This Day in History: March 16

597 B.C.: Babylonians Capture Jerusalem: This may be the most ancient “This Day in History,” in history as the Bible is just as much a historical source as it is a sacred document. We do know that Israel was a fairly small kingdom. To the east was the very large Babylonian empire that had its eyes set on Israel. Prophets warned of the coming invasion unless Israel changed her sinful ways. In 597, the Babylonians capturing Jerusalem, deposing Jaconiah in favor of Zedekiah.

1926: It’s not rocket science (It actually is): In 1926, the automobile was becoming a consumer item, the Wright brothers had pioneered flight over two decades prior, and rocket technology was about to take off. Robert Goddard was a professor, engineer, physicist and inventor who began experimenting with the idea of liquid fueled rockets earlier in the decade. In 1926, he launched the world’s first liquid fueled rocket, powered by a mixture of liquid oxygen and gasoline in Auburn, MA. It made it 41 feet into the air, and within 30 years, the United States and the Soviet Union would be racing into outer space with his technology.

1988: Iran-Contra Affair:  Perhaps the most controversial event of the Reagan presidency was the so called Iran-Contra Affair. Reagan was a committed Cold Warrior, so combating communism in Nicaragua was a priority. The Contras were a right wing paramilitary that fought the Sandinista regime, and to fund them, the Reagan administration sold arms to Iran. Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and Vice Admiral John Poindexter were indicted on conspiracy charges for the affair.

1995: Mississippi (finally) ratifies Thirteenth Amendment: Slavery has not been an official institution since the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. If you remember your civics, in order for a Constitutional Amendment to pass, it must pass the House, the Senate and 2/3 of the states. But some states were a bit late in officially ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment, with Mississippi being the last, a full 130 years after the Amendment was passed.

2014: Crimea joins Russia: Crimea is one of those regions that has shifted to different powers at different times throughout history. It has belonged, at various points, to the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, Ukraine, and now the Russian Federation. Victor Yokuvanych, Ukraine’s president, was ousted, and in the ensuing chaos of the Ukrainian Revolution, Russia annexed Crimea. Ukraine still claims ownership of the territory, and Russia’s expansionism continues to worry other Eastern European States.

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