Today in History: March 14

March 14 is the 73rd day of the year (74th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 292 days remaining until the end of the year.
Pi Day

Pi Day is an annual celebration of the mathematical constant π (pi) — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. The first 50 digits of π are:

Pi Day is observed on March 14 (3/14 in the month/day date format) since 3, 1, and 4 are the first three significant digits of π (3.14…).

In 2009, the United States House of Representatives supported the designation of Pi Day with H. Res. 224 (March 12, 2009).

In 2010, Google’s doodle for the day spelled Google with circles and other mathematical shapes.

Google’s doodle on Pi Day, March 14, 2010.

Google’s doodle on Pi Day, March 14, 2010.

In 2015, Pi Day had special significance on 3/14/15 (month/day/year date format) at 9:26:53 a.m. and also at p.m., with the date and time representing the first 10 digits of π (3.141592653…). That same second also contained a precise instant corresponding to all of the digits of π.

A related celebration is Pi Approximation Day, observed on July 22 (22/7 in the day/month date format), since the fraction 22/7 is a common approximation of π, which is accurate to two decimal places (3.1428…) and dates from Archimedes.

Constitution Day (Andorra)

Constitution Day is celebrated on the anniversary of the Andorran people approving the principality’s Constitution. The Constitution of Andorra (Constitució d’Andorra in Catalan) is the supreme law of the Principality of Andorra. It was adopted on February 2, 1993 and given assent by the Andorran people in a referendum on March 14, 1993. According to the Constitution itself, it was to enter into force the day of its publication in the Butlletí Oficial del Principat d’Andorra, which occurred on April 28, 1993.

The Constitution was signed by Andorra’s two co-princes, the President of France (at that time François Mitterrand) and the Bishop of Urgell (at that time Joan Martí Alanis). The new constitution stipulates that these two officials are Andorra’s heads of state. Indeed, this arrangement has existed for centuries, although at one time, the French king held the position now held by the French president.

Heroes’ Day (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)
Mother Tongue Day (Estonia)
1863 Born today: Casey Jones (March 14, 1863–April 30, 1900, age 37)

Jonathan Luther “Casey” Jones was an American railroad engineer who worked for the Illinois Central Railroad. As a boy, he lived near Cayce, Kentucky, where he acquired the nickname of “Cayce”, which he chose to spell as “Casey”. On April 30, 1900, he was killed when his passenger train, the Cannonball Express, collided with a stalled freight train at Vaughan, Mississippi, on a foggy and rainy night.

His dramatic death while trying to stop his train and save lives made him a hero; he was immortalized in a popular ballad sung by his friend Wallace Saunders, an engine wiper for the Illinois Central.

1879 Born today: Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879–April 18, 1955, age 76)
1900 The Gold Standard Act was ratified, placing United States currency on the gold standard.

H.R. 1, which became Public Law 56–41, was signed into law by President William McKinley on March 14, 1900. It established gold as the only standard for redeeming paper money, stopping bimetallism (which had allowed silver in exchange for gold). The Act made the de facto gold standard in place since the Coinage Act of 1873 (whereby debt holders could demand reimbursement in whatever metal was preferred — usually gold) a de jure gold standard alongside other major European powers at the time.

Be it enacted…, That the dollar consisting of twenty-five and eight-tenths grains of gold nine-tenths fine, as established by section thirty-five hundred and eleven of the Revised Statutes of the United States, shall be the standard unit of value, and all forms of money issued or coined by the United States shall be maintained at a parity of value with this standard, and it shall be the duty of the Secretary of the Treasury to maintain such parity.

The Act fixed the value of the dollar at 258/10 grains of gold at 90% purity (9/10 fine), equivalent to 23.22 grains (1.5046 grams) of pure gold. Looked at another way, the price of gold was set at just over $20.67 per Troy ounce.

On April 25, 1933, the United States and Canada dropped the gold standard.

1908 Born today: Philip Conrad Vincent (March 14, 1908–March 27, 1979, age 71)
1933 Died today: Balto (1919–March 14, 1933, age 14)
1978 Born today: Giorgio A. Tsoukalos (March 14, 1978– )

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