79 AD The city of Pompeii was destroyed.
1562 Great Britain reminted its coins.
1814 British forces burned Washington, D. C.
1949 The North Atlantic Treaty went into effect. (See March 18th entry.)
1959 Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii was sworn in as the first Japanese- American in the House of Representatives.
1959 Hiram L. Fong of Hawaii was sworn in as the first Chinese-American in the U. S. Senate.
Back in the year 79 ad, on this day, Mount Vesuvius erupted. Before it was finished, two Roman cities—Herculaneum and Pompeii—were wiped out. The ruins of Pompeii remind us how suddenly and how thoroughly a living city can cease to exist.
On this day in 1814, Washington, D. C. was burned to the ground by the British. It happened during the War of 1812. And unlike Mount Vesuvius’ destruction of Pompeii, or General Sherman’s razing of Atlanta, the British Army was infinitely more selective. They didn’t bum the whole city; they concentrated on the White House and other government buildings. Then they marched north to Baltimore, where they were repulsed at the Battle of Fort McHenry. The nation’s capitol was rebuilt, and after a suitable lapse of time, Great Britain and America became the best of friends who are separated only by their mutual illusion that they speak the same language.
Saving a penny here and a nickel there makes good sense in most cases, but in 1562, it was a source of embarrassment to the British government. In an attempt to economize on the cost of minting money, King Henry VIII had coins made from metals like iron and lead that were worth less than the face value they represented. The public felt its money wasn’t worth the metal it was minted on and refused to accept it. So on this day, the government finished reminting all of the nation’s coins worth their face value in solid silver.
Americans are descended from many different groups that immigrated in hopes of attaining a better life. On this day in 1959, two native sons of immigrant parents
Achieved some pretty high goals. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii was sworn in as the first Japanese-American congressman to the U. S. House of Representatives; Hiram L. Fong of Hawaii was sworn in as the first Chinese-American U. S. senator.