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This Day in U.S. History: March 4


1493 – Explorer Christopher Columbus arrives back in Lisbon, Portugal, aboard his ship Niña from his voyage to what is now The Bahamas and other islands in the Caribbean.

1519 – Hernán Cortés arrives in Mexico in search of the Aztec civilization and its wealth.

1628 – The Massachusetts Bay Colony is granted a Royal charter.

1681 – Charles II grants a land charter to William Penn for the area that will later become Pennsylvania.

1776 – American Revolutionary War: The Continental Army fortifies Dorchester Heights with cannon, leading the British troops to abandon the Siege of Boston.

1789 – In New York City, the first Congress of the United States meets, putting the United States Constitution into effect. The United States Bill of Rights is written and proposed to Congress.

1791 – Vermont is admitted to the United States as the fourteenth state.

1794 – The 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is passed by the U.S. Congress.

1814 – Americans defeat British forces at the Battle of Longwoods between London, Ontario and Thamesville, near present-day Wardsville, Ontario.

1837 – The city of Chicago is incorporated.

1861 – The first national flag of the Confederate States of America (the "Stars and Bars") is adopted.

1865 – The third and final national flag of the Confederate States of America is adopted by the Confederate Congress.

1908 – The Collinwood school fire, Collinwood near Cleveland, Ohio, kills 174 people.

1909 – U.S. President William Taft used what became known as a Saxbe fix, a mechanism to avoid the restriction of the U.S. Constitution's Ineligibility Clause, to appoint Philander C. Knox as U.S. Secretary of State

1913 – The United States Department of Labor is formed.

1917 – Jeannette Rankin of Montana becomes the first female member of the United States House of Representatives.

1918 – The USS Cyclops departs from Barbados and is never seen again, presumably lost with all hands in the Bermuda Triangle.

1933 – Frances Perkins becomes United States Secretary of Labor, the first female member of the United States Cabinet.

1944 – World War II: After the success of Big Week, the USAAF begins a daylight bombing campaign of Berlin.

1957 – The S&P 500 stock market index is introduced, replacing the S&P 90.

1974 – People magazine is published for the first time in the United States as People Weekly.

1985 – The Food and Drug Administration approves a blood test for AIDS infection, used since then for screening all blood donations in the United States.

1996 – A derailed train in Weyauwega, Wisconsin, US, causes the emergency evacuation of 2,300 people for 16 days.

1998 – Gay rights: Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc.: The Supreme Court of the United States rules that federal laws banning on-the-job sexual harassment also apply when both parties are the same sex.

2002 – Afghanistan: Seven American Special Operations Forces soldiers and 200 Al-Qaeda Fighters are killed as American forces attempt to infiltrate the Shah-i-Kot Valley on a low-flying helicopter reconnaissance mission.


1394 – Henry the Navigator, Portuguese son of John I of Portugal (d. 1460)

1745 – Casimir Pulaski, Polish-American general (d. 1779)

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

1891 – Lois W., American activist, co-founder of Al-Anon (d. 1988)

1909 – Harry Helmsley, American businessman (d. 1997)

1960 – Mykelti Williamson, American actor and director


1858 – Matthew C. Perry, American commander (b. 1794)

1883 – Alexander H. Stephens, American lawyer and politician, Vice President of the Confederate States of America (b. 1812)

1888 – Amos Bronson Alcott, American philosopher and educator (b. 1799)

1996 – Minnie Pearl, American comedian, actress, and singer (b. 1912)

1999 – Harry Blackmun, American lawyer and judge (b. 1908)

2001 – Harold Stassen, American educator and politician, 25th Governor of Minnesota (b. 1907)

2007 – Thomas Eagleton, American lawyer and politician, 38th Lieutenant Governor of Missouri (b. 1929)

2008 – Gary Gygax, American game designer, co-created Dungeons & Dragons (b. 1938)

2016 – Bud Collins, American journalist and sportscaster (b. 1929)