This Day in History

March 20


43BC  Roman poet Ovid born   2060
235      Maximinus Thrax is proclaimed Emperor of Rome—is the first emperor never to set foot in Rome   1783
687      Scottish monk and bishop Cuthbert of Lindisfarne dies in Northumberland, age about 53   1331
1413      Henry IV, King of England, dies in London after a reign of 13 years, age 45   605
1563      John Foxe publishes the first English edition of what will become known as "Foxe's Book of Martyrs"   455
1602      Dutch East India Company founded—world's first megacorporation   416
1727      Sir Isaac Newton dies age 84   291
1760      Great Fire of 1760 burns Boston destroying 349 buildings   258
1815      Napolean enters Paris after escaping from Elba beginning his "Hundred Days" rule   203
1840      'Signs of the Times' begins publication   178
1852      "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe published   166
1861      7.2 earthquake devastates the provincial capital of Argentina, Mendoza, killing 4,300 of its 12,000 residents and injuring 750   157
1863      John Byington is elected the first president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church   155
1878      German physician and physicist Julius Robert von Mayer dies, age 63   140
1883      Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, one of the first intellectual property treaties, is signed   135
1899      Martha Place becomes first woman executed by electric chair   119
1902      Nathan B. Stubblefield demonstrates the first working wireless ship-to-shore telephone–uses electromagnetic induction   116
1922      USS Langley is commissioned as first U.S. aircraft carrier   96
1930      Kentucky Fried Chicken founded by Harland Sanders as Sanders Court & Cafe in North Corbin, Kentucky   88
1942      Douglas MacArthur, in a speech at Terowie, South Australia, "... I shall return."   76
1948      first tornado forecast—previously banned, thought to induce panic   70
1949      inaugural run for the California Zephyr leaves Oakland bound for Chicago   69
1954      William Joseph "Willie" Mosconi sets a world's record 526 consecutive balls during a straight pool exhibition in Springfield, Ohio   64
1956      Tunisia gains its independence from France   62
1964      European Space Agency is organized   54
1983      Soviet mathematician Ivan Matveyevich Vinogradov dies in Moscow, age 91   35
1985      Libby Riddles becomes first woman to win the Iditarod dog-sled race   33
1992      French composer of film and television scores Georges Delerue dies in Los Angeles, age 67   26
1993      German-American physicist and Nobel laureate Polykarp Kusch dies in Dallas, Texas, age 82   25
1995      sarin nerve gas is released in the Tokyo subway system—12 die and over 4000 others injured   23
1999      Legoland California, the first Legoland outside of Europe, opens in Carlsbad, California   19
2003      Allied forces cross the border into Iraq a day after airstrikes initiate Operation Iraqi Freedom   15
2009      International Space Station reaches full electrical capability with deployment of the final solar array section   9
2013      English horror writer James John Herbert dies in Sussex, age 69   5
2013      inaugural science Breakthrough Prize ceremony is held in Geneva, Switzerland with US$3 million award to each recipient   5
2015      High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory (HWAC) completed at an altitude of 4300m on Sierra Negra volcano east of Mexico City   3
2015      Solar eclipse, vernal equinox, and a Supermoon (perigee syzygy) all occur   3
2016      Barack Obama becomes the first sitting U.S. President to visit Cuba in almost 90 years   2
2017      American billionaire banker and philanthropist David Rockefeller dies in Pocantico Hills, New York, age 101   1

Dates are always somewhat ambiguous, the exact date depends on whether local time is used (and local time where) or Universal Time—for events on the surface of the Earth, local time is probably best but for an event that spans across the planet, it is not clear which local time to use!. For events in space it is more ambiguous. Further for dates after the original adoption of the Gregorian calendar but before it became accepted in different countries, the date given may be a Julian date or a Gregorian date depending upon where the event occurred. And, even the year may be different since the first of the year has not always been January 1 in all countries! The attempt is to use a date that is the one that is typically given.

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