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March 21st - This Day In History

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

March 21, 1859

The first Zoological Society was incorporated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1859.  The onset of the American Civil War delayed the establishment of a part, but in 1873 they acquired thirty-three acres of land and the erection of a park commenced with the building of cages and fences, and the arrival of animals.  The park opened in 1874, with bears and lions as the main attractions and by the end of 1876 there were many other animals, including elephants, giraffes, rhinoceros and seals.

March 21, 1928

Using a plane built especially for the purpose, Charles Lindbergh made a solo non-stop flight from New York, United States, to Paris France, a flight of almost 3,600 miles.  The flight took place on May 20-21, 1927. 

For the flight, he was awarded the Orteig Prize, a $25,000 reward offered by a New York hotel owner.  As he was a U.S. Army reserve officer at the time, on March 21, 1928, he was the recipient of the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration of the United States.

Dachau Is The First Concentration Camp
March 21, 1933

Opened several weeks after Adolf Hitler was appointed Reich Chancellor, the first concentration camp finished construction on March 21, 1933 and opened for business the next day in Dachau.  It was initially for political prisoners, and was the basis for future camps.  It was run for twelve years, until American troops freed the survivors on April 29, 1945.

March 21, 1942

A secret report was written during World War II and released after the war in 1948 that gave the name “plutonium” for element 94.  Element 93 was named neptunium after the planet, so the writers picked the next planet out and named the element after it.  The decided they like the sound of “plutonium” better than “plutium”.

March 21, 1946

Kenny Washington was the first African-American to contract to play with the National Football League since 1933.  Washington was a member of a strong UCLA football team while he was there, and was thought to be one of the best college football players of the time.  When he graduated, the Chicago Bears tried to sign him in 1941, but was blocked by the NFL owners. 

In 1946 the Cleveland Rams moved to Los Angeles, and part of the agreement was that the team would be integrated.  The Rams signed Kenny Washington on March 21, 1946, and another UCLA teammate, Woody Strode, on May 7, 1946. 

He played for three years, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1956.  Washington went on to have distinguished career as a police officer in the Los Angeles Police Department.

March 21, 1963

Alcatraz, also called “The Rock”, was established early on to house gun batteries to protect San Francisco Bay and for a lighthouse.  As early as 1861, the island was used to confine Civil War prisoners.  After the war, at first the plan was to modernize the island, but the plans were changed to build a prison instead, and Alcatraz became a military prison in 1868. 

After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the prison was used for civilian prisoners.  During World War I the prison was used to house conscientious objectors.  In 1933, the military prison was shut down and the prison was transferred to the Bureau of Prisons. 

The prison was operated for 29 years by the Bureau of Prisons, and most of the inmates that were sent there were prisoners who had caused trouble at other prisons.  The claim is that there were no successful escapes, but in one of the escapes, the three men involved were never found, either dead or alive. 

The prison was closed on March 21, 1963, because the prison cost almost three times the amount of the average prison to run, and the building were in poor shape from salt water corrosion.

United States Boycotted The 1980 Summer Olympics
March 21, 1980

The 1980 Summer Olympics took place in Moscow, at that time a part of the Soviet Union.  At the end of 1979 the Soviets invaded Afghanistan to support the government of the country.  However, the United States was unofficially supporting the guerillas against the Afganistan government.  President Jimmy Carter issued an ultimatum on January 20, 1980 stating that if the Soviet troops did not withdraw in 30 days, that the United States would not attend the Moscow Olympics.

On March 21, 1980 President Carter announced that the United States Olympic team would not be participating in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.  A number of other countries also participated in the boycott, although some of their athletes competed in the games under the Olympic flag.

The Soviet Union and their allies later boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

March 21, 1999

After a flight lasting almost 20 days, Betrand Piccard and Brian Jones land, finishing the first non-stop around the world balloon flight.  Piccard comes from a family that has been interested in ballooning for a long time.  His grandfather set several records in gas balloons.

March 21, 2003

Phillip Morris was ordered to pay 10.1 billion dollars because of misleading advertising.  The suit against them stated that using the word “light” and “low tar” in their description of cigarettes led consumers to think that some cigarettes were healthier than others. 

The tobacco companies stated that the descriptions were talking about the taste, and they should not be held liable if the consumer misunderstood.

The decision was later overturned by the U.S Supreme Court, stating that the Federal Trade Commission had allowed them to use the terms, so the company was not at fault.  Throughout the process, the courts also ordered the tobacco companies to stop using the misleading advertising.

March 21, 2005

Bobby Fischer, considered to be one of the best chess players of all time, was granted Icelandic citizenship on this day in 2005.  Fischer was wanted by the U.S. Government for violating a United Nations embargo of Yugoslavia in 1992.  He was also being sought because of failure to pay income taxes on his winnings.  He never returned to the United States after 1992, and died in Iceland in 2008.


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