March 17, 461 A.D. - Bishop Patrick, St. Patrick, died in Saul and now Ireland celebrates March 17 in his honor. (Some sources say he died in 460 A.D.)
March 17, 1756 - St. Patrick's Day was celebrated in New York City for the first time. The event took place at the Crown and Thistle Tavern.
March 17, 1766 - Britain repealed the Stamp Act that had caused resentment in the North American colonies.
March 17, 1776 – During the American Revolution, British forces evacuated Boston, ending the Siege of Boston, after George Washington and Henry Knox placed fortifications and artillery in positions on Dorchester Heights, which overlooks the city from the south. The British, who had occupied Boston for eight years, evacuated to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
March 17, 1778 - England declared war on France after France's official recognition of the United States as an independent nation.
March 17, 1780 – During the American Revolution, George Washington granted the Continental Army a holiday "as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence."
March 17, 1804 – Fur trader and explorer James Felix Bridger, known as Jim Bridger, was born in Richmond, Va. He was among the foremost mountain men, trappers, scouts and guides who explored and trapped the Western United States during the decades of 1820–1850, as well as mediating between native tribes and encroaching whites.
March 17, 1825 - Benjamin Sterling Turner was born a slave in Weldon, North Carolina. In 1830, he was brought to Dallas County, Ala. After freedom, Turner began a mercantile business and was elected Dallas County tax collector in 1867. In 1871, Turner was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the state’s first African-American congressman.
March 17, 1845 - Stephen Perry patented the first rubber bands.
March 17, 1861 – During the Civil War, Federal forces abandoned Camp Hudson, Texas.
March 17, 1862 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Riddle Point, Mo., and the Federal Army of the Potomac began to embark on navy vessels headed to Fort Monroe, near Hampton, Va.
March 17, 1863 - The Battle of Kelly's Ford occurred as Union cavalry attacked Confederate cavalry at Kelly’s Ford, a crossing of the Rappahannock River east of Culpeper Court House, Va. Although the Yankees were pushed back and failed to take any ground, the engagement proved that the Federal troopers could hold their own against their Rebel counterparts. The Union lost 78 men killed, wounded, and captured during the day’s fighting. The Confederates lost a total of 133 men. Among the Rebel dead was Major John Pelham, perhaps the best artillery officer in the Confederate army.
March 17, 1863 – John Pelham, a 24-year-old Confederate hero from Calhoun County, Ala., was mortally wounded on the battlefield at Kelley's Ford, Virginia. He died the next day and his body lay in state in the capitol at Richmond before being taken to Alabama for burial. Pelham's skill and daring as an artillery commander distinguished him from the outset of the Civil War and earned him the nickname "the gallant Pelham" from Robert E. Lee.
March 17, 1863 – During the Civil War, Federal operations began on the west bank of the Mississippi River, opposite Port Hudson, La. A simultaneous Federal operation from Montesano Bayou toward Port Hudson, La. began. Skirmishes were also fought at Bealeton Station, near Franklin and Herndon Station, Va.
March 17, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought with Indians seven miles southwest of Blue Rock Station, Calif., on Red Mountain; at Manchester, Tenn.; at Corpus Christi, Texas; and Sperryville, Va. A Federal operation originating from Lebanon, Mo., that would eventually go into northern Arkansas, began.
March 17, 1864 – During the Civil War, the U.S. Sanitary Commission Fair in Washington, D.C., closed with President Lincoln commending the organization for its fine work.
March 17, 1865 - The Mobile, Ala. Campaign began. Mobile had had Union troops march around it on nearly all sides and all directions, except into it. Union Major General E.R.S. Canby planned to change all that. He gathered up his forces, which numbered in the vicinity of 32,000 men, and started marching one group from Mobile Point and another from Pensacola. Available for the defense of the city were perhaps 2,800 Confederates. The campaign ended on April 7, 1865.
March 17, 1865 – Ordered to capture Mobile, Union General E.R.S. Canby led 32,000 men from Forts Gaines and Morgan, while Union Major General Frederick Steele moved northwestward from Pensacola with 13,000 troops. The two columns converged at Spanish Fort.
March 17, 1865 - A three-day Federal operation between Pine Bluff to Bass Plantation, Ark. began. A skirmish was fought at Averasboro and another at Falling Creek, N.C. A three-day Federal operation between Winchester and Edenburg, Va. began.
March 17, 1880 – English military officer and explorer Lawrence Edward Grace "Titus" Oates was born in Putney, London, England. He was an English cavalry officer with the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons, and later an Antarctic explorer, who died during the Terra Nova Expedition. Oates, afflicted with gangrene and frostbite, walked from his tent into a blizzard. His death was seen as an act of self-sacrifice when, aware that his ill health was compromising his three companions' chances of survival, he chose certain death.
March 17, 1894 – Playwright Paul (Eliot) Green was born near Lillington, N.C. His 1924 play “No ‘Count boy” won the Belasco Cup in New York City, and his 1926 play “In Abraham’s Bosom” won the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
March 17, 1901 – Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings were shown at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery in Paris. It was the first major show for the artist, who had committed suicide 11 years earlier, having sold only one painting in his lifetime. The retrospective featured 71 paintings, all with Van Gogh's characteristic bright colors and textured brush strokes.
March 17, 1914 – Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback, defensive back and punter Sammy Baugh was born in Temple, Texas. He went on to play at TCU and the Washington Redskins. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1963.
March 17, 1915 – The Evergreen Courant reported that R.F. Croom had decided to make his new brick building in Evergreen, Ala. two stories instead of one as originally planed. The second floor was to be used for meetings of the Knights of Pythias and the Woodmen of the World.
March 17, 1915 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Robert H. Jones and Henry D. Moorer had received their licenses to practice law.
March 17, 1916 – About 1 p.m. on this Friday afternoon, the long L&N Railroad bridge over the Sepulga River, just north of the Wilcox community in Conecuh County, Ala., caught fire and 196 feet of the bridge was consumed before the fire could be brought under control, completely blocking rail traffic on the line until 10 p.m. on Sat., March 18. A northbound freight train did travel onto the burning bridge and the engine and four cars caught fire. The blaze consumed the cars and their contents, and the train engine plunged to the ground beneath the bridge. In a short time, the entire building force of the M&M Division and several gangs of bridge men from other divisions, together with “track forces,” rushed to the scene with large quantities of piling and bridge timbers, and before the fire had cooled, they began working to construct a new trestle. H.L. Tucker of Evergreen, who was Supervisor of Bridges and Buildings on the M&M Division, was in charge of the reconstruction, and directed the work in such a manner than the trains began running again 24 hours earlier than the most conservative estimate that the repairs could be made. J.W. McFarland, extra gang foreman, narrowly escaped death when he was struck on the head with a piece of timber being handled by the pile driver. It was very fortunate that fast passenger train No. 1 was running 10 minutes late. If it had been on time the freight train could have waited for it at Wilcox and the fast train with its human freight would have gone into the burning bridge. A number of Evergreen’s most prominent citizens were on the No. 1 train.
March 17, 1921 – The Monroe Journal reported that the convening of the circuit court on the following Monday for a two-week term came “at rather an inconvenient time for farmers whose attendance may be required in the transaction of public business. With land prepared and a fine season in the ground, many will be loath to postpone the planting of corn.”
March 17, 1921 – The Monroe Journal reported that the acreage already set and to be set in strawberries in Monroe County that season had been increased to a little more than 300 acres. Practically all of this acreage was to be grown within a radius of 12 or 14 miles of Monroeville.
March 17, 1921 – The Monroe Journal reported that Dr. G.C. Watson had been appointed Jury Commissioner for Monroe County, Ala., succeeding Mr. W.D. Nettles whose term had expired.
March 17, 1932 – The Evergreen Courant reported that an old cap and ball pistol, which had been used for a plaything for more than a year, and which in all probability was 100 years old, almost proved to be a fatal instrument for Henry Mac Stallworth, an 11-year-old boy living a few miles from Evergreen. The boy, according to a statement from his father, Henry Stallworth, found the old pistol about a year before and had been playing with it at various times since. Tues., March 8, was hog-killing day at the Henry Stallworth’s house and a large fire had been built in the yard to be used in connection with the work. For some reason the boy decided to throw the old pistol in the fire, not thinking it loaded or capable of doing any damage. Soon after he had done so, a loud explosion occurred and cry from the boy was heard. Upon examination it was found that the ball from the pistol had hit the boy in the forehead, striking the skull and ranging upward. He was carried to Dr. G.G. Newton, who removed the bullet from under the skin near the top of his head. The wound was not serious, but might easily have been had the bullet entered the skull. The pistol was of the cap and ball style and it is believed that the load was left in it years and years ago when it was discarded, the powder being protected from deterioration by having been sealed in the cylinder.
March 17, 1933 – Novelist and author Penelope Lively was born in Cairo, Egypt.
March 17, 1939 – Evergreen High School’s “Junior” basketball team played in the YMCA basketball tournament in Montgomery, Ala. On Fri., March 17, they lost, 40-18, to Avondale’s “Y” team from Birmingham. On Sat., March 18, they beat the Montgomery Eagles, 43-3; beat defending tournament champion Selma, 16-15, in double overtime; and beat Oak Park of Montgomery, 39-17. In all, Evergreen finished fourth out of 15 teams.
March 17, 1939 – Harvey McGraw, 20, a former Conecuh County, Ala. resident, robbed Jaxon’s Filling Station, a short distance south of Georgiana on U.S. Highway 31 and kidnapped two customers who had stopped to buy gas. He forced the two men, Clifford T. Mann, 28, and Charles D. Wilkinson, 23, both of Montgomery to drive him south and when the car ran out of gas about eight miles across the Florida state line, he had them tied up and then shot them to death. An Escambia County Sheriff arrested him about 10 hours later.
March 17, 1941 – The National Gallery of Art opened on Constitution Avenue on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
March 17, 1948 - William Gibson, the prescient sci-fi writer who coined the term “cyberspace,” was born in Conway, South Carolina. His most famous novel, “Neuromancer,” was published in 1984.
March 17, 1959 – Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, fled Lhasa for India.
March 17, 1962 – Evergreen High School’s football team, under Coach John Law Robbinson, was scheduled to play the first of two spring football games at 7:30 p.m. on this Saturday night with the final one set for March 31. Evergreen lost 13 senior lettermen from its 1961 team and had 56 returning and first-time players out for spring drills, which began on March 5. Rising seniors out for spring drills included Winston Pugh, end; Ronnie Jones, end; Donnie Jones, tackle; Pete Tharpe, tackle; Bobby Lynch, guard; and James Ward, guard. Other players going through spring practice that year included Claude Aaron, Leon Adams, Steve Baggett, Ronnie Barlow, Mike Borders, John Brock, Stan Coker, Scott Cook, Paul Deason, Alvin Dees, Jimmy Ellis, Mike Fields, Bobby Hammonds, Ken Harper, Tommy Hartley, Ronnie Hayes, Jerry Horton, Johnny Huggins, Bob Ivey, Billy Kendall, Sid Lambert, John Lowrey, Roney Mitchell, Mike Minninger, Mike Moorer, Joe Morris, William Patten, Arlie Phillips, Charles Pierce, John Pierce, Robert Rigsby, William Sessions, Ronnie Shaver, Calvin Smith, James Taylor, Brent Thornley, Eddie Thornley, Wayne Tolbert, Jimmy Warren and Billy Wilkins. Lewis Ramsey was assistant football coach.
March 17, 1964 – The Evergreen (Ala.) City Council approved new by-laws for the Evergreen Golf Club, which called for a $10 joining fee. Club members had approved the new rules earlier and asked approval by the city, which leased the course to the club.
March 17, 1964 - President Lyndon B. Johnson presided over a session of the National Security Council during which Secretary of Defense McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor presented a full review of the situation in Vietnam. During the meeting, various secret decisions were made, including the approval of covert intelligence-gathering operations in North Vietnam; contingency plans to launch retaliatory U.S. Air Force strikes against North Vietnamese military installations and against guerrilla sanctuaries inside the Laotian and Cambodian borders; and a long-range “program of graduated overt military pressure” against North Vietnam. President Johnson directed that planning for the bombing raids “proceed energetically.”
March 17, 1969 – Grady Leon Ryals, a 67-year-old native of Lenox, Ala., passed away at Pensacola Baptist Hospital. He’d lived in Pensacola for the past 40 years, was a member of Escambia Masonic Lodge No. 15 and was a 32-degree Scottish Rite Mason.
March 17, 1970 - The Alabama Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville was dedicated, with Werner von Braun calling it "a graphic display of man's entering into the cosmic age." Now known as the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, visitors tour the museum, which includes rockets and spacecraft, and participate in activities like Space Camp.
March 17, 1970 – The United States Army charged 14 officers with suppressing information related to the My Lai Massacre incident in March 1968. All eventually had their charges dismissed or were acquitted by courts-martial except Lt. William Calley, the platoon leader of the unit involved. He was found guilty of personally murdering 22 civilians and sentenced to life imprisonment, but his sentence was reduced to 20 years by the Court of Military Appeals and further reduced later to 10 years by the Secretary of the Army. Proclaimed by much of the public as a “scapegoat,” Calley was paroled in 1974 after having served about a third of his 10-year sentence.
March 17, 1971 – Major League Baseball third baseman Bill Mueller was born in Maryland Heights, Mo. He would go on to play for the San Francisco Giants, the Chicago Cubs, the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
March 17, 1973 – The Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph “Burst of Joy” was taken, depicting a former prisoner of war being reunited with his family, which came to symbolize the end of United States involvement in the Vietnam War.
March 17, 1976 – Major League Baseball relief pitcher Scott Downs was born in Louisville, Ky. He went on to play for the Chicago Cubs, the Montreal Expos, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Atlanta Braves, the Chicago White Sox and the Kansas City Royals.
March 17, 1977 – The Evergreen Courant reported that a metal storage building on Salter Street, next to Evergreen Gin, was going up rapidly. It was being constructed for South American Lumber Imports, a new local enterprise headed by veteran lumberman L.W. “Sonny” Price Jr. SALI specialized in quality Bolivian mahogany and first quality Southern Pine for the furniture industries.
March 17, 1983 - Billy Crosby caught an eight-pound bass on this Thursday, according to The Evergreen Courant.
March 17, 1985 – Serial killer Richard Ramirez, aka the "Night Stalker," commited the first two murders in his Los Angeles murder spree.
March 17, 2003 – Alabama’s quarter in the “50 State Quarters Program” was released on this date.
March 17, 2003 – Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Robin Cook, resigned from the British Cabinet in disagreement with government plans for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
March 17, 2003 - In a televised presidential address, U.S. President Bush announced that Saddam Hussein had 48 hours to leave Iraq. Also, ABC and NBC ordered their reporters out of Baghdad due to safety concerns related to the rising conflict over Iraq's failure to disarm.
March 17, 2003 - Jose Canseco was released from jail. He was then sentenced to two years of house arrest and three years of probation for his part in a nightclub brawl on Oct. 31, 2001.
March 17, 2005 - Several Major League Baseball players spoke about steroid use with the House Government Reform Committee. Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro participated. The hearing lasted 11 hours.
March 17, 2006 – The Crichton Leprechaun video was posted to YouTube and fueled media attention to the Crichton Leprechaun Incident and Mobile, Ala.
March 17, 2006 – The “V for Vendetta” movie was released in theaters.
March 17, 2012 – Ukrainian Nazi guard John Demjanjuk died at the age of 91 in Bad Feilnbach, Bavaria, Germany.