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This Day in U.S. History: March 16

Events

1521 – Ferdinand Magellan reached the island of Homonhon in the Philippines with 150 crew. Members of his expedition became the first Spaniards to reach the Philippine archipelago, but were not the first Europeans. He landed with three small ships - Concepcion, Trinidad, and Victoria - and called the place the Arcigelago de San Lazaro since it was the feast day of Saint Lazarus of Bethany.

1782 – American Revolutionary War: Spanish troops capture the British-held island of Roatán.

1802 – The Army Corps of Engineers is established to found and operate the United States Military Academy at West Point.

1864 – American Civil War: During the Red River Campaign, Union troops reach Alexandria, Louisiana.

1865 – American Civil War: The Battle of Averasborough began as Confederate forces suffer irreplaceable casualties in the final months of the war.

1916 – The 7th and 10th US cavalry regiments under John J. Pershing cross the US–Mexico border to join the hunt for Pancho Villa.

1926 – History of Rocketry: Robert Goddard launches the first liquid-fueled rocket, at Auburn, Massachusetts.

1935 – Adolf Hitler orders Germany to rearm herself in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Conscription is reintroduced to form the Wehrmacht.

1936 – Warmer-than-normal temperatures rapidly melt snow and ice on the upper Allegheny and Monongahela rivers and lead to a major flood in Pittsburgh.

1945 – World War II: The Battle of Iwo Jima ended, but small pockets of Japanese resistance persisted.

1958 – The Ford Motor Company produces its 50 millionth automobile, the Thunderbird, averaging almost a million cars a year since the company's founding.

1966 – Launch of Gemini 8, the 12th manned American space flight and first space docking with the Agena target vehicle.

1968 – Vietnam War: In the My Lai Massacre, between 347 and 500 Vietnamese villagers (men, women, and children) are killed by American troops.

1968 – General Motors produces its 100 millionth automobile, the Oldsmobile Toronado.

1984 – William Buckley, the CIA station chief in Beirut, Lebanon, is kidnapped by Islamic fundamentalists and later died in captivity.

1985 – Associated Press newsman Terry Anderson is taken hostage in Beirut. He is released on December 4, 1991.

1988 – Iran–Contra affair: Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and Vice Admiral John Poindexter are indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States.

1995 – Mississippi formally ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment, becoming the last state to approve the abolition of slavery. The Thirteenth Amendment was officially ratified in 1865.

Births

1751 – James Madison, American academic and politician, 4th President of the United States (d. 1836)

1822 – John Pope, American general (d. 1892)

1912 – Pat Nixon, American educator, 39th First Lady of the United States (d. 1993)

1926 – Jerry Lewis, American actor, singer, director, producer, and screenwriter

1959 – Flavor Flav, American rapper and actor

Deaths

1903 – Roy Bean, American lawyer and jurist (b. 1825)

1975 – T-Bone Walker, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1910)