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This Day in U.S. History: March 31


1774 – American Revolutionary War: The Kingdom of Great Britain orders the port of Boston, Massachusetts closed pursuant to the Boston Port Act.

1854 – Commodore Matthew Perry signs the Convention of Kanagawa with the Tokugawa Shogunate, opening the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American trade.

1906 – The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (later the National Collegiate Athletic Association) is established to set rules for college sports in the United States.

1917 – The United States takes possession of the Danish West Indies after paying $25 million to Denmark, and renames the territory the United States Virgin Islands.

1930 – The Motion Picture Production Code is instituted, imposing strict guidelines on the treatment of sex, crime, religion and violence in film, in the U.S., for the next thirty-eight years.

1931 – TWA Flight 599 crashes near Bazaar, Kansas, killing eight, including University of Notre Dame head football coach Knute Rockne.

1933 – The Civilian Conservation Corps is established with the mission of relieving rampant unemployment in the United States.

1945 – World War II: A defecting German pilot delivers a Messerschmitt Me 262A-1, the world's first perational jet-powered fighter aircraft, to the Americans, the first to fall into Allied hands.

1951 – Remington Rand delivers the first UNIVAC I computer to the United States Census Bureau.

1970 – Explorer 1 re-enters the Earth's atmosphere after 12 years in orbit.

1980 – The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad operates its final train after being ordered to liquidate its assets because of bankruptcy and debts owed to creditors.

1985 – The first WrestleMania, the biggest wrestling event from the WWE (then the WWF), takes place in Madison Square Garden in New York.

1992 – The USS Missouri, the last active United States Navy battleship, is decommissioned in Long Beach, California.

1998 – Netscape released Mozilla source code under an open source license.

2004 – Iraq War in Anbar Province: In Fallujah, Iraq, four American private military contractors working for Blackwater USA, are killed after being ambushed.


1823 – Mary Boykin Chesnut, American author (d. 1886)

1913 – Etta Baker, American singer and guitarist (d. 2006)

1924 – Leo Buscaglia, American author and academic (d. 1998)

1927 – Cesar Chavez, American union leader and activist (d. 1993)

1929 – Liz Claiborne, Belgian-American fashion designer, founded Liz Claiborne Inc. (d. 2007)

1935 – Herb Alpert, American singer-songwriter, trumpet player, and producer

1948 – David Eisenhower, American author and educator

1948 – Al Gore, American soldier and politician, 45th Vice President of the United States and Nobel Prize laureate

1972 – Evan Williams, American businessman, co-founded Twitter and Pyra Labs


1850 – John C. Calhoun, American lawyer and politician, 7th Vice President of the United States (b. 1782)

1913 – J. P. Morgan, American banker and financier, founded J.P. Morgan & Co. (b. 1837)

1931 – Knute Rockne, American football player and coach (b. 1888)

1935 – Georges V. Matchabelli, Georgian-American businessman and diplomat, founded Prince Matchabelli perfume (b. 1885)

1980 – Jesse Owens, American sprinter and long jumper (b. 1913)

1995 – Selena, American singer-songwriter (Selena y Los Dinos) (b. 1971)

2012 – Bernard O. Gruenke, American stained glass artist (b. 1914)