A Look Back at March Throughout American History


Photo courtesy of Tristan Surtel, Wikimedia Commons

Among the many historical events to take place in the month of March, Yellowstone became the first national park in March of 1872. Upper Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is one of the park’s most popular sites.

Isabell Kopf

The COVID-19 pandemic we are currently living through is guaranteed to be written about in future history books. And although it seems that this month is not something you will want to remember, there are other historic events that have happened during March in past years that you may want to think back on during these difficult times.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
March 4, 1933: Franklin D. Roosevelt took his presidential office position and delivered his famous inaugural speech in which he stated, “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” His speech was meant to empower the public during the Great Depression.

What is ____?
March 30, 1964: The game show “Jeopardy!” makes its television debut on NBC as contestants answer countless genres of questions in the form of a question. Originally hosted by Art Flemming, the show had its starts and stops, but it currently runs daily with the infamous Alex Trebek as standing host.

“For the land of the free!”
March 3, 1931: The musical composition sung and played by millions of Americans before official events was adopted as the national anthem by President Woodrow Wilson. On September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key scribbled a poem he titled “The Defence of Fort McHenry.” Later, it was set to music. People began to refer to the tune as “The Star Spangled Banner,” and so it was.

One of America’s greatest recreational treasures
March 1, 1872: Yellowstone, one of the most serene places in the United States, became the U.S.’s first national park. This 2,221,766 acre parcel in the corner of Wyoming is set with hydrothermal and geologic wonders for all to enjoy. There are many things to do during a visit, including checking out the thermal basins, hiking trails, horseback riding and wildlife watching. Yellowstone is a popular place for many camping adventures.

Money, money, money!
March 10, 1862: The U.S. government issues the first paper money. These bills came in 5s, 10s and 20s. To help finance the Civil War, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued “demand notes” in 1861. These notes were nicknamed “greenbacks” due to their green hue. Then in 1862, “legal tender notes,” which include a red seal and serial number, went into circulation.

Wow, that’s a stretch!
March 17, 1845: Who knew that one of the most common office supplies could be so much fun? Stephen Perry patented the first rubber band made out of vulcanized rubber and encouraged buyers to use them for holding papers and envelopes together.

March 6, 1950: A great toy was made entirely by mistake: silly putty. During WWII, a toy store owner caught wind of the rubber-like slime and decided to sell it in her store. Eventually, someone picked up on the idea and made it into the trademark it is today.

Hello? Can you hear me?
March 10, 1876: Alexander Graham Bell placed the world’s first telephone call. His “ability to communicate through electricity” was demonstrated when his call traveled a great distance to reach the receiver of this first call: his assistant who was in the next room. Bell said, “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.”

Lambeau’s Legendary QB
March 5, 2008: Beloved Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre announced his retirement from the NFL. Five months later, he came out of retirement, and the Packers sent him to play for the New York Jets. After playing one season with the Jets and declaring his retirement once again, he again signed a one year contract, this time for the Minnesota Vikings. Favre once again announced his retirement, but this one was final, and in 2010, Favre officially hung up his helmet for the last time.

Spring forward or fall back?
March 19, 1918: Originally suggested by Ben Franklin in an essay, the U.S. Congress approved of Daylight Saving Time. The idea was to set clocks forward an hour in the spring and an hour back in the fall, hence the saying “spring forward, fall back.” This was an attempt to conserve energy at the end of WWI.

“Whisper words of wisdom, let it be”
March 22, 1963: The English rock band The Beatles released their first album titled “Please Please Me.” Just a year and eight days later, the Beatles swept millions of Americans off their feet, and the famous rising stars had 10 hits on Billboard’s Hot 100 all at the same time (March 30, 1964). Quite an accomplishment for four lads from across the pond!

March of 2020 is proving to be a challenging time period for the entire global population. To get through it, we must think back on the positives that have happened and continue to do our part in bringing hope for a brighter tomorrow.