What Happened on March 16?

  • The last state ratified the 13th Amendment. (1995) Mississippi was the last state to ratify the amendment, which abolished slavery. It did so 130 years after the amendment went into effect after being ratified by 27 other states.

  • Hitler ordered the re-arming of Germany. (1935) This was in direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles, and was the most aggressive move Hitler had made thus far.

  • Samoset, a Mohegan warrior, walked into a Pilgrim settlement, greeting settlers in English. (1621) Settlers were shocked to see a Native American speaking English, which he had learned from a previous group of settlers in Maine.

  • The first liquid-fueled rocket was launched. (1926) Physicist Robert Goddard launched the first rocket to use liquid fuel on this day, a feat that most people thought was impossible until Goddard did it. Though mocked during his time, Goddard made many of the discoveries that made space travel possible in the 20th century, including mathematical formulas for the thrust and potential of different fuels.

  • The My Lai Massacre occurred in Vietnam. (1968) American troops massacred around 500 unarmed villagers, including women and children, in the incident, which became one of the best-known atrocities of the war. There was a massive public outcry after the event, and the officer in charge was eventually court-martialed.

  • The US Military Academy at West Point was established. (1802) West Point was the first American military academy. Besides its reputation for producing excellent Army officers, in the 1800s, West Point was also known for producing some of the best civil engineers in the country.

  • General Motors (GM) produced its 100 millionth vehicle. (1968) The car was an Oldsmobile Toronado, designed to be a personal luxury vehicle to compete with the Ford Thunderbird. The Toronado was also the first model of car in the US to have front-wheel drive.

  • The Scarlet Letter was published. (1850) Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic about a woman's life-long punishment for adultery became an instant classic, though it only took him a few months to write. Hawthorne was familiar with many of the literary elite of the time, including Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the father of writer Louisa May Alcott, Branson Alcott, as well as the US President Franklin Pierce, whom he had befriended in college.

  • Arthur Evans bought the land surrounding Knossos, Crete. (1900) Evans was the archaeologist who discovered the ruins of the palace at Knossos as well as the two scripts Linear A and Linear B. He eventually purchased the land surrounding the palace in order to protect his find.

  • Associated Press reporter Terry Anderson was kidnapped in Beirut. (1985) Anderson's kidnapping was a major media event, and he was held until 1991, making his detention time one of the longest in modern history.

Discussion Comments


I have to admit, it outright disgusts me that the U.S. soldiers were treated with such hatred and contempt for this massacre, even though most (if not all) of them were innocent. I can't even imagine how difficult it was for them, especially with all the death threats.


At my high school, we learned about the massacre, and though interesting, it was also a very disturbing read. Does anyone know the reasoning behind this event?

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