Mar 18 2011

On This Day in History March 18

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

March 18 is the 77th day of the year (78th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 288 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1766, the British Parliament repeals the Stamp Act

After four months of widespread protest in America, the British Parliament repeals the Stamp Act, a taxation measure enacted to raise revenues for a standing British army in America. However, the same day, Parliament passed the Declaratory Acts, asserting that the British government had free and total legislative power over the colonies.

The Stamp Act of 1765 (short title Duties in American Colonies Act 1765; 5 George III, c. 12) was a direct tax imposed by the British Parliament specifically on the colonies of British America. The act required that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London and carrying an embossed revenue stamp. These printed materials were legal documents, magazines, newspapers and many other types of paper used throughout the colonies. Like previous taxes, the stamp tax had to be paid in valid British currency, not in colonial paper money. The purpose of the tax was to help pay for troops stationed in North America after the British victory in the Seven Years’ War. The British government felt that the colonies were the primary beneficiaries of this military presence, and should pay at least a portion of the expense.

The Stamp Act met great resistance in the colonies. The colonies sent no representatives to Parliament, and therefore had no influence over what taxes were raised, how they were levied, or how they would be spent. Many colonists considered it a violation of their rights as Englishmen to be taxed without their consent, consent that only the colonial legislatures could grant. Colonial assemblies sent petitions and protests. The Stamp Act Congress held in New York City, reflecting the first significant joint colonial response to any British measure, also petitioned Parliament and the King. Local protest groups, led by colonial merchants and landowners, established connections through correspondence that created a loose coalition that extended from New England to Georgia. Protests and demonstrations initiated by the Sons of Liberty often turned violent and destructive as the masses became involved. Very soon all stamp tax distributors were intimidated into resigning their commissions, and the tax was never effectively collected.

Opposition to the Stamp Act was not limited to the colonies. British merchants and manufacturers, whose exports to the colonies were threatened by colonial economic problems exacerbated by the tax, also pressured Parliament. The Act was repealed on March 18, 1766 as a matter of expedience, but Parliament affirmed its power to legislate for the colonies “in all cases whatsoever” by also passing the Declaratory Act. This incident increased the colonists’ concerns about the intent of the British Parliament that helped the growing movement that became the American Revolution.

 37 – The Roman Senate annuls Tiberius’s will and proclaims Caligula emperor.

235 – Emperor Alexander Severus and his mother Julia Mamaea are murdered by legionaries near Moguntiacum (modern Mainz). The Severan dynasty ends.

1229 – Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor declares himself King of Jerusalem during the Sixth Crusade.

1241 – Mongols overwhelm Polish armies in Krakow in the Battle of Chmielnik and plunder the city.

1314 – Jacques de Molay, the 23rd and the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, is burned at the stake.

1673 – John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton sells his part of New Jersey to the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers.

1766 – American Revolution: The British Parliament repeals the Stamp Act.

1850 – American Express is founded by Henry Wells and William Fargo.

1865 – American Civil War: The Congress of the Confederate States of America adjourns for the last time.

1871 – Declaration of the Paris Commune; President of the French Republic, Adolphe Thiers, orders evacuation of Paris.

1874 – Hawaii signs a treaty with the United States granting exclusive trading rights.

1893 – Former Governor General Lord Stanley pledges to donate a silver challenge cup, later named after him, as an award for the best hockey team in Canada; originally presented to amateur champions, the Stanley Cup has been awarded to the top pro team since 1910, and since 1926, only to National Hockey League teams.

1906 – Traian Vuia flies a heavier-than-air aircraft for 20 meters at 1 meter altitude.

1913 – King George I of Greece is assassinated in the recently liberated city of Thessaloniki.

1915 – World War I: Massive naval attack in Battle of Gallipoli. Three battleships are sunk during a failed British and French naval attack on the Dardanelles.

1921 – The second Peace of Riga between Poland and Soviet Union.

1922 – In India, Mohandas Gandhi is sentenced to six years in prison for civil disobedience. He would serve only 2 years.

1925 – The Tri-State Tornado hits the Midwestern states of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, killing 695 people.

1937 – The New London School explosion kills three hundred, mostly children.

1937 – Spanish Civil War: Spanish Republican forces defeat the Italians at the Battle of Guadalajara.

1937 – The human-powered aircraft, Pedaliante, flies 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) outside Milan.

1938 – Mexico nationalizes all foreign-owned oil properties within its borders.

1940 – World War II: Axis Powers – Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini meet at the Brenner Pass in the Alps and agree to form an alliance against France and the United Kingdom.

1942 – The War Relocation Authority is established in the United States to take Japanese Americans into custody.

1944 – The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy kills 26 and causes thousands to flee their homes.

1945 – World War II: 1,250 American bombers attack Berlin.

1946 – Diplomatic relations between Switzerland and the Soviet Union are established.

1948 – Soviet consultants leave Yugoslavia in the first sign of a Tito-Stalin split.

1953 – An earthquake hits western Turkey, killing 250.

1959 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a bill into law allowing for Hawaiian statehood, which would become official on August 21.

1962 – The Evian Accords put an end to the Algerian War of Independence, which began in 1954.

1965 – Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov, leaving his spacecraft Voskhod 2 for 12 minutes, becomes the first person to walk in space.

1967 – The supertanker Torrey Canyon runs aground off the Cornish coast.

1968 – Gold standard: The U.S. Congress repeals the requirement for a gold reserve to back US currency.

1969 – The United States begins secretly bombing the Sihanouk Trail in Cambodia, used by communist forces to infiltrate South Vietnam.

1970 – Lon Nol ousts Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia.

1971 – In Peru a landslide crashes into Lake Yanahuani, killing 200 at the mining camp of Chungar.

1974 – Oil embargo crisis: Most OPEC nations end a five-month oil embargo against the United States, Europe and Japan.

1980 – At Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia, 50 people are killed by an explosion of a Vostok-2M rocket on its launch pad during a fueling operation.

1989 – In Egypt, a 4,400-year-old mummy is found nearby the Pyramid of Cheops.

1990 – In the largest art theft in US history, 12 paintings, collectively worth around $300 million, are stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.

1992 – White South Africans vote overwhelmingly in favour, in a national referendum, to end the racist policy of Apartheid.

1994 – Bosnia’s Bosniaks and Croats sign the Washington Agreement, ending warring between the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia and the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and establishing the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

1996 – A nightclub fire in Quezon City, Philippines kills 162.

1997 – The tail of a Russian Antonov An-24 charter plane breaks off while en-route to Turkey causing the plane to crash and killing all 50 on board and leading to the grounding of all An-24s.

2002 – U.S. invasion of Afghanistan: Operation Anaconda ends (started on March 2) after killing 500 Taliban and al Qaeda fighters with 11 allied troop fatalities.

2003 – FBI agents raid the corporate headquarters of HealthSouth Corporation in Birmingham, Alabama on suspicion of massive corporate fraud led by the company’s top executives.

2003 – British Sign Language is recognised as an official British language.

2005 – Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube is removed at the request of her husband.

Holidays and observances

   * Christian Feast Day

         o Alexander of Jerusalem

         o Cyril of Jerusalem

         o Edward the Martyr

         o Fridianus

         o Salvator

   * Earliest day on which Holy Wednesday can fall, while April 21 is the latest; celebrated on the week before Easter. (Christianity)

   * Flag Day (Aruba)

   * Gallipoli Memorial Day (Turkey)

   * Mens and Soldiers Day (Mongolia)