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On This Day In History - March 31

By CM Chaney · March 31, 2024

On This Day In History - March 31

"On This Day in History" is a captivating journey through time, revisiting the most significant events that have occurred on this very date throughout the years.

From monumental political decisions and groundbreaking scientific discoveries to unforgettable moments in sports and cultural milestones, each article in this series will transport you back to a specific day, offering a glimpse into the past and revealing how these events have shaped our world.

Join us as we uncover the fascinating stories that have left an indelible mark on history.  Wikimedia

1521: First Catholic Mass Held in the Philippines

On the island of Limasawa, the first Roman Catholic mass in the Philippines was celebrated, marking a significant moment in the nation's religious history.  Wikimedia/Joshua T. Garcia

1596: René Descartes, Father of Modern Philosophy, Born

RenĂ© Descartes, the French mathematician, scientist, and philosopher, was born. He is widely regarded as the father of modern philosophy, known for "I think, therefore I am."  Wikimedia

1732: Joseph Haydn, Classical Music Pioneer, Born in Austria

Joseph Haydn, a key figure in developing the Classical music style during the 18th century, was born in Rohrau, Austria. His compositions greatly influenced the era.  Wikimedia

1854: Treaty of Kanagawa Ends Japan's Isolation

U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry signed the Treaty of Kanagawa in Japan, marking the end of the country's period of seclusion and opening its doors to international trade.  Wikimedia/

1870: First African American Votes Under 15th Amendment

Thomas Peterson-Mundy of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, made history by becoming the first African American to cast a vote under the newly ratified 15th Amendment.  Wikimedia/William R. Tobias

1889: Eiffel Tower Inaugurated in Paris

The 984-foot wrought iron Eiffel Tower, designed by Gustave Eiffel to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution, was officially inaugurated in Paris on this day in 1889.  Wikimedia/Tognopop

1918: Daylight Saving Time Debuts in the U.S.

For the first time, clocks across the United States were set one hour ahead as the country implemented Daylight Saving Time to conserve energy.  Wikimedia/Paul Eggert

1928: Gordie Howe, Legendary Ice Hockey Player, Born

Gordie Howe, the Canadian-born American ice hockey legend known for his scoring prowess and toughness, was born in Floral, Saskatchewan, Canada, on this day.  Wikimedia/Ralston-Purina Company

1948: Al Gore, Former U.S. Vice President, Born

Al Gore, the American politician who served as vice president under Bill Clinton (1993-2001) and narrowly lost the controversial 2000 presidential election, was born on this day.  Wikimedia/Kasey Baker

1968: President Johnson Shocks Nation, Declines Reelection Bid

In a televised address about the Vietnam War, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson stunned the nation by announcing he would not seek reelection.  Wikimedia/Yoichi Okamoto

1980: Jesse Owens, Olympic Track Legend, Dies at 66

Jesse Owens, the American track-and-field icon who won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, passed away at the age of 66.  Wikimedia/Le Miroir des sports

1992: USS Missouri, Last U.S. Battleship, Decommissioned

The USS Missouri, where Japan formally surrendered in 1945 to end World War II, was decommissioned for the second and final time as the last active U.S. battleship.  Wikimedia/Arjunkrsen

2000: Jules Dassin, Film Noir Master, Dies at 96

Jules Dassin, the American director known for his mastery of film noir and the influential heist movie "Rififi" (1955), passed away at the age of 96.  Wikimedia/Mondadori Publishers