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This Day in U.S. History: March 19


1687 – Explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle, searching for the mouth of the Mississippi River, is murdered by his own men.

1865 – American Civil War: The Battle of Bentonville begins. By the end of the battle two days later, Confederate forces had retreated from Four Oaks, North Carolina.

1918 – The U.S. Congress establishes time zones and approves daylight saving time.

1920 – The United States Senate rejects the Treaty of Versailles for the second time (the first time was on November 19, 1919).

1931 – Gambling is legalized in Nevada.

1941 – World War II: The 99th Pursuit Squadron also known as the Tuskegee Airmen, the first all-black unit of the US Army Air Corps, is activated.

1943 – Frank Nitti, the Chicago Outfit Boss after Al Capone, commits suicide at the Chicago Central Railyard.

1945 – World War II: Adolf Hitler issues his "Nero Decree" ordering all industries, military installations, shops, transportation facilities and communications facilities in Germany to be destroyed.

1954 – Joey Giardello knocks out Willie Tory in round seven at Madison Square Garden in the first televised prize boxing fight shown in colour.

1954 – Willie Mosconi sets a world record by running 526 consecutive balls without a miss during a straight pool exhibition at East High Billiard Club in Springfield, Ohio. The record still stands today.

1962 – Highly influential artist, Bob Dylan releases his first album, Bob Dylan, on Columbia Records label.

1965 – The wreck of the SS Georgiana, valued at over $50,000,000 and said to have been the most powerful Confederate cruiser, is discovered by teenage diver and pioneer underwater archaeologist E. Lee Spence, exactly 102 years after its destruction.

1966 – Texas Western becomes the first college basketball team to win the Final four with an all-black starting lineup.

1979 – The United States House of Representatives begins broadcasting its day-to-day business via the cable television network C-SPAN.

1987 – Televangelist Jim Bakker resigns as head of the PTL Club due to a brewing sex scandal; he hands over control to Jerry Falwell.


1590 – William Bradford, English-American politician, 2nd Governor of Plymouth Colony (d. 1657)

1734 – Thomas McKean, American lawyer and politician, 2nd Governor of Pennsylvania (d. 1817)

1848 – Wyatt Earp, American police officer (d. 1929)

1860 – William Jennings Bryan, American lawyer and politician, 41st United States Secretary of State (d. 1925)

1865 – William Morton Wheeler, American entomologist, myrmecologist, and academic (d. 1937)

1883 – Joseph Stilwell, American general (d. 1946)

1891 – Earl Warren, American lieutenant, jurist, and politician, 14th Chief Justice of the United States (d. 1974)

1894 – Moms Mabley, American comedian, actress, and singer (d. 1975)


1950 – Edgar Rice Burroughs, American soldier and author (b. 1875)

1997 – Willem de Kooning, Dutch-American painter and educator (b. 1904)

2005 – John DeLorean, American engineer and businessman, founded the DeLorean Motor Company (b. 1925)