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What Happened on March 8?

  • The modern New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) was founded. (1817) Though stock brokers had been trading on Wall Street since the late 1700s, the modern institution of the NYSE was founded on this day. It went on to become one of the biggest players in the world economy, and is known for the exclusivity of its seats, which allow traders to work directly on the NYSE.

  • The February Revolution began in Russia. (1917) The February Revolution — called so because Russia was still on the Julian calendar system at the time — began when riots erupted in Petrograd over food shortages. More than 100,000 people were involved, and three days later, the Czar Nicholas abdicated.

  • Philips first publicly demonstrated the compact disc. (1979) The CD was an immediate hit, though it only became available in the US in 1983. By 2007, more than 200 billion CDs had been sold worldwide.

  • John Casor became the first legally recognized slave in America. (1654) Casor had come to America as an indentured servant, and had actually earned his freedom, but his owner, Anthony Johnson, refused to recognize the agreement, and had him declared a slave for life. Though Casor tried to fight the enslavement through the courts, he ended up serving Johnson for the rest of his life in the start of a tradition that would go on for more than 200 years.

  • Daytona Beach Road Course held its first oval-shaped stock car race. (1936) Now a staple of NASCAR fans everywhere, the Daytona race was a hit from the start. By the time ticket takers arrived at the course for the first race, fans had already mobbed the stands, and the race couldn't even be finished because the track degraded so much that the sandy turns became impassable.

  • Mildred Elizabeth Gillars, also known as "Axis Sally" was put on trial for treason. (1949) Gillars was a well-known propagandist who alternated between trying to make American forces feel homesick and broadcasting music. She was sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison, and was eventually released in 1961.

  • Ronald Reagan referred to the USSR as an "evil empire." (1983) Though some found his rhetoric inspiring, it was also criticized as over the top. It was a sign of Reagan's overall policy of "peace through strength," during which he promised to use US military to fight communism in third world countries.

  • The first radio episode of the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy was broadcast. (1978) The extremely popular book series was made into an equally popular radio series that was first broadcast on the BBC on this day. The recordings were so popular that they were later released on LP for sale, and it has been reproduced several times since.

  • Anne Bonny was born. (1702) Bonny was a female pirate, who, along with fellow female pirate Mary Read and Captain Jack Rackham, made a name for themselves around the Caribbean. Both Bonny and Read were captured and scheduled to be executed, but claimed they were pregnant, and so got a reprieve. Read died in jail, but it is unknown what happened to Bonny.

  • Egypt re-opened the Suez Canal. (1957) The canal, which served as a major shipping route from Europe to the Middle East, had been closed by the Israeli occupation of Egypt. It reopened on this day after being closed for a year, and was so littered with garbage that it took weeks of clean up before it was passable again.

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