Gandhi leads civil disobedience, 1930
On March 12, 1930, Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi begins a defiant march to the sea in protest of the British monopoly on salt, his boldest act of civil disobedience yet against British rule in India.
Britain's Salt Acts prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt, a staple in the Indian diet. Citizens were forced to buy the vital mineral from the British, who, in addition to exercising a monopoly over the manufacture and sale of salt, also exerted a heavy salt tax. Although India's poor suffered most under the tax, Indians required salt. Defying the Salt Acts, Gandhi reasoned, would be an ingeniously simple way for many Indians to break a British law nonviolently. He declared resistance to British salt policies to be the unifying theme for his new campaign of satyagraha, or mass civil disobedience.
Jack Kerouac is born, 1922
Jack Kerouac is born in Lowell, Massachusetts. Kerouac was the son of French-Canadian parents and learned English as a second language. In high school, Kerouac was a star football player and won a scholarship to Columbia University.
In World War II, he served in the Navy but was expelled for severe personality problems that may have been symptoms of mental illness. He became a merchant seaman. In the late 1940s, he wandered the U.S. and Mexico and wrote his first novel, The Town and the City. It was not until 1957, when he published On the Road, an autobiographical tale of his wanderings, that he became famous as a seminal figure of the Beat Generation. His tale of a subculture of poets, folk singers, and eccentrics who smoked marijuana and rejected conformist society was written in just three weeks. The book is filled with other Beat figures, including Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs.
Kerouac wrote five more books before his death in 1967 in St. Petersburg, Florida. However, none gained the mythic status of On the Road.
The Dixie Chicks backlash begins, 2003
In response to the critical comments made about him by Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush offered this response: "The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They can say what they want to say." Of the backlash the Dixie Chicks were then facing within the world of country music, President Bush added: "They shouldn't have their feelings hurt just because some people don't want to buy their records when they speak out." This music-related sideshow to the biggest international news story of the year began on March 12, 2003, when the British newspaper The Guardian published its review of a Dixie Chicks concert at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London two nights earlier.