March 22 – On this Day in History

This article delves into a curated selection of notable historical events that occurred on March 22nd, spanning a broad spectrum of human activity and achievement.

From groundbreaking scientific advancements and pivotal moments in social justice to dramatic shifts in the geopolitical landscape and remarkable feats in the realms of sports and exploration, each event provides a window into the complexities and diversities of our shared past.

March 22nd Events in History

238 – Gordian I and his son Gordian II are proclaimed Roman emperors in the African provinces

In a bold move against the reigning Emperor Maximinus Thrax, the Roman Senate recognized Gordian I and his son Gordian II as joint emperors. This event was primarily sparked by dissatisfaction with Maximinus’ harsh taxation and his general disregard for the Senate.

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Gordian I, aged 80, and his more youthful son were in Africa at the time, and their elevation was initially supported by the populations of Carthage and other key cities.

However, their reign was short-lived, lasting only 36 days due to the lack of broader military support and their subsequent deaths—Gordian II in battle and Gordian I by suicide upon hearing of his son’s demise.

Jamestown in 1619

1622 – In the first major massacre of colonists by Native Americans in Virginia, nearly a third of the colony’s English-speaking population is killed, known as the Jamestown Massacre

On this day, a coordinated series of surprise attacks by a coalition of Powhatan Confederacy tribes led to the deaths of nearly 347 settlers in the Virginia colony, which constituted about a third of its English-speaking population.

The massacre was a pivotal moment in the early history of the Jamestown settlement, leading to a period of intermittent warfare and heightened mistrust between the English colonists and Native American tribes.

The conflict fundamentally shifted the settlers’ strategies and policies towards the indigenous peoples, marking a turning point in the colonization of the eastern seaboard of North America.

1630 – The Massachusetts Bay Colony outlaws the possession of cards, dice, and gaming tables

Reflecting the Puritanical ethos of the early Massachusetts Bay Colony, the outlawing of possession of cards, dice, and gaming tables was part of a broader effort to maintain moral order and discourage behaviors deemed sinful or distracting from communal responsibilities and religious observance.

Also Read: March 23rd Events in History

This legislation is an early example of the strict codes of conduct enforced by Puritan settlers to regulate personal and public life, illustrating their commitment to creating a “city upon a hill” that would serve as a model Christian society.

1765 – The British Parliament passes the Stamp Act that imposed a direct tax on the colonies of British America

This act was the first direct tax levied by the British Parliament specifically on the colonies of British America. It required that many materials printed or used in the colonies be on paper produced in London and carry an embossed revenue stamp.

The Stamp Act was met with widespread opposition in the colonies, where it was seen as a violation of the colonial charters and the principle of “no taxation without representation.”

The act’s introduction led to boycotts, protests, and eventually contributed to the growing unrest that culminated in the American Revolution.

Antonio José de Sucre

1829 – In the Battle of Tarqui, forces led by Antonio José de Sucre defeat the Peruvian invasion of Gran Colombia near Cuenca

This battle was a crucial conflict between Gran Colombia and Peru over territory that today belongs to Ecuador. Antonio José de Sucre, a key figure in the South American independence movement and a trusted lieutenant of Simón Bolívar, led the Gran Colombian forces to victory.

The Battle of Tarqui, fought near Cuenca, helped to solidify the boundaries between the newly independent nations of South America.

It also demonstrated the military prowess of the Gran Colombian army and the strategic leadership of Sucre, who played a significant role in the broader struggle for independence from Spanish colonial rule across the continent.

1849 – The Gold Rush-era vessel SS California arrives in San Francisco Bay, 4 months 22 days after leaving New York Harbor

The SS California was pivotal in the history of the California Gold Rush. It was one of the first steamships designed for service between the Eastern United States and the California coast, making it an instrumental part of the early days of the rush.

Launched in 1848, it made its way around Cape Horn, arriving in San Francisco Bay on March 22, 1849, after a journey of over four months. This event marked a significant moment in American history, as the Gold Rush led to rapid population growth, economic expansion, and ultimately the fast-tracking of California’s statehood in 1850.

The SS California and subsequent vessels helped to establish a more consistent and faster route for migrants and supplies, fundamentally changing the dynamics of settlement and commerce in the region.

1873 – A law is approved by the Spanish National Assembly in Puerto Rico to abolish slavery

The Spanish National Assembly’s approval of a law to abolish slavery in Puerto Rico represented a landmark in the island’s history. This decree, officially promulgated on March 22, 1873, freed the remaining slave population, which numbered in the thousands.

The act was part of broader abolitionist movements within the Spanish Empire and came after years of petitions, reforms, and slave revolts.

Despite the abolition, former slaves were required to continue working for their previous masters or other employers for several years in a system known as “patronato,” which was a transitional period intended to adapt both the economy and the freed individuals to their new status.

This significant step towards freedom was a precursor to Puerto Rico’s evolving relationship with Spain and its later status within the United States.

1894 – The first playoff game for the Stanley Cup starts

The Stanley Cup, originally named the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, was donated by Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor General of Canada, to be awarded to Canada’s top-ranking amateur ice hockey club. The first game to determine the Cup’s recipient was played on March 22, 1894.

The Montreal Hockey Club faced the Ottawa Hockey Club in this inaugural challenge. Montreal emerged victorious, becoming the first team to win the now prestigious Stanley Cup. This event marked the beginning of what would become one of the most cherished trophies in professional sports, especially in the realm of ice hockey.

1906 – The first England vs. France rugby union match is played at Parc des Princes in Paris

This event is notable not just for the sporting competition but also for its role in fostering rugby union as an international sport. The match between England and France, held at the Parc des Princes in Paris, was a significant moment in the early history of international rugby.

It helped to solidify the popularity of rugby union in France and contributed to the sport’s development across Europe. England’s victory in this game did little to dampen the enthusiasm for rugby in France, which would go on to become one of the sport’s powerhouses and a key member of the Six Nations Championship.

1923 – The first radio broadcast of ice hockey is made by Foster Hewitt

On this day, Canadian radio pioneer Foster Hewitt made history by broadcasting the first ice hockey game on the radio. The game, an Ontario Hockey Association playoff match, was aired over the telephone lines from the Arena Gardens in Toronto.

This broadcast marked the beginning of Hewitt’s legendary career as a sports broadcaster and was a milestone in the popularization of hockey in Canada and beyond.

Hewitt’s famous catchphrase, “He shoots, he scores!”, would become synonymous with hockey broadcasting. This event paved the way for the widespread radio (and later television) coverage of sports, fundamentally changing how fans engage with their favorite games.

1943 – World War II: The entire village of Khatyn (in what is now Belarus) is burned alive by Schutzmannschaft Battalion 118

1943 – The Khatyn Massacre: The Khatyn massacre was a tragic event during World War II, where an entire village in Belarus, then part of the Soviet Union, was burned, and its inhabitants were massacred by the Schutzmannschaft Battalion 118, which was primarily composed of Ukrainian collaborationists under Nazi command.

This atrocity resulted in the death of 149 villagers, including women and children. The village of Khatyn was mistaken for another village involved in the partisan resistance. The brutal attack is remembered as one of the many horrific acts of violence against civilians during the war.

Khatyn became a symbol of the suffering and destruction experienced by Belarusian villages during the Nazi occupation, leading to the establishment of a memorial on the site of the village.

1945 – The Arab League is formed when a charter is adopted in Cairo, Egypt

The Arab League was formed in Cairo, Egypt, with the adoption of its charter by seven Arab states: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan (now Jordan), Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen.

The formation of the league was primarily aimed at promoting economic, cultural, and political cooperation among its member states but also to mediate disputes and prevent conflicts within the Arab world.

Over time, the Arab League has expanded to include 22 members. The league’s formation marked a significant step towards Arab unity and independence, reflecting the growing sentiment against colonial rule and the desire for greater regional cooperation and self-determination.

1960 – Arthur Leonard Schawlow and Charles Hard Townes receive the first patent for a laser

Arthur Leonard Schawlow and Charles Hard Townes were awarded the first patent for the optical laser. Their work built upon the principles of the maser (microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation), which Townes had co-invented earlier.

The concept of the laser involved using light (photons) to stimulate the emission of more light, leading to a concentrated and highly focused beam.

The invention of the laser has had a profound impact on various fields, including medicine, communications, industry, and technology, by enabling precise cutting, data transmission over long distances via fiber-optic cables, and the scanning of barcodes, among countless other applications.

1972 – The United States Congress sends the Equal Rights Amendment to the states for ratification

The United States Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and sent it to the states for ratification. The ERA was designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex, aiming to end the legal distinctions between men and women in terms of divorce, property, employment, and other matters.

Despite initial momentum, the amendment fell short of being ratified by the requisite number of states by the 1982 deadline, largely due to a conservative backlash that argued it would disrupt traditional social norms.

The ERA’s passage through Congress and subsequent battle for ratification have had a lasting impact on the women’s rights movement in the United States.

1978 – Karl Wallenda of the Flying Wallendas dies after falling off a tight-rope between two hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Karl Wallenda, the founder of the Flying Wallendas, a famed high-wire act, tragically died after falling from a tightrope between two hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Wallenda was attempting a walk on a 121-foot-long and 75-foot-high wire without a safety net or harness. His death was witnessed by live television audiences and marked a somber moment in the history of circus performances.

The Flying Wallendas were known for their high-wire performances without safety nets, and Karl’s death underscored the inherent risks of such daring acts. Despite the tragedy, the Wallenda family has continued their high-wire performances, honoring Karl Wallenda’s legacy and their family tradition.

1995 – Cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov returns to earth after setting a record for 438 days in space

After setting a record for the longest single spaceflight in history, Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov returned to Earth aboard the Soyuz TM-20 spacecraft. Polyakov spent a total of 438 days in space aboard the Mir space station, surpassing previous endurance records.

This mission was significant for studying the effects of prolonged spaceflight on the human body, crucial for the future of human space exploration, particularly for potential missions to Mars.

Polyakov’s mission provided valuable data on how the body adapts to weightlessness, including muscle atrophy and bone density loss, and how these effects can be mitigated.

1997 – Tara Lipinski, age 14, becomes the youngest women’s World Figure Skating Champion

At the age of 14, American figure skater Tara Lipinski won the gold medal at the World Figure Skating Championships held in Lausanne, Switzerland, becoming the youngest ever to win this title. Her victory was a significant moment in figure skating history, showcasing her remarkable talent and setting a new standard for young athletes in the sport.

Lipinski’s performance, characterized by technical prowess and artistic expression, captured the public’s imagination and inspired a new generation of skaters.

Her achievement highlighted the increasing competitiveness of women’s figure skating and the importance of youth and athleticism in achieving sporting excellence.

2006 – Three Christian Peacemaker Team hostages are freed by British forces in Baghdad after 118 days of captivity and the death of their colleague, American Tom Fox

Three hostages from the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), an organization committed to nonviolent conflict resolution, were freed by British forces in Baghdad after 118 days of captivity. The hostages, two Canadians and a British citizen, had been taken by an insurgent group while working on peace initiatives in Iraq.

The fourth member of their team, an American named Tom Fox, was killed earlier. The incident drew international attention to the dangers faced by peace activists and humanitarian workers in conflict zones.

It also underscored the complexities of the Iraq War and the broader issues related to international intervention, security, and efforts to promote peace in the region.

2013 – The United States Senate passes a resolution to spend $984 billion to avoid a government shutdown

On this date, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution to authorize spending of $984 billion to fund government operations, thus avoiding a potential government shutdown.

The resolution was part of ongoing efforts to address fiscal challenges and disagreements over budgetary priorities between different branches of government and political parties.

Such resolutions are critical in ensuring that government services continue without interruption, reflecting the broader debates within the United States about fiscal policy, government spending, and the role of government in society.

2016 – Three suicide bombings in Belgium: two at Brussels Airport and one at Maalbeek metro station in Brussels, kill 32 people and injure over 300

Belgium was struck by three coordinated suicide bombings: two at Brussels Airport in Zaventem and one at Maalbeek metro station in central Brussels. The attacks resulted in 32 deaths and more than 300 injuries, marking one of the deadliest acts of terrorism in Belgium’s history. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attacks.

These events had a profound impact on Belgium and Europe, leading to heightened security measures, a reassessment of counter-terrorism strategies, and a deepened sense of vulnerability to terrorist acts. The attacks also sparked international solidarity with Belgium and renewed commitments to fighting terrorism globally.