Uganda became self-governing by holding its first general elections a year in advance of full independence. With 90% of the 1.3 million eligible voters participating, the Democratic Party, led by Benedicto Kiwanuka, won 43 of the 81 seats in the National Assembly. The Uganda People's Congress received more votes overall, but only 35 seats.
The U.S. Air Force successfully launched the first of its "economy" rockets, the RM-90 Blue Scout II, designed to put payloads into space at a lower cost.
Elsie May Batten, a 59-year-old shop assistant and wife of famed sculptor Mark Batten, was found stabbed to death with an antique dagger at the London curiosity shop where she worked. Her killer, Edwin Bush, was the first British murderer to be caught by use of the Identikit facial composite system.
The centennial of the presidential inauguration of Abraham Lincoln was observed with a re-enactment at the east front of the U.S. Capitol. A crowd of 20,000 people watched, twice as many as had witnessed the actual event in 1861.
At a press conference at Andrews Air Force Base, spokesmen for the U.S. Air Force Research and Development command announced that they had developed an atomic clock "so accurate that its biggest error would not exceed one second in 1271 years", and, at 62 pounds, light enough that it could be used on aircraft in place of the existing system of crystal oscillators. Conventional atomic clock units, though more accurate, weighed over 600 pounds and were impractical for flight.
The crash of a U.S. Air Force Boeing KB-50 refueling plane killed all ten men on board.
The phrase "affirmative action" was first used to refer to a governmental requirement to promote equal opportunity by giving preferences in order to remedy prior discrimination. President Kennedy used the term with the issuance of Executive Order 10925. The original context was in Section 301 of the order, providing that federal government contracts include a provision that "The contractor will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin."
The British soap opera Coronation Street was fully networked by ITV, with a new schedule of Monday and Wednesday evenings at 19:30.
The successful test firing of the engines of a Titan I missile, as it stood inside the underground SLTF (Silo Test Launch Facility) at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, demonstrated that a missile could be successfully fired from within a missile silo. An actual launch from the silo would not take place until May 3.
Flying a North American X-15 airplane, U.S. Air Force Captain Robert White became the first person to travel faster than Mach 4, reaching Mach 4.43 (2,905 mph). White would become the first person to break Mach 5 on June 23, and Mach 6 on November 9.
Max Conrad, "the Flying Grandfather", circumnavigated the Earth in 8 days, 18 hours and 49 minutes, setting a new world record for a light airplane, breaking the previous mark, set in 1959, of 25 days.
Sputnik 9 was launched by the USSR from Baikonur LC1, carrying "Ivan Ivanovich" (a dummy cosmonaut), the dog Chernushka, mice, and a guinea pig. The spaceship made several orbits of the Earth at an average altitude of 135 miles, and then was recovered. NASA spokesman George M. Law said that the test showed that the Russians were "about ready to put a man up".
An underground fire at the Ueda Mine Company in Japan's worst coal mine disaster since World War II killed 71 miners at the Ueda Mine Company at Kawara.
The first definite proof that a signal could be sent to Venus and returned to Earth, using radar astronomy, was made by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Transmission was sent from the Goldstone Tracking Station in California at a 2,388 megacycle frequency, traveling 35 million miles to Venus and then back to Earth, in a little more than six minutes. Signals had been bounced off of Venus before, but never received back clearly enough to be "immediately detectable".
Richard Sullivan, a staffer at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, delivered a feasibility study to the Authority, entitled "A World Trade Center in the Port of New York", outlining the justification for building what would become the Twin Towers and five other buildings in the World Trade Center complex.
Plans for an invasion of Cuba were presented by CIA official Richard M. Bissell, Jr. for the approval of President Kennedy. In a meeting attended by the President, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, CIA Director Allen Dulles, and General Lyman Lemnitzer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs, Bissell outlined the proposed "Operation Trinidad", with an invasion force storming the beaches of Trinidad, Cuba by sea and by air. Kennedy rejected the plan as "too spectacular", and directed Bissell to come up with a less obvious placement of troops. Only four days later, Bissell had drawn up a new plan, with the force to strike at the Bay of Pigs within a month. "The Kennedy team was impressed," one historian would say later, "when they should have been incredulous."
Died:William A. Morgan, 33, former American soldier who later became an advisor to Fidel Castro, was executed by a firing squad in Havana after being found guilty of conspiring against the government.
Miami mobster John Roselli, who was assisting the CIA in its plans to assassinate Fidel Castro, met with a Cuban contact at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. Roselli would testify before the U.S. Senate, 14 years later, about the delivery of money and poisoned pills for the contact to place in Castro's food. Columnist Jack Anderson would break the story in his column of January 18, 1971. The CIA would acknowledge its involvement 46 years after the fact, with the declassification of documents in 2007.
The long-running BBC radio music show Your Hundred Best Tunes moved to the 9–10 pm Sunday night timeslot with which it would be associated for the next 45 years.
The first phase of the creation of the New English Bible, begun in 1946 by the Joint Committee on the New Translation of the Bible", was completed with the publication of the revised New Testament . Relying on a re-examination of the oldest texts and conveyance of original meanings into modern English, the "new New Testament" was released to coincide with the 350th anniversary of the March 1611 publication of the King James Version of the Bible.
The Union of Peoples of Angola, led by Holden Roberto, crossed over from the Congo into Angola, and murdered European and African residents living near the northern border of the Portuguese colony. Portuguese forces killed tens of thousands of African residents in retaliation and the war continued for 14 years.
1961 Yuba City B-52 crash: A B-52F-70-BW Stratofortress bomber, 57-0166, c/n 464155, carrying two nuclear weapons, was abandoned by crew and crashed 15 miles (24 km) west of Yuba City, California,. The nuclear weapons were torn from the aircraft on impact, but did not detonate.
The MV Lizzonia (ex CHANT 35 / Empire Farouche) collided with MV Arctic Ocean 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) north west of the Varne Lightship, in the English Channel. The ship was abandoned and later sank.
Albert DeSalvo was arrested in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while trying to break into a house. Confessing to be a sexual predator who had been nicknamed "the Measuring Man", DeSalvo spent a year in jail. For 18 months following his release, thirteen local women were sexually assaulted and murdered. DeSalvo, arrested later in 1964, confessed to being the "Boston Strangler".
Israel staged a dress rehearsal for a military parade in the Israeli-occupied part of Jerusalem, in which heavy military armament took part.
Tornadoes swept through four districts of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh, killing more than 250 people. The dead included 32 people who had taken refuge in a Catholic church in Dacca after attending Sunday mass.
The Soviet Union lifted censorship restrictions, for foreign news correspondents, that had been in place since 1917. Except for two occasions in 1939 and 1946, non-Soviet reporters had been required to have their dispatches reviewed before transmission. Foreign office press director Mikhail Kharlamov cautioned that, although pre-approval of reports would no longer be required, foreigners were still required to keep copies of all dispatches for future review, and that persons who "circulated unfounded rumors about the Soviet Union" were still subject to expulsion.
An American C-47 transport plane with eight men aboard disappeared over the war-torn nation of Laos after taking off from Vientiane toward Saigon. The U.S. Air Force did not announce the incident until two days later. The sole survivor, Major Lawrence R. Bailey, Jr., was captured and became the first American POW of the Vietnam Era. He would be released on August 15, 1962.
Born:George Weber, American radio personality, in Philadelphia (murdered 2009)
A Mercury-Redstone BD rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on one final test flight to certify its safety for human transport. As with earlier Soviet tests, the American space capsule carried a test dummy. The spacecraft reached an altitude of 115 miles and was recovered in the Atlantic 8 minutes after launch. Stopped by Wernher von Braun from going, Alan Shepard had volunteered to take the flight, and would have become the first man to travel into outer space. Less than three weeks later, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin would, on April 12, would reach the milestone. Shepard would reach space, though not orbit, on May 5.
The day after the U.S. launch of a test dummy into space, the Soviets made one final launch of their own Ivan Ivanovich dummy into space, along with the last dog in space, Zvezdochka. Both went up on Sputnik 10, which made one orbit and safely returned to Earth.
Nine African-American students from Mississippi's Tougaloo College made the first effort of passive resistance to end segregation in the state capital, Jackson, by walking into the whites-only main branch of the municipal public library. After beginning the "read-in", the students declined to leave and were arrested by police. The next day, black students at Jackson State College marched to the city jail to protest the arrest of the "Tougaloo Nine", and more demonstrations followed.
Thunderball, the ninth James Bond novel by Ian Fleming, was first published, in a hardback British edition by Glidrose Productions.
Born:Leigh Bowery, Australian performance artist, in Melbourne (died 1994)
U.S. President John F. Kennedy informed Congress that, as part of the proposed $43.8 billion defense budget, he was cancelling the Pye Wacket project, an experimental lenticular-form air-to-air missile, and the B-70 nuclear-powered airplane. Kennedy declared that "As a power which will never strike first, our hopes for anything close to an absolute deterrent must rest on weapons which come from hidden, moving, or invulnerable bases which will not be wiped out by a surprise attack," and lobbied instead for ten additional Polaris nuclear submarines and an increased Minuteman nuclear arsenal.
Air Afrique was founded by agreement of ten West African nations that had gained independence from France. The airline operated until 2001, when its fleet and routes were acquired by Air France.
Actor Ronald Reagan gave a speech entitled 'Encroaching Control' to the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. This speech was considered by some historians to be his finest and the moment his political career truly began.
^Conrad, 57, had taken off in his twin-engine Piper from Miami at 8:07 a.m. on February 27, and landed at 2:46 a.m. after a 25,457 mile journey around the world. "Grandfather Holds New Flight Mark", Spokane Spokesman-Review, March 9, 1961, p15
^I J. Galantin, Submarine Admiral: From Battlewagons to Ballistic Missiles (University of Illinois Press, 1997) p242
^"Russia Lands Third Dog From Orbit", Milwaukee Sentinel, March 9, 1961, p1
^"71 Miners Killed In Japan", Calgary Herald, March 10, 1961, p1
^"Venus Sends Back Clear Radio Beam", Spokane Spokesman-Review, March 17, 1961, p1
^James Glanz and Eric Lipton, City in the Sky: The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center (Macmillan, 2003) p52
^S. L. Greenslade, The Cambridge History of the Bible: The West, from the Reformation to the Present Day (Cambridge University Press, 1975) p380; "New Translation Of Bible In Modern Day English To Be Released Tuesday", St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, March 13, 1961, p11-A
^"IT'S FINAL— SOUTH AFRICA OUT", Windsor (Ont.) Star, March 15, 1961, p1
^"Terrorists Kill 'Dozens' in Angola", Windsor (Ont.) Star, March 18, 1961, p1
^"Roberto, Holden", in Historical Dictionary of Angola by W. Martin James (Scarecrow Press, 2004) pp140-141
^"1st Game Of World Chess Match Called", St. Petersburg (FL) Times, March 16, 1961, p7-C