the foremost saint of Ireland, whose influence rapidly spread throughout Western culture; observe the last US troops departing South Vietnam in one of our nation’s most controversial conflicts; and examine some of the very instances that provoked our founding fathers to separate from Britain. March is a very interesting month in terms of historical events, and it deserves to be remembered as such.