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This Day in U.S. History: March 13


1639 – Harvard College is named after clergyman John Harvard.

1862 – American Civil War: The U.S. federal government forbids all Union army officers from returning fugitive slaves, thus effectively annulling the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and setting the stage for the Emancipation Proclamation.

1865 – American Civil War: The Confederate States of America agree to the use of African-American troops.

1897 – San Diego State University is founded.

1930 – The news of the discovery of Pluto is telegraphed to the Harvard College Observatory.

1933 – Great Depression: Banks in the U.S. begin to re-open after President Franklin D. Roosevelt mandates a "bank holiday".

1938 – World News Roundup is broadcast for the first time on CBS Radio in the United States.

1943 – The Holocaust: German forces liquidate the Jewish ghetto in Kraków.

1962 – Lyman Lemnitzer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivers a proposal, called Operation Northwoods, regarding performing terrorist attacks upon Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. The proposal is scrapped and President John F. Kennedy removes Lemnitzer from his position.

1963 – Police in Phoenix, Arizona arrest Ernesto Miranda and charge him with kidnap and rape. His conviction is ultimately set aside by the United States Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona

1964 – American Kitty Genovese is murdered, the media erroneously report that many of the victim's neighbours witnessed the crime yet failed to help, prompting research into the bystander effect.

1969 – Apollo program: Apollo 9 returns safely to Earth after testing the Lunar Module.

1991 – The United States Department of Justice announces that Exxon has agreed to pay $1 billion for the clean-up of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

1997 – The Phoenix Lights are seen over Phoenix, Arizona by hundreds of people, and by millions on television.

2008 – Gold prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange hit $1,000 per ounce for the first time.


1798 – Abigail Fillmore, American wife of Millard Fillmore, 14th First Lady of the United States (d. 1853)

1855 – Percival Lowell, American astronomer and mathematician (d. 1916)

1911 – L. Ron Hubbard, American religious leader and author, founded the Church of Scientology (d. 1986)

1920 – Ralph J. Roberts, American businessman, co-founded Comcast (d. 2015)


1901 – Benjamin Harrison, American general and politician, 23rd President of the United States (b. 1833)

1906 – Susan B. Anthony, American activist (b. 1820)

1938 – Clarence Darrow, American lawyer and author (b. 1857)

1943 – Stephen Vincent Benét, American poet, short story writer, and novelist (b. 1898)

2006 – Robert C. Baker, American chef and educator, invented the chicken nugget (b. 1921)

2016 – Martin Olav Sabo, American lawyer and politician (b. 1938)