Month In History

Discover the global events and personal stories of March

March 1, 1961

The Beginning of the Peace Corps

When President Kennedy famously challenged Americans “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”, thousands of young Americans responded by signing up for the Peace Corps – established just six weeks into his presidency, on March 1, 1961, by executive order.

Detail: US map of 1856 shows free and slave states and populations. Reynolds's Political Map of the United States
March 3, 1820

The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854: States’ Rights and Slavery

The manuscripts gathered here follow the course of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, from being ratified by President Franklin Pierce to Pierce defending it after his presidency. We also look back to Pierce’s presidential predecessor, Millard Fillmore, ruminating over an impending race war after reading Harriet Beecher-Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Also present in this collection is the reaction of Abraham Lincoln to the bill when he was still an Illinois circuit attorney.

Abraham Lincoln by Gardner, February 1865. Source: Library of Congress.
March 4, 1865

Lincoln’s Last Days

A country divided, battered, exhausted – limping towards the end of the bloodiest war in American history. Abraham Lincoln, as often was the case during his presidency, is under threat. John Wilkes Booth, a famous actor and Confederate sympathizer is planning an attack with other conspirators that will change the course of the nation.

March 4, 1849

President for a Day

Who is in charge, when the presidential term ends on noon on the Sunday, but the Oath isn’t taken, until Monday?

March 6, 2016

The Death and Funeral of Nancy Reagan

“Nancy sends her love,” – Ronald Reagan, miraculously surviving an assassination attempt, is optimistic about his recovery.

March 18, 1906

California Earthquakes: “The Spirit of Humanity” and Mark Twain

The shock of the earthquake which struck San Francisco on the morning of April 18, 1906 – leveling countless buildings, starting a fire that lasted three days, and taking hundreds of lives – was felt all across the country.