This Day in History – March 23

Today is the 82nd day of 2021. There are 283 days left in the year.


1775: Patrick Henry calls for America’s independence from Britain, telling the Virginia Provincial Convention, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”



1568: Treaty of Longjumean ends Second War of Religion in France.

1743: George Frideric Handel’s oratorio Messiah has its London premiere.

1792: Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No 94 in G Major, also known as the Surprise Symphony, is performed publicly for the first time, in London.

1801: Russia’s Czar Paul I is assassinated by Russian aristocrats and succeeded by Alexander I.

1806: Explorers Lewis and Clark, having reached the US Pacific coast, begin their journey back east.

1861: Italy institutes its first Government under Count Camillo di Cavour.

1918: Lithuania proclaims its independence.

1919: Benito Mussolini founds fascist movement in Italy.

1933: German Reichstag grants Adolf Hitler dictatorial powers until April 1937.

1935: Soviet Union sells its interest in Chinese Eastern railway to Japan.

1942: Programme of moving Japanese-Americans from their homes on US West Coast to inland detention centres during World War II begins.

1956: Pakistan becomes an independent republic within the British Commonwealth.

1962: French Government uses fighter planes and tanks in attempt to end insurrection by European rightists in Algeria.

1973: Before sentencing a group of Watergate break-in defendants, Chief US District Judge John J Sirica reads aloud a letter received from James W McCord Jr which said there was “political pressure” to “plead guilty and remain silent”.

1981: US Supreme Court rules that states could require, with some exceptions, parental notification when teenage girls seek abortions.

1983: US President Ronald Reagan first proposes developing technology to intercept incoming enemy missiles – an idea that came to be known as the Strategic Defence Initiative. Dr Barney Clark, recipient of a Jarvik permanent artificial heart, dies at the University of Utah Medical Center after 112 days with the device.

1988: Contra guerrillas sign a ceasefire agreement with the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

1989: Police clash with thousands of ethnic Albanian demonstrators in Kosovo province, Yugoslavia.

1990: Soviet Government orders Western diplomats to leave and restricts entry of foreigners into Lithuania.

1992: Tens of thousands of jubilant Albanians celebrate a crushing election victory by the Democratic party, marking the end of Communist power.

1994: Luis Donaldo Colosio, presidential candidate of Mexico’s governing party, is assassinated in Tijuana.

1998: The film Titanic ties an Academy Awards record by winning 11 Oscars, including best picture, director (James Cameron) and song ( My Heart Will Go On). President Boris Yeltsin fires his prime minister and the entire Cabinet in Russia’s biggest government shake-up since the break-up of the Soviet Union.

1999: Gunmen open fire on the car of Vice-President Luis Argana of Paraguay, killing him and throwing the young democracy into turmoil.

2001: The Mir space station returns to Earth, ending its 15-year odyssey with a fiery plunge into the South Pacific.

2003: Slovenia votes to support its 2004 induction into the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

2008: A roadside bomb kills four US soldiers in Baghdad, pushing the overall American death toll in the five-year war to at least 4,000. Al Copeland, founder of the Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken chain, dies near Munich, Germany, at age 64.

2010: In a major triumph for his presidency, a jubilant Barack Obama signs a massive, nearly $1-trillion health care overhaul that will for the first time cement insurance coverage as the right of every US citizen.

2012: Tens of thousands of Syrians brave tear gas and gunfire to protest across the country, vowing to storm the capital Damascus to oust President Bashar Assad.

2013: Hundreds of rebels penetrate Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, posing the gravest threat to President Francois Bozize’s Government in a decade.

2014: Turkish fighter jets shoot down a Syrian warplane after it violates the country’s airspace in a move likely to ramp up tensions between the two countries already deeply at odds over Syria’s civil war.

2017: Abandoning negotiations, US President Donald Trump demands a make-or-break vote on health care legislation in the House, threatening to leave “Obamacare” in place and move on to other issues if the next day’s vote failed. (Trump and GOP leaders end up pulling their Bill when it became clear it would fail badly.)



Erich Fromm, German-born US psychoanalyst (1900-1980); Joan Crawford, US actress (1908-1977); Akira Kurosawa, Japanese film director (1910-1998); Wernher von Braun, German-born rocket expert (1912-1977); Ric Ocasek, rock singer/producer (1949-2019); Chaka Khan, US singer (1953- ); Keri Russell, US actress (1976- )


– AP

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