What Happened on March 3?

  • Helen Keller met Anne Sullivan. (1887) Sullivan's innovative "touch teaching" was what finally allowed Keller to speak and understand the connection between words and objects. Sullivan had actually been vision-impaired herself as a child, which is where she learned to communicate with a fellow classmate by a manual alphabet. She and Keller stayed together the rest of their lives, and even formed a vaudeville act to raise money for socialism and racial and sexual equality.

  • The US adopted the Star Spangled Banner as its national anthem. (1931) Though the lyrics to the song were written by Francis Scott Key, the music was actually the tune to a popular British drinking song, To Anacreon in Heaven. Before the song became the national anthem, several others, including Hail, Columbia and My Country, 'Tis of Thee were used as anthems.

  • The US Marine Corps made their first amphibious landing. (1776) Though the American naval fleet was supposed to be patrolling the Virginia coastline, its leader, Esek Hopkins, decided to go to the Bahamas instead. There he attempted to land on Nassau with the Marines, but was repelled by British forces. When he got back to America, he was relieved of his command and censured by Congress.

  • Switzerland joined the United Nations. (2002) Voters in Switzerland approving the nation joining the UN narrowly beat out those opposed to the nation's joining. It was the first break in formal neutrality in over 200 years.

  • TIME magazine was published for the first time. (1923) The inaugural issue featured the retired Speaker of the House, Joseph Cannon, as its cover image. Five years later the editors of time began naming a "Person of the Year," and eventually, a "Person of the Century" — Albert Einstein.

  • The Freedman's Bureau was created. (1865) This federal agency oversaw the transition of many black slaves into freedom. Though the bureau's work was ultimately stymied by a combination of underfunding and KKK attacks, it was an important symbolic step in the government's attitude on civil rights.

  • Oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia (1938) Before the discovery of oil, the country was relatively unknown in world affairs, but quickly transformed and became a major player in the world petroleum industry. By the beginning of the 21st century, about 75 percent of the country's budget came from oil.

  • The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed. (1918) This treaty between Russia and the Central Powers ended Russia's involvement in World War I. Though it lasted a little less than a year, the treaty did affirm the independence of many central European nations.

  • Carmen premiered. (1875) George Bizet's world-famous opera had its premiere in Paris on this day, despite intense controversy surrounding its opening. The story was considered too salacious for the general public, and Bizet had trouble getting even one actress to agree to play the title role.

  • Alexander Graham Bell was born. (1847) Bell was a prolific inventor, but is best known for inventing the telephone. He was also one of the founding members of the National Geographic Society.

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