March 10 – On this Day in History

This article takes us through a series of significant historical events that occurred on March 10th, providing a snapshot of humanity’s diverse journey.

From the ancient Battle of the Aegates Islands in 241 BC to innovations like Alexander Graham Bell’s first telephone call in 1876, and pivotal moments like the discovery of Uranus’s rings in 1977, each event reflects a facet of our collective past.

We explore acts of bravery, breakthroughs in science, and turning points in social justice, highlighting how these moments on March 10th have contributed to shaping our world.

March 10th Events in History

241 BC – The Battle of the Aegates Islands: The Roman fleet sinks 50 Carthaginian ships during the First Punic War, leading to the end of the war

This naval battle took place near the Aegadian Islands, off the western coast of Sicily. It was a decisive Roman victory against Carthage and marked the end of the First Punic War.

Also Read: March 9 – On this Day in History

The Romans, led by the consul Gaius Lutatius Catulus, constructed a new fleet that was lighter and faster, enabling them to outmaneuver the Carthaginian ships.

The Carthaginians, burdened by heavier ships and a lack of maneuverability, suffered significant losses. This victory forced Carthage to agree to a peace treaty that included leaving Sicily, thus making it the first Roman province outside the Italian peninsula.

Carthaginian ships

298 – Roman Emperor Maximian concludes his campaign in North Africa and makes a triumphal entry into Carthage

Maximian’s campaign in North Africa was part of the wider efforts to secure the Roman Empire’s borders and suppress internal revolts.

After successfully suppressing a rebellion in Mauritania (in the western part of modern-day Algeria and Morocco), Maximian made a triumphal entry into Carthage, one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire outside of Italy.

This campaign solidified Rome’s control over its African territories, which were vital for their grain supply.

418 – Jews are excluded from holding public office in the Roman Empire

This event reflects the complex relationship between the Roman state and different religious groups within its borders. By the early 5th century, Christianity had become the dominant religion in the Roman Empire, leading to increased restrictions on Jews and other religious groups.

Also Read: March 11th Events in History

The decree to exclude Jews from holding public office was part of a broader set of laws that aimed to marginalize non-Christian communities, reflecting the changing religious landscape of the Empire.

947 – The Later Han Dynasty is founded by Liu Zhiyuan in China; it is the last of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period

The Later Han Dynasty, also known as the Northern Han, was one of the short-lived dynasties during the tumultuous Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period in China. This era followed the fall of the Tang Dynasty and was characterized by fragmentation and conflict among various warlords.

Liu Zhiyuan was originally a military governor under the previous regime but declared himself emperor in 947, founding the Later Han Dynasty. His dynasty, however, lasted only a few years before being absorbed by the Song Dynasty, which eventually reunified China.

Liu Zhiyuan

1500 – Cesare Borgia is made a cardinal by his father, Pope Alexander VI

Cesare Borgia, son of Rodrigo Borgia (who became Pope Alexander VI in 1492), was made a cardinal at a young age, exemplifying the practice of nepotism within the Catholic Church at the time.

Despite his religious title, Cesare was more interested in military and political endeavors. His appointment as a cardinal was part of his father’s efforts to consolidate power and influence within Italy.

Cesare Borgia’s life was marked by his ambition to create a centralized state in Italy, and his actions as both a cardinal and later as a secular leader were instrumental in shaping the politics of the Renaissance period.

1629 – Charles I of England dissolves Parliament, beginning the eleven-year period known as the Personal Rule

This action by Charles I marked the beginning of an eleven-year period known as the Personal Rule or the Eleven Years’ Tyranny, during which the king ruled without a Parliament.

The dissolution occurred after Parliament attempted to pass a resolution that would limit the king’s ability to raise money without its consent, amid escalating tensions over taxation and religious reforms.

Charles I’s decision to rule without Parliament led to widespread discontent across England and played a significant role in the buildup to the English Civil War.

1735 – An agreement is signed between Nadir Shah of Iran and Russia at the end of the Russo-Persian War

This agreement concluded one of the many conflicts between the Persian Empire and Russia, which were primarily focused on control over the Caucasus region.

Nadir Shah, who had restored the Persian Empire to a position of power after the turmoil following the decline of the Safavid Dynasty, sought to secure its borders and assert control over territories in the Caucasus that were contested by the Russian Empire.

The treaty signed with Russia was part of Nadir Shah’s broader foreign policy efforts to stabilize Iran’s frontiers and reassert Persian influence in the region.

1762 – French Huguenot Jean Calas, who was wrongly convicted of killing his son, is exonerated

Jean Calas was a merchant in Toulouse, France, who was falsely accused of murdering his son to prevent his conversion to Catholicism.

The Calas affair became a cause célèbre throughout Europe after Voltaire, one of the leading philosophers of the Enlightenment, took up his case to argue against religious intolerance and judicial error.

Calas was posthumously exonerated, highlighting the growing Enlightenment ideals of justice, tolerance, and skepticism of traditional authority.

1793 – France adopts the metric system, the first country to do so

The adoption of the metric system by revolutionary France marked a significant moment in the history of measurement. Prior to the adoption, various systems of measurement were used, often varying from one region to another, which hindered trade and communication.

The metric system, developed by French scientists, was based on decimal units and was designed to be universal, rational, and easy to use. Its adoption reflected the Enlightenment’s ideals of reason and uniformity and laid the foundation for its eventual spread and acceptance worldwide.

1814 – Napoleon I of France is defeated at the Battle of Laon in France by Prussian and Russian forces

The Battle of Laon was a significant defeat for Napoleon during the War of the Sixth Coalition, a part of the Napoleonic Wars. Fought between French forces under Napoleon and a coalition consisting primarily of Prussian and Russian forces, the battle saw the coalition forces decisively defeat the French.

This defeat was one of a series that led to Napoleon’s abdication and exile to Elba in April 1814. The battle demonstrated the limitations of Napoleon’s military genius when faced with overwhelming odds and a coalition increasingly skilled in countering his tactics.

1831 – The French Foreign Legion is established by King Louis Philippe to support his war in Algeria

The French Foreign Legion was created to engage foreign recruits for military service in the French Army. The establishment of the Legion allowed France to bolster its military forces without increasing domestic political tensions or drawing on its own population, which was still recovering from the Napoleonic Wars and the upheaval of the French Revolution.

The Legion was initially used in Algeria, which France was in the process of colonizing. Over time, the French Foreign Legion became known for its strict discipline, esprit de corps, and its role in French military operations abroad, gaining a legendary status as a unit composed of men from diverse backgrounds willing to fight for France.

1876 – Alexander Graham Bell makes the first successful telephone call by saying “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you”

“Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.” With these words, Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated the potential of the telephone for the first time. The invention of the telephone was a pivotal moment in the history of communication, transforming how information was transmitted over distances.

Bell’s work on the telephone began as an attempt to improve telegraphy but quickly evolved into an entirely new way to facilitate direct, voice-based communication.

The success of Bell’s experiment laid the groundwork for the global telecommunications revolution, fundamentally changing business, personal communication, and the pace of social exchange.

1906 – The Courrières mine disaster in France kills 1,099 miners in one of Europe’s worst mining disasters

This disaster is one of Europe’s worst mining catastrophes, claiming the lives of 1,099 miners in the Pas-de-Calais region. A coal dust explosion deep underground was the primary cause, highlighting the dangerous conditions in which miners worked.

The disaster not only caused a significant loss of life but also prompted public outcry over working conditions in mines and led to improvements in safety standards and regulations. It underscored the need for better oversight and technological advancements to protect workers in industrial settings.

1922 – Mahatma Gandhi is arrested in India, tried for sedition, and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment

Gandhi’s arrest was a direct result of his leadership in the non-cooperation movement against British rule in India. His trial and subsequent imprisonment drew international attention to the struggle for Indian independence and highlighted the repressive measures employed by the British to maintain control over the colony.

Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violent resistance and civil disobedience inspired a mass movement that played a crucial role in India’s path to independence. His time in prison only bolstered his status as a leader of the Indian nationalist movement.

1933 – An earthquake in Long Beach, California, kills 115 people and causes widespread damage

The Long Beach earthquake struck the southern California region, causing extensive destruction to buildings and infrastructure.

It was a pivotal moment in the history of earthquake preparedness in the United States, leading to the enactment of stricter building codes aimed at reducing the damage from future earthquakes.

The quake underscored the vulnerability of urban areas to natural disasters and prompted a reevaluation of architectural and construction standards, particularly in seismically active zones.

1945 – In World War II, American forces firebomb Tokyo, and the Japanese declare it as the “Night of the Black Snow,” with over 1,000 B-29 bombers used in the raid

This devastating air raid, part of the U.S. bombing campaign during World War II, targeted the densely populated residential areas of Tokyo.

Using incendiary bombs designed to ignite fires, the raid created a massive firestorm that destroyed much of the city and is estimated to have killed over 100,000 people, making it one of the deadliest air raids in history.

The attack, while aiming to hasten the end of the war by crippling Japan’s war production and breaking its people’s spirit, also raised profound ethical questions about the targeting of civilians in warfare and the human cost of achieving strategic military objectives.

1952 – Fulgencio Batista leads a successful coup in Cuba and appoints himself as the “provisional president”

Batista’s coup d’état overthrew the government of President Carlos Prío Socarrás, leading to a period of dictatorial rule that lasted until the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

Batista, who had previously served as elected president of Cuba, suspended the constitution, dissolved the Congress, and ruled with an iron fist, implementing policies that favored wealthy elites and foreign interests, particularly American companies.

His regime was marked by corruption, repression, and human rights abuses, factors that contributed to the rise of Fidel Castro and the revolutionary movement that eventually ousted Batista from power.

1969 – In Memphis, Tennessee, James Earl Ray pleads guilty to assassinating Martin Luther King Jr. and is sentenced to 99 years in prison

King’s assassination on April 4, 1968, marked a tragic moment in the history of the civil rights movement in the United States. James Earl Ray’s guilty plea avoided a trial, but he later recanted his confession and spent the rest of his life attempting to prove his innocence.

The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., a leading voice for nonviolent protest and civil rights, led to an outpouring of grief and anger across the country and served as a catalyst for continued activism and legislation aimed at addressing racial injustice.

1977 – Astronomers discover rings around Uranus

The discovery was made by astronomers observing Uranus from the Kuiper Airborne Observatory, using a specially equipped aircraft to study the planet’s atmosphere. When Uranus passed in front of a distant star, the star’s light dimmed just before and after the planet’s disc blocked it, indicating the presence of rings.

This finding was significant because, until then, rings were known to exist only around Saturn. The discovery of rings around Uranus added to our understanding of the complexities of the solar system and spurred further exploration and study of the outer planets.

1990 – In Haiti, Prosper Avril is ousted 18 months after seizing power in a coup

General Prosper Avril came to power in Haiti through a military coup in September 1988, claiming to provide stability in the wake of a series of coups that followed the end of the Duvalier dictatorship. However, his rule was marked by human rights abuses and political repression.

In March 1990, widespread protests and international pressure forced Avril to resign, leading to a brief period of democratic opening in Haiti. This event was part of the ongoing struggle for democracy in Haiti, which has been characterized by a cycle of coups, electoral instability, and efforts to establish a stable and democratic governance structure.