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What Happened on March 31?

  • The Eiffel Tower opened. (1889) The tower was the highest man-made structure in the world when it was completed, though the opening ceremony was only attended by a few people. The tower was actually almost torn down 20 years later, but was preserved as a radio tower before becoming a national landmark.

  • Abigail Adams asked her husband to "remember the ladies" when making new laws. (1776) Adams told her husband that if he and his colleagues did not consider the rights of women in their legislation, then the country would have another revolution to worry about. She regularly debated politics with her husband, President John Adams, and many of their exchanges are recorded in letters.

  • The Convention of Kanagawa was signed. (1864) Commodore Matthew Perry signed this treaty with Japan, which opened up two ports to American trade and established an American consulate in Japan. It was the first time Japan had interacted officially with any Western nation.

  • Construction began on the Titanic and was completed three years later. (1909, 1912) The infamous Titanic was the largest passenger ship of its time, and was unparalleled in opulence. Even the third-class rooms had teak furniture, and first and second class customers had access to a stylist, libraries, squash court and swimming pool, among other things.

  • The Motion Picture Production Code went into effect in the US. (1930) Also known as the Hays Code, the Motion Picture Production Code put strict restrictions on portrayals of sex, crime, violence, and religion in film. It remained in effect until 1968.

  • The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was established. (1933) The CCC was one of the largest work programs put in place by President Franklin Roosevelt to help bring down unemployment. Over 2 million men participated in the program, planting over 8 billion trees and constructing some 40 parks.

  • The Dalai Lama arrived in India. (1959) The Dalai Lama arrived in India after two weeks of trekking through Himalayan mountains. He was immediately granted asylum, and remained in voluntary exile well into the 21st century.

  • The first computer was delivered to the US Census Bureau. (1951) The UNIVAC I was the first computer commercially produced in the US, and the first model was bought by the census bureau. The machine was roughly the size of a desk, and weighed 29,000 pounds (about 13 tons).

  • The Warsaw Pact ended. (1991) The Warsaw Pact was the agreement that held Russia and its satellite states in the USSR together, and had been in place since 1955. Its dissolution was one of the major events marking the end of the USSR.

  • President Lyndon Johnson announced that he would not run for another term (1968) The nation — and many of Johnson's staff — was shocked when Johnson announced that he would not run for another term in office. Johnson said he felt that his running would be too detrimental to the unity of the nation.

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