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What Happened on March 17?

  • The first St. Patrick's Day parade was held in New York. (1762) The now-traditional parade was made up of Irish soldiers who were serving in the British army to honor St. Patrick on his feast day. The parade became a staple in the mid-19th century as waves of Irish immigrated to America, and now is now watched or participated in by more than 1 million people every year.

  • Van Gogh's paintings were shown posthumously. (1901) Though his work had been shown a few times during his lifetime, the display in 1901 at the Bernheim-Jeune gallery in Paris rocked the art world. It was here that van Gogh's paintings first started to garner attention, and the art world started to recognize his unique talent.

  • Franklin Roosevelt married Eleanor Roosevelt. (1905) The two were distant cousins, and the bride was actually given away by former President Theodore Roosevelt, who was also Franklin Roosevelt's fifth cousin.

  • The Dalai Lama fled Tibet. (1959) Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, fled Tibet on this day after days of rioting in Tibet. He remained in exile well into the 21st century.

  • The rubber band was patented. (1845) A British inventor and businessman patented the rubber band on this day. Other regional names for the rubber band include a binder, a laggy band, an elastic, and a gum band.

  • The British evacuated Boston. (1776) The British forces has been uncomfortably occupying the city for eight years, during which periodic violence, including the notorious Boston Massacre, broke out. George Washington was awarded the first Congressional Medal of Honor for liberating the city.

  • The National Gallery of Art opened in Washington D.C. (1941) President Roosevelt accepted the structure on behalf of the American people on this day in 1941. Since its founding, the museum has hosted works by Rodin, Botticelli, and Degas, as well as the only Leonardo da Vinci works on permanent display in the US.

  • General Douglas MacArthur arrived in the Pacific theater. (1942) MacArthur was a major military player for much of the 1940s and 50s, despite the fact that he was eventually dismissed for "stretching" orders.

  • The first duchy was made in England. (1337) Once a pillar of the English political system, the first duchy was given to Edward, the Black Prince when he was made the Duke of Cornwall. The duchy of Cornwall is one of the two surviving duchies in the UK today, along with the duchy of Lancaster.

  • The element Californium was synthesized. (1950) Scientists announced on this day in 1950 that they had discovered a new element, the sixth transuranic element to be synthesized. Today, Californium is used to start nuclear reactors and in creating other elements.

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