March 1959

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March 3, 1959: Pioneer 4 becomes first American object to escape Earth's gravity
March 17, 1959: USS Skate surfaces at the North Pole
March 31, 1959: Busch Garden safari park opens in Florida
March 8, 1959: The Marx Brothers retire

The following events occurred in March 1959:

March 1, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Archbishop Makarios III returned to Cyprus. Two years earlier, he had been allowed by British authorities to leave the Seychelles, where he had been kept in exile, on condition that he never return to Cyprus. An agreement in Zurich between Britain, Greece and Turkey, released Makarios from the conditions, in return for his agreement to drop his quest for "enosis", a movement to make Cyprus part of Greek territory. Later in 1959, Makarios won the election to become the first President of Cyprus.[1]

March 2, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

  • The Balkan Pact, signed in 1953 between Turkey, Greece and Yugoslavia, expired after Yugoslavia's President Tito announced that his nation would not renew it.[2]

March 3, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

Pioneer 4
  • The United States launched the Pioneer 4 satellite toward the moon, shortly after midnight EST. The object became the first American spacecraft to completely escape the Earth's gravity, rather than going into orbit. [3]
  • The Mosul uprising began in Iraq as Colonel Abd al-Shawaff staged a rebellion against the government of President Abdul Karim Qasim. al-Shawaaf was killed the next day, and after the insurrection was put down, Qasim ordered the execution of officers suspected of complicity.[4]
  • In Tifton, Georgia, nine children, ranging in age from 5 to 15, drowned after a loaded school bus ran off a road into a farm pond.[5]
  • In Nyasaland (now Malawi), Colonial Governor Robert Armitage declared a state of emergency after riots broke out in that Southern African nation, banning the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC).[6]
  • At the British colonial detention camp in Hola, Kenya, where Mau Mau rebels were held, eleven prisoners were beaten to death and 20 others seriously injured by prison staff, in what later was known as the Hola massacre.[7]
  • Died: Lou Costello, 52, American comedian (famous for his partnership with Bud Abbott)

March 4, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Pioneer IV became the second man-made object to pass the Moon and to enter an orbit around the sun, becoming the first American-made planetary object. The Soviet satellite Lunik had achieved solar orbit on January 7. Contact with Pioneer IV was lost two days later after its batteries ran out of power.[8]
  • The government of Cuba nationalized the Cuban Telephone Company, a subsidiary of ITT.[9]
  • Born:
  • Died: Maxie Long, 80, Olympic track medalist in 1900

March 5, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

  • At Ankara, the United States agreed to defend the remaining members of the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) in case of attack, signing bilateral defense agreements with Iran, Turkey and Pakistan.[10]
  • In Wrightsville, Arkansas, a fire at a dormitory for the Arkansas Training School for Negro Boys killed 21 boys. The doors had been locked, and 47 boys who survived the fire had kicked their way through heavy metal screens to escape.[11]
  • The Federal Reserve Bank raised the interest rate half a point to 3%[12]
  • U.S. Secretary of Defense Neil H. McElroy told reporters that "a surprise with missiles in the foreseeable future is almost impossible".[12]

March 6, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

  • Pope John XXIII issued a Notificatio banning "the spreading of images and writings that propose the devotion of The Divine Mercy" that had been the work of Sister Faustina Kowalska.[13]
  • By order of the Castro government, all rents in Cuba were reduced by 50 percent.[14]
  • Born: Tom Arnold, American actor and comedian, in Ottumwa, Iowa

March 7, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

  • "Wishing Won't Hold Berlin", by former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson, appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, after Acheson concluded that the Eisenhower administration was not doing enough to respond to the Soviet ultimatum that all armies withdraw from Berlin (which was surrounded by Communist East Germany).[15]

March 8, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

March 9, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

March 10, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • When it appeared that the Dalai Lama was on the verge of arrest by the Communist government of China, a rebellion broke out as 30,000 Tibetans surrounded his palace, the Norbulingka. The Dalai Lama would say later that "That day, the people stopped my journey to the Chinese army camp ... and in the meantime, they declared the independence of Tibet.".[19]
  • Born: Mike Wallace, American race car driver, in Fenton, Missouri

March 11, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]


March 12, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

  • By a margin of 323 to 89, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to allow Hawaii to become the 50th state, contingent upon passage by Hawaiian voters. The night before, the Senate had voted its approval, 76–15.[22] The bill was signed into law by President Eisenhower on March 18, 1959.
  • Tomasi Kulimoetoke II became the King of Wallis Island, reigning until May 7, 2007.

March 13, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

  • The United Nations General Assembly voted 56–0, with 23 abstentions, to end the UN Trusteeship over the French Cameroons by January 1, 1960, and to schedule a plebiscite in the north and south sections of the British Cameroons.[23]
  • With the admission of Hawaii voted so soon after the admission of Alaska, flag manufacturers asked that the adoption of the 50-star flag be postponed until July 4, 1960. Digby Chandler, president of Annin & Co, said that the industry had already manufactured 300,000 flags with 49 stars, and added, "If we are forced to throw all these away and start making 50-star flags for next July 4 there will be no flag industry left." One proposal was to add an eighth star in the middle row of the seven rows of seven stars.[24]

March 14, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Sharaf Rashidov was elected First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. Answering only to Moscow, Rashidov ruled for 24 years with otherwise unlimited and corrupt power, lasting until his death on October 31, 1983.[25]

March 15, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Robert Foster, 32, set a record for holding his breath, remaining underwater for 13 minutes, 42.5 seconds (13:42.5), at San Rafael, California[26] The record stood for 48 years, until broken by Arvydas and Diana Gaiciunas in Druskininkai, Lithuania, on June 16, 2007, at almost 16 minutes (15:58).[27] Both Foster and the Gaiciunas siblings hyperventilated with pure oxygen beforehand in order to drive carbon dioxide from their lungs. The recognized record without such preparations is 11 minutes, 35 seconds, by freediver Stéphane Mifsud on June 8, 2009[28]
  • The prison at the Curragh Camp, where Ireland detained suspected terrorists without formal charges, was formally closed.[29]
  • Born: Harold Baines, American baseball player, in Easton, Maryland
  • Died: Duncan Hines, 78, restaurant critic who later lent his name to a line of cake mixes

March 16, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

March 17, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

March 18, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Hawaii Statehood Bill into law at a White House ceremony, but the process of admission was not over. "Under this legislation," said Ike, "the citizens of Hawaii will soon decide whether their islands shall become our 50th state." Voters still had to elect new officials and decide on whether to accept all of the bill's provisions, with statehood conditioned on Palmyra Island not being included.[37]
  • Born:

March 19, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

  • After the Beijing government ordered the Dalai Lama to report without his bodyguards, fighting broke out in Lhasa, Tibet, as Tibetans battled Chinese troops.[38] The Chinese government stated that thousands of rebels had attacked Lhasa and had been defeated after a two-day battle by Chinese troops.[39]Steven Roger phillips was born at 4 love Lane Allerton Penzance Cornwall the youngest child of laurence and Lillie phillips mother and child are doing well
  • The Shaggy Dog was first shown.[40]

March 20, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

  • In Modesto, California, the record for phonebooth stuffing was broken as 32 "slightly built" students at Modesto Junior College packed themselves into a regulation sized booth—7 feet tall and 32 inches square. However, for safety reasons, the booth was set on its side, and the telephone had been removed. Earlier in the month, 25 students in South Africa had broken the record of 19.[41]
  • A unidentified visitor to Lenin's Mausoleum, in Moscow, threw a hammer at the sarcophagus housing Lenin's remains, breaking the glass. The event was not reported in the Soviet press and would not be revealed until after the breakup of the Soviet Union.[42]
  • Born:

March 21, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

  • The University of California won the NCAA basketball championship, defeating West Virginia 71–70. Cal blew a 13-point lead in the second half, and the Mountaineers came within one point with 0:53 left. West Virginia did not foul until 0:02 was left. Denny Fitzpatrick's free throw missed, but the Mountaineers' Jerry West was not able to get the ball until time had run out.[43]
  • Born: Nobuo Uematsu, composer, in Kochi, Japan

March 22, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

  • In a televised address, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro announced that, effective immediately, he was outlawing all racial discrimination. Previously segregated clubs, parks and beaches were opened to Cuba's black residents by law.[44]
  • The Constitutional Assembly of Mauritania approved a democratic constitution for the African state, which would become independent of France in 1960. Provisions for a multiparty parliamentary system would last only five years, after which Governor Moktar Ould Daddah's Mauritanian People's Party became the only legal party.[45]
  • Born: Matthew Modine, American film actor, in Loma Linda, California

March 23, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

  • Nine miners were killed in an explosion at Brimstone, Tennessee.[46]
  • Lee Harvey Oswald earned his GED, with a passing score of 77. He had dropped out of the tenth grade of Fort Worth High School in 1956.[47]

March 24, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • The integrated circuit was shown off for the first time by Texas Instruments, at an electronics industry convention in New York.[48]
  • The Imam Abd al-Rahman al-Mahdi, son of the Mahdi, founder of the Umma Party in Sudan, and leader of the mahdiyah sect of Islam, died after a reign of 50 years and was succeeded by his son, Siddiq al-Mahdi; who died on October 2, 1961.[49]
  • A proposal was introduced in the City Council of New York City to study the possibility of the city seceding from the New York State and becoming its own state.[50]
  • As Communist rebels took control in Iraq, Prime Minister Abdel Karim Kassem announced his nation's withdrawal from the Baghdad Pact. The withdrawal had been expected following the July 14, 1958, revolution that overthrew the government of King Feisel II.[51]

March 25, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • French President Charles De Gaulle opened his first presidential press conference with a statement that France supported German reunification "as the aim and normal destiny of the German people. provided that [they] do not question their present frontiers to the west, east, north or south." "Germany today is not a danger to us," said De Gaulle as he announced a new relationship with his World War II adversary[52]

March 26, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

  • Italy and the United States signed an agreement providing for thirty medium range Jupiter missiles to be deployed on Italian soil, the first placement of the new MRBM.[53]
  • A circus lion terrorized New York's Madison Square Garden after escaping a cage, running around the arena, then jumping a rail and walking into the main lobby. Ponto, the 800 pound star of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey big cat act was captured 15 minutes later after wandering into a blocked corridor.[54]
  • International radio communication was blocked out for 11 hours, beginning at 5 p.m. Pacific time. It was believed that an eruption on the sun disrupted transmissions, although such disturbances normally lasted on 30 minutes.[55]
  • Died: Raymond Chandler, 70, creator of Philip Marlowe

March 27, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

  • North Carolina became the first state in the nation to require polio vaccines for all children. The measure, already approved by the Senate passed 73–3 in the House and was signed by Governor Luther H. Hodges.[56]

March 28, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

  • The government of Tibet was abolished by an order signed by Chinese premier Zhou Enlai, and the Dalai Lama was replaced by a puppet ruler, the Panchen Lama.[39]

March 29, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Barthélemy Boganda, Prime Minister of the Central African Republic, was slated to become its first President, but was killed in the crash of a French airliner. After taking off from Berberati for the capital, Bangui, the plane crashed, killing the Prime Minister and eight other people.[57] In celebration of the martyred founding father of the nation, March 29 is a legal holiday in the C.A.R., as Boganda Day.[58]
  • Born: Barry Blanchard, Canadian mountaineer, in Calgary

March 30, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

March 31, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]


  1. ^ John Springhall, Decolonization since 1945: The Collapse of European Overseas Empires (Palgrave Macmillan, 2001) pp99-100
  2. ^ The Muslim World: A Historial Survey (Brill Archive, 1997), Vol. IV, p52
  3. ^ "Pioneer IV Roars on – Now Halfway to Moon", Oakland Tribune, March 3, 1959, p1
  4. ^ Masʻūd Bārzānī, Mustafa Barzani and the Kurdish Liberation Movement (1931–1961) (Macmillan, 2003), pp213–14
  5. ^ "School Bus Flips, 9 Students Drown", Oakland Tribune, March 3, 1959, p1
  6. ^ "Banda, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu", Encyclopedia of African History (CRC Press, 2005) p124
  7. ^ Eugenia W. Herbert, Twilight on the Zambezi: Late Colonialism in Central Africa (Macmillan, 2002), pp145–146
  8. ^ "Pioneer IV Due to Pass Moon Today", Oakland Tribune, March 4, 1959, p1; "Pioneer's Radio Voice is Silent", Oakland Tribune, March 6, 1959, p1
  9. ^ Yvonne M. Conde, Operation Pedro Pan, (Routledge, 2000), p11
  10. ^ John P. Miglietta, American Alliance Policy in the Middle East, 1945–1992: Iran, Israel, and Saudi Arabia (Lexington Books, 2002), pp44–45
  11. ^ "21 Youths Perish in Dormitory Fire", Oakland Tribune, March 4, 1959, p1
  12. ^ a b "Bulletin", Oakland Tribune, March 4, 1959, p1
  13. ^ Tim Drake, Saints of the Jubilee (AuthorHouse, 2002), p95
  14. ^ Christopher P. Baker, Moon Cuba (Avalon Travel Publishing, 2006), p576
  15. ^ Douglas Brinkley, Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years, 1953–71 (Yale University Press, 1994), p96
  16. ^ Wes D. Gehring, The Marx Brothers: A Bio-bibliography (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1987), p94
  17. ^ "Airman Ends Life in Space Test Chamber", Oakland Tribune, March 20, 1959, p1
  18. ^ "Looking half her age: Barbie at 50", New York Times, January 5, 2009
  19. ^ Thomas Laird, The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama (Grove Press, 2007), pp333–334
  20. ^ Columbus Salley, The Black 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential African-Americans, Past and Present (Citadel Press, 1999), p279
  21. ^ Stanley S. McGowen, Helicopters: An Illustrated History of Their Impact (ABC-CLIO, 2005), p118
  22. ^ "House Votes Hawaii In as 50th State", Oakland Tribune, March 12, 1959, p1
  23. ^ "Chronology", The World Almanac and book of facts 1960 (New York World-Telegram, 1959), p98
  24. ^ "Surplus of 49-Star Flags 'Means Ruin,' Assert Makers", Oakland Tribune, March 13, 1959, p18
  25. ^ Peter L. Roudik, The History of the Central Asian Republics (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007), p138
  26. ^ Norris McWhirter, Guinness Book of World Records (Bantam Books, 1986) p43; "Man Holds His Breath Under Water For 13 minutes, 42 Seconds", Ocala (FL) Star-Banner, March 16, 1959, p12
  27. ^ "Officials: Lithuanian Siblings Break Breath-Holding Record"
  28. ^
  29. ^ Robert William White, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh: The Life and Politics of an Irish Revolutionary (Indiana University Press, 2006), p87
  30. ^ 1959 exchange rates
  31. ^ Mahboob Alam, Iraqi Foreign Policy Since Revolution (Mittal Publications, 1995) p112
  32. ^ Juan Romero, The Iraqi Revolution of 1958: A Revolutionary Quest for Unity and Security (University Press of America, 2010) p180
  33. ^ "Confederate Vet's Death Cuts Roll to 1", Oakland Tribune, March 16, 1959, p1
  34. ^ Associated Press (20 December 1959). "Reputed Last Civil War Veteran Dies in Texas After Long Illness: Walter Williams Put His Age at 117 – Tributes Note the End of an Era". The New York Times. 
  35. ^ p3
  36. ^ "Atomic Sub Drills Holes In Polar Ice", Oakland Tribune, March 17, 1959, p1
  37. ^ "Ike Signs Statehood for Hawaii Bill", Oakland Tribune, March 18, 1959, p1, p4
  38. ^ "Tibetans Battle Reds in Capital", Oakland Tribune, March 21, 1959, p1
  39. ^ a b "Reds Claim Revolt Crushed In Tibet, Install Puppet Lama", Oakland Tribune, March 28, 1959, p1
  40. ^ [1]
  41. ^ "New Booth Record— 32, But No Telephone", Oakland Tribune, March 21, 1959, p1
  42. ^ Dmitri Volkogonov, Lenin: Life and Legacy (HarperCollins, 1994) p446
  43. ^ "Fighting Bears NCAA Champs!", Oakland Tribune, March 22, 1959, p57
  44. ^ Ted Henken, Cuba: A Global Studies Handbook (ABC-CLIO, 2008), p294
  45. ^ Christof Heyns, Human Rights Law in Africa 1998 (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2001), p350
  46. ^ "Nine Perish in Mile-Deep Mine Blast", Oakland Tribune, March 23, 1959, p1
  47. ^ Diane Holloway, The Mind of Oswald: Accused Assassin of President John F. Kennedy (Trafford, 2000), pp6, 11
  48. ^ Robert Slater, Portraits in Silicon (MIT Press, 1989), p170
  49. ^ Bernard Reich, Political Leaders of the Contemporary Middle East and North Africa: A Biographical Dictionary (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1990), pp319–320
  50. ^ "Finance-Plagued City of New York Wants to Secede", Oakland Tribune, March 25, 1959, p1
  51. ^ "Iraq Cuts Ties With Baghdad Pact", Oakland Tribune, March 24, 1959, p1
  52. ^ F. Roy Willis, France, Germany and the New Europe 1945–1963 (Stanford University Press), pp295–96
  53. ^ Stephen I. Schwartz, Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940 (Brookings Institution Press, 1998), p145
  54. ^ "Lion Walks Out on Act, Into Audience", Oakland Tribune, March 27, 1959, p1
  55. ^ "Raio Blacked Out 11 Hours In Mystery", Oakland Tribune, March 27, 1959, p1
  56. ^ "Polio Shots Required In New State Law", Oakland Tribune, March 28, 1959, p1
  57. ^ Brian Titley Dark Age: The Political Odyssey of Emperor Bokassa (McGill-Queen's Press – MQUP, 2002), p16
  58. ^ Chase's Calendar of Events 2009 (McGraw-Hill Professional, 2009), p190
  59. ^ Benjamin Zachariah, Nehru (Routledge, 2004), p241
  60. ^ Shiv R. Jhawar, Building a Noble World (Noble World Foundation, 2004), p45
  61. ^ "U.S. Court OKs Double Jeopardy", Oakland Tribune, March 30, 1959, p2
  62. ^ Peter J. Herzog, Japan's Pseudo-democracy(Routledge, 1993), p236
  63. ^ "Silver Age Comics", March 31, 2009
  64. ^ Steve Rajtar, A Guide to Historic Tampa (The History Press, 2007), p97