This week in history

  • On March 1, 1692, three accused women named Sarah Goode, Sarah Osborne, as well as an Indian slave named Tituba were charged with practicing witchcraft in Salem Village, Massachusetts Bay Colony. This was the beginning of the Salem Witch Trials.
  • On March 2, 1807, Congress enacted a law that abolished the importation of slaves. This caused an illegal slave trade to begin when the law took effect a year later. Despite the outlaw on the importation of slaves, slavery wasn’t banned until 75 years later in 1865 when the 13 amendment was ratified and abolished slavery.
  • Dred Scott was a slave that sued for his freedom under two statutes in the Missouri Compromise— that any colored person could sue for wrongful enslavement and that any person/slave taken to a free state became free and could not become re-enslaved when entering a slave state. On March 6, 1857, after many years battling the courts, the Supreme Court gave its verdict; the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional and the government had no right to prohibit slavery in the territories. This decision intensified anti-slavery efforts, increased the divide between the North and South, ultimately leading to the civil war.
  • On March 1, 1872, the first national park, was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant. This law, dubbed the Yellowstone Act, designated Yellowstone as a public “pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people”, as well as protected the National Park from development.
  • On March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed a congressional act naming “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem. Written by Francis Scott Key after he witnessed how the Fort McHenry’s Flag was still standing after the War of 1812, the Star-Spangled Banner had been unofficially regarded as the national anthem by most of the U.S. armed forces.