This Week in History: 3/11/19-3/15/19

On March 11, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Lend Lease Act, giving America the authorization to lend or lease supplies, weapons, ships and vehicles to countries deemed necessary for the defense of the United States. (Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

This week in history we will see the anniversary of several important events that helped shape the world we live in. Here is a quick rundown.

On March 11, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Lend Lease Act, giving America the authorization to lend or lease supplies, weapons, ships and vehicles to countries deemed necessary for the defense of the United States. Issued in the early years of World War II, it saw the beginning of America as a global power and hinted at its incredible production ability. Roosevelt had managed to keep America out of the war up to this point, and he hoped to remain neutral as battles raged across Europe and Asia. After the British defeat at Dunkirk and the attack on Pearl Harbor, it became impossible to avoid confrontation any further. Many historians argue the Lend Lease Act helped push our country closer to all out war, but it also helped to establish stronger diplomatic relations with the Allied powers which would eventually overcome the Axis powers in 1945.

On March 12, 1987, the musical “Les Miserables” opened for the first time on Broadway. Based on the book of the same name by French author Victor Hugo, “Les Mis” has gone on to be considered one of the most important and enduring musicals of all time. Its music has been played all over the world and its productions have won countless awards, including several Oscars and Tony’s. The play is so well loved that it has been in continuous production in London since 1985.

On March 14, 1964, a Dallas jury found Jack Ruby guilty of the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald. Ruby, a Texas nightclub owner, shot Oswald as he was being transferred by police into custody for the killing of President John F. Kennedy and a Dallas policeman in November of 1963. Oswald became notorious for shooting JFK as he rode along in the presidential motorcade during a political stop in Texas, making Kennedy the fourth U.S. president be to assassinated while in office. Many believe that Ruby, who brazenly shot Oswald in front of dozens of witnesses and cameras, was just another part in a larger scheme by organized crime to murder Kennedy and remove him from office. Ruby was sentenced to death, but died from lung cancer in prison in 1967.

And lastly, on March 15, 44 B.C.E., Roman leader Gaius Julius Caesar was killed in the Senate building in a coup d'etat organized by his political opponents. Prior to Caesar’s rise to power, Rome had been a republic, but after many impressive victories, Caesar began to gain more power and popularity with the people. After refusing to disband his army and crossing the Rubicon river, Caesar declared himself dictator of Rome. It was at this point that his previous friends and enemies conspired to remove him from office to prevent him from gaining absolute power and destroying Roman democracy by killing him on the Ides of March. Unfortunately, Caesar’s brutal murder only lead to more chaos as it unleashed a vicious war between his killers and remaining friends. All of this would be for naught however, as the republic came to an end anyways when Caesar’s nephew Octavian, better known as Augustus, was proclaimed the first Roman Emperor in 27 B.C.E. In the classical work Dante’s “Inferno,” the lowest circle of hell is reserved for traitors to those that loved them. It is there that forever trapped in Lucifer's fangs are Brutus and Cassius, the two lead Senators that betrayed Julius Caesar, who loved them both like brothers.


Seamus McKeever is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at seamus.mckeever@uconn.edu.