This Day in History: March 19

This Day in History: March 19


On this day, March 19 …

1987: Televangelist Jim Bakker resigns as chairman of his PTL ministry organization amid a sex and money scandal involving Jessica Hahn, a former church secretary.

Also on this day:

  • 1918: Congress passes the first law establishing daylight saving time in the United States, with clocks to be moved forward one hour from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. (This law would be repealed in August 1919.)
  • 1920: The Senate rejects, for a second time, the Treaty of Versailles by a vote of 49 in favor, 35 against, falling short of the two-thirds majority needed for approval.
  • 1931: Nevada Gov. Fred B. Balzar signs a measure legalizing casino gambling.
  • 1945: During World War II, 724 people are killed when a Japanese dive bomber attacks the carrier USS Franklin off Japan (the ship would be saved).
  • 1945: Adolf Hitler orders the destruction of German facilities that could fall into Allied hands in his so-called “Nero Decree,” which would be largely disregarded.
  • 1953: The Academy Awards ceremony is televised for the first time; “The Greatest Show on Earth” is named best picture.
  • 1966: The Texas Western Miners defeat the heavily favored Kentucky Wildcats, 72-65, to win the NCAA Championship; making the contest especially noteworthy is that Texas Western becomes the first basketball team to start five black players in a national title game against the all-white Kentucky team.
  • 1979: The U.S. House of Representatives begins televising its floor proceedings; the live feed is carried by C-SPAN (Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network), which made its debut.
  • 1993: Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White announces plans to retire. (White’s departure would pave the way for Ruth Bader Ginsburg to become the court’s second female justice.)
  • 2003: President George W. Bush orders the start of the war against Iraq. (Because of the time difference, it is early March 20 in Iraq.)

  • 2005: Police in Citrus County, Florida, find the body of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, more than three weeks after she disappeared from her bedroom. (Convicted sex offender John Evander Couey would be charged and convicted in her kidnapping, rape and murder and later sentenced to death.)
  • 2009: An Austrian jury sentences Josef Fritzl, 73, to life in a psychiatric ward for locking his daughter in a dungeon for 24 years, fathering her seven children and letting an eighth die in captivity as a newborn.
  • 2013: Pope Francis officially begins his ministry as the 266th pope, receiving the ring symbolizing the papacy and a wool stole exemplifying his role as shepherd of his 1.2 billion strong flock during a mass at the Vatican.
  • 2014: In her first news conference as Federal Reserve chair, Janet Yellen says with the job market still weak, the Fed intends to keep short-term rates near zero for a “considerable” time and would raise them only gradually.

  • 2014: Toyota agrees to pay $1.2 billion to settle an investigation by the U.S. government, admitting that it hid information about defects that cause Toyota and Lexus vehicles to accelerate unexpectedly, resulting in injuries and deaths.



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