March 17 is the 76th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (77th in Leap years). There are 289 days remaining.
- 45 BC - In his last victory, Julius Caesar defeats the Pompeian forces of Titus Labienus and Pompey the Younger in the Battle of Munda.
- 1577 - formation of the Cathay Company to send Martin Frobisher back to the New World for more gold
- 1673 - Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet begin their exploration of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi river.
- 1756 - St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in New York City for the first time (at the Crown and Thistle Tavern).
- 1776 - American Revolution: British forces evacuate Boston, Massachusetts after George Washington places artillery overlooking the city.
- 1805 - The Italian Republic, with Napoleon as president, becomes the Kingdom of Italy, with Napoleon as King.
- 1845 - The rubber band is invented
- 1861 - The Kingdom of Italy is proclaimed.
- 1886 - Carrollton Massacre : 20 African Americans are killed in Mississippi.
- 1891 - The British steamship SS Utopia sinks off the coast of Gibraltar, killing 574.
- 1901 - A showing of 71 Vincent van Gogh paintings in Paris, 11 years after his death, creates a sensation.
- 1910 - Luther Gulick and his wife Charlotte found Camp Fire Girls (formally announced in 1912).
- 1921 - The Second Republic of Poland adopts the March Constitution.
- 1931 - Nevada legalizes gambling.
- 1939 - Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945): The Battle of Nanchang between the Kuomintang and the Japanese break out.
- 1941 - In Washington, DC, the National Gallery of Art is officially opened by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
- 1948 - Benelux, France, and the United Kingdom sign the Treaty of Brussels, a precursor to the NATO Agreement.
- 1950 - University of California, Berkeley researchers announce the creation of element 98, which they name "Californium".
- 1958 - The United States launches the Vanguard 1 satellite.
- 1959 - Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, flees Tibet and travels to India.
- 1966 - Off the coast of Spain in the Mediterranean, the Alvin submarine finds a missing American hydrogen bomb.
- 1969 - Golda Meir of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, becomes Prime Minister of Israel.
- 1970 - My Lai massacre: The United States Army charges 14 officers with suppressing information related to the incident.
- 1985 - Serial killer Richard Ramirez, the "Night Stalker", commits his first two murders in Los Angeles, California murder spree.
- 1988 - A Colombian Boeing 727 jetliner, Avianca Flight 410, crashes into the side of the mountains near the Venezuelan border killing 143.
- 1992 - A suicide car-bomb kills 29 and injures 242 at the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
- 2003 - British Cabinet Minister, Robin Cook, resigns over government plans for war with Iraq.
- 2004 - Massive Unrest in Kosovo. Over 22 killed, 200 wounded, 15 destroyed Serb Orthodox shrines in Kosovo and two mosques in Belgrade and Nis.
- 1473 - King James IV of Scotland (d. 1513)
- 1777 - Roger Taney, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (d. 1864)
- 1780 - Thomas Chalmers, Scottish pastor, social reformer, educator, author, and scientist (d. 1847)
- 1804 - Jim Bridger, American trapper and explorer (d. 1881)
- 1820 - Jean Ingelow, English poet (d. 1897)
- 1834 - Gottlieb Daimler, German engineer and inventor (d. 1900)
- 1846 - Kate Greenaway, English children's author and illustrator (d. 1901)
- 1862 - Silvio Gesell, economist (d. 1930)
- 1866 - Pierce Butler, justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (d. 1939)
- 1870 - Horace Donisthorpe, British entomologist (d. 1951)
- 1880 - Sir Patrick Hastings, barrister (d. 1952)
- 1884 - Alcide Nunez, jazz musician (d. 1934)
- 1888 - Frank Buck , big game hunter (d. 1950)
- 1894 - Paul Green , novelist, playwright (d. 1981)
- 1895 - Shemp Howard, actor (d. 1955)
- 1902 - Bobby Jones, golfer (d. 1971)
- 1908 - Brigitte Helm, actress (d. 1996)
- 1912 - Bayard Rustin, civil rights activist (d. 1987)
- 1914 - Sammy Baugh, American football player
- 1916 - Ray Ellington, British singer (d. 1985)
- 1918 - Mercedes McCambridge, actress (d. 2004)
- 1919 - Nat King Cole, singer (d. 1965)
- 1920 - Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Prime Minister of Bangladesh (d. 1975)
- 1926 - Siegfried Lenz, writer
- 1930 - James Irwin, astronaut (d. 1991)
- 1933 - Laurence M. Janifer , science fiction author
- 1933 - Myrlie Evers-Williams , civil rights activist
- 1936 - Ladislav Kupkovic, composer
- 1936 - Ken Mattingly, astronaut
- 1938 - Rudolf Nureyev, dancer and choreographer (d. 1993)
- 1940 - Mark White, Texas politician
- 1941 - Paul Kantner , American musician (Jefferson Airplane)
- 1942 - John Wayne Gacy, serial killer (d. 1994)
- 1944 - John Sebastian, singer, songwriter
- 1944 - Pattie Boyd, British photographer, fashion model
- 1944 - Cito Gaston, American baseball player and coach
- 1945 - Elis Regina, Brazilian singer (d. 1982)
- 1947 - James Morrow, science fiction author
- 1948 - William Gibson, writer
- 1949 - Patrick Duffy, actor
- 1951 - Kurt Russell, actor
- 1954 - Lesley-Anne Down, actress
- 1955 - Gary Sinise, actor
- 1955 - Paul Overstreet , country singer
- 1956 - Patrick McDonnell, cartoonist
- 1957 - Michael Kelly, American journalist (d. 2003)
- 1959 - Danny Ainge, basketball player and coach, baseball player
- 1964 - Rob Lowe, actor
- 1967 - William Patrick Corgan, Jr., musician
- 1967 - Barry Minkow, businessman
- 1969 - Mathew St. Patrick, American actor
- 1972 - Mia Hamm, US soccer player
- 1973 - Caroline Corr, singer, musician
- 1976 - Stephen Gately, Boyzone; singer, musician, actor
- 45 BC - Titus Labienus (b. c. 100 BC), Roman leader (in battle)
- 45 BC - Gnaeus Pompeius (executed)
- 180 - Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor (b. 121)
- 461 - Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland (b. c. 373)
- 1040 - Harold Harefoot, King of England (b. c. 1016)
- 1058 - King Lulach I of Scotland (b. c. 1029)
- 1425 - Ashikaga Yoshikazu, Ashikaga shogun (b. 1407)
- 1640 - Philip Massinger, English dramatist
- 1704 - Menno van Coehoorn , Dutch military engineer (b. 1641)
- 1782 - Daniel Bernoulli, mathematician (b. 1700)
- 1853 - Christian Doppler, Austrian physician and mathematician
- 1917 - Franz Brentano, German philosopher and psychologist (b. 1838)
- 1956 - Irene Joliot-Curie, scientist (b. 1897)
- 1956 - Fred Allen, American actor, comedian
- 1957 - Ramon Magsaysay, President of the Philippines
- 1965 - Amos Alonzo Stagg, baseball, basketball, football coach and player (b. 1862)
- 1976 - Luchino Visconti, director, (b. 1906)
- 1987 - Santo Trafficante, Jr., gangster
- 1989 - Merritt Butrick, American actor
- 1990 - Capucine, actress (b. 1931)
- 1993 - Helen Hayes, actress (b. 1900)
- 1995 - Ronnie Kray, British gangster
- 1999 - Rod Hull, British actor
- 2002 - Pat Weaver, American broadcast executive
- 2002 - Rosetta LeNoire, American actress, producer
- 2003 - Klaus Oldendorff , ship owner
- 2004 - J.J. Jackson, original MTV VJ (b. 1941 or 1942)
- 2005 - Andre Norton, science fiction author (b. 1912)
- 2005 - George F. Kennan, American Cold War strategist and historian
- 1985 - Sara Vanore, fashion icon, Alladin enthusiast
Holidays and observances
March 16 - March 18 - February 17 - April 17 -- listing of all days
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