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This Day in U.S. History: March 17


1776 – American Revolution: British forces evacuate Boston, ending the Siege of Boston, after George Washington and Henry Knox place artillery in positions overlooking the city.

1780 – American Revolution: George Washington grants the Continental Army a holiday "as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence".

1941 – In Washington, D.C., the National Gallery of Art is officially opened by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

1942 – Holocaust: The first Jews from the Lvov Ghetto are gassed at the Belzec death camp in what is today eastern Poland.

1950 – Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley announce the creation of element 98, which they name "californium".

1958 – The United States launches the Vanguard 1 satellite.

1960 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the National Security Council directive on the anti-Cuban covert action program that will ultimately lead to the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

1968 – As a result of nerve gas testing in Skull Valley, Utah, over 6,000 sheep are found dead.

1970 – My Lai Massacre: The United States Army charges 14 officers with suppressing information related to the incident.

1985 – Serial killer Richard Ramirez, aka the "Night Stalker", commits the first two murders in his Los Angeles murder spree.


1777 – Roger B. Taney, American politician and jurist, 5th Chief Justice of the United States (d. 1864)

1866 – Pierce Butler, American lawyer and jurist (d. 1939)

1902 – Bobby Jones, American golfer and lawyer (d. 1971)

1919 – Nat King Cole, American singer, pianist, and television host (d. 1965)

1930 – James Irwin, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut (d. 1991)

1972 – Mia Hamm, American soccer player

1997 – Katie Ledecky, American swimmer


1965 – Amos Alonzo Stagg, American football player and coach (b. 1862)

2002 – Sylvester Weaver, American broadcaster, created the Today Show and The Tonight Show (b. 1908)

2005 – George F. Kennan, American historian and diplomat (b. 1904)

2007 – John Backus, American mathematician and computer scientist, designed Fortran (b. 1924)