Mar 21 2011

On This Day in History March 21

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 21 is the 80th day of the year (81st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 285 days remaining until the end of the year.

March 21st is the common date of the March equinox (although astronomically the equinox is more likely to fall on March 20 in all but the most easterly longitudes). In astrology, the day of the equinox is the first full day of the sign of Aries. It is also the traditional first day of the astrological year.

On this day in 1804, the Napoleonic Code approved in France.

After four years of debate and planning, French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte enacts a new legal framework for France, known as the “Napoleonic Code.” The civil code gave post-revolutionary France its first coherent set of laws concerning property, colonial affairs, the family, and individual rights.

In 1800, General Napoleon Bonaparte, as the new dictator of France, began the arduous task of revising France’s outdated and muddled legal system. He established a special commission, led by J.J. Cambaceres, which met more than 80 times to discuss the revolutionary legal revisions, and Napoleon presided over nearly half of these sessions. In March 1804, the Napoleonic Code was finally approved.

The Napoleonic Code, or Code Napoléon (originally, the Code civil des Français), is the French civil code, established under Napoléon I in 1804. The code forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs go to the most qualified. It was drafted rapidly by a commission of four eminent jurists and entered into force on March 21, 1804. The Napoleonic Code was not the first legal code to be established in a European country with a civil legal system, it was preceded by the Codex Maximilianeus bavaricus civilis (Bavaria, 1756), the Allgemeines Landrecht (Prussia, 1794) and the West Galician Code, (Galicia, then part of Austria, 1797). It was, however, the first modern legal code to be adopted with a pan-European scope and it strongly influenced the law of many of the countries formed during and after the Napoleonic Wars. The Code, with its stress on clearly written and accessible law, was a major step in replacing the previous patchwork of feudal laws. Historian Robert Holtman regards it as one of the few documents that have influenced the whole world.

Contents of the Code

The preliminary article of the Code established certain important provisions regarding the rule of law. Laws could be applied only if they had been duly promulgated, and only if they had been published officially (including provisions for publishing delays, given the means of communication available at the time); thus no secret laws were authorized. It prohibited ex post facto laws (i.e., laws that apply to events that occurred before them). The code also prohibited judges from refusing justice on grounds of insufficiency of the law-therefore encouraging them to interpret the law. On the other hand, it prohibited judges from passing general judgments of a legislative value (see above).

With regard to family, the Code established the supremacy of the husband with respect to the wife and children; this was the general legal situation in Europe at the time. It did, however, allow divorce on liberal basis compared to other European countries, including divorce by mutual consent.

 717 – Battle of Vincy between Charles Martel and Ragenfrid.

1152 – Annulment of the marriage of King Louis VII of France and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine.

1188 – Accession to the throne of Japan by emperor Antoku.

1413 – Henry V becomes King of England.

1556 – In Oxford, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer is burned at the stake.

1788 – A fire in New Orleans leaves most of the town in ruins.

1800 – With the church leadership driven out of Rome during an armed conflict, Pius VII is crowned Pope in Venice with a temporary papal tiara made of papier-mâché.

1801 – The Battle of Alexandria is fought beween British and French forces near the ruins of Nicopolis in Egypt.

1804 – Code Napoléon is adopted as French civil law.

1814 – Napoleonic Wars: Austrian forces repel French troops in the Battle of Arcis-sur-Aube.

1821 – First revolutionary act in Monastery of Agia Lavra, Kalavryta, Greek War of Independence.

1844 – The Baha’i calendar begins. This is the first day of the first year of the Baha’i calendar. It is annually celebrated by members of the Baha’i Faith as the Baha’i New Year or Naw-Ruz.

1844 – The original date predicted by William Miller for the return of Christ.

1857 – An earthquake in Tokyo, Japan kills over 100,000.

1859 – Zoological Society of Philadelphia, 1st in US, incorporated

1871 – Otto von Bismarck is appointed Chancellor of the German Empire.

1871 – Journalist Henry Morton Stanley begins his trek to find the missionary and explorer David Livingstone.

1913 – Over 360 are killed and 20,000 homes destroyed in the Great Dayton Flood in Dayton, Ohio.

1918 – World War I: The first phase of the German Spring Offensive, Operation Michael, begins.

1919 – The Hungarian Soviet Republic is established becoming the first Communist government to be formed in Europe after the October Revolution in Russia.

1928 – Charles Lindbergh is presented the Medal of Honor for the first solo trans-Atlantic flight.

1933 – Construction of Dachau, the first Nazi Germany concentration camp, is completed.

1935 – Shah Reza Pahlavi formally asks the international community to call Persia by its native name, Iran, which means ‘Land of the Aryans.’

1937 – Ponce Massacre: 18 people and a 7-year-old girl in Ponce, Puerto Rico, are gunned down by a police squad acting under orders of US-appointed PR Governor, Blanton C. Winship.

1943 – Wehrmacht officer Rudolf Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff plots to assassinate Adolf Hitler by using a suicide bomb, but the plan falls through. Von Gersdorff is able to defuse the bomb in time and avoid suspicion.

1945 – World War II: British troops liberate Mandalay, Burma.

1945 – World War II: Operation Carthage – British planes bomb Gestapo headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. They also hit a school; 125 civilians are killed.

1945 – World War II: Bulgaria and the Soviet Union successfully complete their defense of the north bank of the Drava River as the Battle of Drava concludes.

1946 – The Los Angeles Rams sign Kenny Washington, making him the first African American player in the National Football League since 1933.

1952 – Alan Freed presents the Moondog Coronation Ball, the first rock and roll concert, in Cleveland, Ohio.

1960 – Apartheid: Massacre in Sharpeville, South Africa: Police open fire on a group of unarmed black South African demonstrators, killing 69 and wounding 180.

1963 – Alcatraz, a federal penitentiary on an island in San Francisco Bay, closes.

1964 – In Copenhagen, Denmark, Gigliola Cinquetti wins the ninth Eurovision Song Contest for Italy singing “Non ho l’eta” (“I’m not old enough”).

1965 – Ranger program: NASA launches Ranger 9 which is the last in a series of unmanned lunar space probes.

1965 – Martin Luther King Jr. leads 3,200 people on the start of the third and finally successful civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

1968 – Battle of Karameh in Jordan between Israeli Defense Forces and Fatah.

1970 – The first Earth Day proclamation is issued by San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto.

1970 – Vinko Bogataj crashes during a ski-jumping championship in Germany; his image becomes that of the “agony of defeat guy” in the opening credits of ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

1980 – US President Jimmy Carter announces a United States boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan.

1980 – On the season finale of the soap opera Dallas, the infamous character J.R. Ewing is shot by an unseen assailant, leading to the catchphrase “Who shot J.R.?”

1989 – Sports Illustrated reports allegations tying baseball player Pete Rose to baseball gambling.

1990 – Namibia becomes independent after 75 years of South African rule.

1997 – In a Tel Aviv, Israel coffee shop, a suicide bomber kills 3 and injures 49.

1999 – Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones become the first to circumnavigate the Earth in a hot air balloon.

2002 – In Pakistan, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh along with three other suspects are charged with murder for their part in the kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

2006 – Immigrant workers constructing the Burj Khalifa and a new terminal of Dubai International Airport riot causing $1M in damage.

Holidays and observances

   * Birth of Benito Juarez, a Fiestas Patrias (Mexico)

   * Christian Feast Day:

         o Nicholas of Flue

         o Serapion of Thmuis

   * Earliest day on which Holy Saturday can fall, while April 24 is the latest; celebrated on Saturday before Easter. (Christianity)

   * Harmony Day (Australia)

   * Human Rights Day (South Africa)

   * Independence Day, celebrates the independence of Namibia from South African mandate in 1990.

   * International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (International)

   * Mother’s Day (most of the Arab World)

   * The first day of Baha, the first month in Baha’i calendar (Baha’i Faith)

   * Truant’s Day (Poland)

   * Vernal Equinox (see March 20)

   * World Down Syndrome Day (International)

   * World Poetry Day (International)

   * Youth Day (Tunisia)

1 comment

  1. TMC

    Dalia Lama

    All ethical teachings, whether religious or nonreligious, aim to nurture compassion, to develop it and to perfect it.

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