March 1909

March 30, 1909: Queensboro Bridge opens to traffic in New York City
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March 4, 1909: William Taft sworn in as 27th President of the United States

The following events occurred in March 1909:

March 1, 1909 (Monday)Edit

March 2, 1909 (Tuesday)Edit

March 3, 1909 (Wednesday)Edit

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of sodium benzoate as a preservative in foods, in its Decision 104, in spite of a ban recommended on July 20, 1908.[6]
  • On his last full day in office, President Roosevelt signed into law a bill creating the 600,000 acre Mount Olympus National Monument in Washington State.[7]
  • President Roosevelt's Executive Order 969 directed that the U.S. Marines would be limited to shipboard duty with tasks determined by the ships' commanding officers. The unpopular change in the Marines status was rescinded by President Taft on March 26.[8]

March 4, 1909 (Thursday)Edit

  • William Howard Taft was inaugurated as the 27th President of the United States. Because of a snowstorm, Taft took the oath indoors, becoming the first American president to do so since Andrew Jackson.
  • Born: Harry Helmsley, American real estate entrepreneur, who began as an office boy and worked his way up to being a billionaire; in the Bronx, New York (d. 1997)

March 5, 1909 (Friday)Edit

  • The first person to violate New York City's new law banning smoking in its subways was arrested. Louis Funcke lit up two days after the new law took effect and was released with a reprimand.[9]
  • The charter of the Mutual Benefit Health and Accident Association, creating what is now referred to as the Mutual of Omaha insurance company, was signed in Omaha, Nebraska.[10]

March 6, 1909 (Saturday)Edit

  • The infamous SS General Slocum sank a second and last time. On June 15, 1904, the steamboat burned and then sank, killing 1,081 people. Nevertheless, the hull of the ship was raised and refitted as the Maryland, a barge. With a load of 500,000 bricks, the Maryland split in half and sank at New Brunswick, New Jersey, albeit without a loss of life.[11]
  • The Simplified Spelling Board released its list of 3,300 words that should be reformed.[12]

March 7, 1909 (Sunday)Edit

March 8, 1909 (Monday)Edit

  • U.S. President William Howard Taft rescinded Theodore Roosevelt's executive orders closing the navy yards at New Orleans and Pensacola.[14]
  • In California, the new Bank Act was signed into law, to take effect on July 1. A loophole within the legislation gave the Bank of Italy an advantage in opening branch banks across the state, leading to its growth into the colossal Bank of America.[15]

March 9, 1909 (Tuesday)Edit

March 10, 1909 (Wednesday)Edit

March 11, 1909 (Thursday)Edit

March 12, 1909 (Friday)Edit

  • New York City Police Department Detective Joe Petrino, on assignment in Sicily to investigate ties between the Italian Mafia and New York gangsters, was gunned down in Palermo on his way to meet an informant. The incident, never solved, is still cited as a cautionary tale against meeting an informant alone.[25]
  • Three American warships, the Yorktown, the Dubuque and the Tacoma were ordered to Nicaragua in response to a "warlike attitude" on the part of Nicaraguan President Zalaya, and an armored cruiser remained off the coast until the ships could arrive.[26]
  • In Denmark, women were allowed to vote for the first time, at least in municipal elections, and women candidates were on the ballot. All women at least 25 years old, or women of any age married to a registered voter, were allowed to participate.[27]

March 13, 1909 (Saturday)Edit

March 14, 1909 (Sunday)Edit

March 15, 1909 (Monday)Edit

  • The United States Congress met in a special session called by President Taft to consider the Payne Tariff Act. House Speaker Joe Cannon was re-elected for a fourth term, but 12 of his fellow Republicans voted against him.[32]
  • At 4:15, Edward Payson Weston, 71, set off from the New York Post Office building on a 4,300-mile (6,900 km) walk, hoping to become the first person to go from New York to San Francisco on foot.[33]
Delayed by blizzards, he missed his target of 100 days, arriving 105 days later in Los Angeles.[34]

March 16, 1909 (Tuesday)Edit

March 17, 1909 (Wednesday)Edit

  • The first concrete was poured as construction of the Panama Canal entered a new phase, beginning with the spillway at Gatun.[37]

March 18, 1909 (Thursday)Edit

  • Willie Whitla, the 8-year-old son of a leading attorney in Sharon, Pennsylvania, was kidnapped by two men who appeared at the East Ward School, and hours later a ransom note was received by his parents, demanding $10,000 and closing with the note, "Dead boys are not desirable".[38] After the father delivered $10,000 to a woman at a drugstore, Willie was released unharmed and put on a streetcar in Cleveland, where he was reunited with his father at the city's Hollenden Hotel.[39] James and Helen Boyle were arrested in Cleveland the next day, with $9,790 of the money.[40] James Boyle was given a life sentence and died in prison. William Whitla died of pneumonia in 1932, at the age of 31.[41]
  • Einar Dessau of Denmark spoke over a wireless radio transmitter to a government post six miles (10 km) distant, becoming, in effect, the first person to ever talk on the radio.[42]
  • Born: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr., who died 7 months later on November 8, 1909. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt's fifth child, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr., was born five years later.

March 19, 1909 (Friday)Edit

March 20, 1909 (Saturday)Edit

  • Col. Duncan B. Cooper (referred to in many news accounts as D.B. Cooper) and his son Robin J. Cooper were both convicted of second degree murder in the death of former United States Senator Edward W. Carmack, and both sentenced to 20 years in prison. Senator Carmack, who represented Tennessee as a Congressman (1897–1901) and then as a Senator (1901–1907), had been shot and killed in Nashville on November 8, 1908.[45] Colonel Cooper was pardoned on April 13, 1910, and lived until November 4, 1922.[46] Robin Cooper was retried and acquitted in 1910. Almost nine years later, he was seen driving away from his home with a stranger, and found the next day by his car, dead from a fractured skull.[47]

March 21, 1909 (Sunday)Edit

March 22, 1909 (Monday)Edit

March 23, 1909 (Tuesday)Edit

  • Less than three weeks out of the White House, former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt departed New York on the steamer Hamburg, bound for an African safari from which he would not return until June 16, 1910. The expedition was sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution.[50]
  • New York became the second state to make Columbus Day a legal holiday, to be celebrated on October 12 annually.[51] Colorado had been the first, in a bill approved on April 1, 1907.[52]

March 24, 1909 (Wednesday)Edit

March 25, 1909 (Thursday)Edit

  • Tsar Nicholas II of Russia averted war with Austria-Hungary and Germany, by dropping opposition to the Austrian annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, resolving the Balkan Crisis. War would break out five years later over Bosnia's neighbor, the Kingdom of Serbia.[55]
  • Crazy Snake Rebellion: Fighting broke out between members of the Creek Indian tribe and white deputies at Henryetta, Oklahoma, and within a few days, escalated into a rebellion reportedly involving several hundred Creeks under the leadership of Chief Crazy Snake. By March 28, at least six Whites had been killed and all companies of the Oklahoma state militia had been called out.[56] The insurrection was the last American Indian uprising in the Indian Territory, which later became the State of Oklahoma.[57]

March 26, 1909 (Friday)Edit

  • A crowd of 10,000 demonstrated in Cairo, the day after British authorities in Egypt restored the 1881 "Law of Publications", barring newspapers from supporting nationalist causes.[58]
  • The National Board of Censorship, based in New York City, held its first meeting. On the first night, it reviewed 18,000 feet (5,500 m) of film for obscene or "crime for crime's sake" material. After six hours, 400 feet (120 m) were cut.[59]
  • Harvey Cushing performed his first trans-sphenoidal surgery in Boston, a superior nasal approach with omega-shaped incision.[60]

March 27, 1909 (Saturday)Edit

  • George, Crown Prince of Serbia, renounced his right to succession to the throne in favor of his younger brother, Alexander, who later became King of Yugoslavia.[61]
  • The first Chinese nationality law was proclaimed by the Imperial government, providing that all persons of Chinese nationality were citizens entitled to protection of the Empire's laws.[62]
  • Prince Karl Gunther of the German principality of Schwarsburg-Sondershausen (chief city Arnstadt) died, and was succeeded by Prince Gunther of Schawrzburg-Rudolstadt (capital Rudolstadt).[63]
  • Born: Golo Mann, German historian, in Munich (d. 1994)

March 28, 1909 (Sunday)Edit

  • In a speech in Ottawa, Alexander Graham Bell announced that Canada had been the birthplace of the telephone. Bell told listeners that "The first transmission of speech over a wire was in the Autumn of 1876 on a line furnished by the Dominion Telegraph Co. of Canada between Brantford and Mount Pleasant." The transmission was only one way, however, with the first reciprocal conversation on the same line occurring later between Bell and Watson.[64]

March 29, 1909 (Monday)Edit

  • German Chancellor Bernhard von Bulow announced the doctrine of Nibelungentreue, the concept that the German and Austrian empires were united by their common language and heritage. Fighting on the same side in World War One, the two empires would fall together in 1918.[65]

March 30, 1909 (Tuesday)Edit

March 31, 1909 (Wednesday)Edit

  • The first newsreel was shown in cinemas as Charles Pathé introduced the Pathé Faits Divers".[67]
  • Kansas became the first American state to prohibit use the "common drinking cup" on trains and in railroad depots and public schools, with an order from the State Board of Health to take effect on September 1. Dr. Samuel Jay Crumbine, the Secretary of the Board, began lobbying for the ban after studies demonstrated that a tin cup (or water dipper), shared and drunk from by members of the public, was germ-infested and promoted the spread of disease. Sanitary, disposable paper cups were soon introduced, and the spread of disease was eliminated at the expense of creating the "throwaway society".[68]
  • The Serbian ambassador to Austria-Hungary formally presented his government's acceptance of the Austrian annexation of Bosnia. "Servia undertakes to renounce from now onwards the attitude of protest and opposition which she has adopted with regard to the annexation since last autumn," announced the Ambassador. With those humiliating words, the Serbians averted an invasion by the Austrian Imperial forces.[69]
  • Hull No. 401, the keel of the RMS Titanic, the largest ship to that time was laid at the Harland and Wolff shipyards in Belfast.[70] The ship would later become well known for her ill-fated maiden voyage.
  • The American flag was lowered at Camp Columbia and the Cuban flag was hoisted, marking the withdrawal of all American troops from Cuba. The following morning at 10:00, the Sumner and the McClellan transported the remaining Americans home.[71]
  • Georgia ended its controversial "convict lease system", returning 1,200 imprisoned felons from private stockades to county jails. Until then, private companies had been paying the state for the use of the convicts' services.[61]


  1. ^ William Scheller, The World's Greatest Explorers (The Oliver Press, Inc., 1992), p125
  2. ^ Matthew A. Henson, A Negro Explorer at the North Pole (pp. 64–65)
  3. ^ Elmer Plischke, U.S. Department of State: A Reference History (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999), p212
  4. ^ Sherry Robinson, El Malpais, Mt. Taylor, and the Zuni Mountains (University of New Mexico Press, 2004), p187
  5. ^ a b Joseph Nathan Kane, The American Counties (4th Ed.), (The Scarecrow Press, 1983), p479
  6. ^ The World's Work: A History of Our Time (Doubleday, Page & Co., 1911), v. 22, p14964
  7. ^ George Wuerthner, Olympic: A Visitor's Companion (Stackpole Books, 2004), pp78–79
  8. ^ Allan Reed Millett, Jack Shulimson, Commandants of the Marine Corps (Naval Institute Press, 2004), p160
  9. ^ "Subway Smoker Arrested", New York Times, March 5, 1909, p1
  10. ^ V. J. Skutt, Mutual of Omaha, "The Good Neighbor" (Newcomen Society in North America, 1961) p11
  11. ^ "Last of the General Slocum", New York Times, March 1, 1909, p1
  12. ^ Robert Morris Pierce, Dictionary of Hard Words (Dodd, Mead & Co., 1910), p24
  13. ^ "Capitol Auto Line Tested", New York Times, March 8, 1909, p1
  14. ^ "Taft Reverses Roosevelt", New York Times, March 9, 1909, p1
  15. ^ Marquis James and Bessie R. James, The Story of Bank of America: Biography of a Bank (Beard Books, 2002), pp46–48
  16. ^ Edwin R.A. Seligman, The Income Tax: A Study of the History, Theory, and Practice of Income Taxation at Home and Abroad (The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd., 2004) pp314–315
  17. ^ "Nicaragua Beaten in Sea Battle", New York Times, March 13, 1909, p1
  18. ^ Joseph Nathan Kane, The American Counties (4th Ed.), (The Scarecrow Press, 1983), pp479–480
  19. ^ Herbert Adams Gibbons, The New Map of Asia (1900–1919) (The Century Co., 1919), p86
  20. ^ Mikhail Khvostov, The Russian Civil War (Osprey Publishing, 1997), p6
  21. ^ Edward Zawadzki, The Ultimate Canadian Sports Trivia Book (Dundurn Press Ltd., 2001), p41
  22. ^ "Mayor Harper Resigns His Office Under Threats", Los Angeles Examiner, March 12, 1909, p1 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-06-10. Retrieved 2007-09-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ "Quadruplets Are Born to Mother of Fourteen", Atlanta Constitution, March 12, 1909, p1
  24. ^ Joseph Nathan Kane, Famous First Facts, 4th Ed., (Ace Books, 1974) p123
  25. ^ John Madinger, Confidential Informant: Law Enforcement's Most Valuable Tool (CRC Press, 1999), p130
  26. ^ Thomas O. Gouge, Exodus From Capitalism (iUniverse, 2003), p307; "Nicaragua Beaten in Sea Battle", New York Times, March 13, 1909, p1
  27. ^ "Women Vote in Copenhagen", New York Times, March 13, 1909, p. 1
  28. ^ "Undergraduate Life", in The University of Chicago Magazine (May 1909), p269
  29. ^ "Columbia Earns Basketball Title", New York Times, March 7, 1909, p IV-2
  30. ^ 2001 ESPN Sports Almanac (Hyperion, 2000), p269
  31. ^ "Crushed By Balanced Rock", New York Times, March 15, 1909, p1
  32. ^ Roger H. Davidson, Susan Webb Hammond, and Raymond Smock, Masters of the House: Congressional Leadership Over Two Centuries (Westview Press, 1998), p73
  33. ^ "Weston's Big Walk to Pacific Coast", New York Times, March 14, 1909, p1
  34. ^ William Shepard Walsh, Handy Book of Curious Information (J.B. Lippincott Company, 1913), p616
  35. ^ John Simeone and David Jacobs, The Complete Idiot's Guide to the FBI (Alpha Books, 2002), pp22, 59
  36. ^ The Handbook of Texas Online
  37. ^ Captain Miles. DuVal, Jr., And the Mountains Will Move (Stanford University Press, 1947), p299
  38. ^ "Kidnap Schoolboy and Demand $10,000", New York Times, March 19, 1909, p 1
  39. ^ "Kidnapped Boy is Recovered", New York Times, March 23, 1909, p 1
  40. ^ "Get Kidnappers; Recover Money", New York Times, March 24, 1909, p 1
  41. ^ "Early Victim of Kidnap Plot Dies as Prey to Pneumonia", The Salt Lake Tribune, December 29, 1932
  42. ^ Chase's Calendar of Events 2009: The Ultimate Go-To Guide for Special Days, Weeks, and Months (McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008), p 16
  43. ^ Charles Brian Hayward, Donald M. Pattillo, Pushing the Envelope: The American Aircraft Industry (University of Michigan Press, 2001), pp11–13
  44. ^ Charles B. Hayward, Practical Aeronautics: An Understandable Presentation of Interesting and Essential Facts in Aeronautical Science (American School of Correspondence, 1912), pp41–42
  45. ^ "Coopers Convicted; Penalty 20 Years", New York Times, March 21, 1909, p1
  46. ^ "Noted Tennessean Dies At Nashville", Indianapolis Star, November 6, 1922, p11; The Britannica Yearbook 1911, p911
  47. ^ "Verdict for Robin Cooper", Washington Post, November 15, 1910, p5; "Defendant in Famous Murder Case is Slain", The Fort Wayne News and Sentinel, August 30, 1919, p1
  48. ^ Brian Lepard, In the Glory of the Father: The Baha'i Faith and Christianity (Baha'i Publishing Trust, 2008), p50
  49. ^ William Milligan Sloane, The Balkans: A Laboratory of History (The Abingdon Press, 1914), p156
  50. ^ Sean Dennis Cashman, America in the Age of the Titans: The Progressive Era and World War I (NYU Press, 1988), pp94–95
  51. ^ The American Review of Reviews, May 1909, p543
  52. ^
  53. ^ "Taft Approves Bill For An Income Tax", New York Times, March 25, 1909, p1
  54. ^ John Neal Phillips, Running with Bonnie and Clyde (University of Oklahoma Press, 2002), p42
  55. ^ The European War (The New York Times Company, 1917), pp790–791
  56. ^ "Indians in Revolt; Six Whites Killed", New York Times, March 29, 1909, p1
  57. ^ Ken Butler, Oklahoma Renegades: Their Deeds and Misdeeds(Pelican Publishing, 1997) pp38-40
  58. ^ Ghada Hashem Talhami, Palestine in the Egyptian Press (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), p53
  59. ^ Francis G. Couvares, Movie Censorship and American Culture (Univ of Massachusetts Press, 2006) p34
  60. ^ Harvey Cushing and Oskar Hirsch: early forefathers of modern transsphenoidal surgery, J Neurosurg 103:1096–1104, 2005
  61. ^ a b The American Review of Reviews, May 1909, p544
  62. ^ William L. Tung, The Political Institutions of Modern China (Springer, 1968), p203
  63. ^ The Statesman's Year-Book 1918 (St. Martin's Press), pp96–97
  64. ^ Proceedings of the Worcester Society of Antiquity, v.25 (Worcester Historical Society, 1912), p258
  65. ^ Francis G. Gentry, et al., eds., The Nibelungen Tradition: An Encyclopedia (Routledge, 2002), p312
  66. ^ Greater Astoria Historical Society, The Queensboro Bridge (Arcadia Publishing, 2008), p57
  67. ^ Marianne Thys, Belgian Cinema (Cinematheque Royale du Belgique, 1999) p52
  68. ^ "A Social History of the Paper Cup", by Maureen Callahan,; "Drinking Cups Must Go-The Common Cup Not to Be on Trains or in Schools After September 1", Hutchinson (KS) News, April 1, 1909, p1
  69. ^ Leonard A. Magnus, Pros and Cons in the Great War (E.P. Dutton & Co., 1917), p237
  70. ^ Daniel Allen Butler, Unsinkable: The Full Story of RMS Titanic (Da Capo Press, 2002), pp11–12
  71. ^ Annual Reports of the Secretary of War for the Year 1909, (GPO 1909), p240