March 19 – On this Day in History

March 19th a day that chronicles the dramatic unfolding of human history through battles, innovations, and pivotal moments that have significantly influenced the world.

From the ancient battlefields to groundbreaking scientific discoveries, this date has witnessed a diverse array of events that underscore the complexity and resilience of the human spirit.

Join us as we explore 20 notable events that occurred on March 19th, offering a glimpse into the enduring impact of these historical milestones.

March 19th Events in History

1279 – The Battle of Yamen ends in the South China Sea, marking the end of the Song Dynasty in China

The Battle of Yamen was the decisive naval engagement that concluded the years-long conflict between the Song Dynasty and the invading Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty.

On March 19, 1279, the Yuan forces, commanded by Zhang Hongfan, trapped and annihilated the last Song loyalists, led by the young Emperor Bing, near Yamen on the Pearl River’s delta.

Also Read: March 18 – On this Day in History

This battle effectively ended the Song Dynasty, allowing Kublai Khan’s Yuan Dynasty to consolidate control over all of China. The defeat not only marked a significant shift in Chinese history but also the end of Southern Song’s attempts to regain power from the Mongols.

The French Wars of Religion

1563 – The Edict of Amboise is signed, ending the first war of religion in France and offering limited toleration to the Huguenots

The French Wars of Religion were a series of conflicts between Catholics and Huguenots (French Calvinist Protestants) that plagued France in the late 16th century.

The Edict of Amboise, signed on March 19, 1563, sought to bring an end to the first of these wars by offering a compromise. It granted the Huguenots the right to worship outside the towns (in order to avoid antagonizing Catholics in urban areas) and the right to hold religious ceremonies in the countryside.

Although it was intended as a peace-making measure, the edict was limited in scope and did not grant full religious freedom or equality, leading to further conflicts in the years to come.

1687 – Explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle, searching for the mouth of the Mississippi River, is murdered by his own men

René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, was a French explorer credited with claiming the Mississippi River basin for France, which he named Louisiana after King Louis XIV. His last expedition aimed to establish a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi.

Also Read: March 20th Events in History

However, due to navigation errors, the expedition landed in present-day Texas, far from their intended destination. Stranded and desperate, La Salle led a group to seek help. On March 19, 1687, during this journey, he was murdered by members of his own expedition party near present-day Navasota, Texas.

His death marked a tragic end to his ambitious explorations and significantly impacted French colonization efforts in North America.

1861 – The First Taranaki War ends in New Zealand

The First Taranaki War was a pivotal conflict between indigenous Māori and British colonial forces in New Zealand’s Taranaki region.

It began in March 1860, sparked by a dispute over land sales and sovereignty, and was part of the wider New Zealand Wars that sought to resolve tensions between Māori tribes and European settlers.

The war ended inconclusively on March 19, 1861, with neither side achieving a decisive victory. It resulted in significant loss of life and set the stage for further conflicts in the region, profoundly affecting Māori society and land ownership in New Zealand.

1863 – The SS Georgiana, said to have been the most powerful Confederate cruiser, is destroyed on her maiden voyage with a cargo worth over $1,000,000

The SS Georgiana, regarded as the most formidable commerce raider built for the Confederacy during the American Civil War, met her demise on March 19, 1863. Under the command of the Confederate States Navy, she was en route to her first mission, loaded with arms, ammunition, and supplies intended to break the Union blockade of the Southern ports.

However, the Georgiana was discovered and chased by Union naval forces near Charleston, South Carolina. Rather than allow her capture, her crew scuttled her in Charleston’s harbor, where she was destroyed.

The wreck of the Georgiana was discovered over a century later, becoming a significant underwater archaeological site and a poignant reminder of the Civil War’s maritime history.

Louis Riel

1885 – Louis Riel declares a provisional government in Saskatchewan, beginning the North-West Rebellion

Louis Riel, a Métis leader and a central figure in the Red River and North-West Rebellions, declared a provisional government in Saskatchewan in March 1885, marking the start of the North-West Rebellion.

This uprising was fueled by grievances among the Métis people, Indigenous groups, and settlers in the Canadian Northwest, primarily concerning land rights and the encroachment of the Canadian government into their territories.

The rebellion highlighted the Métis struggle for recognition and rights, culminating in several armed engagements between the provisional government’s forces and the Canadian military.

The rebellion was eventually quelled, leading to Riel’s capture and controversial execution, which has since left a lasting legacy on Canadian history, particularly regarding Indigenous rights and federal relations.

1915 – Pluto is photographed for the first time but is not recognized as a planet

On March 19, 1915, over 15 years before its official discovery in 1930, Pluto was unknowingly photographed for the first time at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. These early photographs were part of Percival Lowell’s search for a predicted ninth planet, which he referred to as “Planet X.”

However, Pluto’s presence in these images went unrecognized at the time due to its faintness and the limitations of the astronomical equipment available.

It wasn’t until Clyde Tombaugh’s systematic search at the same observatory that Pluto was officially discovered and recognized as the ninth planet in our solar system, a designation it held until 2006 when it was reclassified as a “dwarf planet” by the International Astronomical Union.

1918 – The U.S. Congress establishes time zones and approves daylight saving time

In an effort to conserve fuel during World War I, the United States Congress passed the Standard Time Act on March 19, 1918, which formally established time zones across the country and instituted daylight saving time (DST).

The concept of DST was to shift an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening, thereby reducing the need for artificial lighting and saving energy for the war effort. While the primary goal was conservation, the establishment of standardized time zones also greatly benefited transportation and communication networks by creating a uniform time-keeping system across the nation.

Though DST has been subject to various adjustments and remains controversial, the establishment of time zones has been a lasting and fundamental change to how time is organized in the United States.

1931 – Gambling is legalized in Nevada, paving the way for the development of Las Vegas

On March 19, 1931, Nevada took a bold step in the midst of the Great Depression by legalizing gambling, a move aimed at boosting the state’s economy through tourism and entertainment. This decision transformed Nevada, especially Las Vegas, into the premier destination for gambling and entertainment in the United States.

The legalization led to the rapid development of casinos and showgirl venues, attracting visitors from across the country and around the world. Over the decades, Las Vegas evolved from a modest railroad service center to the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” known for its vibrant nightlife, luxury hotels, and world-class gambling facilities.

Tuskegee Airmen
The Tuskeegee Airmen

1941 – World War II: The 99th Pursuit Squadron also known as the Tuskegee Airmen, the first all-black unit of the Army Air Corp, is activated

The 99th Pursuit Squadron, famously known as the Tuskegee Airmen, was activated on March 19, 1941. This event marked the first time African American pilots were trained and served as military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps, the precursor to the U.S. Air Force.

Training at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama, these men broke racial barriers and went on to distinguish themselves in combat over Europe and North Africa during World War II.

Their bravery, skill, and dedication contributed significantly to the desegregation of the American military and helped pave the way for the civil rights advancements that would follow.

The Tuskegee Airmen’s legacy is not only one of aerial combat success but also a testament to the struggle and progress toward racial equality in the United States military and society.

1945 – World War II: Off the coast of Japan, a dive bomber hits the aircraft carrier USS Franklin, killing 724 of her crew

The USS Franklin, an Essex-class aircraft carrier, suffered one of the most devastating attacks on a capital ship during World War II when it was hit by a Japanese dive bomber on March 19, 1945. The attack occurred while the Franklin was operating off the coast of Japan, near Honshu.

The bomb struck the ship, igniting fuel and ammunition, causing massive fires and explosions. Despite the catastrophic damage and high casualties, the crew’s heroic efforts saved the ship from sinking.

Remarkably, the Franklin managed to make its way back to the U.S. under its own power, earning the nickname “Big Ben” and becoming a symbol of resilience and courage. The ship’s ordeal remains one of the most significant examples of survival and bravery in naval history.

1954 – Joey Giardello knocks out Willie Tory in round seven at Madison Square Garden in the first televised prize boxing fight shown in color

On March 19, 1954, a landmark event in sports broadcasting occurred when the middleweight boxing match between Joey Giardello and Willie Tory at Madison Square Garden was televised in color. This event marked the first time a prizefight was broadcast in color, signaling a new era in sports television.

The fight, which Giardello won by knocking out Tory in the seventh round, showcased the potential of color broadcasting to bring sports events to life in viewers’ homes.

The successful transmission added a new dimension to televised sports, enhancing the viewing experience by providing more vivid and dynamic images of the action.

1962 – Bob Dylan releases his first album, “Bob Dylan,” in the United States

The release of Bob Dylan’s eponymous debut album on March 19, 1962, marked the arrival of a significant voice in American music. The album, “Bob Dylan,” introduced Dylan’s raw, distinctive folk style to a broader audience. It consisted mostly of traditional folk songs, with two original compositions by Dylan.

Although the album did not initially achieve significant commercial success, it laid the foundation for Dylan’s influential career as a singer-songwriter. His profound lyrics, unique voice, and social commentary would go on to shape the landscape of 1960s music and influence countless artists across various genres.

1978 – The Egyptian army raids Larnaca International Airport in an attempt to intervene in a hijacking, leading to conflicts with Cypriot forces

On March 19, 1978, a dramatic incident unfolded at Larnaca International Airport in Cyprus when the Egyptian army attempted to intervene in the hijacking of a Cyprus Airways passenger plane. The hijackers had taken hostages and demanded the release of prisoners held in Egypt.

The Egyptian military’s unauthorized attempt to storm the aircraft led to a brief but intense firefight with Cypriot forces, who saw the intervention as a violation of their sovereignty.

The confrontation resulted in the deaths of several Egyptian commandos and strained relations between Egypt and Cyprus. The incident highlighted the complexities and dangers associated with international hostage situations and the sensitivities of national sovereignty.

1982 – Argentine forces land on South Georgia Island, precipitating the Falklands War

The Falklands War, a ten-week conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom, was precipitated by the Argentine landing on South Georgia Island on March 19, 1982. This action was part of Argentina’s broader attempt to assert sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), a disputed territory claimed by both Argentina and Britain.

The landing on South Georgia, a remote and uninhabited island in the southern Atlantic Ocean, escalated tensions and led to the full-scale outbreak of hostilities in April. The conflict eventually resulted in a British military victory, with the UK retaining control of the islands.

The Falklands War had significant political and military implications, reinforcing national identities in both countries and affecting their military and diplomatic policies for years to come.

2002 – Zimbabwe is suspended from the Commonwealth on charges of human rights abuses and of electoral fraud, following a turbulent presidential election

In March 2002, Zimbabwe faced significant international scrutiny when it was suspended from the Commonwealth, an intergovernmental organization comprising countries mostly former territories of the British Empire.

This suspension came as a direct response to widespread reports of human rights abuses and allegations of electoral fraud during the presidential election held earlier that month. International observers and opposition parties criticized the election for being marred by violence, intimidation, and vote-rigging, all aimed at ensuring the re-election of President Robert Mugabe.

The Commonwealth’s decision to suspend Zimbabwe highlighted the growing concern within the international community regarding governance, democracy, and human rights issues in the country.

2003 – President George W. Bush orders the start of war against Iraq. (However, because of the time difference, it was March 20 in Iraq.)

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 marked a pivotal moment in early 21st-century history. Ordered by U.S. President George W. Bush, the military operation began on March 19, 2003 (March 20 in Iraq), under the pretext that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and posed a threat to international security.

Despite widespread international protests and the absence of United Nations Security Council approval, the U.S.-led coalition launched a series of air strikes targeting Baghdad, quickly followed by ground invasion.

The swift military action led to the downfall of Saddam Hussein’s regime but initiated a prolonged period of conflict and instability in Iraq, with long-lasting implications for regional and global politics.

2008 – GRB 080319B: A cosmic burst that is the farthest object visible to the naked eye is observed

On March 19, 2008, astronomers and sky-watchers witnessed an extraordinary event: GRB 080319B, a gamma-ray burst (GRB) that became the farthest object ever visible to the naked eye at that time. Originating from a galaxy over 7 billion light-years away, this GRB was caused by the collapse of a massive star into a black hole, releasing intense radiation.

The burst’s brightness and energy surpassed all previous records for such events, providing valuable insights into the death of stars, the formation of black holes, and the extreme physics governing the universe.

The observation of GRB 080319B not only set a new benchmark in astrophysics but also reminded us of the vast and dynamic cosmos beyond our own planet.

2011 – The first airstrikes are launched in Libya under the UN’s mandate of military intervention

In response to the escalating civil conflict in Libya and the threat to civilian lives posed by the government forces of Muammar Gaddafi, the United Nations Security Council authorized military intervention. On March 19, 2011, a coalition of Western and Arab states began a series of airstrikes against Gaddafi’s forces.

The operation, intended to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians under threat of attack in cities such as Benghazi, marked a significant international effort to intervene in the conflict.

While the intervention played a crucial role in preventing further mass atrocities and ultimately contributed to the downfall of Gaddafi’s regime, it also raised questions about sovereignty, the international community’s responsibility to protect civilians, and the long-term implications of military intervention in sovereign countries.