March 31, 1596 – Philosopher Rene Descartes, who has been called the “Father of Modern Philosophy,” was born in La Haye en Touraine, France.
March 31, 1621 – Poet Andrew Marvell was born in Winestead, England.
March 31, 1774 – During the American Revolution, the Kingdom of Great Britain ordered the port of Boston, Massachusetts closed pursuant to the Boston Port Act.
March 31, 1776 - Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John that women were "determined to foment a rebellion" if the new Declaration of Independence failed to guarantee their rights.
March 31, 1790 - Thomas Bigelow died in prison. He had been imprisoned for failure to pay his debts even though he had earned 23,000 acres of land for his military service.
March 31, 1809 - Ukrainian-born Russian humorist, novelist, and dramatist Nikolai Gogol was born in the Cossack village of Sorochintsy. He is best known for his 1842 novel, “Dead Souls.”
March 31, 1810 – Old Bassett’s Creek Baptist Church, the second oldest Baptist church in the state, was established near Walker Springs in Clarke County, Ala.
March 31, 1825 – During his historic tour of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette arrived at the Fort Mitchell crossing of the Chattahoochee River, where he was welcomed by, among others, General Sam Dale, hero of the “Canoe Fight” near Claiborne. Because Lafayette entered Alabama in what was technically Creek territory, General Thomas S. Woodward, who was himself part Creek, led an Indian escort through the region. After staying overnight at the fort, they begin their route west to Montgomery via military escort through Creek territory.
March 31, 1826 – The steamboat “Herald” broke the Henderson’s record for fastest trip from Mobile to Montgomery, Ala.
March 31, 1831 – An arrest warrant was issued for the heavily indebted William B. Travis at Claiborne, Ala.
March 31, 1836 – The first monthly installment of Charles Dickens’ first novel, “The Pickwick Papers,” was published under the pseudonym Boz.
March 31, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishing between Rebels and Union forces took place at Island 10 on the Mississippi River.
March 31, 1865 - Union troops under the command of General James H. Wilson destroyed the Brierfield Ironworks, which was located between Centreville and Montevallo, Ala. The facility was established in 1862 with the construction of a 36-foot-high brick blast furnace. In 1863, the works were sold, along with nine slaves, to the Confederacy for $600,000, making it the only ironworks owned by the Confederacy. The iron produced at the site was shipped to the Selma Ordnance and Naval Foundry, where it was fashioned into cannon and plate armor.
March 31, 1865 – During the Civil War, Federal forces occupied Asbyville, Ala. A skirmish was also fought at Montevallo and at Six Mile Creek, Ala. Major General Steele’s column also reached Stockton, Ala.
March 31, 1865 - Fighting occurred at White Oak Road and the Dinwiddie Court House.
March 31, 1865 – During the Civil War, the Battle of White Oak Road (also known as The Battle of Hatcher’s Run, Gravelly Run, Boydton Plank Road and White Oak Ridge) was fought at the end of the Petersburg, Va. line near Dinwiddie Court House. During the battle, Union General Philip Sheridan moved against the left flank of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, near Dinwiddie Court House. The limited action set the stage for the Battle of Five Forks, Va. on the following day. The 59th Alabama Infantry Regiment, of which Lewis Lavon Peacock was a member, lost a number of men in this battle.
March 31, 1889 – The Eiffel Tower was officially opened with a dedication ceremony. The world's tallest building until 1930, when it was surpassed by New York City's Chrysler Building, the Tower was almost demolished in 1909 when its land lease expired.
March 31, 1894 – Drs. J.F. Busey, W.L. Abernathy and G.L. Lambert, all of Monroe County, Ala. were granted diplomas by the Alabama Medical College.
March 31, 1906 – The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (later the National Collegiate Athletic Association) was established to set rules for college sports in the United States.
March 31, 1909 – Construction of the ill fated RMS Titanic began.
March 31, 1914 – Alabama Congressional Representative Richmond P. Hobson, who received the Medal of Honor for his service in the Spanish-American War, spoke before a large crowd at the Conecuh County Courthouse in Evergreen, Ala.
March 31, 1915 – The Evergreen Courant reported that the basketball team in the Effie community was “progressing nicely at present.”
March 31, 1917 – The United States took possession of the Danish West Indies after paying $25 million to Denmark, and renamed the territory the United States Virgin Islands.
March 31, 1918 – Daylight saving time went into effect in the United States for the first time.
March 31, 1930 – The Motion Picture Production Code was instituted, imposing strict guidelines on the treatment of sex, crime, religion and violence in film, in the U.S. for the next 38 years.
March 31, 1931 – TWA Flight 599 crashed near Bazaar, Kansas killing eight, including University of Notre Dame head football coach Knute Rockne.
March 31, 1933 – The Civilian Conservation Corps was established with the mission of relieving rampant unemployment in the United States.
March 31, 1933 - The "Soperton News" in Georgia became the first newspaper to publish using a pine pulp paper.
March 31, 1936 – Poet and novelist Marge Piercy was born in Detroit.
March, 31, 1943 – “Oklahoma!” opened on Broadway.
March 31, 1945 - "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams opened on Broadway.
March 31, 1947 – Evergreen’s Fat Calf Show was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Stock Yard in Evergreen, Ala. and guest speakers were to include Alabama Gov. “Big Jim” Folsom. The event was sponsored by the Evergreen Junior Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Extension Service and Vocational Ag. Dept. and was open to 4-H Club Boys & Girls, FFA and FHA memers. The event was to include a formal dedication of the Conecuh Producer’s Cooperative, and special music was to be provided by the Maxwell Field Band.
March 31, 1950 – NFL running back Ed Marinaro was born in New York City. He went on to play at Cornell, the Minnesota Vikings, the New York Jets and the Seattle Seahawks.
March 31, 1950 - A radio version of Alabama author T. S. Stribling's story "Green Splotches" was broadcast as part of the “Escape” series.
March 31, 1951 – The Remington Rand Corporation signed a contract to deliver the first UNIVAC computer to the U.S. Census Bureau. UNIVAC I (which stands for Universal Automatic Computer) took up 350 square feet of floor space - about the size of a one-car garage - and was the first American commercial computer. It was designed for the rapid and relatively simple arithmetic calculation of numbers needed by businesses, rather than the complex calculations required of the sciences.
March 31, 1954 – Evergreen High School wrapped up spring football practice with a “Green and Red” intrasquad game at 7:30 p.m. at Brooks Stadium in Evergreen, Ala.
March 31, 1965 - Responding to questions from reporters about the situation in Vietnam, President Johnson said, “I know of no far-reaching strategy that is being suggested or promulgated.” Early in the month, Johnson had sent 3,500 Marines to Da Nang to secure the U.S. airbase there. These troops were ostensibly there only for defensive purposes, but Johnson, despite his protestations to the contrary, was already considering giving the authorization for the U.S. troops to go from defensive to offensive tactics. This was a sensitive area, since such an authorization could (and did) lead to escalation in the war and a subsequent increase in the American commitment to it.
March 31, 1967 – The annual Miss Evergreen Pageant was held in Evergreen, Ala. The pageant was sponsored by the Evergreen High School Band Boosters.
March 31, 1968 - Seattle chose the nickname “Pilots” for their new Amearican League baseball franchise.
March 31, 1968 - In a televised speech to the nation, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced a partial halt of bombing missions over North Vietnam and proposes peace talks. He said he had ordered “unilaterally” a halt to air and naval bombardments of North Vietnam “except in the area north of the Demilitarized Zone, where the continuing enemy build-up directly threatens Allied forward positions.” He also stated that he was sending 13,500 more troops to Vietnam and would request further defense expenditures–$2.5 billion in fiscal year 1968 and $2.6 billion in fiscal year 1969–to finance recent troop build-ups, re-equip the South Vietnamese Army, and meet “responsibilities in Korea.” In closing, Johnson shocked the nation with an announcement that all but conceded that his own presidency had become another wartime casualty: “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”
March 31, 1972 - The Major League Baseball Players Association voted to go on strike on April 1.
March 31, 1972 - After firing more than 5,000 rockets, artillery, and mortar shells on 12 South Vietnamese positions just below the Demilitarized Zone, the North Vietnamese Army launched ground assaults against South Vietnamese positions in Quang Tri Province. The attacks were thrown back, with 87 North Vietnamese killed. South Vietnamese fire bases Fuller, Mai Loc, Holcomb, Pioneer, and two smaller bases near the Demilitarized Zone were abandoned as the North Vietnamese pushed the defenders back toward their rear bases. At the same time, attacks against three bases west of Saigon forced the South Vietnamese to abandon six outposts along the Cambodian border.
March 31, 1981 – The organizational meeting Conecuh County’s “New Courthouse Committee,” which was formed by the Conecuh County Commission to study and make recommendations regarding the construction of a new county courthouse, was held. Circuit Judge Robert E.L. Key was the committee’s chairman and other members of the committee included William D. Melton, David L. Burt Jr., Larry Fluker, Richard Rabb, Robert Floyd, Lee F. Smith, W.J. Barlow, Billy Mims, Alton Johnson, Oliver Pugh, Aubrey D. Padgett, Judge Frank T. Salter, Anne T. Cook, Elizabeth W. Salter, Prather N. Smith and Willene Whatley.
March 31, 1988 - The staff of the Alabama Journal were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General News Reporting for their investigation into infant mortality in Alabama.
March 31, 1994 – The journal “Nature” reported the finding in Ethiopia of the first complete Australopithecus afarensis skull.
March 31, 1995 – The longest strike in Major League Baseball history ended as players were sent back to work. Because of the strike, the 1994 World Series was cancelled. It was the first time baseball did not crown a champion in 89 years.
March 31, 1998 - The Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks debuted in the major leagues.
March 31, 1998 - Pokey Reese of the Cincinnati Reds tied a major league record when he had four errors on opening day.
March 31, 1999 - The sci-fi film “The Matrix,” with its influential mix of cyberpunk, anime, postmodernism, and metaphysics opened on this day.
March 31, 2003 - Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the season opener between the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
March 31, 2003 - U.S. military officials accused Geraldo Rivera of disclosing unauthorized military movements. Rivera had outlined military movements in the dirt while embedded with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq.
March 31, 2003 - NBC fired Peter Arnett after he gave an unauthorized interview with state-run Iraqi TV. During the interview Arnett said that the American-led war effort had initially failed because of Iraqi resistance.
March 31, 2004 – In Fallujah, Iraq, four American private military contractors working for Blackwater USA were killed after being ambushed.
March 31, 2004 - NFL owners adopted a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebrations. The penalty was added to the fines previously in place for choreographed and multiplayer celebrations. Also, if the infraction was flagrant the player would be ejected. The previous day the owners had instituted a modified instant replay system for five years.