March 19, 2003: The United States launches an attack against Iraq to topple dictator Saddam Hussein from power. The attack commences with aerial strikes against military sites, followed the next day by an invasion of southern Iraq by U.S. and British ground troops. The troops make rapid progress northward and conquer the country’s capital, Baghdad, just 21 days later, ending the rule of Saddam.
March 22, 1972: The Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (ERA) is passed by the U.S. Senate and then sent to the states for ratification. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, stating, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” and that “the Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” Although 22 of the required 38 states quickly ratify the amendment, opposition arises over concerns that women would be subject to the draft and combat duty, along with other legal concerns. The ERA eventually fails (by 3 states) to achieve ratification, despite an extension of the deadline to June 1982. Later, in 2019, Virginia has a chance to become the final state needed to ratify the ERA, but the effort fails.
March 23, 1775: Patrick Henry ignites the American Revolution with a speech before the Virginia convention in Richmond, stating, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”
March 24, 1989: One of the largest oil spills in U.S. history occurs as the oil tanker Exxon Valdez runs aground in Prince William Sound off Alaska, resulting in 11 million gallons of oil leaking into the natural habitat over a stretch of 45 miles.